From sunken ships and wildlife to some of the most scenic crystal blue waters you will ever lay your eyes on, here are some must-see sites in the Red Sea beach city...
For some reason, when we think of beaches or holiday vacations in Egypt, Marsa Alam doesn't quite get people psyched. While most would rather make the journey to Sinai (AGAIN) for the ultimate hipster getaway or Sahel or Gouna for a more middle-of-the-road experience, this doesn't mean that other places don't have spectacular scenery and unique activities of their own. A little of research however proved to us that there are some potentially mind-blowing attractions one can go to Marsa Alam for that would make the 728 km there trip there totally worth it. Take the bus, rent a car or get yourself there by plane, and get ready to check out these sites that will surely make an impression on you - and since Marsa Alam's temperatures approach those of hell's some summer, you should go now before it gets too hot...
Hailed as one of the most perfect beaches in Egypt, El Nayzak is a natural rock pool on the Red Sea. Located 14 km south of Marsa Alam, it's rumored that it got its name from a meteor that had struck the land, hence ''nayzak'' in Arabic, turning it into one of the well-know sites for tourists and locals alike. Talk about out of this world.
This ADORABLE and very rare creature called 'gudongo' (actually dugong, but y'all know Egyptians) lives in the Mubarak reef with dolphins and turtles which makes Marsa Mubarak's diving site the perfect place for snorkelling, diving and underwater photography. Apparently there are only a handful of dugongs in the Red Sea which makes getting the opportunity to see and dive with this big sweetheart a surreal experience.
Sunken Ship (El Markeb El 3'ar2ana)
Image retrieved from panoramio.com
It's definitely no Black Pearl but look at that monster! We've got the makings of an adventure to remember right there! Be it the SS Numibia or El Qaher, there are at least five fully sunken ships within 100 miles of Marsa Alam. Apparently, this was the prime route for shipping between Europe and Asia after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1986, but the reefs and shoals were pretty dangerous so a lot of vessels ended up sinking. The cool thing? You can actually dive at the sunken sites if you get permission and if you're an experienced diver.
These plants, which someone magically grow out of salt water, are definitely worth checking out. Almost all Egyptian mangroves are now protected and and the Red Sea coast boasts pretty much the only mangroves we've got. Found growing right out of the water, they are such a lovely sight, blending plants into the beach setting. Also, they're important for the coast's eco-system because they provide protection for bird life in terms of nesting.
Valley of the Camels (Wadi El Gemal) National Park
Camels everywhere. Camels probably giving you the stink eye. Camels being their beautiful selves. The protectorate covers some 5,000 square kilometers and includes a mountainous area, several islands and a rich variety of animal and bird types as well as several endangered species. The valley can be accessed by an entrance from the coastal road, about 45 km south of the town of Marsa Alam.
Qulaan Islands stretch over a bay that is divided into four pieces of land with mangroves growing all along. A day can easily be spent there before heading back into the heart of the Wadi El Gemal protectorate where the Ababda and Bashareya tribes live. If you're lucky, maybe you will get to sample their coffee and see how life is like for these nomadic and goat-herding Bedouins.
Egypt boasts wonderful night skies; the stargazing opportunities are abound provided one is at the right place. The idea of getting comfortable outdoors and getting to observe the night sky in Marsa Alam's clear weather sounds idyllic. Be sure to stick to the right address though, as there are a few military astronomy posts on your way there.
Main image by Gigi Ibrahim, Fickr.