Download GPX file for this article
28.49305634.504722Full screen dynamic map

Africa > North Africa > Egypt > Sinai > Dahab

Dahab

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Travel Warning WARNING: Because of the threat of attacks by militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, western governments (including US, UK and Australia) recommend against non-essential travel to southern Sinai, including to Dahab; only Sharm el-Sheikh is exempt from this. They recommend against all travel to northern Sinai, which includes the border town of Taba and its direct highway to Suez and Cairo.
(Information last updated Mar 2020)

Dahab (دهب) is a town in Egypt, 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba, near the southern tip of Sinai. It is a place that many have fallen in love with over the years, and return to time and time again.

Understand[edit]

Easy living on the beach

Dahab was once an isolated coastal village inhabited only by the local Bedouin. As little as 30 years ago, there were fewer than 30 Bedouin families in Dahab. Like the Bedouin inland, they had a self-sustaining lifestyle but in Dahab this was based on fishing as well as traditional goat herds. During the summer, many inland Bedouin came to Dahab for fishing and to collect dates, and to enjoy life by the sea. To this day, favourite presents from Dahab (for the inland Bedouin) are dried fish and dates.

Dahab's isolated location, idyllic setting and laid-back Bedouin hospitality made it a favourite destination for all who stumbled upon it. In the beginning (1970s), this was mainly Israeli soldiers or people from the kibbutz during their leave. During the 1980s it turned into a hippie hangout, and in the 1990s adventure enthusiasts from around the world began to discover Dahab's natural wonders. The combination of Red Sea and Sinai desert make Dahab perfect for world class windsurfing, scuba diving, freediving, rock climbing and of course desert trekking with the Bedouin. Add to this cheap accommodation on or near the beach, inexpensive food and drink and a relaxed atmosphere, and you have a heady enticement for the young and young at heart.

Today's Dahab has evolved into an "alternative resort" - the home of independent and adventurous travellers, but also with some more upmarket resorts and hotels. Most of the latter are in the Laguna area or outlying. For some people, this mix is part of Dahab's charm ("everyone welcome"), others regard the mix up as a problem: Prices in Assalah are artificially increased which makes it less and less interesting for backpackers, though some locally-run camps still keep affordable. In contrast to that, many package tourists and families won't feel comfortable with the lacking conveniences and the all-handmade-look among the hippies. Note the grotesque, forever unfinished concrete structures as a sign of this mismanagement.

Still, for everyone with an open mind, Dahab is definitely worth a visit and a place to fall in love with. Particularly in the old part of Dahab (Masbat and Mashraba), you will rarely find a visitor who comes only once to Dahab. To many people this has become a second home.

Climate[edit]

Dahab
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
1
 
 
21
10
 
 
 
2
 
 
22
11
 
 
 
2
 
 
25
14
 
 
 
0
 
 
29
17
 
 
 
0
 
 
32
20
 
 
 
0
 
 
35
23
 
 
 
0
 
 
36
25
 
 
 
0
 
 
36
25
 
 
 
0
 
 
34
24
 
 
 
1
 
 
31
20
 
 
 
1
 
 
27
16
 
 
 
2
 
 
22
12
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source: Climate-Data.org
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
0
 
 
70
50
 
 
 
0.1
 
 
72
52
 
 
 
0.1
 
 
78
57
 
 
 
0
 
 
84
63
 
 
 
0
 
 
90
68
 
 
 
0
 
 
94
74
 
 
 
0
 
 
96
77
 
 
 
0
 
 
96
77
 
 
 
0
 
 
92
74
 
 
 
0
 
 
87
68
 
 
 
0
 
 
80
60
 
 
 
0.1
 
 
72
53
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches
See also: Egypt#Climate

The climate is sunny and very dry with almost no rainfall. Summers are very hot at days and warm at nights, but winters are warm with mild nights.

Dahab mean sea temperature
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
22 °C (72 °F) 21 °C (70 °F) 21 °C (70 °F) 23 °C (73 °F) 25 °C (77 °F) 26 °C (79 °F) 28 °C (82 °F) 28 °C (82 °F) 28 °C (82 °F) 27 °C (81 °F) 25 °C (77 °F) 23 °C (73 °F)

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Dahab Bus Station
  • 1 Dahab bus station (East Delta) (in the medina, 3-4 km west of the main tourist strip). This is a woebegone place though there are shops in the vicinity. On arrival you will be mobbed by aggressive taxi drivers, who may even manhandle you into their car. A fair price is LE35 for the whole cab. Be prepared to walk it—and really mean it, it is the "Method Acting" approach to haggling - and their price may drop to something realistic. You want to head east, which is slightly downhill, then be trending northeast. So walk 200 m down to the divided highway El Nasr Road, then left / north for 200 m, then the first right is Peace Road which sweeps round into downtown Dahab. In town centre along Peace Road is the East Delta bus office, who sell tickets and can give the latest info on their buses, but buses do not call here: phone is +20 69 3641 808.
  • 2 Go Bus station. Almost opposite the East Delta bus office is where Go Buses arrive from Cairo. It is little more than a dirt parking lot but you have more amenities in the nearby town.
  • Buses no longer run to and from St Catherine.
  • From Cairo – Six daily Go Buses, taking 9 hr from Cairo's Turgoman station (central), Abbasseya station (30 min from centre) and Heliopolis (near airport). Buses may not serve all stations. Best to buy tickets in advance, especially for the night buses.
  • From Sharm el Sheikh town – The bus operator is East Delta. Their published timetable is only a statement of good intentions: services have been pruned back, and this is likely to get worse during 2020. But insha'allah, they may run from Sharm to Dahab at 6AM, 7AM, 8AM, 9AM, 2:30PM, 5PM, 8:30PM; and from Dahab to Sharm at 8AM, 9AM, 10AM, 11:30AM, 12:30PM, 3PM, 4PM, 5:30PM, 7:30PM, 8:30PM, 9:30PM and 10PM. The bus takes just under 2 hr.
  • From Sharm el Sheikh airport – Your first problem is to get to Sharm bus station 17 km away, see Sharm el Sheikh "Get in" for taxi tips. The bus service is erratic, so if you are arriving in the evening your best plan is to pre-arrange a taxi all the way to Dahab, see below. If you do get the bus, notice it stops at wayside halts to pick up waifs and strays, and at a checkpoint and filling station only 5 km from the airport: but will it pick up or drop off anywhere nearer the airport? No chance, they have probably had the frighteners put on them by the taxi cartel.
  • From the north – This is even more erratic, with maybe one bus or none at all from Taba through Taba Heights and Nuweiba, continuing from Dahab to Sharm. East Delta may not be able to say until shortly before departure whether one is running today.

By taxi[edit]

Always arrange this in advance through your accommodation! They should be able to negotiate something near the local price, about half what you would achieve by haggling yourself.

From Sharm el-Sheikh town or airport a fair price to Dahab would be LE600 (€40) for the whole cab. The airport cartel charges LE1,000, and while for trips within Sharm you can stomp out of the airport and try for a street taxi, that is less likely to work for an out-of-town trip.

From Taba a taxi all the way to Dahab might be LE1,500.

By boat[edit]

See Nuweiba for details of the ferries from Aqaba in Jordan. These also ply to Taba Heights further up the coast; this route is faster but you need to arrive in Egypt via Nuweiba if you are travelling beyond Sinai and therefore need an Egyptian visa.

Reaching the ferry port from Dahab is by bus or taxi. Usually a bus leaves Sharm at 8:30AM calling at Dahab at 10:30AM on the way north to Taba. So if you phone around 9AM, there should be word on whether it is running today, whereupon you either head for the bus station or negotiate a taxi.

Get around[edit]

Orientation[edit]

Dahab has 3 distinct parts:

  1. At the centre is Masbat Bay – Almost evenly divided by a floodway (the funny bridge over dry sand - except during a rare but impressive flash flood). The tourist area of Masbat effectively stretches north to Eel Garden (or Meleil as the Bedouin call it), and South through Mashraba. A corniche runs along this entire stretch of beach. This can be considered central Dahab, and you will find everything you need here.
  2. A short taxi ride south is the Laguna (El Goze) – This is where the Corniche ends in the South. Here you find Dahab's first resort hotels (Hilton, etc.) You also find all municipal services: bus station, hospital, city council, etc.
  3. Assalah – The residential area, mainly Bedouin but also with some foreign expats and Egyptians now also living amongst the Bedouin.
  • Plus outlying hotels – Stretching north towards the Blue Hole, and South to Wadi Gnai, there are around 15 outlying resort hotels - mainly booked as package holidays.
  • Plus Protected Areas – Dahab is bordered by 2 protected areas: in the south, Nabq Protected Area starts at Wadi Gnai, as in the North Ras Abu Galoum Protected Area starts at the Blue Hole. 52% of the Gulf of Aqaba coastline is protected area, which is very important for managing growth and for preserving the reef and eco system. No building is allowed in protected areas, except traditional Bedouin structures.

By taxi[edit]

A taxi within the centre should not exceed LE20, and LE40-50 for further out including the bus station, as of Feb 2020. Expect them to try to charge you twice that.

On foot[edit]

Getting around Dahab on foot is quite simple, the promenade runs right along the seafront and all the usual amenities are located along it.

By bicycle[edit]

Bicycles are a convenient way to both get around Dahab itself, as well as to get to surrounding sites such as Blue Hole and Three Pools. There is little traffic, and bikes are common so cars take them somewhat into account (as compared to anywhere else in Egypt). There are dedicated bicycle rental stores, but accommodation such as hotels may also have some available. One 1 bike rental shop is located next to Peace Bridge, which quotes LE100 for one day.

Note that for some parts (such as the last part to the Blue Hole), an off-road bike is preferred. On the other hand, most rental places already seem to be mostly offering mountain bikes.

See[edit]

  • 1 The Nabataean Port (200 m south of the bridge). It is just a few masonry foundations, but this was once a major port receiving spices and other valuable goods from India. From here goods were taken overland to Petra then onward to Gaza for shipping across the Med. The Nabataeans emerged as an independent Arab nation in the 4th century BC, for long acting as a buffer state for Rome then annexed into the Roman Empire in 106 AD, and disappearing by the 5th century AD. Just peer through the railings on the prom, you havve seen enough.
  • Very tall palm trees – Straight and stiff-leaved: how many can you spot? Yes, they are mobile telephone masts.
  • 2 Ain Khudra. Bedouin palm-tree oasis. Can be busy in the day. To see it at its best, include in a longer desert safari and stay for dinner and overnight.
  • 3 White Canyon. Right next to Ain Khudra.
  • 4 Coloured Canyon. Mainly a day trip. If you would like to combine as part of a longer desert safari, be sure to have a full Egyptian visa as it is often needed for the best route.
  • St. Catherine monastery and Mount Sinai remain off-limits as of 2020, because of the threat of attack.

Offshore[edit]

Dahab's main offshore attractions are described here, north to south (the usual direction of current), as there are various ways to enjoy them. Dive shacks and other shore facilities are listed under "Do". The coral is very close to shore so you just walk in, but only at selected access points to limit the damage to coral and to you. Boats are only used for outlying sites with no access track. The tidal range in Dahab is at most a metre so all depths cited have that degree of flex.

  • 5 Abu Galoum (15 km north of town). A nature reserve with camping and snorkelling. No road so you need a boat or camel to get in; few bother so it is a quiet spot.
  • 6 The Blue Hole (close to shore at the dead-end of a dirt track 7 km north of town). The signature dive at Dahab. It is safe and enjoyable provided you are sensible about depth limits, but the layout creates a temptation to dive deeper. Much deeper. Much much deeper and then it is curtains. This area has cafes and toilets but no dive shack, bring all your own kit. It can get crowded, as excursion buses often come from Sharm-el-Sheikh. The "hole" is a sinkhole some 100 m across and just over 100 m deep, surrounded by shallow reef, and with a "saddle" 6-7 m deep between the hole and open sea. The deep sheltered waters make it popular with freedivers, and it is often good for snorkelling and diving on windy days when other sites are too rough. Divers typically swim underwater across the hole, with the Arch glimmering far below (this would be a really bad time to lose a weight-belt). There is not much coral within the hole so they then cross the saddle to explore the better stuff outside.
    The Arch in the side of the Blue Hole is the killer if you are not geared up for a technical dive, and sometimes even if you are. It is a tunnel between hole and open sea that glimmers temptingly. "Aw c'mon, just a quick extra descent to look-see, can't hurt?" But it is deeper than it looks, with the entrance at 55 m. And it is not a simple archway but a 26 m tunnel. "Still, now we're here . . . " then it springs its trap: the tunnel roof slopes down to 85 m before trending up again into the open sea, while its floor drops away below 120 m. If you come down here breathing air or even nitrox, you will be as drunk as a skunk in a barrel of moonshine. And your air consumption is 9+ times faster than on the surface; if you are only toting a single gas tank, it will last less than ten min—not enough to get back, let alone for the considerable decompression period you have incurred. Technical divers with rebreathers and trimix gas also sometimes perish here, but their kit is inherently more hazardous, and it is not clear whether they suffer more accidents in the Blue Hole than at similar depths elsewhere.
    US$10/€9/LE150 fee for tourists (and a trivial fee for Egyptians).
  • 7 The Bells. A nearby site often combined with Blue Hole by drifting south. It is a narrow groove through the reef; as well as the coral there is an arch at modest depth and a natural chimney you can swim up or down. Officially it is named for two rocks like church bells, unofficially it is because divers keep clanging their tanks against the walls.
  • 8 Canyon (along the same track 5 km north of town). There is a collection of cafes. The canyon is an underwater gully with overhanging walls. Enter and exit via the broader middle section, you are not allowed to pass through "The Fishbowl" chimney at its shallow end. In 2020 a humongous green moray eel resides on the canyon walls, rolling its jaws like a Moloch awaiting the pizza delivery boy. No fee to come this far.
Rick's Reef is often combined with the Canyon by a gentle drift.
  • Abu Telha and Abu Helal are at the north edge of Dahab, with a smaller canyon. The road is paved this far.
  • 9 Eel Garden (at the north end of the promenade strip, 1 km from the bridge). They are sand eels, scores of them shaped like a "?" and gently swaying. They retract as you approach and extend as you leave, to resume considering their question.
  • 10 Lighthouse (just north of the midtown bridge). The shallows are red gravel washed down from the wadi, deepening to a sea grass meadow which is a likely area to spot turtles or sea horses. A life-sized but dilapidated metal statue of an elephant at 18 m depth is the cue to turn north and come onto the attractive coral reef.
  • 11 Mashraba (just south of the bridge is the mirror image of Lighthouse). You descend across the gravel wash to the meadow then turn south along the reef. It is the house reef for the southside dive shacks.
  • 12 Laguna Beach (1 km south of the bridge). The beach and nearby Islands. It is shallow, good for snorkelling and beginner divers.
  • The spit off the spit south end of the promenade is exposed to wind and currents, so people windsurf here but divers and snorkellers seldom come.
  • 13 The Lagoon. A sheltered sandy bay good for kiddy-bathing and windsurfing. No coral so you do not cut your feet, but it means nothing for snorkellers or divers to look at.
  • Gabr el Bint further south has no road access so you get here by boat.

Do[edit]

  • 14 Wadi Qnai (7 km south of town). Variously spelled, an attractive granite valley with an oasis, Bedouin gardens and beach strip. Good for hikes, dinner in the mountains and rock climbing. Sites are "Golden Blocks" (large coral blocks boiling with marine life), "Moray Garden", "Three Pools", "Om Sid" and "Caves" which are really just overhangs. This is the end of the track, as the road heads inland towards Sharm. Few come this far south, so the table corals are in better shape than near town.
  • Windsurfing and kite-surfing. Dahab has about 270 days a year of wind. Experts with their own equipment can also surf from Masbat Bay, but must take care not to hit the snorkellers and freedivers on Lighthouse Reef. Kite surfing can be done around the lagoon area, at Eel Garden or at other spots. Some kiters head out to the Laguna at Ras Abu Galoum - a stunning location and you will be just 1 or 2 kites rather than 10 or 20!
    For wind forecast for Dahab see Wind Guru. There are several windsurfing schools around Laguna area offering all levels of courses like Harry Nass Winsurf & Kite Centres Dahab and Happy Kite.
  • Kayaking – Sea kayaks are available for hire. From LE50/hr, or try a guided night kayak—great for hot summer nights.
  • Yoga, Reiki, and Chi Gong – As of 2020 no-one is advertising classes, probably the thing to do is link up informally with others.
  • Learn Arabic – and see Egypt#Talk. But make a start before coming here so that you can confidently exchange greetings and salutations. It's Egyptian Arabic you will use, do not bother with MSA which only newsreaders and government officials declaim.
  • Do nothing – Just chill, that is the most traditional activity in Dahab. Watch the rippling sea and the changing pattern of light over the mountains.

Diving and freediving[edit]

There are dozens of diving and freediving centres in Dahab, but some are not properly licensed by the Ministry of Tourism (subject to annual inspections and fees). Before you book, check the CDWS web site to make sure you avoid blacklisted centres: [1]

  • Bedouin Divers. Familiar dive center on the coast of the Red Sea in the Mashraba area of Dahab. Bedouin Divers is in the Bedouin Lodge Hotel, which can arrange daily diving, PADI courses, camel dive safaris and boat dives.
  • Big Blue Dahab, +20 69 3640 045. A fully equipped 5-Star Gold Palm Padi resort meters from the reef, a relaxed and welcoming environment ideal for both snorkeling and diving. Emphasis on safety and fun with an environmental awareness. Small dive groups with highly qualified instructors and divemasters to enjoy a full range of Padi courses and guided dives at affordable prices.
  • Blue Realm, +20 12 2744 4873, . 8AM-8PM. Great native-run diving center (English, Dutch, German, French and Arabic available: the owner's wife is Dutch). They charge for two dives €45 (plus extra for gear rental). Package discounts are available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is €260, including equipment.
  • Dahab Divers, +20 69 3640381, +20 10 1113481, . PADI 5-star Golden Palm Resort and Diving School at the Lighthouse in Masbat. Friendly staff, nice atmosphere, good equipment. The Technical Diving facilities in Dahab Divers is operated by Team Blue Immersion who offer both TDI, TecRec and GUE Programs up to Instructor Level. (www.blue-immersion.org and www.dahabdiverstechnical.com)
  • Deep Blue Divers [dead link], +20 121134668, [2] [dead link] is a fully-equipped, 5-Star Gold Palm Padi resort close to the reef. Small dive groups with highly qualified instructors and divemasters to enjoy a full range of Padi courses and guided dives at affordable prices.
  • Desert Divers. Dive, climb, trek and freedive. The owner, Said, was Dahab's first Bedouin to learn to dive nearly 20 years ago. On the beach in the main bay (Masbat Bay, between the bridge and Lighthouse Reef). Excellent for diving and freediving (PADI 5-Star Gold Palm Resort, Home of the Camel Diving Safari and AIDA Freediving Centre). Given their Bedouin roots, they have also led the way in developing professional trekking and rock climbing. Their efforts to integrate adventure sports and tourism with the Bedouin community are very popular - they have been awarded an EU grant for developing and promoting sustainable tourism in the Sinai.
  • Dive In Dahab, Lagona Village, +20 69 3 640 646. Founded by Andreas (Andy) Tischer in 1999. In 2006 Hans Lange joined Dive In as a partner to Andy. Hans left the Dive In 2011 to built iDive Dahab.
  • Divers Down Under (DDU). Attached to a 70-room hotel and hostel lodge, it offers a wide range of entry-level PADI courses in different languages, divemaster internships, speciality courses, and technical diving experiences (INTD and PADI-Dsat).
  • Freedive Dahab, +20 165093752, . Founded by Lotta Ericson (former world record holder) and Linda Paganelli (Italian champion). Freedive Dahab is an instructor training center and SSI and AIDA school, providing all level courses and individual training. Freedive Dahab has a freediving shop where you can buy or rent any piece of freediving equipment you can possibly need. Freedive Dahab organizes national and world record attempts and competitions like the Triple Depth competition.
  • H2O Divers Dahab. Daily 8:30AM-5PM. Professional, experienced and knowledgeable instructors that have been diving in Dahab for over 10 years. A friendly bunch of native English, French, German, Dutch and Arabic speakers that offer a full range of PADI courses. In Dahab's main bay – Masbat Bay. Three dive sites right on their door step: Lighthouse Reef, Mashraba and Bannerfish Bay. Bannerfish Bay’s easy entry is on their doorstep, with Lighthouse and Mashraba being a close two minute walk away.
  • iDive Dahab, +20 1118444097. Beautiful designed dive center at the Jowhara Hotel. iDive offers all range of courses of PADI, SSI and CMAS next to daily dive trips. Safaris and overnight trips are done as well. A Marine Research center is part of the iDive center which offers a great opportunity to get an inner look into marine sciences. iDive and its Open Ocean Center are initiating several activities to protect the sea. They are hosting frequently international universities who conduct field trips or having research projects here.
  • Mirage Divers - Diving center, +20 693641476, fax: +20 693641476, . Owned and run by very professional Bedouins. They offer social diving holidays which combine safety and fun whilst experiencing a whole different culture in a truly unique atmosphere. Their groups are always small and there is a very high personal attention to all the divers. Single dive €30; fully-equipped €55; other packages available. 30% discount if you have your own equipment..
  • Nesima Diving Center, +20 69 3640320. French-run diving center generally judged to be the best in town. They charge a premium pricewise though, as two dives will cost you €47 (plus €20/day for gear rental). Package discounts available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is €302.
  • Poseidon Divers. Get into technical diving or simply do fun dive or courses in a safe and professional way. It is the only PADI Career Development Centre in town, and is a PSA and TDI Instructor facility (the only one in Egypt). You will get no shortage of divers if you do your PADI DiveMaster or Instructor course here which is a definite plus for the quality of your course.
  • Red Sea Relax PADI 5 Star National Geographic Instructor Development Resort, +20 69 3641 308. British-run diving operation enjoying a prime beach side location in central Dahab, meters from the teeming reefs but also convenient for Dahab's center and modern amenities. On site accommodation is available with a choice of suite rooms, or a bed in the dormitory complex offered totally free for divers. PADI diving courses range from beginner through to professional Open Water Instructor, or for those already qualified daily diving takes place to any of the 20 local reefs. Boat excursions and Camel Dive Safaris are also arranged.
  • Reef 2000 Diving Center (next to the Bedouin Moon Hotel), +20 693640087, . By Bedouin Moon Hotel, is a PADI 5* Gold Palm Resort and an IANTD technical facility. It offers a wide range of courses, from beginner- to technical diving courses.
  • Sea Dancer Dive Center. Small professionally run outfit on the sea front. Offers the full range of courses as well as guided dives. Staff are knowledgeable, experienced, enthusiastic and friendly, the equipment is a good standard and well maintained.
  • World of freediving. International AIDA freediving School, World of Freediving is a freediving school located in Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt. They offer a wide range of freediving courses and training options for every level of ability,including AIDA Instructor Courses. All the courses are AIDA courses and the staff are all experienced AIDA trained instructors.

Desert excursions and trekking[edit]

Lots of agencies along the beach front are touting excursions. But the hotel and dive resorts also organise these, and have a stronger incentive to make sure their customers are happy. Trekking might involve hiking, horse-riding, camels, or various off-road vehicles.

  • Day trips might be to Wadi Qnai and Ein Khudra. These places can feel touristy and crowded but in the 2020 travel slump that is unlikely to be a problem.
  • Overnight is when you really get the desert experience. The canyons fall silent, stars blaze in a clear sky, the coffee-pot stews by the camp fire, and you sure wish you would brought an extra pullover and toilet roll.
  • Longer trips are grandly called a "safari", which of course is the Arabic word for a journey. The traditional destination was inland towards Mount Sinai, but this remains compromised by the terrorist threat. Tours also venture as far as Petra in Jordan, Jerusalem in Israel, and Cairo and Luxor in Egypt: they are all top-rank destinations well worth seeing, but deserve a trip in their own right. These safaris may involve a flight from Sharm but more often a very long bus ride, where the rest hours of the driver (and of the oncoming drivers) may be a concern. You may also need an Egyptian visa, which you do not for the Dahab area: the safari agencies can arrange this quickly.

Rock climbing[edit]

The Sinai Desert has excellent rock climbing in the granite mountains and wadis. October–April only (i.e. not the hot summer months). The main area near to Dahab is Wadi Qnai:

  • Vast amounts of perfect bouldering on granite boulders in shaded, sand-floored valleys
  • Single and multi-pitch equipped sport routes for all levels of climbers in Waterfalls, Camel Canyon and Wadi Connection
  • Top roping area especially for beginners and children in Middle Qnai
  • Plus new routing possibilities for sport climbs in many easily accessible areas.

Desert Divers have led the way in developing rock climbing in the Sinai. They can arrange for permits to Wadi Qnai, equipment hire, drivers, guides and anything else you might need. They recently published the Sinai Rock Climbing Guide complete with topos and route descriptions. Their instructors are happy to share/offer advice to experienced climbers who can 'self-guide', or they can help you improve your climbing with beginner and Advanced technique courses.

St. Catherine also has incredible tradclimbing and bouldering. Base yourself in the village at Fox Camp [dead link] or Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp with easy access (5 min to 2 hours) to more than 60 routes. All long multipitch (7+ pitch), but wide range of grades. If you are a group, it is great fun to head deep into the desert by camel where you will find unclimbed lines almost everywhere you look! Absolutely no bolting allowed in St Catherine, and please respect the holy mountains of Mt Sinai and St Katherine by walking the traditional pilgrimage paths rather than climbing.

Buy[edit]

Great buys are the usual Egyptian suspects: water pipes, rugs, oriental lamps, shirts in different lengths with embroidery, backgammon games, silver jewelery, etc. Prices are geared for tourists, so haggling is a must, pay max. 50-60% of the first price offered, anything else is a rip-off. If you are not sure about the price, go to the next shop, they all offer more or less the same things, and start bargaining again there.

Look out for Bedouin handicrafts, some beautiful pieces are available. Hand embroidered and made in Dahab, St Catherines and El Arish by Bedouin women. Sheikh Salem House has a good selection of items as does some of the other Bedouin establishments in Dahab.

It is almost impossible to get rolling tobacco in Dahab, be prepared if you are not keen on factory made ones.

  • Ghazala Market. If your stay extends with or without intention your shopping behaviour will focus on this market. Here you can find anything you need to update your on-the-road-equipment from functional to convenient. For local fare and much cheaper fruit and veg, go to Assalah shopping area (5 min taxi, or walk to Eel Garden then head into town).
  • Dahab Community Market (Sheikh Salem House near Eel Garden). Every F 3PM-7PM. You will find hand-made Bedouin and Egyptian crafts, jewelry, clothes, second hand bargains, foods from around the world including homemade Egyptian food, cakes and desserts.

Eat[edit]

The trick to eating cheaply in Dahab is to avoid seafront establishments and go a block or two inland, where prices are half for equivalent quality. Lots of budget places in the back lanes serve falafel, koshari, chicken and fish. For fish, the prices shown are usually per kilo not per fish. Try bargaining.

  • Ali Baba Hotel has a good restaurant, see "Sleep".
  • Hell's Kitchen, Lighthouse Rd (Hidden in alley between bridge and the big supermarket), +20 102 292 4824. M-Sa 4PM-10PM. Blame Gordon Ramses for the name. Gets good reviews for its Mediterranean food.
  • Blue Beach Restaurant within Blue Beach Hotel does local and western-style food.
  • Dai Pescatori, within Sheikh Salem House, El Malel St (north end of promenade), +20 127972361. Sa-Th 2PM-10PM, F 1PM-10PM. Good Italian food, pricey but most reviewers thought it worth the extra.
  • El Dorado (north end of promenade), +20 69 365 2157. Serves good pasta and pizza. Also has rooms.
  • Friends Restaurant (between bridge and Lighthouse), +20 109 170 6565. 24 hr. Beachfront restaurant offering standard Arabic fare, higher prices for the central location.
  • Sea Bride on El Farid St does good sea food but increased their prices sharply at the start of 2020. They're open daily 11AM-11PM.
  • Marine Garden Camp on the Lighthouse strip has basic rooms from LE400 double but is better known as a restaurant.
  • Nemo Restaurant (100 m south of bridge). Daily 10AM-1AM. Good sea food and other specialties.
  • Nirvana, Lighthouse, +20 69 364 1826. Daily 8AM-11PM. Authentic, tasty Indian food: curries, snacks, vegetarian dishes and Indian tea (chai). Big portions, you won't need a starter.
  • Star of Dahab has good sea food, see "Sleep" listing.
  • El Fanar, Franks Rd, El Masbat (by bridge, not on El Fanar St), +20 12 252 5853. Good sea food, also chicken kebab or kofte on the menu and starter (pita and dips). Cheap drinks too.
  • Yalla Bar, El Masbat St, Dahab, +20 69 364 2166. Daily 9AM-midnight. Great relaxing place for a light bite and drink on the beach, but limited menu.

Drink[edit]

There are several bars on the beach. You can also buy beer, wine and liquor in special shops called Drinkies. One is located at Azzahla market square, another in Mashraba in the small road after Sea Bride fish restaurant.

Some Egyptian alcohol brands mimics the names and labelling of better known liquors elsewhere. Restaurants will often advertise Stella beer, which is not Stella Artois, as well as Sakkara, Luxor and Heineken.

  • Churchill's Sports Bar and Grill, +20 69 3641 309. Red Sea Relax Resort (on the promenade 50m down from Lighthouse), [3]. Lively establishment, with a good mix of tourist and resident trade. Serves draught Heineken on tap and British orientated cuisine at very reasonable prices. Premiership football and other major sports shown on the big screen terrace and downstairs in the air con bar.
  • Elzar Bar, next to the ruins of the old harbour on the beachfront. The best place in town for anyone wanting to get pissed late at night. Chris the Aussie barman is always on hand until the sun comes up serving a variety of alcoholics including the drunken Welshman and unconfrontational Dave the Canadian nice man.
  • The Furry Cup, at the Blue Beach Hotel, where local Westerners hang out at the sound of U2, Coldplay, etc. The only place in Dahab where you can get Western hard liquor brands instead of the fakes.

Sleep[edit]

Dahab has lots of budget to mid-range accommodation and lacks upmarket places. Prices are low by western standards and even lower once you go 100 m back from the beach strip.

Budget[edit]

  • Sindbad Camp, Lighthouse Rd, . Simple accommodation in clean friendly place, very central, seven of the 30 rooms have their own shower and toilet. Double (room only) LE240.
  • Oasis Fighting Kangaroo (formerly El Bulti), El Masbat St, +20 101 946 6698. Clean basic accommodation in the middle of the beach strip. B&B double LE450.
  • Penguin Village, 13 Mashraba St, +20 102 595 5008, +20 69 364 1047, . A well-run 30-room hotel on the south stretch of promenade, with a good restaurant and dive center. Popular with 20-30-some travelers. Dorm LE100, double (room only) from LE150.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4S Hotel, Peace Rd (south edge of town), +20 69 364 2890. 21 self-catering studios, pool, restaurant. Double LE500.
  • 1 Alf Leila Boutique Hotel, El Fanar St (jcn with Peace Road), +20 101 948 4804. Simple hotel, rooms are en suite with a/c. Some arrivals have found only a locked gate and no response from within.
  • Alaska Camp and Hotel, +20 69 364 1004. Budget hotel next to the bridge in the center of Dahab. Central courtyard with Bedouin seating area. Free wifi. Clean, en-suite rooms. They went through a bad patch in mid-2019 but appear to be well-managed since. Double (room only) LE500.
  • Ali Baba Hotel, El Masbat St, +20 102 776 5903. Simple hotel in a mixed European / Oriental style, by the promenade bridge. Minibar, sea view, balcony, and air-con. B&B double LE450.
  • Bedouin Lodge Hotel, +20 69 3641 125. Bedouin-owned hotel, very central, gets consistently good reviews for comfort, service and food. Simple rooms have bathroom, AC or fan. Small beach, sun roof, restaurant, dive center. B&B double LE400.
  • 2 [dead link] Bedouin Moon Hotel, Blue Hole Road (2 km north of center), +20 69 364 0695, . Hotel on northern beach, pool with views, pool bar and restaurant, and dive centre. En-suite sea view and mountain view rooms available. B&B double LE550.
  • Blue Beach Club is located between Eel Garden and Lighthouse. Clean ensuite, air conditioned rooms at reasonable prices and a fresh water swimming pool are available.
  • Dahab Divers, El Fanar St, +20 69 364 0233. Clean friendly place set up for divers, with own dive shack. They also run Moses Guesthouse 50 m away. B&B double LE720.
  • Dahab Paradise (2 km north of town on road to Blue Hole), +20 100 700 2527, +20 100 700 4133. Small pleasant hotel, peaceful and well-run. B&B double LE1,000.
  • 3 Dahab Plaza Hotel, Peace Rd (junction by Go-Bus station), +20 12 333 5235. Basic hotel with swimming pool and garden. All rooms with A/C, fridge, TV, bathroom/toilette. B&B double LE500.
  • Jowhara Hotel, Mashraba St, +20 69 364 0079. Small basic hotel, can also arrange safaris and diving. Also has a dorm. Double (room only) LE400.
  • Neptune Hotel, El Masbat St (next to bridge), +20 69 3640 569, fax: +20 69 3640 262, . Small friendly beachfront place, consistently good reviews for comfort and cleanliness. Double LE650.
  • Pearl of South Sinai, +20 109 371 1976. Has hotel B&B and self-catering facilities, a kitchen and a washing machine. Cleanliness erratic. B&B double LE350.
  • Red Sea Relax Resort, +20 69 3641 309. Small hotel, very central opposite Lighthouse beach and dive area. Friendly, usually clean, some nearby construction noise. B&B double LE900.
  • 4 Sheikh Ali Resort, +20 127 133 7022, . Hotel off main Peace Road, five mins walk to promenade, with 22 pool-side suites with balcony or terrace. Clean, friendly and well-run. B&B double from LE1,450.
  • Sea Stars Apartments, +20 100 8695232, . 6 two-bedroom self-catering apartments set in a garden one block back from eel garden diving area. Appt from LE900.
  • Sheikh Salem House, +20 100 506 3313. Small hotel in a quiet spot at the northern end of the promenade. Budget rooms with sea views and shared bathrooms or suites with air con, tv and satellite & kitchen.
  • Star of Dahab, +20 69 3640130, +20 10 111 3481, . A pleasant family-run guesthouse at the south end of the strip. Good location with restaurant and dive center. B&B double LE650.

Stay safe[edit]

Women travellers are safe in Dahab, but please be savvy:

- Dress: Bikini is fine on the beach and on the promenade around the bridge, topless is not okay. Cover up in town in western casual style - shorts are okay. Of course it is a double standard, so you will observe cetacean expanses of wobbly male flesh as divers wriggle in and out of their kit.
- Local men: flirting and even chit-chat are likely to be interpreted very differently here than in the west. Be friendly but don't invite more than you want.

Snorkeling along the reef can be hazardous if the wind gets up. Waves may dash you onto the sharp coral, the current may carry you past your exit point, and in a rising sea you may have difficulty spotting the next safe exit. Other water users have more escape options, eg divers can re-descend to pick out a route inshore.

Drugs, particularly marijuana, are widely available in Dahab but not legal. You would risk large fines and maybe a lengthy stay in one of Egypt's notoriously squalid prisons.

Go next[edit]

  • Along the coast to the south, Sharm el Sheikh will feel very busy and tourist-trappy after Dahab. Going north, Nuweiba and Taba are little developed.
  • Crossing into Israel, Eilat is a brash building site. Just use it as a base or for its airport, or head swiftly on towards Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, or Jordan. Bear in mind that Israel does not stamp your passport but the Egyptian border post at Taba does, so it will be obvious where you have been.
  • Aqaba in Jordan is more conveniently reached by ferry from Nuweiba. It has great diving and is within an hour's drive of fabulous Petra.
  • Cairo and raffish Alexandria deserve several days to explore.
  • Luxor until 2019 involved travelling via Cairo, but will become more accessible if the Sharm-Hurghada ferry restarts in 2020.
  • Pilgrims to Medina and Mecca can reach them by ferry from Nuweiba (horribly congested for Hajj, quieter for Umrah at other times). Your Saudi Arabian visa needs sorting well in advance.


This city travel guide to Dahab is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.