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Shaab Samadai is one of the most famous snorkeling spots in Marsa Alam. It owes its popularity to the pod of spinner dolphins that have settled around the reef, and they can be seen in the area almost every day. Tours for Shaab Samadai depart from Marsa Alam and generally include two snorkeling locations on the same day: the first to the deep areas where dolphins are usually found, and the second to the adjacent beautiful coral reefs.

Snorkelers at Shaab Samadai reef drop off
Snorkelers over Samadai Reef.

How to go snorkeling with dolphins at Shaab Samadai

Shaab Samadai (Samadai Reef), aka “Marsa Alam Dolphin House” is a reef located about fifteen kilometers southeast of Marsa Alam. Access to this site, declared as a National Park since 2004, is regulated.

To get there, you will need to book a day boat trip that includes snorkeling a with dolphins activity. Prices vary between €45 and €60 per person, all-inclusive. The boat trip from Marsa Alam Marina to the reef takes 40 to 50 minutes.

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

Shaab Samadai Dolphin House snorkeling map
Zone A: no-entry zone (dolphins resting area); Zone B: no-boats zone, snorkeling only allowed with a guide; Zone C: free snorkeling/scuba diving area. Zones 1 and 2 are the two snorkeling areas described below.

Water entrance for snorkeling Samadai Reef

You will enter the water from a zodiac, which will take you to the designated snorkeling area. Wearing a floating vest, provided by your guide, is mandatory in the water.

Snorkeling with dolphins at Samadai Reef

The large pod of spinner dolphins that have settled near the reef is Shaab Samadai’s main attraction. The horseshoe-shaped reef, offering calm, sheltered waters, allows the dolphins to rest and feed their calves.

Pod of dolphins at Shaab Samadai
Shaab Samadai’s is called home by a large pod of spinner dolphins.

Snorkeling with Shaab Samadai dolphins is only permitted in a restricted area, called “zone B” (snorkeling area 1, see map above). To the north (zone A), all activities are prohibited to provide a haven to dolphins.

In zone B (snorkeling with dolphins), the water height can reach 80ft/25m. Visibility is generally excellent, around 100ft/30m. While dolphins are often in the area, they also go out to sea, so it is not guaranteed that you will see them during the tour.

It is prohibited to try to interact with the dolphins, for example, to try to touch them or to chase them. The mandatory floating vest also prevents snorkelers from skindiving.

Shaab Samadai coral reef
In reef areas, corals are healthy. Many reef fish can be seen around the reef, like this pair of black-tailed butterflyfish.

A second snorkeling activity, around the coral pinnacles that emerge near the boat mooring area, is generally included in the tours. The reefs, which outcrop about 3ft/1m from the surface, then plunge into 50-55ft/15-17m sandy beds.

In this area, you can enjoy all the diversity of the coral reefs of the Red Sea. Around the preserved corals, you’ll spot a large number of colorful reef fish. The Sohal surgeonfish, the regal angelfish, the masked pufferfish, and several varieties of butterflyfish (black-tailed butterflyfish, Red Sea raccoon butterflyfish) are among the most common.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Most tours include lunch, taken on the boat. Inquire when booking.

 

  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth80ft/25m in the dolphins area, 3 to 50ft/1 to 15m on the reefs
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour (around 45 to 60 euro pp.)

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.