Dahab is a small village situated on the south eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, most visitors have been backpackers traveling independently and staying in hostels in the Masbet area. In recent years, new international chain-hotels in the Medina area and the construction of other facilities have made it a popular tourist destination. The nearest international airport is located at Sharm el-Sheikh.
The word Dahab is Arabic for gold and is possibly a reference to the geographic locality. Gold washed down from the desert mountains may have accumulated on the alluvial flood plain where the town was built. The name may also be a reference to the color of the sands to the south of the town itself.
Dahab itself has practically nothing in the way of sights, but you can easily arrange tours to some nearby points of interest.
• Ein Khudra – a Bedouin oasis.
• Coloured Canyon
• Three pools – a bedouin oasis and lovely area for snorkeling, diving or just relaxing.
• The Lagoona – a long sandy stretch close to Dahab City is the place for wind surfing, kite surfing or to admire the view.
GETTING AROUND: Dahab itself is quite simple on foot, the promenade runs right along the seafront, with all the amenities appearing along it. Shared taxis, in essence mini-buses, are a cheap way to travel locally. These do not tend to conform to a timetable. If you don’t have a car to get to Dahab from Eilat, take a taxi to the border, walk across, and grab a shared taxi on the other side.
TO DO: Dahab’s activities can be divided in two: there’s diving, and then there’s everything else. Diving is extremely popular in Dahab and the reefs here are still in relatively good shape. Known dive sites includes Abu Helal, Blue Hole, The Bells, Canyon, Coral Garden, Eel Garden, Lighthouse, Moray Garden, Islands, Three Pools, Gabr El Bint, Ras Abu Gallum.
• Bedouin Divers – Very familiar dive center directly at the coast of the Red Sea in the Mashraba area of Dahab. Bedouin Divers is located in the Bedouin Lodge Hotel, which acts very individual and can arrange for you everything: Daily Diving, PADI Courses, Camel Dive Safaris and Boat Dives, but further desert safaris and anything else giving you a good insight into the Bedouin’s life.
• Big Blue Dahab – (Tel. +20 (0)69 3640 045) is a fully equipped 5 Star Gold Palm Padi resort only meters from the reef, a relaxed and welcoming environment ideal for both snorkeling and diving. Emphasis on safety and fun with an environmental awareness. Small dive groups with our highly qualified instructors and divemasters can enjoy a full range of Padi courses and guided dives at affordable prices. Their team will make every effort to ensure your holiday exceeds expectation and is truly unforgettable.
• Blue Realm – (Tel. +20 69 364 1413; mobile +20 12 744 4873; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web site http://www.bluerealmdiving.com) Great native-run diving center (English, Dutch, German, French and Arabic available: the owner’s wife is actually Dutch and has been living there for 6 years now). They charge for two dives ¤45 (plus extra for gear rental, see the web site). Package discounts are available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is ¤260, incl. equipment (see also Special Offers page on web site). In addition to Dahab, Blue Realm arranges custom diving holidays throughout the Egyptian Red Sea.
• Desert Divers – For anyone up for a taste of the Bedouin life, this is the home of the Camel Diving Safari and has become Dahab’s center for diving & desert adventure in the Sinai. Their story began 15 years ago when the owner, Said, became Dahab’s first Bedouin to learn to dive. The place is right on the beach in the main bay (Masbat Bay, inbetween the bridge & Lighthouse Reef). Excellent for diving (PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Resort), plus unique specialities including Freediving & Freediving Safaris, Deep Desert Safaris, Rock Climbing and Yoga Safaris. Plus their famous Camel Diving Safaris, from 1-5 days with the Sinai’s most experienced guides.
• Nesima Diving Center – (Tel. 069 3640320) French-run diving center generally judged to be the best in town. They charge a premium pricewise though, as two dives will cost you ¤47 (plus ¤20/day for gear rental). Package discounts available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is ¤302.
• Poseidon Divers – Certainly the best and most professional dive center in Dahab if you plan to embrace a professional career, get into technical diving or simply do fun dive or courses in a safe and professional way. It is the only PADI Career Development Centre in town as well as a PSA and TDI Instructor facility (the only one in Egypt), you will get no shortage of divers if you do your PADI DiveMaster or Instructor course here which is a definite plus for the quality of your course. Poseidon Divers is also home to the top of the crop of technical diving with World Record Depth diver Mark Andrews as a manager and instructor.
• Red Sea Relax Diving Resort – (Tel. +20 (0)69 3641 309 http://www.red-sea-relax.com) New British run diving operation enjoying a prime beach side location in central Dahab, meters from the teeming reefs but also convenient for Dahab’s famous bizaars, lively nightlife and modern amenities. As a PADI Diving Resort on site accommodation is available with a choice of either discounted standard en-suite rooms or a bed in the dormitory complex- offered totally free for divers! A beachside restaurant (with internet terminals free to guests)and a safari office complete the all-in-one facilities. Red Sea Relax Diving Resort and its team of professional instructors offer a host of diving activities. PADI diving courses range from beginner through to Assistant Instructor, or for those already qualified daily diving takes place to any of the 20 specatacular local reefs. For those more adventurous Boat excursions and Camel Dive Safaris are easily arranged.
• Mount Sinai and Saint Catherine’s Monastery – 2 hours away by car, is a popular overnight trip from Dahab. Any guesthouse can arrange return transportation for around LE 30. Alternatively, gather a group of people, charter a taxi and beat the crowds by climbing during the day and seeing the sunset instead. It gets cold, so bring a jacket! If going to the summit during nighttime, make sure to bring flashlight, preferably worn on your head. There are some shops and teahouses along the way, so don’t worry about the provisions.
Camel, horse, jeep and quad-bike safaris – These are either parallel to the shoreline, up one of the several valleys or around the township.
Desert Safaris are organized by loads of small safari shops all along Dahab’s Masbat Bay. In addition to day tours, you can arrange to get deep into the desert with the Bedouin, who’ll take you for up to 2 weeks!• Bedouin Safari Dahab – Here, Bedouins from the South Sinai can arrange for you the individual desert trip you are looking for.
Yoga – Wether ashtanga, hatha or kundalini, yoga classes are becoming increasingly popular. Also Full-moon retreats in the nearby wadis (desert), nice!
Wind surfing – Dahab has about 270 days a year of wind, so wind surfing here is becoming as popular as diving. There are a few wind surfing schools around Lagoona area offering all levels of courses.
Kite surfing – also becoming popular in Dahab but can only be done around the lagoona area.
SCUBA diving and snorkeling – very good, with many reefs immediately adjacent to waterfront hotels. The nearby Blue Hole and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots.
STAY: Dahab has a plethora of cheap accommodation. All are rather the same, generally offering bungalow/chalet type accommodation at very reasonable prices. For the those on an extreme budget, most have areas where you can sleep on mattresses in the open air, usually for under a dollar a night, including a blanket and pillow.
• Dolphin Camp (Tel 0020 69 3640081) – Offers very good, clean and cheap rooms right on the beach in Dahab. The rooms are from 20LE-70LE some with bathroom and AC. The camp is well run and the staff are really helpful and laidback. They can arrange excellent desert trips and excursions to St Katherines monestery and Mt Sinai almongst others.
• Star of Dahab (Tel. 069 3640130, e-mail: email@example.com) – A pleasant family-run guesthouse at the southern end of Assalah, offers basic lodgings at basic prices. Excellent beachside location, but it’s a bit of a hike to the center of Assalah.
• Ali Baba Hotel (Tel. 069 3640876) – Egyptian-run hotel in a mixed European/Oriental style. Minibar, sea view, balcony, and air-con for around 25¤/room/night, there is also a “suite” (double size with bathtub) for 33¤.
• Bedouin Lodge Hotel (Tel. 069 3641 125) – Bedouin owned hotel directly at the coast of the Red Sea in the heart of Dahab (El Mashraba). Simple rooms equipped with bathroom, AC or fan. Small beach, sun roof, restaurant, dive shop. Unfortunately, management is not very friendly and efficient, and the rooms will be cleaned only if you strongly insist on doing so.
• Blue Beach Club – located between Eel Garden and Lighthouse. Clean ensuite, air conditoned rooms at reasonable prices and a fresh water swimming pool are available. www.bluebeachclub.com
• Dahab Divers – a clean and obviously newer hotel and dive centre. Rooms are air conditioned, and there are excellent showers. Official price is ¤37 per night, but is negotiable. We were particularly impressed with how helpful they were in arranging to get us out of Dahab after the bombing, given that it was in their financial interests to get us to stay as long as we’d planned.
• Neptune Beach Hotel (Tel. +20 (0)69 3641 308) – part of the Red Sea Relax Resort, Neptune Beach offers comfortable accommodation directly on the beach in Central Dahab. Choose from a Twin or Triple ensuite, air con or fan from around 24 Euro per night. All rooms equipped with minibar and free coffee and tea making facilities. Alternatively take a budget bed in the Dormitory complex- free if you’re diving at the Dive Shop. A Terrace Restaurant, Internet Cafe, Safari Office, PADI Dive School and Post Shop complete the facilities.
• Penguin Village and Diving – a clean, well-run 30-room hotel right on the water, which has a good restaurant and a dive shop. It’s popular with travellers in their 20s and 30s who are looking for a reasonably priced place, but who aren’t on a really tight budget. Rooms are around E25 for a double. Also at off-season double rooms with shared bathroom are available for only 20EGP.
• Self catering villas – great value at E50 per villa per day, sleeps four people. 30 seconds from the sea and run by europeans. Clean and well looked after. www.dahabholidayrentals.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sheikh Salem House (Tel (002)069 3641820) – a new Guest House featuring budget and mid range rooms and suites in a beautiful house owned by a Sheikh of Dahab and his familiy and managed by an english, egyptian and bedouin team. Set in a quiet spot at the northern end of the promanade with a real sandy beach. Budget rooms with amazing views and shared bathrooms from 50egp, deluxe suites with air conditioning, tv and satalite, kitchen from 150egp or 23 euros per suite per night. This is a great place for those wanting to stay in unique accommodation with a home like feel.
SAFETY: Drugs, particularly marijuana, are widely available in Dahab and famously cheap. This does not make them legal, so consider very carefully if you want to risk at best large fines and at worst lengthy prison terms in Egypt’s notoriously squalid prisons before indulging.
Women travelers are pretty safe in Dahab. As a matter of courtesy to the local customs, even though you will see quite a few girls with short skirts and tight t-shirts, please respect the fact that you are in a moslem country, and dress appropriately in the city (at the beach, bikini is no problem).