The Red Sea coast of Egypt, one of the world’s most beautiful snorkeling destination

The most popular destinations for snorkeling in the Red Sea are along the Egyptian Riviera, a series of resorts stretching along the west coast of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez. From north to south, the most renowned resorts are Taba, Dahab, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Port Safaga, Al-Quseir, Port Ghalib and Marsa Alam.

Snorkeling in Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and South Sinai

Located in South Sinai, Sharm el-Sheikh is probably the most famous snorkeling destination in Egypt. Fringing reefs, home to healthy corals and vibrant fish, run all along the city’s shore, making it easily accessible for all skill levels to explore underwater life.

Snorkeling with anemonefish
The Red Sea clownfish is easily spotted at shallow reefs in the Egyptian Riviera, especially in Sharm el-Sheikh. Here, in Ras Um Sid.

You can snorkel almost everywhere in Sharm el-Sheikh, especially from the beach resorts. Most of them are equipped with jetties allowing direct access to the reef drop-off.

The best hotels with house reefs in Sharm el-Sheikh are, from north to south, the Coral Sea Sensatori, the Park Regency Sharm El Sheikh Resort and the Mövenpick Resort Sharm el-Sheikh. Some private beaches, such as Shark Bay, provide access to the reef for visitors who do not stay on the coastline.

Aerial view of Hadaba - Faraana Beach snorkeling spots, Sharm el-Sheikh
South Sharm el-Sheik has four main snorkeling locations: Ras Um Sid, Temple Reef, Faraana Reef and Ras Katy.

It is however around Hadaba, in southern Sharm el-Sheikh, that you’ll find the city’s best snorkeling sites. The peninsula has four snorkeling locations that are filled with healthy coral reefs and abundant sea life: Ras Katy, Temple Reef, Faraana Beach, and Ras Um Sid (aka El Fanar Beach) and its kaleidoscopic drop-off.

Sharm el-Sheikh is also the starting point for day boat trips to Ras Mohammed National Park. Located around the southern tip of Sinai, it features 345 km2 of coral reefs and mangroves, and the perfect conditions for snorkeling.

Ras Mohammad National Park, Egypt
Ras Mohammed National Park, near Sharm el-Sheikh.

The four reefs of the Strait of Tiran, a few kilometers from the mainland, are another must-visit area for Egypt snorkeling enthusiasts. Jackson Reef, Woodhouse Reef, Thomas Reef and Gordon Reef, a shell-shaped reef on which a huge cargo ship ran aground, will delight all snorkeling and colorful fish lovers.

Bluecheek butterflyfish in Gordon Reef
Bluecheek butterflyfish in Gordon Reef.

A hundred kilometers north of Sharm, the small town of Dahab is known by divers from all over the world for its Blue Hole, a sinkhole vertically dropping to around 120 meters. Although you will mainly snorkel on the shallow edge of it, witnessing the Blue Hole is another otherworldly experience.

Dahab Blue Hole
Aerial view of the Blue Hole, one of the Red Sea’s most iconic snorkeling spots.

On your way to the Blue Hole, stop at The Canyon, where you can explore a small lagoon carved into the flat and a steep drop-off. Closer to downtown Dahab, you’ll find fair snorkeling on the reef that borders the city (for example in Mashraba) and at Lagoon Beach.

Snorkeling in Marsa Alam, Al-Quseir and Port Ghalib

On the west coast of the Gulf of Aden, Marsa Alam is another snorkeling hotspot in Egypt. This area has everything that avid snorkelers can dream of: dugongs, dolphins, turtles and reefs teeming with life.

Spinner dolphins at Sataya Reef
Sataya Reef is one of the world’s best locations to swim with dolphins in the wild.

The two offshore reefs of Shaab Samadai, a 45 minutes boat ride from Marsa Alam marina, and Sataya Reef, a 2-2:30 hours boat trip from Hamata jetty, are considered to be among the world’s greatest places for snorkeling with dolphins. These two horseshoe-shaped reefs provide shelter to large pods of spinner dolphins, which use to rest and nurse their calves in their calm waters.

Dugong in Marsa Mubarak
Swimming with a dugong is an experience you will never forget. Here, in Marsa Mubarak.

Marsa Alam area is also one of the few places in the world where you can swim with dugongs. Although their population is very small (it is estimated that less than ten dugongs live along the 100 km long coastline between Al-Quseir and Marsa Alam), some territorial males almost permanently reside in specific spots.

The location that offers the best chance to spot a dugong is Marsa Mubarak (or Umm El Ros, “Dugong House”), a sheltered bay with seagrass beds located a few kilometers south of Port Ghalib. In addition, dugongs are also occasionally spotted in Marsa Shouna and Abu Dabbab.

Snorkeler with a sea turtle in Abu Dabbab
Abu Dabbab is considered one of the best spots in Egypt to swim with green sea turtles.

The dugong spots are also the best locations to encounter green sea turtles, which favor the same underwater environment. While green sea turtles are almost never seen while snorkeling in Sinai, they are very easy to see (not to say unmissable) in Marsa Mubarak and Abu Dabbab.

Another option is the Gorgonia Beach Resort‘s lagoon, which is also frequently visited by turtles.

School of bluespine unicornfish at Gorgonia Beach
A school of bluespine unicornfish at Gorgonia Beach’s reef.

If you want to explore fringing reefs with colorful life in Marsa Alam, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Head to Abu Dabbab, Marsa Shagra, Mangrove Bay Resort, Gorgonia Beach Resort, Tulip Resorts, Aurora Bay, Coraya Bay, Utopia Beach Club or Brayka Bay, all of which are accessible from the shore, but with access sometimes restricted to hotel guests – see the dedicated pages.

The small coral islands off Marsa Alam that can be reached by boat, such as Shaab Marsa Alam, offer great snorkeling too.

Giant clam in Egypt
Giant clams abound in the best-preserved shallow reefs, like in Ras Um Sid.

Snorkeling in Hurghada and Port Safaga

North of Marsa Alam, Hurghada is also home to good snorkeling locations, particularly around the Giftun Islands National Park. These two small desert islands, surrounded by a turquoise sea, are very popular with day-trippers.

The most famous beaches, such as Orange Bay, Paradise Beach and Mamiya Beach, however, have poor or no coral: prefer the reef located at the southern tip of Giftun Soraya, even if it may be crowded.

Coral reef in Makadi Bay, Hurghada
The coral reef in Makadi Bay, in front of Fort Arabesque Resort.

The resorts of central Hurghada have just decent, mostly damaged house reefs. Instead, head to Makadi Bay, a few dozen kilometers south of Hurghada, where Fort Arabesque and Grand Makadi Hotel are some of the best options for all-inclusive stays with beach snorkeling. By boat, you can also reach the Blue Lagoon and Abu Hashish offshore spots.

A little further south, Port Safaga also has great snorkeling, especially on the coral reef that fringes the northern coast of Soma Bay. There, a jetty allows snorkelers to snorkel the drop-off, known as Ras Abu Soma, from the shore.

Yellowbar anglefish in Ras Um Sid
The yellowbar angelfish is easily one of the most popular fish species in Egypt. Here, in Ras Um Sid.

What will I see when snorkeling in Egypt?

The waters of the Red Sea, a semi-enclosed sea protected from the main oceanic currents, are particularly calm, with unrivaled underwater visibility. Egyptian shore waters are teeming with biodiversity rarely seen elsewhere: more than 200 species of corals, 1200 species of fish and 1000 species of invertebrates call the Egyptian Red Sea home.

Reef fish in Ras Katy, Sharm el-Sheikh
Reef fish in Ras Katy, Sharm el-Sheikh.

Most marine life makes their home in the shallows, providing the perfect opportunity for even beginner snorkelers to witness fascinating underwater life.

Snorkeling in Egypt, you’ll have the chance to swim and explore alongside a wide range of fish species including surgeonfish, sea goldies, Red Sea anemonefish, wrasse as well as several species of angelfish (such as the emperor angelfish, the yellowbar angelfish and the regal angelfish) and butterflyfish (including the iconic bluecheek butterflyfish).

Sea goldies at Dahab's Blue Hole
Sea goldies use to gather near the reef walls, like in this picture taken in the Blue Hole.

The bays sheltering extensive seagrass beds, especially Abu Dabbab and Marsa Mubarak, attract many green sea turtles with which you will enjoy swimming at shallow depths.

It is in these same spots that you might encounter the very rare dugong, especially in Marsa Mubarak. Make sure to go snorkeling early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and have the best chance of spotting them.

A crocodilefish at Utopia Beach Club.
A crocodilefish at Utopia Beach Club.

In the seagrass beds, especially in the Marsa Alam area, keep your eyes peeled for other forms of wildlife that favor these open environments including bluespotted ribbontail ray, Halavi ray and crocodilefish.

Shaab Samadai and Sataya Reef snorkeling tours provide guests with unique encounters with lively spinner dolphins.

When to go snorkeling in Egypt?

Snorkeling is possible all year round on the Red Sea coasts of Egypt, where the water temperature is relatively constant, around 77°F/25°C.

The climate, which is dry and hot in this part of Egypt, becomes sweltering from mid-June to mid-September when the temperatures can get up to 104°F/40°C.

Snorkeler in Dahab's Blue Hole
Snorkeler in Dahab’s Blue Hole.

In winter, snorkeling can be trickier because of the wind and the air temperature, which is cooler (don’t forget your rashguard). April, May, September, and October are the best months to explore the region.

Best months for snorkeling the Red Sea riviera
JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
SEPTEMBER
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
Cool and windy
Warm and sunny
Hot and sunny

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