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Who has never dreamed of swimming on the surface of a turquoise sea, surrounded by dozens of playful dolphins, in the wild? Sataya Reef (also known as the “Dolphin House”), located off the Egyptian Riviera, is simply one of the best places in the world to live this unique experience.

Snorkelers observing a pod of spinner dolphins at Sataya Reef
Snorkelers observing a pod of spinner dolphins at Sataya Reef.

How to get to Sataya Reef snorkeling spot?

Sataya Reef is a coral reef located in the Red Sea, about 6 mi/10 km off the coast of the Egyptian Riviera. It is only reachable by boat. If most visitors opt for a day trip (from euro 65 per person., meals and snorkel gear included), most liveaboards in the Southern Red Sea stop include Sataya in their itinerary.

Most of the day tours depart from Hamata Jetty, located about 60 mi/100 km south of Marsa Alam. From there, the boat trip lasts from 2h to 2h30.

Do not confuse Sataya Reef “Dolphin House” with Shaab Samadai “Dolphin House”. The two sites offer similar “snorkeling with dolphins” experiences but are over 100km apart. Tours to Shaab Samadai usually depart from Marsa Alam Marina.

Carte snorkeling à Sataya Reef (Dolphin House)
Sataya Reef – Dolphin House snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Sataya Reef

Once on the reef, you will board a zodiac with your guide, in search of the dolphins. Once they are located, you’ll have to jump in the water from your boat to swim with them.

To snorkel the reef areas (snorkeling areas 2 and 3 on the map), you will enter the water from your boat or from a zodiac.

Sataya Reef snorkeling exploration tips

Sataya is a half-moon-shaped coral reef, stretching for almost 3 mi/5 km on its greatest length. It forms a shallow, sheltered lagoon (16 to 32 feet/5 to 10 meters on average), in which large pods of spinner dolphins enter daily.

Dolphins are usually present on the northern side of the lagoon (snorkeling area 1 on the map above).

Snorkeling with dolphins at Sataya Reef
Sataya is one of the best places in the world to swim with dolphins in the wild.

The lagoon serves as a haven for spinner dolphins, protecting them from sharks, where they can rest and feed their calves. This almost permanent presence of dolphins makes Sataya Reef one of the best places in the world to swim with them in the wild.

It is not uncommon to snorkel with pods of 40 to 60 playful and inquisitive dolphins, swimming around snorkelers during a few tens of minutes. This show will undoubtedly be one of your most beautiful underwater memories. Always observe the dolphin-watching rules: swim gently, do not try to touch them, and do not feed them.

Green sea turtle at Sataya Reef
Green sea turtles are frequent visitors to the Northern Reef (snorkeling area 2 on the map).

Dolphin watching in Sataya Reef is easy but is not guaranteed. Sometimes dolphins move out of the lagoon for several hours. If you have opted for a day trip (which only allows a few hour’s visit to the reef), you may leave Sataya Reef without getting the chance to see the dolphins.

Some day tours (and almost all liveaboards) also offer the possibility of snorkeling Sataya’s coral reef areas. The usual snorkeling areas are the Northern Reef (area 2 on the map) and the Southern Reef (also called the Coral Garden, area 3 on the map).

The Coral Garden at Sataya Southern Reef (snorkeling area 3 on the map).
The Coral Garden at Sataya Southern Reef (snorkeling area 3 on the map).

Above the corals, you will surely spot clownfish in their anemone, triggerfish, butterflyfish, bannerfish, and even some green sea turtles, enjoying the shelter of the lagoon too.

Restaurants and accommodation in Sataya Reef

Day trips and liveaboards include meals and drinks.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaSataya Reef Protected Area
  • Maximum depth65 ft / 20 m
  • Water entranceFrom a zodiac or a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsDay tours from €65 per person
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.