Sharm el-Sheikh for lovers of scuba diving and sandy beaches
About an hour away from Cairo by plane, almost at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, there is a famous tourist resort Sharm el-Sheikh which many call „the Egyptian Rimini“. The landscape is something special for Europeans – a place where the desert surrounded by mountains melts with the sea – as from some other planet. Sharm el-Sheikh became famous in 1967 during the war between Egypt and Israel known as „the six-day war“ when Israel, after the occupation, built a small settlement next to the old town of Sharm el-Sheikh. After the Camp David Accords, Sinai was returned to Egypt and instead of trenches, bunkers and barracks, there occurred a modern hotel resort. As time went by, the most luxurious hotels of international chains (Hyatt, Sheraton, Radisson, etc.) were built. The most hotels are not like in other cities – large skyscrapers with many floors – but a central building with many small villas to which the things are transported by buggies usually used by golfers for transporting their equipment around the course. Though in the desert, the hotel resorts are full of vegetation with own beaches and usually a beautiful view to the sea and high seas. Sharm el-Sheikh, which means „the sheik’s bay“ is the area encompassing a string of larger bays (Na’ama Bay, Shark’s Bay, Coral Bay, Garden’s Bay, Um el Seid…).
We could say that Na’ama Bay is the centre of the place, today known for many hotels, restaurants and shops, while at night it turns into a lively meeting point of all lovers of night-time entertainment. Here you can find everything, from the traditional bazaars to supermarkets, from smoking nargileh and drinking Arab (we would say Turkish) coffee to Italian ice-cream and big classic hamburgers in the Hard Rock Cafe. Na’ama Bay means „friendly“ in Hebrew! All signs in the town are in English and all people working in Sharm speak English, so you will not feel like in an Arab country.
The Red Sea is clean, clear and blue, almost as our Adriatic Sea. However, it has something that our sea does not have, and these are coral reefs and beautiful views to the high seas since the Sinai Peninsula is surrounded only by a few islets. Naturally, during our winter, Sharm is an ideal seaside resort with air temperatures up to 30°C. During the summer months, temperatures are much higher than in our country and they can rise up to the maximum of 45°C, the average temperature being about 38°C. The loveliest beaches, with all contents required for fun, are situated in the hotel resorts of Na’ama Bay, Coral Bay and Shark Bay. The wonderful underwater world of Sharm el-Sheikh is a special story. As one of the most famous scuba diving destinations, apart from the Australian Great Barrier Reef, the area along the Red Sea coast is known for having the most beautiful sea bed in the world. This is especially true for the coral reefs of Tiran and Ras Mohammed which are ones of the most greatly appreciated among divers. Ras Mohammed is the name of the southernmost point of the Sinai Peninsula which today belongs to a national park. This is where two underwater currents meet, one from the Suez and the other from the Aqaba Bay, and where the sea is extremely rich with fish because of the increased quantity of plankton, so here one can see the shoals of barracudas, sharks and morays. In addition to the diversity of its underwater world, the Red Sea is also attractive to scuba divers because of several large ship wrecks. The most famous of the sunken ships are Thistlegrom, whose cargo from the World War Two has been excellently preserved, and Carnatic, a British steamship from the 19th century which allegedly transported a large quantity of gold bars. In addition to scuba diving, snorkelling – diving with a mask and flippers- is also very popular, since the mask and flippers are more than enough for exploring the flora and fauna or the Red Sea coral reefs a few meters under the sea surface. In the Na’ama Bay’s harbour there are tens of excursion ships offering tours of some of the nearby coral reefs with a mask and flippers, the ship crew being at the same the guides in the sea.
Finally, apart from sunbathing, scuba diving or golf, one can have a camel ride, visit a bedouin village, ride a jeep or motorcycle in the desert, take a trip to the Sinai Mountains…