Red Sea travel guide

The reefs of the Red Sea teem with kaleidoscopic marine life, which in turn benefits from over 150 coral species. The water is amazingly clear and many dive locations such as the Lighthouse are so close to the beach they can be accessed easily year-round. There can be few better places to gain your PADI qualification and continue your diving experiences.
If you want the spectacular reefs and marine life of the Red Sea and the convenience of shore dives, but not the crowds and gaudiness of Sharm, then you’ll love the far more low-key ambience of Dahab.
Family-friendly and pleasantly relaxed, Dahab offers a wide range of other activities beyond diving, from windsurfing to trekking and desert camping. And staying in a family-run eco hotel away from the main strip you’ll be able to forge deeper connections with the local Bedouin community, who act as instructors, guides and stewards of the reefs.
Read our Red Sea travel guide for more details.
The Red Sea is/isn't

The Red Sea is…

one of the richest marine environments in the world for scuba diving. Skip larger, busier resorts for laidback coastal communities instead. Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula is a particular gem.

The Red Sea isn’t…

just for diving. There’s an enormous range of activities available here, from windsurfing to desert camel safaris and Bedouin camp stays. Get your PADI, then go trekking in a wadi.

What do Red Sea diving
holidays involve?

One of the main reasons why the reefs and marine life of the southern Sinai Peninsula are considered to be thriving is that for a long period, diving here tailed off steeply. The threat of terrorism in Sharm El-Sheikh saw many countries suspend flights for several years, and the Red Sea tourism industry took a heavy hit. Flights have now resumed and business is picking up, but those few years of scarcity have allowed Red Sea reefs to flourish.

That’s not to say that everything is A-OK. Like virtually all coral reefs, those of the Red Sea face a range of serious threats, from climate change, which causes bleaching, to pollution, overfishing and inconsiderate diving practices that can damage coral.

Responsible diving holidays employ professional dive guides that are trained to preserve the marine environment and avoid dangers to the reefs, and will pass on their knowledge to their students. So as well as learning how to regulate your oxygen and how to signal underwater, you’ll also be clearly instructed on how to avoid kicking coral with your flippers, about the importance of picking up any litter you find down there, and why the principle of ‘look, don’t touch’ should hold sway at all times. And, because there is a ratio of just four students to each instructor, it makes it a lot easier to ensure that everyone is doing things right.
If you want to mix things up a little, or perhaps you’re not quite as passionate about diving as your partner or kids, then rest assured you’re not going to be limited to scuba diving. In Dahab, for instance, you might spent a day trekking, either on foot or camelback; spend the evening at a traditional Bedouin desert camp and sleep beneath the stars, or work your core with a paddleboarding session. And both windsurfing and kitesurfing are huge here too - reliable winds and a shallow lagoon making Dahab an ideal place to learn.
Diving holidays are tailor made, which crucially gives you flexibility on your travel dates. Courses will be scheduled around your arrival date, and if you’d like to have a day out of the water, you can arrange for another activity instead.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Diving in the Red Sea or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Where will I be staying?

A typical Red Sea diving holiday is based in Dahab, just to the north of Sharm El-Sheikh, but far less busy. The lifestyle in this former Bedouin fishing village is pleasantly laidback, though there is plenty of nightlife there if you want it. You’ll likely be staying at a family-friendly eco hotel set a little away from the main strip and close to the Eel Garden diving and snorkeling site. The staff here will manage your entire stay from PADI lessons to guided dives and any other activities you want to do while there. Local Bedouin people are employed throughout, whether it’s working at the hotel or acting as guides, providing stable employment in a town that is largely dependent on tourism.

A big advantage of Dahab is that many of the best dive sites are accessible right from the shore. You can potentially be finishing off breakfast, and wading into the sea, in the space of half an hour. Dive sites such as the Blue Hole are world-renowned, while others, such as the Lighthouse and Eel Garden, are beloved by underwater explorers who can’t be doing with the hassle of climbing onto a boat every morning.

Best time to go on a
Red Sea diving holiday

You can dive in the Red Sea at any time of year, but the summer months between June and September are considered best, as marine life is most active in this period. Bear in mind that it can top 40°C in the daytime, so you will appreciate booking accommodation with air conditioning. However the breeze and the water will cool you off even in August. Aim to spend as much time as you can in the shade or the sea, or consider colder months such as February when it’s still very sunny, with little chance of rain.

Dahab Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Rich Carey] [The Red Sea is / isn't: Derek Keats] [Elphinstone Reef: Nariman Mesharrafa] [Fish: Francesco Ungaro]