Hurghada – Egyptian Beach Resort Town That Never Disappoints!
Not too long ago, the impressive town of Hurghada was an obscure and relatively small fishing village, languishing on the Red Sea. You can’t keep a place like Hurghada a secret forever – this splendid stretch of pristine beach is practically unrecognizable from it’s fishing village past, and has flourished into what is now one of the most talked about, fun filled, popular tourist holiday destinations in all of Egypt.
Boasting more that one hundred different accommodations located mainly along the resort town’s tranquil shoreline, Hurghada is world famous for its diving conditions, kite surfing, SCUBA diving and snorkeling opportunities. Hurghada has grown to embrace tourism in its beautiful town, welcoming travelers from all over the world. Many visiting Hurghada take the opportunity to pair their beach resort vacation with a visit to one of the other numerous hot spots in Egypt, such as the nearby city of Luxor and all of its archaeological marvels.
You’ll discover that the majority of major airlines in Europe and of course the Middle East link directly with Hurghada International Airport (IATAL HRG) without any stops in Cairo, surprisingly. Air fare will vary greatly, depending on the time of booking as well as the airline itself – luckily you can usually swing last minute flights by visiting a variety of different air fare booking sites such as FlightHub.com or SkyScanner.net. Keep an eye on trends in prices and know when to pounce on a good deal.
Upon arrival in the Hurghada International Airport, you will encounter a large sign reading “VISA 25USD”, and you will be required to move to a desk where you will need to purchase the visa – your other option is to head to the National Bank of Egypt stand which is in the same vicinity, and present your passport along with exactly $25 USD to the attendant in exchange for a visa. In most visitors’ experience this method is quicker and cheaper.
If you are actually planning to come from Cairo, you get a flight into Hurghada on Egypt Air Express, a subsidiary of Egypt Air, which is the national airline of the country servicing international and domestic locations in Egypt. Prices are usually between 400 and 900 Egyptian pounds, depending on when you book your flight, as well as the season. From Sharm el-Sheikh you are able to get a flight with Egypt Air roughly 450 to 550 LE, and the trip will only take you around one hour.
Hurghada is home to a wealth of different activities, many of which are unique to the region and can’t be experienced anywhere else on Earth. Try hopping on quad bikes with a group of friends and going on a safari hundreds of miles into the Sahara desert to share a meal with a Bedouin tribe.
While it’s true that Hurghada is a fun-in-the-sun beach resort, if you were to choose to stay within the confines of your hotel complex for the duration of your holiday, you would be missing out on so many opportunities. Hurghada is a great place for divers of all skill levels. What makes this resort town on the Red Sea worth seeing in person is all of the beauty to behold underneath the surface of the water. The easiest way to keep dry while taking in the sights below the waves may be the glass bottomed boat or the submarine but it’s much more exciting to jump in yourself and snorkel around the colourful coral reefs, full of life and surrounded by vibrant fish and plants.
There are plenty of snorkeling tours offered everywhere around Hurghada, so check out a few of them and see which one you feel the most comfortable. All of the tour operators in Hurghada are professionals who enjoy the work that they do, and are there to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask questions before committing to a tour.
Usually a diving tour will take up the majority of the day, with a boat taking you out into the waters until it reaches a reef. Typically, you would go snorkeling before lunch, and then enjoy a meal offered onboard which would be included in the price of your diving tour. As you luxuriate over your meal on the sea, the boat will move to another location where you take to the waters once again and see the new sights. Keep in mind that your boat will likely hold up to twenty or thirty people, and will probably not be the only tour boat around. Many of the diving tour boats operate in close proximity with each other, with some of them anchoring together, one tied to the other. There will be many people snorkeling together in most of the best spots, but don’t despair. There’s plenty of wide open spaces down there, and so much to see. An unbelievably variety of maritime fauna, fantastic coral, schools of colourful fish and other incredible sights will be your main focus.
After a day of snorkeling off the coast, you can get set up with a camel riding caravan across the Biblical plains to witness some seriously ancient and remote wonders first hand. If that sounds a little too ambitious for you, many of the local hotels offer camel rides on their grounds along the beach which is a fun photo opportunity and a thrilling experience for young and old. Camel rides are also usually available when visiting Bedouin camp sites – it’s a popular tourist activity that visitors to the region can’t get enough of, and who can really blame them? It makes for a fun memory, and it’s a quintessential Middle Eastern activity despite the fact that camels were probably first used for transport in Somalia, and the majority of Middle Eastern population has never sat on the back of a camel – kind of like going on a dogsled ride in Canada.
No matter the circumstance, it’s an opportunity to get a fun photo to take home as a souvenir and you can find camel rides all over the place in Hurghada. Remember to settle the price of the ride before you get a leg up on that dromedary. Depending on where you are in the region, it’s not unheard of for some of the more dishonest camel owners to try to charge you twice – once when you start the ride, and then insist on a payment again when you get off.
Hurghada offers boat trips to and around the unpopulated Big and Little Giftun Islands, where a variety of different activities await. Big Giftun Island is roughly eleven kilometers in length, and is the only island of the two that allows tourists. It has mountains reaching up to eighty meters high. All the islands you will find around Hurghada are protected. The only exception to this rule is the for the larger island of Big Giftun. The government has provided this island as a free destination for tourists to come and see.
Little Giftun island is situated to the east of Big Giftun Island, and is only about two and a half kilometers in length. The smaller island also boasts some mountains of its own, but none reaching as high as the ones on its bigger neighbour. There is a Government Office for HEPCA on the island, working to protect the environment, and also a radar installation. HEPCA stands for the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association, an organization that aims to improve and protect the environment around the popular resort town. The two Giftun Islands are higher than Hurghada and they are easy to recognise. They offer the perfect locations for both diving and snorkeling. A snorkeling trip to the Giftun Islands would typically feature:
– Pick up as well as drop off at your hotel
– All transfers made by an air-conditioned vehicle
– An English speaking guide
– Rental of all necessary snorkeling equipment
– Lunch provided on board the boat
– Water, and a selection of other drinks
For new travelers to the region, experiencing Egypt for the first time, karkaday and chi are high on the list of must-try beverages. Karkaday is a drink made from an infusion of hibiscus, and it can be served up hot or cold. It’s delicious and refreshing, and reputed to have a number of health benefits such as lowering blood pressure. Chi is the local version of tea, usually served in a glass, and can be found pretty much anywhere in the region. Both drinks are recommended with a smoke on a “sheesha” pipe – known as a hookah in the west. Sheeshas are pretty common and used for smoking molasses tobacco in a variety of different flavours, with the smoke passing through water before you inhale it through a long tube attached to the bowl.
If you’re looking for a splashing good time, you can always give the sea a rest and head to Makadi Water World. The aqua park is open from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm; the beverage bar is open from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm; the snack bar is open from noon time until 4:00 pm.
Visit the African destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Africa!