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

The most popular destinations for snorkeling in Egypt are located along the Egyptian Riviera, a series of resort cities stretching along the western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba and along the Egyptian coast of the Gulf of Suez. From north to south, the best known resorts are Tawa, Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam.

Snorkeling with clownfish in Sharm El-Sheikh, Red Sea
The Red Sea clownfish (right, photographed at Ras Um Sid) is easily spotted at shallow reefs in the Egyptian Riviera, especially in Sharm el-Sheikh (left).

Located in the Gulf of Aqaba, Sharm el-Sheikh is arguably Egypt’s most famous snorkeling destination. Many spots are accessible from the coast, edged in many places by a fringing reef offering a drop-off to the open sea. Ras Um Sid (or El Fanar Beach) is one of the best locations in the city for shore snorkeling, but most of local hotels also have their own reef access. Sharm el-Sheikh is also the starting point for snorkeling tours to fantastic nearby spots such as Ras Mohammed National Park, which protects exceptional coral reefs. Gordon Reef, a seashell-shaped reef known for the wreck of the Lovilla, is also a great spot accessible from Sharm.

Bluecheek butterflyfish at Gordons Reef
The bluecheek butterflyfish, endemic to the Red Sea, is one of the iconic fish you may spot in Egyptian waters (here, photographed at Gordon Reef).

About a hundred kilometers north of Sharm, the small town of Dahab is known to divers around the world for its Blue Hole, a vertical 394-foot-deep underwater sink hole, located a few miles north of the city. Snorkeling the coral drop offs that line the Blue Hole is an awesome experience. In Dahab, it is also possible to snorkel the reef that edges the city (in Mashraba) and at Lagon Beach.

Snorkeling with dolphins in Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam region is one of the Egyptian snorkeling hotspots: left, coral reef at Abu Dabbab; right, spinner dolphins at Sataya Reef.

On the west coast of the Gulf of Aden, Marsa Alam is another snorkeling hotspot in Egypt. This region brings together everything snorkelers can dream of: some of the best spots in the world to see dugongs (Marsa Mubarak) and spinner dolphins (Sataya Reef, aka Dolphin House), fringing reefs with colorful life (for example in Abu Dabbab, Gorgonia Beach, Aurora Bay or Brayka Bay) and snorkeling tours to some neighboring small islands (like Shaab Marsa Alam). Encounters with green sea turtles, rather rare in Sharm el-Sheikh, are much more frequent in the region.

North of Marsa Alam, the huge resort town of Hurghada is also home to some great snorkeling spots, especially around the Giftun Islands.

Woman snorkeling Dahab's Blue Hole
Snorkeling at Dahab’s Blue Hole.

The waters of the Red Sea, protected from oceanic currents, are particularly calm and warm. These conditions have allowed the development of a lush underwater life, dominated by hard and soft corals, and marked by a high rate of endemism. With more than 200 species of corals (8% endemic to the region), more than 1,000 species of fish (17% endemics) and 1,000 species of invertebrates, Egyptian waters offer a tireless spectacle. While snorkeling on the Egyptian reefs, you will spot shoals of surgeonfish, schools of thousands of sea goldies, the unique Red Sea clownfish (endemic to the Red Sea), several species of angelfish (emperor angelfish, regal angelfish) and butterflyfish (including the bluecheek butterflyfish, maybe the Red Sea’s most iconic fish). The absence of waves, the excellent underwater visibility and the accessibility of the reef drop offs further make snorkeling explorations really easy.

When to go snorkeling Egypt?

Snorkeling is possible all the year round in 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. 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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