A relatively new destination
At the southern end of the Red Sea Riviera in Egypt, Marsa Alam is there to be discovered. Just north of the Tropic of Cancer, where the Arabian Desert greets the warm sea, it’s a lush paradise of palms and mangroves, bounded by barrier coral reefs. Expect to hear much more of it in the future. For now, it’s comparatively unspoilt and a haven of calm. So enjoy!
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Marsa Alam isn't geared up for shopping. Hotels are spread over a 100km stretch of coastline, and the only reason most people leave their resort is to go diving. The scruffy town of Marsa Alam itself offers little for would-be shoppers. For a shopping experience with a difference, most resorts in the area offer guided day trips to the ramshackle outpost of Shalatein (250km south of Marsa Alam), near to the Sudanese border. Shalatein's intriguing and chaotic camel market and souk is a fascinating (and smelly) shopping experience.
Food & Drink
The town of Marsa Alam offers little incentive to venture out beyond your resort walls for foodie delights, and most visitors stick to the restaurants and bars offered within their hotel. If you do find yourself in town for some reason, one place not to miss is Dolce & Salato (68 Street) which dishes up authentic Italian pizza. One special foodie treat, possible while staying in the area, is a desert dining evening where you'll feast on Bedouin specialities amid the sand dunes. All the resorts can arrange this for you.
Hurghada International Festival
Head north to Hurghada to participate in the Red Sea's most important sporting festival. The main event is an off-road 75km run from the sea to the desert mountains.
This national holiday marks the beginning of spring. Many local families flock to Marsa Alam to celebrate, taking the opportunity for picnicking fun upon the sand. It's a fantastic opportunity to experience Egyptian culture if you're here at this time.
The heat above ground may be stifling but if you're here specifically for the diving, this is the time to go. Underwater visibility is at its best, sea temperatures average 26°C, and sea conditions are calm.
An important stopover point on the migratory bird route between Africa and Europe, the Wadi Lahami mangrove forests (120km south of Marsa Alam) are prime birdwatching territory during the month of September.
The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha (the feast of sacrifice) remembers the Prophet Abraham's sacrifice. Families descend on Marsa Alam's resorts for the four-day holiday, and some of the resorts put on special entertainment during the evening.
Egypt's top pick for secluded holidays, Marsa Alam remains the Red Sea's best-kept secret. All the resorts are all-inclusive and sheltered by private sweeps of white-sand beach. It's not all about laid-back beach living though. This is a diving paradise and the nearest jumping-off point to the remarkable underwater dive sites of the southern Red Sea. Splash out in style at the Intercontinental's Palace Port Ghalib Resort (Port Ghalib), where service and facilities are geared to have you in relaxation mode as soon as you arrive. The more budget-conscious travellers should check out either Kahramana Beach Resort (Marsa Alam Road) or the Crowne Plaza Sahara Oasis Port Ghalib Resort (Port Ghalib).