10 Must See Things in Marsa Alam

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Over the last decade, small villages such as marsa alam and Marsa Matrouh have grown considerably and become major tourist centers, with more affordable prices and enviable services than those offered by nearby competitors. Marsa Alam, in particular, was born as a fishing village (the translation of the name literally means "port of the flag"), washed by the Red Sea and surrounded by the desert. Only since 2003 has it expanded, increasing its popularity and becoming the ideal destination for those who love spending their holidays by the sea. That's why we show you all below the attractions and points of interest that are absolutely worth visiting if you are in Marsa Alam!


  1. Barrier Reef
  2. Dolphin House
  3. Abu Dabab beach
  4. Wadi Gimal National Park
  5. Temple of Horus
  6. Desert excursion
  7. Sharm el Luli beach
  8. Shalateen (Camel Market)
  9. Cairo
  10. Luxor
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Coral reef

You can't really think of talking about Marsa Alam without naming what makes this place so special and desirable: its coral reef, one of the most beautiful in the world! Enchanting to discover both through diving and, for the less experienced, by snorkeling, the depths of the Red Sea in this area are rich in marine species, many of them at risk of extinction. Among the most frequent encounters that can be made in these waters: sea turtles, rays, but also butterfly fish, picasso fish, unicorn fish and sea eagles. Not to forget the amount of corals e aquatic plants present: if you have the opportunity, remember to take a camera suitable for diving with you ... The shots and shooting of effect are guaranteed!

  • Everywhere, in the seabed near the town of Marsa Alam - Get directions
  • Always, better early in the morning when there are few people at sea

2 - Dolphin House

Not only tropical fish and turtles, but also dolphins have identified the waters of Marsa Alam as a habitat conducive to their own development. Specifically, 30 km south of the city center, stands a reef in the middle of the sea with a curious horseshoe shape: this reef offers shelter to a large herd of dolphins, probably escaped from the Hurghada area due to the overcrowding of the beaches and, consequently, of the boats that disturbed and threatened the existence of these wonderful specimens. Having found protection and safety in this new "home", the reef is now known as the Dolphin House (fortunately not yet targeted by mass tourism).
To reach this area, it is necessary to book the excursion through an organized group: be careful, however, not to rely on the first available company ... Many in fact do not comply with adequate safety standards or keep the boats at the right distance from dolphins, risking to annoy and / or be dangerous for the animals. Do some research before booking!

  • follow the signs for Dolphin House approximately 35km south of the city. From the starting point of the boats, it is then necessary to join an organized group to reach the lookout point in the middle of the sea - Get directions
  • from sunrise to sunset (always book well in advance, depending on the period you are interested in. The daily number of tourists visiting the reef is limited).
  • The cost of the tours offered by local agencies is around € 40,00 / 50,00, including boat excursion, technical clothing and lunch on board.

3 - Abu Dabab beach

Among the most beautiful beaches in the region, that of Abu Dabab is undoubtedly one of the most popular in the area both for the fabulous resorts that have sprung up in its surroundings, and for the particularity of the place: the waters in front of the beach, in fact, they are populated by several specimens of giant tortoises, but also by those who are nicknamed the "cows of the sea", or the gigantic but innucui dugongs. Being a rather shy animal it will not be very easy to spot, although it seems that this is the best area for sightings (Abu Dabab bay is also known as the Bay of the Dugong), especially during the mating season: the dugong in fact emits complaints on the surface to attract the partner before mating, complaints that in ancient times were associated with nothing less than the melodious songs of the sirens. The best way to see a dugong, however, remains to approach discreetly (and with your eyes wide open!) To the sandy bottoms where this specimen lives: if you are lucky, you might see one right below you resting blissfully on a soft sand bed.

  • By car, just follow the signs for Abu Dabab or the Dugong Bay. But be careful not to crash into any of the many luxury resorts that overlook the beach! Get directions
  • Always.
  • Free

4 - Wadi Gimal National Park

Not far from Marsa Alam, there are glimpses worthy of a glossy magazine, so beautiful that they have the power to leave everyone speechless. These are the so-called Egyptian Maldives, located within the Wadi Gimal National Park: imagine dreamy atolls lost in the middle of the sea, white beaches and water with a color so crystalline that it seems almost fake.

To reach this corner of paradise, you need aexcursion boat from the port of Hamata lasting about 45 minutes, but the journey is absolutely worth it. But be careful not to leave waste lying around: in addition to a matter of education, Wadi Gimal is a protected national park, this means that the utmost respect for the plant and animal species that live there is required, and fines could be also quite salty!

  • from Marsa Alam just reach the nearby port of Hamata, and then get on one of the boats that make the crossing. Count about 15 minutes by car and 45 minutes of navigation - Get directions
  • 9:00AM - 17:00PM
  • it depends on the company you are referring to, usually around € 40,00.

5 - Temple of Horus

If you want to take a break from the beach life and organize a day excursion, you might be interested that not exactly a few steps from Marsa Alam, more precisely near Edfu, is a well preserved temple dedicated to the god Horus (usually represented with the body of a man and the head of a hawk). This temple was built in three phases starting in 237 BC and is protected by a perimeter of walls and pillars.

The particularity of the historic site, however, is linked to numerous ancient inscriptions that distinguish it: hunting scenes, herds of animals, hieroglyphs and merchant caravans decorate some of the internal rooms and some of the external walls of the site. Furthermore, the desert landscape that surrounds the entire area will make the visit even more suggestive.

  • Edfu is about 3 hours by car from Marsa Alam. Having to cross a semi-desert area, if you are traveling by private car, keep an eye on the petrol level - Get directions
  • 9:00AM - 17:00PM
  • About 15,00

6 - Excursion to the desert

If it is true that the sea remains one of the main attractions of Marsa Alam, it is also true that one cannot ignore the desert hinterland that characterizes the Egyptian landscape for kilometers and kilometers. In the area closest to the Red Sea, the desert is made up of hills of metamorphic rock and characterized by the presence of numerous wadis (canyons of various sizes formed by the passage of a torrent, dried up for most of the year). There are many companies that organize stays of one or more days in the desert, offering tourists the opportunity to visit Bedouin communities, drinking the typical local tea or making excursions by jeep or quad at sunset For the more adventurous, it is also possible to take a walk to discover the canyons of the area on the back of camels.

It will seem obvious to say it, yet we would like to specify it anyway: for safety reasons, it is strongly not recommended to venture alone in the middle of the desert, for any reason! There are plenty of companies that organize this type of experience, choose carefully the solution that suits you best and enjoy your adventure in safe hands.

  • Rely on an agency or a local company, they will take care of everything (from travel, to any overnight stays, etc.).
  • It always depends on the program you join.
  • Again, it all depends on the solution you choose, the company you rely on, etc. Usually, prices start at € 40,00 per person for half-day excursions, and then go up based on extras.

7 - Sharm el Luli beach

Another possible excursion to take around Marsa Alam can be the one that leads to the pristine bay of Sharm el Luli, a short distance from the Wadi Gimal National Park. Characterized by sandy bottoms and the almost total absence of equipment (there are no bars or organized bathrooms: stock up on water and food before going through here), this beach is one of the most appreciated by those looking for absolute silence and peace and by those who want nothing more than to enjoy the sun, the sea and the tranquility until they completely lose track of time.

The area is also ideal for observing scorpion fish and moray eels, visible among the various coral formations. For all the snorkeling equipment you can think of renting it on your own or you can request it by participating in a tour with one of the many local diving. For example, the Diving inside the SeaClub Gorgonia Beach Resort offers an advantageous package including equipment / transfer to and from Sharm el Luli / guided snorkeling.

  • the beach is about 60km south of Marsa Alam and is halfway to the town of Berenice. With your own car, it is not difficult to reach it as the directions are quite well marked, however, we recommend that you take part in an organized excursion including lunch and / or equipment for snorkeling or diving - Get directions
  • Everlasting
  • The cost may vary depending on the solution you prefer: it generally goes from € 30,00 for a half-day excursion (including transfer and snorkeling equipment) to € 60,00 for a full day excursion (lunch / transfer / various equipment).

8 - Shalateen (Camel Market)

For those wishing to live an unusual experience in the middle of nowhere, we have what is right for you: Shalateen is a small town on the border with Sudan, famous for hosting an authentic Camel Market. Here, in fact, the Sudanese shepherds, recognizable by the long whips that they keep tied at the waist, bring their camels with the aim of selling them to Egyptian traders. Between bargaining, cries and animal cries, the atmosphere is quite lively: aside from the somewhat strong smells that can spread in the air, this is a truly unmissable place, especially for the most curious.

  • To get there, just take the coastal road that runs from Marsa Alam towards Sudan: about 700km of rocky desert, part of the Halaib Triangle - Get directions
  • The market is open in the middle of the day, every day, although Wednesday is recommended, when the camel drivers cross the border with the new load of cattle.
  • The visit to the market is free.

9 - Cairo

It would be a real shame to return home from your vacation in Egypt without first having a look at its capital, so full of charm and history. Located on the banks of the Nile, in the northern part of the country, Cairo is the oldest city to have risen east of the river, as well as being the most populated of the entire continent (there are more than 10 million inhabitants in the city, plus 18 million allocated in the metropolitan area and in the governorate of the same name).
Divided in two by the river, which separates the original part (east) from the more modern one (west) by the wide avenues and beautiful public gardens, Cairo attracts millions of visitors every year fascinated by the amount of monuments and places of interest nearby: among the most popular, the Necropolis of Giza, the Citadel, the Fortress of Babylon and the Egyptian museum, whose collection of archaeological finds from Ancient Egypt seems to be the most complete in the world.

  • Being the capital, it is quite easy to reach it both by own means and by public transport: however, take into account the considerable distance (we are talking about about 8 hours drive away from Marsa Alam). Alternatively, if you have enough time and the budget that allows it, opt for one of the many internal flights that connect the two cities - Get directions
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10 - Luxor

If Cairo seems a little affordable destination for reasons of time / costs, consider that in the Nile Valley there is always Luxor, the city built where once was the capital of the Middle Kingdom, Thebes. Today entirely dedicated to mass tourism, Luxor hosts some very important points of interest in the country, including the Temple of Luxor (among the major Egyptian temple complexes), the Great Temple of Amun and the Museum of Mummification (a little disturbing but very interesting).

Just outside the city, you can also visit the Karnak Templar Complex, la Kings' Valley and that of the Queens, and the Deir el-Bahar, which is the geographical area that hosts the famous Million year temples. Being closer to Marsa Alam, it is certainly an excellent compromise, also suitable for a one-day excursion.

  • Luxor is located south of Cairo, about 230 km away from Marsa Alam. By car / bus we talk about 5 hours of driving (by taxi, the cost is around € 25,00) - Get directions
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Plan your stay in Marsa Alam: flights, hotels and tours

Being located in an area completely surrounded by the desert, public connections are not always guaranteed and comfortable, so much so that it is more advisable to rely on a private transfer service o rent your own vehicle to make all movements.
Unlike many other countries in Africa and the Middle East, the Egyptian tourist areas can be considered safe areas after all, although it is always better to take a little extra caution in various situations. In this regard, remember to always consult the official portals, such as that of the Farnesina, to check the state of alert in the country before departure and do not wander alone in areas that you do not know well or that are more isolated than others.

Finally, among the different types of accommodation you can choose from, we recommend the resorts, in an all inclusive formula (especially during the winter) with lower costs than you might think and every kind of comfort. Furthermore, agencies often offer packages that also include direct round-trip flights from Marsa Alam Airport to the main Italian cities, at very advantageous prices.

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