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Located off the coast of Marsa Alam, Shaab Marsa Alam (“Marsa Alam Reef”) is a popular snorkeling spot for day-trippers. While the massive coral reefs are well worth a visit, the site’s main attraction is its resident pod of dolphins, often encountered in the sheltered areas of the reef.

Snorkeling with dolphins at Shaab Marsa Alam
Snorkeling with spinner dolphins at Shaab Marsa Alam.

How to get to Shaab Marsa Alam snorkeling spot?

Shaab Marsa Alam is a patch reef just over 1.8 mile/3 kilometers off Marsa Alam. Like two other spots in the region known for their resident dolphins, Sataya Reef and Samadai Reef, it is sometimes referred to as “Dolphin House”. However, the chances of seeing dolphins here are less than at Samadai and Sataya.

The reef can be visited on boat trips from Marsa Alam. Service providers offer short trips to Shaab Marsa Alam only, or day trips combining Shaab Marsa Alam with other snorkeling locations, such as Shaab Samadai.

Shaab Marsa Alam snorkeling map
Shaab Marsa Alam snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Shaab Marsa Alam

The water entrance is directly from your boat.

Shaab Marsa Alam snorkeling exploration tips

Shaab Marsa Alam is around 800 meters long. Shaped like a “kidney bean”, it has a sheltered area in its hollow, known as the “Lagoon” or “Dolphin Lagoon”, where snorkeling sessions are usually held.

Snorkeler at Shaab Marsa Alam reef drop off
The reef drop off at Shaab Marsa Alam.

This spot has two main focuses:

1. The dolphins

A pod of spinner dolphins has established its territory around Shaab Marsa Alam. Although it’s impossible to predict when the dolphins are resting near the reef or feeding offshore, they are often seen during the day by groups of snorkellers.

In general, dolphins are seen in the moderately deep areas of the “Lagoon”, where the depth does not exceed 50 feet/15 meters. Encounters with this group of 15 to 20 dolphins, in an area with optimal underwater visibility, are superb.

Pair of threadfin butterflyfish at Shaab Marsa Alam
The Threadfin butterflyfish is one of the most common reef fish in the Red Sea.

2. The reef zones

Shaab Marsa Alam has some beautiful coral areas, particularly along the drop-offs that border the reef. Numerous fish live around the corals, including butterflyfish, pufferfish, surgeonfish, and large schools of sergeant majors.

When exploring the reef, always keep an eye on the blue, as dolphins often pass close by.

Pod of spinner dolphins at Shaab Marsa Alam
Shaab Marsa Alam’s pod of Spinner dolphins.

Restaurants and accommodations nearby

Day trips usually include lunch. Please ask when booking.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth50 feet/15 meters in the Dolphin Lagoon
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsCost of a snorkeling tour

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.