Footprint-free white sands and coral reefs teeming with turtles, dugongs and dolphins are on the cards with holidays to Marsa Alam. This is the Red Sea coast at its most untouched.
The new kid in town
Marsa Alam is the most southern of Egypt’s resorts, occupying a virgin stretch of Red Sea coastline near the Tropic of Cancer. Its shimmering beaches and pinch-me-I’m-dreaming reefs are virtually untouched. But with an ever-growing number of luxury hotels popping up along its 50-kilometre coastline, it’s rising in the popularity stakes.
Marsa Alam lines up an unparalleled range of beaches, from popular stretches to footprint-free sands. The main one, Abu Dabbab Beach, is a lovely stretch of white sand with a roll call of watersports, and a reef where dugongs and giant turtles are routinely spotted. At the other end of the spectrum are beaches at Honkorab and Golaan in Wadi Gemal National Park, due south. Here, solitary mangroves poke out of duck-pond still waters and there’s not a soul for miles around.
Off the coast of Marsa Alam are some of Egypt’s most unspoilt reefs. Elphinstone Reef is arguably the best of the lot – a sheer 70-metre coral wall where whitetip reef sharks and giant turtles circle above your head. There’s also Samadai Reef, a place where wild spinner dolphins congregate, which explains the nickname, Dolphin House.
Port Ghalib is an exclusive new marina development north of Marsa Alam. Its tree-lined quay brims with international restaurant chains, high-quality eateries, and a selection of upmarket shops. And if you’re looking for history, to the south of Marsa Alam is Wadi El Gamal, which translates as Valley of the Camels. Within the grounds of this national park is an ancient emerald mine, which supposedly supplied Cleopatra with her favourite bit of bling.
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