Marsa Alam Red Sea Egypt

Marsa Alam, the fastest-growing holiday resort

About 220 km south of Hurghada, Marsa Alam is among the fastest-growing holiday resorts on the Red Sea Riviera and is popular with windsurfers, scuba divers, snorkelers, and beach-loving sunseekers lucky enough to have already discovered Marsa Alam’s tranquility and beauty. Fringed with palm trees and mangroves, this is a real-life tropical paradise and an ideal base for further exploration.

Like some other resorts on the Riviera, Marsa Alam was once a small fishing village, and the addition of Marsa Alam International Airport to the area allowed the town to enter into the realm of tourism, and since then the area has become one of Egypt’s secret treasures, especially among divers and snorkelers looking for a new destination off the beaten track.

For diving enthusiasts, The Red Sea is a glorious treasure waiting to be discovered, boasting kilometers of beautiful coral reefs and an abundance of magnificently colored sea life.

Uncrowded dive sites

While Egypt has become a popular destination for divers eager to experience the magic of the Red Sea first hand, the spectacular dive sites of Marsa Alam remain relatively uncrowded, allowing holidaymakers to discover the area’s shipwrecks, coral walls, and underwater gardens in peace.

Marsa Alam’s top diving spots are popular for their unspoiled beauty. Elphinstone, situated 6.5 nautical miles from the Marsa Alam coast, is teeming with life including sea turtles and reef fish, as well as larger pelagics.

With a shallow northern plateau for snorkeling and a far deeper southern plateau, this area is suitable for sea users of all skill levels, from snorkelers to experienced divers.

Shaab Samadai, or Dolphin House, a curved reef off of the southern Marsa Alam coast, is so named because of a pod of 60 or so spinner dolphins who are often seen here. In addition to the dolphins, this shallow, turquoise lagoon is also populated by schools of reef fish including leopard groupers, lionfish, and masked butterfly fish.

Adventurous undersea explorers will love the idea of diving into the underwater caves and pinnacles to the south.
Fury Shoal is a diverse coral garden that makes a wondrous diving location. A network of hard coral formations makes up a complex reef inhabited by a variety of pelagic fish and dolphins, and even contains the wrecks of a tugboat and a sailing ship for your exploration.

On dry land, Marsa Alam is the home of an increasing number of luxurious hotels, from three to five stars.

Adventure in the desert

For those seeking adventure in the desert, there are tours and attractions aplenty near Marsa Alam. Quad bike or jeep safaris into the desert, including a visit to a genuine Bedouin village, can be taken from the resort, and are available as full or half-day excursions, which include a barbecue and entertainment at the Bedouin village, and the chance to ride a camel in the Egyptian desert.

It is believed that the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs mined brilliant green emeralds in the mountainous areas of the Eastern Desert southwest of Marsa Alam. The Cleopatra Mines or Mons Smaragdus (Emerald Mountains) became the most famous mining complex in the ancient world, and at various times the mines at Wadi Gemal, Wadi Sikeit, Wadi Nuqrus, and Gebel Zabara were in use during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Today the ruins of the Zabara and Sikeit mining settlements are still evident near Marsa Alam, as well as the remains of temples and ancient caves.

Visitors looking for history will do well to visit the mines, which, like so many sites of natural resources in Egypt, bear evidence of several different civilizations that have made use of the precious stones over thousands of years.

Also not far from Marsa Alam are the remains of the Roman port settlement, Myos Hormos, where visitors can see remarkably well-preserved Roman artifacts and as many as 200 hieroglyphic tablets adorning the cliffs at Wadi Hammamat. Many of these tablets are 4,000 years old and depict traditional reed boats traveling to the Nile. Hammamat is also famous for Bekheny stone, a beautiful green ornamental rock that was considered sacred in ancient times. The stone was actively quarried until Roman times, and used to make bowls, statues, and even sarcophagi. Many items made from Bekheny stone have been found in the Pyramid tombs of the Pharaohs. In later years, the Romans built watchtowers along the wadi, many of which can still be found still there today.

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