Things to Do in Red Sea
The two Giftun Islands—Giftun Kebir and Giftun Sughayer—are some of the closest to Egypt’s resort town of Hurghada and comprise part of a marine reserve in the Red Sea with spectacular coral reefs and drop-offs teeming with life. Day-trippers come for snorkeling, diving, and sunbathing on the pair of islands’ pristine, protected beaches.
Opened in 2008, Hurghada Marina is the recreational hub of the Red Sea resort. Centered on a 200-berth harbour and bordered by the Marina Boulevard—a walkway flanked by palms, parks, and ochre-painted shops and residential blocks—the marina boasts an abundance of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
On the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Ras Mohammed National Park is home to Sharm el Sheikh’s best diving, notably Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef, and Jackfish Alley. Besides the pristine coral that awaits offshore, the land delivers empty beaches, rugged cliffs, and desert, plus mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and diverse birdlife.
Mt. Sinai rises a lofty 7,497 feet (2,285 meters) above sea level and is an important religious pilgrimage site, where the prophet Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments directly from God. Visit the site’s ancient monastery or hike to the summit for panoramic views of Egypt’s mountainous Sinai Peninsula.
Set beneath a mountain many believe to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery has a heritage dating back to the fourth century AD and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still a working monastery, St. Catherine’s has defensive walls that house chapels, a library museum, and what is claimed to be a descendant of the Biblical burning bush.
The Hurghada Grand Aquarium focuses on the the aquatic wonderland lying offshore. Whether you’re a keen snorkeler or merely want to learn more about the world’s rare coral reefs, the museum reveals plenty of insights into the Red Sea’s ecological environment, including all the animals, like sharks and turtles, that call it home.
Despite the name, Mahmya Island is not actually an island: it’s one section of Big Giftun Island in the Giftun Islands, off Hurghada’s Red Sea coast. Lounge on the sandy beaches; snorkel the coral reef from the beach or a boat; rent a “Sea-Spi’ glass-bottom watercraft; or eat and drink at the restaurants.
Just 4 miles (6 kilometers) off the Sinai coast, Tiran Island technically belongs to Saudi Arabia—yet its waters are part of Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park. The challenging diving around the Straits of Tiran is some of Egypt’s best, while the island is a mecca for snorkelers who appreciate its crystal waters and unspoiled coral reef.
The corals of Careless Reef, set in the open waters of the Red Sea about an hour from Hurghada, are flourishing again as it recovers from the crown-of-thorns seastar’s predation. With excellent visibility, shallow pinnacles, and a steep wall with caves and overhangs, it offers something for every diver, including the chance of big pelagics.
Sun-worshipping crowds give way to energetic nightlife when the sun sets at Na’ama Bay, where resorts, clubs, and bars share Sharm el Sheikh’s most happening shorefront. Whether you’re exploring the undersea world, hopping a ride on a parasail, or keeping the party going back on land, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
More Things to Do in Red Sea
North of Hurghada’s luxury resorts lies the Old Town of El Dahar, where you’ll find the city’s most authentic restaurants and shops. A highlight of the area is a traditional Egyptian souk that’s crammed with shops selling leather, copper, papyrus, spices, and shisha pipes.
Hollywood Sharm el Sheikh brings the Hollywood movie experience to the Sinai Peninsula. This dining and entertainment zone features an animatronic dinosaur park, 7D cinema, musical fountains and statues of international celebrities scattered throughout. Regular live entertainment might involve folk music, belly dancing or living singing, and every Friday evening, Hollywood hosts a pool and foam party with live DJs.
Hungry visitors have a few movie-themed restaurants to choose from, including Jaws Restaurant overlooking the dancing fountains and Titanic Restaurant, where the decor and the music were inspired by the Oscar-winning film. A collection of shops within the park sell goods with set prices, eliminating the hassle of bartering so common in Egypt.
In the Makadi Bay resort area south of Hurghada, Makadi Water World is one of Egypt’s biggest water parks. Fifty different rides and slides include 25 adult-centered experiences such as Twister, Kamikaze, Space Boat, Black Hole, and Turbo Tunnel, and 25 kid-friendly rides. There’s also a surf simulator, wave pool, and lazy river.
The open-air theater at the Hurghada Alf Leila Wa Leila hotel plays host each evening to the spectacular Fantasia show, often known as Alf Leila Wa Leila (1,001 Nights. The 2,500-capacity space delivers a feast of Arab, Bedouin, and Egyptian culture, folklore, history, and dance, complete with a horse show and an illuminated fountain.
The only dolphinarium in South Sinai, Sharm el Sheik's Dolphina Park houses a pod of dolphins in its state-of-the-art facilities. Trained professionals care for and work with the dolphins—naturally very intelligent and playful animals—while giving visitors to the park an opportunity to observe these cetaceans and learn more about their behaviors, habitats, and social structures. Check out the dolphin shows to see highly choreographed performances showcasing the dolphins' intelligence.
A resort town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Sharm el Sheikh offers snorkeling, diving, and desert trips. It's also close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. Catherine’s Monastery. Ships dock at the in-town Sharm el Sheikh Port (rather than at a dedicated cruise port), and you may need to tender if another ship is docked.
Safaga Cruise Port sits in the small town of Safaga, on the shores of the Red Sea. With few attractions to recommend either the port or the town, Safaga Cruise Port is primarily known as a jumping-off point for getting to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luxor, situated some 157 miles (253 kilometers) away.
Egypt’s rare porphyry was highly valued by the ancient Romans, and this former Roman quarry—once a thriving settlement of houses, temples, and workshops—was mined for its precious purple and white crystalline stone, used to decorate columns, sarcophagi, and temples. Relics and ruins of this activity remain at this archaeological site.
Sharm el Sheikh Old Town (Sharm el Maya) was the first resort area in Sharm el Sheikh, created when the Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula after the Six-Day War. Today, the Old Market is a major point of interest in the area, a popular beach resort.
Part of Aqua Park City, the Aqua Blu Water Park (also known as Aqua Blu Aqua Park is one of Sharm el Sheikh’s biggest water parks. More than 60 different slides and games offer something for everyone—from freefall, high-speed, and kamikaze slides through to a little kids’ zone and even rides for infants.
Named for the Egyptian military hero Abdul Munim Riad, the Abdel-Moneim Riad Mosque can be spelled many different ways in English. Built in the early ’70s, not long after Riad was killed in action, the mosque’s twin minarets tower above El Dahar (Old Town, Hurghada’s most traditionally Egyptian district.