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Last updated on April 14, 2023
Who has never dreamed of swimming on the surface of a turquoise sea, surrounded by dozens of playful dolphins, in the wild? Sataya Reef (often nicknamed “Dolphin House”), located off the Egyptian Riviera, is simply one of the best places in the world to live this unique experience.
Sataya Reef is a coral reef located in the Red Sea, about 10km off the coast of the Egyptian Riviera. It is only reachable by boat. If most visitors opt for a day trip (from euro 65 pp., meals and snorkel gear included), it is also possible to book liveaboard trips on the reef (2 to 5 nights, from euro 120 pp.).
Most of the boats depart from Hamata Jetty, located about 100 kilometers 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.
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 go to meet them.
Sataya is a half-moon shaped coral reef, stretching for almost 5km on its greatest length. It forms a shallow, sheltered lagoon (5 to 10 m on average), in which large pods of spinner dolphins enter daily.
The lagoon serves as a haven for spinner dolphins, far from the dangers of the open sea, 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 twenty to thirty 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.
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 hours visit on the reef), you may leave Sataya Reef without getting the chance to see the dolphins.
Some day tours (and all overnight stays) also offer the possibility to snorkel the inner side of the reef edging the lagoon. 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.
Day trips and liveaboard tours all include meals and drinks.
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.
Hi Guillaume, very nice report, good job. Thanks for your fantastic webpage. Juan Car
My pleasure! Thank you so much for sharing it!
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Vibrant reef drop off with corals and fish
Reef drop off with coral and fish
Deep lagoon visited by pods of spinner dolphins
Coral reefs and seagrass meadows visited by dugongs
Free shore access
Sheltered bay with coral reef and seagrass beds visited by turtles
Vibrant reef drop off with colorful fish
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