There’s plenty of shore diving here; dive centres arrange minibuses to other shore diving spots too, so it’s great choice if you really don’t like boats. Large comfortable boats make day trips, and Elphinstone excursions leave regularly. Some operators use smaller inflatable zodiac boats to zip you to dive sites. The shore diving is relaxed and calm and suitable for all levels, but some further sites like Elphinstone require more experience to enjoy comfortably.
Marsa Alam or more precisely Port Ghalib is a popular place to leave from to take a liveaboard holiday for Egypt’s more southern sites. St Johns, Daedalus, Fury Shoals, Brothers and Elphinstone are all big ticket dives on these cruises. Boats are large and comfortable and range in luxuriousness. On the whole the sites on the liveaboard itineraries are more suitable for advanced and experienced divers; many operators stipulate a minimum of 30 dives. These sites are deep and can experience some strong current.
Expect to encounter dolphins on the way to dive sites by boat and maybe even underwater too. There's a resident manatee at one of the sites and lots of huge turtles to be seen. Crocodilefish are easy to find and pipefish squirm around the reef. While oceanic whitetips and hammerheads grace at Elphinstone, closer to shore you can see whitetips and bowmouth sharks too. Tuna and mackerel hunt along the reef and expect the usual clouds of anthias and swirls of fusiliers too.
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Once a simple small fishing port the Marsa Alam area has ballooned into a thriving resort area popular with divers. Marsa Alam is a more southerly destination in the Red Sea; it would take you over eight hours to drive from Hurghada. The town itself seems little more than a dusty after-thought with tourist facilities focussed around the resorts that line the coastlines superb beaches. Port Ghalib is Marsa Alam’s rich brother. Just along the coast this new development boasts an international marina and its associated accommodations and playground.
There seems little between the Sahara and the sparkling blue waters, but there is quite a lot to do even if you aren’t diving, beach sitting or snorkelling. You can arrange a one or two day trip to Luxor, a days dolphin spotting or a trip to El Quseir. The adventurous can try their hand at kitesurfing or quad biking and camel riding safaris in the desert.
For fun head to Port Ghalib where international eateries, shopping, nightlife and an elegant marina have replaced a once dusty coastline. The oldest emerald mine in the world lies within easy reach and if you want to get off the beaten track, head to the camel market in Shalateen.
There are direct flights from many European capital cities, but otherwise connections are available from Cairo to Marsa Alam.