Dahab (دهب) is a town in Egypt, located some 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba, near the southern tip of Sinai. It is a place that many have fallen in love with over the years, and return to time and time again.
Dahab was once an isolated coastal village inhabited only by the local Bedouin. As little as 30 years ago, there were fewer than 30 Bedouin families in Dahab. Like the Bedouin inland, they had a self-sustaining lifestyle but in Dahab this was based on fishing as well as traditional goat herds. During the summer, many inland Bedouin came to Dahab for fishing and to collect dates, and to enjoy life by the sea. To this day, favourite presents from Dahab (for the inland Bedouin) are dried fish and dates.
Dahab's isolated location, idyllic setting and laid-back Bedouin hospitality made it a favourite destination for all who stumbled upon it. In the beginning (1970s), this was mainly Israeli soldiers or people from the kibbutz during their leave. During the 1980s it turned into a hippie hangout, and in the 1990s adventure enthusiasts from around the world began to discover Dahab's natural wonders. The combination of Red Sea and Sinai desert make Dahab perfect for world class windsurfing, scuba diving, freediving, rock climbing and of course desert trekking with the Bedouin. Add to this cheap accommodation on or near the beach, inexpensive food and drink and a relaxed atmosphere, and you have a heady enticement for the young and young at heart.
Today's Dahab has evolved into an "alternative resort" - the home of independent and adventurous travellers, but also with some more upmarket resorts and hotels. Most of the latter are in the Laguna area or outlying. For some people, this mix is part of Dahab's charm ("everyone welcome"), others regard the mix up as a problem: Prices in Assalah are artificially increased which makes it less and less interesting for backpackers, though some locally-run camps still keep affordable. In contrast to that, many package tourists and families won't feel comfortable with the lacking conveniences and the all-handmade-look among the hippies. Note the grotesque, forever unfinished concrete structures as a sign of this mismanagement.
Still, for everyone with an open mind, Dahab is definitely worth a visit and a place to fall in love with. Particularly in the old part of Dahab (Masbat and Mashraba), you will rarely find a visitor who comes only once to Dahab. To many people this has become a second home.
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- See also: Egypt#Climate
The climate is sunny and very dry with almost no rainfall. Summers are very hot at days and warm at nights, but winters are warm with mild nights.
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By bus or taxi
By bus from Cairo, 9 hours: Several times daily from Cairo's Turgoman station (central), Abbasseya station (30 mins from centre), Heliopolis (near airport). Not all buses go from/to all stations. Best to buy tickets in advance, especially for the night bus (departs Abbasseya midnight, arriving Dahab 9AM).
Return bus from Dahab to Cairo leaves at 9AM and 10PM.
By bus from Sharm El Sheikh airport: The hardest part is to get from the airport to the Sharm bus station. Taxis tend to charge a fancy 80 to 100 LE for this 10 km ride. Try heading towards the airport site exit and say you'll pick up a taxi (or microbus) outside. They'll tell you it's impossible and that there is no bus to Dahab anymore - just go on. The blue microbus costs only one pound per ride, but you'll have to change buses once to get to the bus station. Many taxis don't get an airport permission. If you can talk them down to 30 LE for the ride to the bus station you're good!
Bus schedule Sharm to Dahab is 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 14:30, 17:00, 20:30 Bus schedule Dahab to Sharm is 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:30, 12:30, 15:00, 16:00, 17:30, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30, 22:00, 22:20
Dahab Bus Office:+20-69-3641-808
By bus to St. Catherine: as of the end of October 2011, there is a regular, twice weekly, minibus service to and from St. Catherine. The Bedouin Bus runs on Tuesday and Friday and costs are 50LE each way. Check the website for details on pick-up and drop-off points in Dahab and St. Catherine.
By taxi from SSH: An experienced Dahab traveller would never pay more than 170 LE for the whole cab to Dahab (bargaining generally starts at 300-400 LE, sometimes higher). Decide for yourself, but don't exceed a 250 LE limit. Agree on a price "including all taxes, tips and tickets". Exchange money before you pass the airport customs. If you're stuck drivers will take euro or $, but you might end up paying a bit more.
A tip on bargaining: enter it in good nature. It's not normal for Europeans to have to bargain for everything, but it is normal here.
If you want to avoid the bargaining game, arrange an airport pick up through your hotel or camp. Check at least one week in advance via E-Mail, responding times may vary. 170 LE should be the limit for that service.
Aqaba in Jordan is connected by ferry. Nuweiba ferry terminal is best by taxi. The 10:30AM bus to Nuweiba arrives there early enough to be able to get onto the 3PM fast boat to Aqaba. In busy times, you can be sure the fast boat will go. In slower times, it's best to be at the ferry terminal 11AM to book tickets. Sometimes the fast ferry runs, sometimes just the slow ferry. If you're on the slow ferry, board immediately and go; if you're on the fast ferry, head off to small duna or Terabin to relax for a couple of hours before boarding. Keep your driver with you until you know which ferry you're on - it's a long walk to the nice bits of Nuweiba away from the port.
Once in Dahab
By taxi, you'll be taken straight to your hotel.
By bus, you will arrive at Dahab bus station in the Medina. Arriving at the bus station you will be literally attacked by a mob of taxi drivers willing to push you into their car. You'll end up paying a ridiculous amount of money if you don't resist. A fair price is 5 LE inside the median/Laguna area, or 10 LE into Masbat/Mashraba. If you pay more you reinforce their hostile behaviour.
You can walk, too - be that only as a bargain move or to dissociate from the hostile situation - if a good 20 - 25 min. walk doesn't scare you off. Standing in front of the bus station (buses arrive in the back) facing the entrance, looking at the "East Delta Travel" sign: turn right, go a few metres, turn left into "Dr. Ahmed Zwel St.", walk about 200 metres. Turn right into "El Nasr Road". After about 300 m turn left at the pharao statue into "El Mashraba St.". Follow the road. After 400 metres you'll pass a two dolphin statue, go straight on, you're almost done. Soon the road makes a 90 degree left turn, you will see some construction sites and the beach. Turn left, following the road and walk into Mashraba.
Dahab has 3 distinct parts.
1. At the centre is Masbat Bay, almost evenly divided by a floodway (the funny bridge over dry sand - except during a rare but impressive flash flood). The tourist area of Masbat effectively stretches north to Eel Garden (or Meleil as the Bedouin call it), and South through Mashraba. A corniche runs along this entire stretch of beach. This can be considered central Dahab, and you will find everything you need here.
2. A short taxi ride south is the Laguna (El Goze). This is where the Corniche ends in the South. Here you find Dahab's first resort hotels (Hilton etc.). You also find all municipal services: bus station, hospital, city council, etc.
3. Assalah: the residential area, mainly Bedouin but also with some foreign expats and Egyptians now also living amongst the Bedouin.
Plus outlying hotels: Stretching north towards the Blue Hole, and South to Wadi Gnai, there are around 15 outlying resort hotels - mainly booked as package holidays.
Plus Protected Areas: Dahab is bordered by 2 Proteted Areas: in the south, Nabq Protected Area starts at Wadi Gnai, as in the North Ras Abu Galoum Protected Area starts at the Blue Hole. In total 52% of the Gulf of Aqaba coastline is Protected Area, which is very important for managing growth and for preserving the reef and eco system. No building is allowed in Protected Areas, except traditional Bedouin structures.
Shared taxis, in essence mini-buses, are a cheap way to travel locally. Shared taxis tend to conform to a timetable, so they become useful if you have missed the day's bus to the nearby spots like Sharm el-Sheikh, or if you need to get into Dahab when arriving from the Aqaba ferry. To get to Dahab from Eilat, if you don't have a car, take a taxi to the border, walk across, and grab a shared taxi on the other side.
Getting around Dahab itself on foot is quite simple, the promenade runs right along the seafront and all the usual amenities are located along it. Bicycles would be an excellent way of getting around, but most rental bicycles are poorly maintained and as such are in terrible shape. Many businesses are distinctly unenthusiastic about the bicycle-rental aspect of their commercial operation, quoting inflated prices and creative time definitions ("1 day" = 6 hours). Even large and supposedly reputable operators are not immune from deficiencies in this area.
The most "traditional" thing to do in Dahab is not to do anything. It's one of the best places in the world to indulge this most exquisite passion and a lot of Dahab's reputation among travellers is based on that. Anyway, if "doing" something to you means "activity" or "sites" there's also a great variety of options:
- Kite surfing
- Scuba diving
- Desert excursions
- Desert Trekking
- Rock Climbing
- Yoga, Reiki, Chi Gong, etc.
- Horse back riding (& camel riding of course!)
- Quad bikes
- Learn Arabic
Wind-surfing and kite-surfing
Wind surfing: Dahab has about 270 days a year of wind. Experts with their own equipment can also surf from Masbat Bay, but must take great care not to hit the snorkellers and freedivers on Lighthouse Reef. Kite surfing can be done around the lagoona area, at Eel Garden or at other local spots. Recently, some kiters have started heading out to the Laguna at Ras Abu Galoum - stunning location and you will be just 1 or 2 kites rather than 10 or 20!
For wind forecast for Dahab see Wind Guru
There are several wind surfing schools around Laguna area offering all levels of courses:
- Harry Nass Winsurf & Kite Centres Dahab, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Happy Kite, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diving and Freediving
Diving and freediving are extremely popular in Dahab and need a bit more explanation. The reefs here are still in relatively good shape in town, and excellent shape in the Protected Areas like Ras Abu Galoum. Known dive sites include Abu Helal, Blue Hole, The Bells, Canyon, Coral Garden, Eel Garden, Lighthouse, Moray Garden, Islands, Three Pools, Gabr El Bint, Ras Abu Gallum.
You can dive the Blue Hole within safe recreational depths (that is without descending to the arch) - it is one of the top ten diving spots in the world. Bells / Blue Hole is extremely popular and beautiful. But be aware that it's crowded because lots of buses from Sharm come here. A normal dive in the Bells, a chimney which goes down to 30 metres perpendicular (very exciting experience!), needs you to possess advanced open water skills. Otherwise you are not allowed to go to 30 metres! Freediving is the new kid on the block in Dahab thanks to the very convenient Blue Hole site and an ever increasing range of world top freedivers training here.
There are more than 60 diving and freediving centres in Dahab, but some are not properly licensed by the Ministry of Tourism (subject to annual inspections and fees). This is an open list - simple alphabetical order, described in their own words. Before you book, check the CDWS web site to make sure you avoid blacklisted centres:
- Bedouin Divers. Familiar dive center on the coast of the Red Sea in the Mashraba area of Dahab. Bedouin Divers is in the Bedouin Lodge Hotel, which can arrange Daily Diving, PADI Courses, Camel Dive Safaris and Boat Dives.
- Big Blue Dahab, ☎ +20 (0)69 3640 045. Is a fully equipped 5 Star Gold Palm Padi resort 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 highly qualified instructors and divemasters to enjoy a full range of Padi courses and guided dives at affordable prices.
- Blue Realm, ☎ +201227444873, e-mail: email@example.com. 8am-8pm. mobile +20 122 744 4873;. Great native-run diving center (English, Dutch, German, French and Arabic available: the owner's wife is actually Dutch). They charge for two dives €45 (plus extra for gear rental). Package discounts are available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is €260, incl. equipment
- BlueSkunk Freedivers. Offers a complete and progressive range of courses: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Deep. It is not the goal of the course to push towards a new personal best, as they emphasize technique development and depth adaptation before increasing depth. Safety first.
- Dahab Divers, ☎ +20 69 3640381, +20 10 1113481, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. PADI 5 star Golden Palm Resort and Diving School at the Lighthouse in Masbat. Friendly staff, nice atmosphere, good equipment. The Technical Diving facilities in Dahab Divers is operated by Team Blue Immersion who offer both TDI, TecRec and GUE Programs up to Instructor Level. (www.blue-immersion.org and www.dahabdiverstechnical.com)
- Deep BlueDivers, +20 121134668, is a fully equipped 5 Star Gold Palm Padi resort meters from the reef, The Red sea is where we do our business; which, obviously, is diving. We pride ourselves on being passionate, professional, and personalized in all our Red Sea scuba diving trips.. Emphasis on safety and fun with an environmental awareness. Small dive groups with highly qualified instructors and divemasters to enjoy a full range of Padi courses and guided dives at affordable prices.
- Desert Divers. Dive, climb, trek and freedive. The owner, Said, was Dahab's first Bedouin to learn to dive nearly 20 years ago. On the beach in the main bay (Masbat Bay, between the bridge and Lighthouse Reef). Excellent for diving and freediving (PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Resort, Home of the Camel Diving Safari and AIDA Freediving Centre). Given their Bedouin roots, they have also led the way in developing professional trekking and rock climbing. Their efforts to integrate adventure sports and tourism with the Bedouin community are very popular - they were recently awarded an EU grant for developing and promoting sustainable tourism in the Sinai.
- “Dive In Dahab". Was founded by Andreas (Andy) Tischer in 1999. In 2006 Hans Lange joined Dive In as a partner to Andy. Hans left the Dive In 2011 to built iDive Dahab.
- Dive The Gap. Is a gap year and career development scuba diving company that operates out of a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Resort and National Geographic Centre. Dive The Gap is a UK Company that mainly operates in Dahab, and has a range of scuba diving programmes. Almost every PADI course is available from Open Water to Instructor and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a full range of PADI specialities, diving safaris and recreational diving. Also packages are offered and a team located on site. Call 020 8133 4481 (+44 20 8133 4481) and you will be put through to the team in Egypt at no extra charge.
- Dive Pro Dahab. Is a company established by divers for divers to help them get the best out of their dive vacation. Located all over the red sea enables it to supply divers with services wherever they go.
- Divers Down Under (DDU). Attached to a 70-room hotel and hostel lodge, it offers a wide range of entry-level PADI courses in different languages, divemaster internships, speciality courses, as well as technical diving experiences (INTD and PADI-Dsat).
- Freedive Dahab, ☎ +20 165093752, e-mail: email@example.com. Founded by Lotta Ericson (former World Record holder)and Linda Paganelli (Italian Champion). Freedive Dahab is an Instructor Training Center and SSI and AIDA school, providing all level courses and individual training. Freedive Dahab is also a freediving shop where you can buy or rent any piece of freediving equipment you can possibly need. Freedive Dahab also organizes National and World Record attempts and Competitions like the Triple Depth competition.
- H2O Divers Dahab. Professional, experienced and knowledgeable instructors that have been diving in Dahab for over 10 years. A friendly bunch of native English, French, German, Dutch and Arabic speakers that offer a full range of PADI courses. Right in the heart of Dahab's main bay – Masbat Bay. Three dive sites right on their door step: Lighthouse Reef, Mashraba and Bannerfish Bay. Bannerfish Bay’s easy entry is on their doorstep, with Lighthouse and Mashraba being a close two minute walk away.
- iDive Dahab, ☎ +20 1118444097. Beautiful designed dive center at the Jowhara Hotel. iDive offers all range of courses of PADI, SSI and CMAS next to daily dive trips. Safaris and overnight trips are done as well. A Marine Research center is part of the iDive center which offers a great opportunity to get an inner look into marine sciences. iDive and its Open Ocean Center are initiating several activities to protect the sea. They are hosting frequently international universities who conduct field trips or having research projects here.
- Mirage Divers - Diving center, ☎ +20 693641476, fax: +20 693641476, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Owned and run by a very professional Bedouins and they always do their best to offer a real social diving holidays which combine both safety and fun whilst experiencing a whole different culture in a truly unique atmosphere. Their groups are always small and there is a very high personal attention to all the divers.
- Nesima Diving Center, ☎ +20 69 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, . 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.
- Red Sea Relax PADI 5 Star National Geographic Instructor Development Resort, ☎ +20 69 3641 308. British-run diving operation enjoying a prime beach side location in central Dahab, meters from the teeming reefs but also convenient for Dahab's center and modern amenities. On site accommodation is available with a choice of suite rooms, or a bed in the dormitory complex offered totally free for divers. PADI diving courses range from beginner through to professional Open Water Instructor, or for those already qualified daily diving takes place to any of the 20 local reefs. Boat excursions and Camel Dive Safaris are also arranged.
- Reef 2000 Diving Center. By Bedouin Moon Hotel, is a PADI 5* Gold Palm Resort and an IANTD technical facility. It offers a wide range of courses, from beginner- to technical diving courses.
- Sea Dancer Dive Center. Small professionally run outfit located on the sea front. Offers the full range of courses as well as guided dives. Staff are knowledgeable, experienced, enthusiastic and friendly, the equipment is a good standard and well maintained.
- Sea Pioneer Dive Club. Our Dive Centre is directly opposite the central Lighthouse diving area in Dahab. We are less than a minute's walk to the beach for confined and open water dives. In addition to intro dives, the PADI courses we conduct include Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Dive Master and many specialities. We can also arrange accommodation and airport transfers on request.
- World of freediving. International AIDA freediving School, World of Freediving is a freediving school located in Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt. They offer a wide range of freediving courses and training options for every level of ability,including AIDA Instructor Courses. All the courses are AIDA courses and the staff are all experienced AIDA trained instructors.
- Zen Sea. Offers fun dives, PADI courses and yoga diving.
Desert Excursions and Trekking
These need to be divided into 2 categories:
- Daily excursions to popular sites: These are organized by loads of small safari shops all along Dahab's Masbat Bay and inside hotels.
- 'King Safari Dahab'. On the beach front is an official licensed tour agency. They arrange a large variety of tours and personalised trips, such as camel safaris. They offer set and custom-made trips throughout Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Offering excursions to many destiantions ranging from one hour trips to one month treks.
- A friendly independent tour operator is 'Dahab Safari Tours' who are very popular with all kinds of tourists - individuals, couples, groups and families.
- Longer Desert Safaris and Treks: Although many of the small safari shops will offer these, if you really want to enjoy a deep desert experience you need to go directly to the Bedouin. For 2+ people (and ideally 3+ people to keep prices affordable), you can speak directly to your guide. A real Bedouin guide will take into account season and weather, your fitness and your ideas, and recommend a nice route. Most importantly, he will take you on a route he loves and knows well (not just a tourist trail). Please note that all safari businesses will have Bedouin guides and/or drivers on their desert trips. It is simply not possible to go into the desert without the knowledge and permission of these people of the desert. So, whichever company you chose, you will always have the opportunity to experience Bedouin culture in the desert.
- The Old Port: Walk by the ruins of an old Nabatean Port. It shows there was a community here dating back about 1600 years. Along the corniche at the beginning of Mashraba.
- The lagoona: at the south end of the Corniche, rent a bike to get here. Long sandy stretch for wind surfing, kite surfing or to admire the view. On the inside of the laguna, sandy shallow swimming great for small children. On the outside, deeper water (take care for strong current, don't head to far off shore). Take drinks and snacks with you as there are no cafes on the lagoona point. This is a great spot to spend a day away from the town centre.
- Three pools, the beach area of Wadi Gnai with lazy Bedouin cares. 20 min drive, lovely area for snorkeling, diving or just relaxing.
- Wadi Gnai, inland: This is a beautiful granite wadi (valley) with an oasis and several Bedouin gardens, 20 min drive. Great for day hike, dinner in the mountains and rock climbing.
- St Catherine mnastery and Mount Sinai: Very popular trip by day or overnight, organised by almost everyone (80-200LE). Alternatively, gather a group of people, charter a taxi. In winter, beat the crowds by climbing during the day and seeing the sunset instead. It gets cold at the summit, so bring a jacket! Bring flashlight, preferably worn on your head. There are some shops and teahouses along the way, so don't worry about the provisions.
- Ein Khudra: Bedouin palm-tree oasis. Can be busy in the day. To see it at its best, include in a longer desert safari and stay for dinner and overnight.
- Coloured Canyon: mainly day trip. If you would like to combine as part of a longer desert safari, be sure to have a full Egyptian Visa as it's often needed for the best route.
Some of the safari shops also do day / overday trips to Jordan and Israel. for these, try Bedouina at Mirage Village or Dahab Safari day tours along the beach-front. They also organise one-day trips to Cairo and Luxor.:
- Petra (Jordan). Is easily organised from Dahab
- Jerusalem (Israel) day-trips are also organised from Dahab.
The Sinai Desert has excellent rock climbing in the granite mountains and wadis. October–April only (i.e. not the hot summer months). The main area near to Dahab is Wadi Gnai:
- Vast amounts of perfect bouldering on granite boulders in shaded, sand-floored valleys
- Single and multi-pitch equipped sport routes for all levels of climbers in Waterfalls, Camel Canyon and Wadi Connection
- Top roping area especially for beginners and children in Middle Gnai
- Plus new routing possibilities for sport climbs in many easily accessible areas.
Desert Divers have led the way in developing rock climbing in the Sinai. They can arrange for permits to Wadi Gnai, equipment hire, drivers, guides and anything else you might need. They recently published the Sinai Rock Climbing Guide complete with topos and route descriptions. Their instructors are happy to share/offer advice to experienced climbers who can 'self-guide', or they can help you improve your climbing with beginner and Advanced technique courses.
St. Catherine also has incredible tradclimbing and bouldering. Base yourself in the village at Fox Camp or Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp with easy access (5 mns to 2 hours) to more than 60 routes. All long multipitch (7+ pitch), but wide range of grades. If you're a group, it is great fun to head deep into the desert by camel where you will find unclimbed lines almost everywhere you look! Absolutely no bolting allowed in St Catherine, and please respect the holy mountains of Mt Sinai and St Katherine by walking the traditional pilgrimage paths rather than climbing.
Sandboarding is said to be originated in Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs where they slid down dunes on pieces of wood. Yet, it only began to capture the center stage as one of the most exciting outdoor adventure sports within the past couple years. Today the sport has evolved in many countries with idyllic settings like Namibia, Peru in Latin America, Australia, the Western USA and Dubai in the UAE with ever-increasing followers throughout the world.
- Sandana Sandboarding, ☎ +20 1066646116, e-mail: email@example.com. Full day and half day. Sandboarding trips are organized out of Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh, using professional equipment.
Yoga, Reiki, Chi Gong and more
Whether ashtanga, hatha or kundalini, yoga is increasingly popular in Dahab. Yoga on nearby Mount Sinai is a regular draw, as are full-moon retreats into the nearby wadis (desert), taking advantage of the silence and space of the Sinai desert. More and more people are coming to Dahab on holiday and yoga for Christmas has become a top travel destination.
The El Salam Camp and Yoga Shala holds daily classes throughout the year, as well as running regular retreats in high season. Classes are currently available in both English and Russian.
Coral Coast and Blue Beach Hotel offer daily yoga drop- in classes with various teachers of different yoga styles. Both yoga rooms are purpose built, with stunning view, situated on the roof, not accessible to public view and provide yoga-mats and props.
- Shisha try Egypts favorite pastime, smoking a shisha water pipe with flavored tobacco whilst watching the world go by.
- Kayaking a great way to explore the reef. Sea Kayaks are available for hire from Sheikh Salem House From 50 egp per hour, or try a guided night kayak - great for hot summer nights.
- Quad-bikes trips into the desert.
- Horse and camel riding
- Relax: Enjoying sun, sea and juices in the restaurants with plank beds, which you can use free of charge.
Great buys are the usual Egyptian suspects: water pipes, rugs, oriental lamps, shirts in different lengths with embroidery, backgammon games, silver jewelery, etc. Prices are geared for tourists, so haggling is a must, pay max. 50%-60% of the first price offered, anything else is a rip-off. If you are not sure about the price, go to the next shop, they all offer more or less the same things, and start bargaining again there.
Look out for Bedouin Handicrafts, some beautiful pieces are available. Hand embroidered and made in Dahab, St Catherines and El Arish by Bedouin women. Sheikh Salem House has a good selection of items as does some of the other Bedouin establishments in Dahab.
If your stay extends with or without intention your shopping behaviour will focus on the Ghazala Market where you can find anything you need to uptate your on-the-road-equipment from functional to convenient. For local fare and much cheaper fruit and veg, go to Assalah shopping area (5 min taxi, or walk to Eel Garden then head into town).
It is almost impossible to get rolling tobacco in Dahab, be prepared if you are not keen on factory made ones.
Dahab Community Market
Dahab Community Market is a weekly event for everyone, that is held every Friday afternoon at Sheikh Salem House, Eel Garden Area, Dahab. The market currently starts at 3PM and finishes between 7 - 8PM.
There are different sellers every week and regular sellers including hand made Bedouin and Egyptian Crafts, Jewelry, Clothes, 2nd Hand bargains, foods from around the world including home made Egyptian Food, delicious cakes and deserts
See the Dahab Community Market on facebook.
The trick to eating cheaply in Dahab is to avoid seafront establishments and use restaurants inland, along and beyond the pedestrian zone, where identical meals are regularly on offer for half the seafront price.
- Budget places. In the side streets, you can eat at very low prices (4-24LE) such as falafel, koshari, chicken at the "King Chicken", though King Chicken has different prices for Egyptians and foreigners. Fish Market has fish meals for 30LE - the prices shown for fish are per kilo (not per fish), haggle for a better price. There is a falafel, foul, etc., stall on the main road (Peace Road), at 2LE per sandwich. The Koshary place on Peace Road has good koshary. In Assalah (the Egyptian side) a fish meal cooked for you will usually be between 15LE and 25LE. Agree on a price at the start.
- Ali Baba Restaurant. Ali Baba Restaurant is a very high-standard restaurant, serving local seafood, grill, local and international dishes. It has certificates for cleanliness and is constantly re-inventing itself. Ali Baba has been among the top 5 Dahab restaurants on Tripadvisor the past 5 years.
- The Kitchen Restaurant, Masbat Bay (Between the bridge and the big supermarket), ☎ +20 195959764. 12:00-24:00. The Kitchen Restaurant offers authentic and modern Thai, Chinese, Indiian and Sushi in a delicate dining environment. The restaurant is certified for international food and health safety and highly rated among travellers on Tripadvisor. Also for take-out and delivery."
- Blue Beach Restaurant. Located at the Blue Beach Hotel on the beach front, provides comfortable eating with an extensive and interesting menu. The food is well cooked and the steaks in particular are renowned in Dahab. The restaurant is inside and provides warm shelter in the winter and a cool environment in the hot summer months. Can also cater for large groups.
- Buddha Restaurant and Cafe, ☎ +20 108638537. For the best quality steak and fresh seafood, this restaurant in the Lighthouse area is now the place to eat in Dahab. Clean toilets provided and sun loungers during the day, this is a very relaxed and friendly establishment. Romantic by the Red Sea but can also cater for groups / weddings.
- Dai Pescatori, ☎ +20 127972361. Owned and managed by Egyptians. At Sheikh Salem House at the very northern end of the promenade, good Italian food, especially the mixed appetizers, and the semi-fredo desert.
- Eel Garden. At the northern end of the promenade, sitting on nice bedouin coussins, friendly staff, good food European and Egyptian you won't find everywhere, e.g. mashi, couscous, sahlab. Weekly BBQ. Sunbeds and private beach.
- El Dorado. Also at the northern end of the promenade, with its own beach. Owned by Italians, who serve excellent Italian fare, with pizzas to die for! Especially popular with the locals. Be careful when receiving the check, as the owner of the place has his own ideas about what to charge, should you have any special request.
- Friends Restaurant. One of many effectively identical beachfront restaurants offering the same Arabic fare at the same prices.
- Jumas Wadi Bidar Bedouin Dinner Traditional Bedouin dinner cooked in the desert on an open fire. Juma a Bedouin from the Muziena tribe makes excellent food in his wadi close to Dahab with views of Dahab town and Saudi Arabia. Prices start from 80 EGP per person for a tasty feast including transport. Booking via Desert Divers, Sheikh Salem House or Blue Beach. There is also the option to go to dinner on a camel, by jeep, by horse, hike (30 mins from Dahab town centre or even by quad bike!).
- The Lazy Camel Cafe Assalah Beach at the end of the beach footpath just north of the Eel Garden Dive Site. Serves a great mix of Bedouin/Middle Eastern/European food including home made beef burgers, Bedouin wrap sandwiches and daily chefs specials. Free wireless internet for customers and one of the nicest views in Dahab.
- Leila's Bakery. German bakery, tasty breads, sandwiches, salads and cakes.
- Lobster Seafood Restaurant. A few minutes beyond "King Chicken," offers free soup, bread and salad with a main course, and may offer a complimentary cup of tea, too.
- Nemo Restaurant. Restaurant on the boulevard. Offers nice food and even has some German 'speciaties' on the menu. Complimentary appetizers, desserts and shesha's!!
- Nirvana. Real Indian food with real flavor. Excellent curries, snacks, vegetarian dishes and excellent Indian Tea (Chai). Portions are really huge - probably don't need a starter. Proper Indian food! Highly recommended!
- Quickly Restaurant. On Mashraba Street. Local and International food. Cheap food, but huge portions and much more tastier than the tourists places along the beachfront. Upstairs chilled out lounge with good tunes. Free wireless. Favourite amongst local divers, backpackers.
- Rush. Located up a small alley between the bridge and Tota. In a palmtree garden with a small swimming pool, this restaurant serves excellent food, the style is creative "fusion". There's also a bar with local and imported alcohol. In and outdoor seating. Every Friday night there's a party with Dj's.
- Same Same but different, ☎ +20 106466863, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. good food, the strawberry shake is a must try, it reminds of you childhood. good service, the staff speak excellent English, not creepy or pushy at all. fresh seafood Catch of the day, good steak and B.B.Q lamb kebab special Vegetarian menu free starter with a main course .. you can bring your own Alcohol Drinks.. free wifi.
- Star Of Dahab. In the sea side of Mashraba. A good place to eat some fresh fish. tel +20 69 3640130, mobile +20 10 111 3481.
- Three Fishes. At the southern end of the promenade. Good Italian restaurant, run by Paola, an Italian.
- El Fanar, El Masbat, South Sinai, Egypt, ☎ +20 122525853. Delicious food in a bedouin environment. Great service from friendly staff. Order the chicken kebab or kofte off the menu and starter (pita and dips) and watermelon and tea are included. Cheap drinks too.
- Yalla Bar, Masbat Bay Dahab. Yalla Bar and Restaurant is the place to be in Dahab.
Meet people, enjoy great food and drink, with great hospitality and atmosphere.
There are several bars on the beach. You can also buy beer, wine and liquor in special shops called Drinkies. One is located at Azzahla market square, another in Mashraba in the small road after Sea Bride fish restaurant.
Some Egyptian alcohol brands mimics the names and labelling of better known liquors elsewhere. Restaurants will often advertise Stella beer, which isn't Stella Artois, as well as Sakkara, Luxor and Heineken.
- Dahab Partys, every week different venues hold different party nights. Current nights include Wednesdays at the Sphinx Pool Bar - House and Dance Music, Fridays at RUSH Village Bar for House and Dancey grooves.
- (kind of) Discothèques – Rush and The Tree. But as soon, as more than 15-20 people are in, the doorman says: "It's a party tonight" and charges you 50-100 LE for entrance... Just ignore the place in that case.
- Churchill's Sports Bar and Grill, ☎ +20 69 3641 309. Red Sea Relax Resort (on the promenade 50m down from Lighthouse), . Lively establishment, with a good mix of tourist and resident trade. Serves draught Heineken on tap and British orientated cuisine at very reasonable prices. Premiership football and other major sports shown on the big screen terrace and downstairs in the air con bar.
- Elzar Bar, next to the ruins of the old harbour on the beachfront. The best place in town for anyone wanting to get pissed late at night. Chris the Aussie barman is always on hand until the sun comes up serving a variety of alcoholics including the drunken Welshman and unconfrontational Dave the Canadian nice man.
- The Furry cup, at the Blue Beach Hotel, where local Westerners hang out at the sound of U2, Coldplay, etc. The only place in Dahab where you can get Western hard liquor brands instead of the fakes.
- Funny Mummy. Giant colourful curtains and carpet seats offer a great atmosphere if you just want to relax and enjoy some of Egypt's good fruit juices (albeit not the cheapest option in town). Avoid the menu though as it tends to over-sell and under-deliver.
- Same Same, ☎ +20 106466863. but different
good place for drink &shisha
- Beirut Nights on Peace Road has decent Turkish coffee at 3LE and tea at 1.5LE.
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.
Room prices for a single camp room (no AC, no bath) should be no more than 30LE., less if you book ahead for a week or longer. The budget traveller heads for the ones run by Egyptians. Some Westerners have bought into camps and try to (nearly) double prices without any noticeable reason. If anyone asks more don't hestitate to go to the next camp, there are plenty.
- Auski Camp. Yasser is an amiable and helpful camp host. Single Room prices start at 30 LE. Like anyone else in Dahab the staff can arrange all trips and tours. One of the last relatively silent and cheap places in the center of Dahab. It's next to the Sphinx hotel with direct beach access.
- Bish Bishi (in Mashraba opposite The Sphinx Hotel), ☎ +20 69 640727. Jimmy is the owner and is well-known throughout Dahab. Rooms are reasonable, LE30-80 depending on what you want. A double on-suite is currently LE60. They do food, laundry, trips etc and so you be well looked after. If you are flying into Sharm they can collect you from the airport for €25 (1 hour away). Last visited in November 2008 and had gone downhill.
- Dahab Dorms (part of the Red Sea Relax Resort near the Lighthouse), ☎ +20 69 3641 308. New dorm complex part of a larger Resort near the Lighthouse Reef at the north end of Dahab Bay. Excellent panoramic views of the Bay or Resort pool directly from the dorm rooms. Very reasonably priced, the accommodation and breakfast is free for the those choosing to dive with the complex. On site facilities include an award winning dive centre, a safari and transfer office, restaurant / bar, private beach and if the sea is too salty- a pool!
- Dolphin Camp, ☎ +20 69 3640081. A place for party lovers. The newest and hippest house club is right next door. Party (almost) every night. Offers the Dahab standard rooms right on the beach. The rooms range from €6-25 including breakfast - some with bathroom, AC and fridge. If sleeping is within the range of your intentions, shift it after sunrise, but don't worry: Everybody does! Like anyone else in Dahab, the helpful and laid-back staff can arrange trips and excursions.
- Marine Garden Camp, . Right at the beach in the Lighthouse area, a stones throw away from the restaurants and night life of Dahab. Basic rooms with fan from 40LE per night, en-suites from 60LE. Free WiFi in the restaurant. Bedouin Bus stop. Booking via the website or , tel +20 112 5121 727
- Neptune Hotel, ☎ +20 69 3640 569, fax: +20 69 3640 262, e-mail: email@example.com. Direct to the sea, just by the bridge. The budget en-suite single rooms start from 35LE. They also offer budget sea-view rooms. Free WiFi in the lobby and in the restaurant. PADI courses and safari trips around Sinai, post office service, and bookshop.
- Sindbad Camp. Sindbad Camp is one of the last traditional Bedouin camps in Dahab. It has a very relaxed atmosphere and a full Bedouin Staff (under Dutch management). All rooms have a fan and some of them also have own shower and toilet (LE30+ for a room). Most rooms have seaview. They serve great coffee and also have a very good restaurant. The camp is located 50 meters north of Light House Reef and the bay of Dahab. But just around the corner so it is very quiet. Prices from 3 to €10 a night for the room. Offers all diving activities and organize desert- and shoresafari's off-the-beaten-track. Offers airport transfers.
- Star of Dahab, ☎ +20 69 3640130, +20 10 111 3481, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A pleasant family-run guesthouse at the southern end of Assalah, offers basic lodgings at basic prices, and new, more expensive rooms with sea view. Excellent beachside location,with a sea side shade, restaurant (good food), and a dive centre as well. but it's a bit of a hike to the center of Assalah.
- Sunrise Lodge, ☎ +20 1090 574242, e-mail: email@example.com. A charming and peaceful guesthouse set around a large garden area with arisha, in a very central location in Masbat Bay. Quality, yet budget accommodation offering clean rooms that are more stylish than the typical hostel room. All rooms are en-suite and have free wifi access. One budget room does not have air conditioning, all the rest do. Very good value. Owners can arrange transport from Sharm as well as any other trips/excursions in the area.
- El Bulti Fighting Kangaroo, +20 12 359 8741,. One of the oldest Bedouin camps in Dahab and the original Fighting Kangaroo, this small family run hostel and guesthouse offers clean rooms, great value and a warm welcome. Located right in the main strip, close to the bridge, LE40 for ensuite rooms. All have fans, some have air-con. The owners can also arrange taxis from Sharm airport.
- 4S Hotel - Offering a new style of accommodation with contemporary design, with an excellent quality and a special calculated rate. The hotel consists of 21 spacious studios and suites (2 or 3 Rooms) suitable for 2 to 6 persons, Pool and Restaurant. Each unit is equipped by hotel standard plus a Kitchenette. All Studios or Suites with Balcony or Terrace. (Coordinates: 28.489 N, 34.511 E).
- Alf Leila Boutique Hotel, ☎ +20 1006128484. Located in the center of Dahab just a short distance from the beach, Alf Leila hotel has a different theme for each room - all in Arabian style. The courtyard features a dip pool and a cozy lounge. All rooms have new air-conditioners, a minibar and private bathrooms. All suites include an extra dinning area, balcony and mosquito net; while the Royal Suite additionally comes with an LCD screen, DVD player and a movie library. ( Prices from $12 for a bed in a co-ed dormitory room )
- Alaska Camp and Hotel. Good quality budget hotel located next to the bridge in the center of Dahab. Nice central courtyard with bedouin seating area. Free wifi. Clean, en-suite rooms with options to suit all budgets (rates from 100LE).
- Ali Baba Hotel, ☎ +20 69 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, ☎ +20 69 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. The dive centre here is excellent and offers PADI at good rates.
- Bedouin Moon Hotel, ☎ +20 69 3640 695. A popular sea view hotel with beach, pool with views, pool bar and restaurant, purpose built yoga room and high quality dive centre (Reef 2000). A friendly place perfect for single travelers and divers. Free Wi-Fi, Bedouin dinners in the mountains, diving, yoga classes, yoga diving, massage and wellness therapies available. Plenty trips and activities available in the surroundings too with a fusion of Bedouin, Egyptian and European culture. En-suite sea view and mountain view rooms available. From €32-€63 per night.
- Blue Beach Club is located between Eel Garden and Lighthouse. Clean ensuite, air conditioned rooms at reasonable prices and a fresh water swimming pool are available.
- Bon Séjour Guesthouse is a modern luxurious guesthouse series built just after the Egyptian revolution in 2011. It is owned and managed by two Egyptian MBA holders. Located near the lighthouse in Al-Masbat district just few minutes from all attractions with a roof cafe with a sea view. All rooms are air-conditioned, room service and laundry are available. TVs and DVD players in every room. Their motto is "Book as a Guest, Arrive as a Friend and Leave as a Family Member". It is a mini 5 stars hotel for travellers who want to be pampered without having to break the bank. With around €40-50 per night, this is a very good deal.
- Dahab Divers is a clean and obviously newer hotel and dive centre. Rooms are air conditioned, and there are excellent showers - a rarity in Egypt. Official price is €37 per night, but is negotiable. Extremely helpful staff. Also an excellent place for diving.
- Dahab Paradise, ☎ +20 10 700 2527, +20 10 700 4133. A small, boutique hotel located just outside the centre of Dahab at the beginning of the Blue Hole road. The hotel offers an easy style, a tranquil atmosphere and sea view from every room. Currently listed as the No.1 hotel in Dahab on TripAdvisor. Prices from € 53.00 per Double room per night.
- Dahab Plaza Hotel, Dahab, South Sinai, ☎ +20 123335235. Check-in: any time, check-out: 14.00. 50 mts from the sea. Swimming pool, billiard in the garden. All rooms with A/C, fridge, TV, bathroom/toilette. €15-25.
- El Salam Camp and Yoga Shala. Dahab's oldest camp has been re-opened with a yogic twist! A range of beautifully decorated yoga themed rooms are available, choose to suit your budget – en suite rooms with A/C or standard or sea view with fan and shared bathroom. Daily yoga classes, monthly ten day yoga retreats, Chi Gong, massage, desert safari trips, snorkelling and diving excursions are also available. Located right on the sea front next to the archaeological port and 30 seconds from the main supermarket...El Salam is located close enough to the main promenade but slightly set away from the hustle and bustle.
- Jowhara Hotel (جوهرة دهب), ☎ +20 10 2733883/7913816, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the middle of El Mashraba street, 1 minute from the beach. A nice place to relax and absorb the local culture. They also arrange safari and diving for affordable price. Double and triple rooms available with AC and private bathroom from 100-150 LE per apartment per night. Basic singles from 50LE per night.
- Pearl of South Sinai has self-catering facilities, a kitchen and a washing machine. Rooms at 50LE.
- Penguin Village and Diving. Is a 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 and not too picky on cleanliness. Rooms are around E50 for a double. Single with fan and ensuite is 70EP, with air-con 80EP. Also at off-season double rooms with shared bathroom are available for only 20EGP.
- Red Sea Relax Resort, ☎ +20 69 3641 308. A brand new Resort at the north end of the Dahab Bay, beachside and close to the teeming Lighthouse Reef, colourful beachside cafes and traditional bazaars. Specializing in diving, safari and therapeutic activities, the resort offers a choice of sea view rooms, a restaurant, dive school, and transfer office
- Sheikh Ali Resort, ☎ +20 69 364 2991, fax: +20 69 364 2992, e-mail: email@example.com. Dahab's first all-suite hotel, built with love by Dahab's original tourism family. Featuring 22 pool-side suites with balcony or terrace just a few minutes walk from the beach promenade. Prices from €55 for junior suite.
- Stay Young, ☎ +20 10 2702770, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Is a part of Jowhara hotel that offers cheap accommodation and has hand painted murals on the walls. This is an impressive art project that just opened in August 2009. The rooms start at 60Le, 80Le, 100Le for single, double and triple room with private bath and AC.
- Sea Stars Apartments, ☎ +20 108177052, +20 10 8695232, e-mail: email@example.com. 6 stylish 2 bedroom apartments set in a beautiful planted garden in the eel garden area of Dahab, 1 minute from the beach. First floor apartments with balcony, sea and mountain views from €55 per night, Ground floor garden apartments from €50 per night. All sleep up to 6 with a/c, welcome pack supplied. The friendly English owners also offer bespoke diving packages.
- Sheikh Salem House, ☎ +20 127304871. Budget Boutique Hotel set in a beautiful house owned by a Bedouin Sheikh of Dahab and his family. Managed by a Bedouin team and an English lady. Set in a quiet spot at the northern end of the promenade, right on the beach with a sandy beach. Budget rooms with amazing views and shared bathrooms from 45egp, deluxe suites with air conditioning, tv and satellite, kitchen from 150egp or €23 per suite per night. Wireless internet for guests. This is a great place for those wanting to stay in unique accommodation with a home like feel, and get to know Dahabs Bedouin Community and Culture. WARNING: DO NOT GO HERE IF YOU ARE A SOLO FEMALE TRAVELLER. The room doors do not lock from the inside. They are secured by padlocks on the outside, so you can be locked in but cannot lock people out. Very creepy place.
- Star of Dahab, ☎ +20 69 3640130, +20 10 111 3481, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A pleasant family-run guesthouse at the southern end of Assalah, offers basic lodgings at basic prices, and new, more expensive rooms with sea view. Excellent beachside location,with a sea side shade, restaurant (good food), and a dive centre as well. but it's a bit of a hike to the center of Assalah.
- Villa Barbara - a big house on the beach with a big yard, a patio, a kitchen, 2 bathroms (with water accumulativ heaters), four bedrooms for 9 persons, from the terrace upstairs you can see the sea. There is only one house between the Villa and the sea, there is a reef nearby. From €25-€45 per night.
Women travellers are safe in Dahab, but please be smart:
- Dress: 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 Egypt is a conservative country and dress appropriately in the city. On the beach a bikini is no problem.
- Local men: flirting and even chit-chat are likely to be interpreted very differently here than in the west. Take care. Be polite but don't invite more than you want.
Snorkeling along/past the reef can be very dangerous when very windy: strong underwater currents develop, and it is very difficult to come back onto the shallow reef. Always ask a dive center nearby if it is safe to snorkel - they will be happy to help.
Drugs, particularly marijuana, are available in Dahab but that doesn't make them legal. 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.
This is the tough part. Many people arrive in Dahab to chill for a few days, some of them stay for weeks or months, and there are people who stay for years, become a dive instructor, run a restaurant etc. It is easy to get stuck in Dahab. For the rest of us: