Mid-East Treat

Egypt will have your clients seeing Red

By: Riana Lagarde

I climbed the highly polished wooden ladder to the top deck and saw the first light of the day. The streaks and flashes of reds, oranges and pinks reminiscent of coral and reef fish contrasted greatly with the turquoise blue waters gently rocking our boat.

Salt had thickened my hair from numerous dives, and a warm Egyptian wind blew against my face as I once again prepared to frolic in the Red Sea.

The skipper’s assistant of the private boat I was on, who didn’t speak a word of English, greeted me with, “Samak ‘Kebir, Samak ‘Kebir!”

I responded with good morning in Arabic.

He repeated, “Samak ‘Kebir,” and made a jester with his outstretched hands.

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, remembered my smattering of Arabic and realized he was saying, “Big fish! Big Fish!”

I looked down and noticed a school of silky sharks as they passed alongside our boat.

Only five days before, I had flown into Hurghada from Cairo on a quick Egypt Air puddle-jumper flight with three friends. We chartered this private diving boat and its four-man crew to take us up and down the Egyptian Red Sea coast, stopping three times a day to snorkel and dive in what has been touted as a top dive spot by the Dive Atlas of the World, the divers’ bible. That evening, we headed back into Hurghada at sunset, accompanied by a pair of dolphins jumping and playing beside our boat.

The Red Sea is part of the Great Rift Valley, and some 1,000 species of fish and 200 types of coral can be found in its balmy, 75-degree-plus waters. There is also an outstanding collection of shipwrecks in this small area, and consistently clear visibility and warm waters almost guarantee your clients will have a great dive.

Seaside Accommodations
If your clients want to dive into the Red Sea, there’s a variety of nearby spots offering posh rooms, as well as dive courses and excursions.

The small, sleepy town of Dahab sits on the tip of Sinai in the Gulf of Aqaba near some of the deepest waters in the region. While the town boasts new hotels and resorts, it still manages to remain quaint and charming.

Nesima Resort offers top-notch accommodations, along with a professional dive school. The dive spot Rick’s Reef provides fabulous photo ops of octopi, scorpion fish, morays and, resting along the bottom of the sandy lagoon, blue-spotted stingrays.

For an exotic adventure, go to the famous dive site Ras Abu Galum along the rocky coast. Here, clients can see massive coral, where angel and parrot fish make their homes. The nearby major airport makes Hurghada a popular base for diving. In addition, the large town has all the amenities your clients need, as well as a lively night market.

Suggest the Movenpick Elgouna for a relaxing and secluded stay. Many of the popular dive sites are reachable from this point, like Goba, Soma Bay, the Brothers Islands and the Thistlegorm shipwreck.

Clients will also find good snorkeling in this area and lively shallow plateaus, such as Umm Gammar and Shab Abu Nugar, full of fans of beautiful coral, parrot fish, schools of angel fish and the possibility of encountering a gray reef shark.

The luxury resort-casino town of Sharm el-Sheikh features an impressive Four Seasons Resort for those who might not make it to the dive sites. The Jolie Ville Movenpick Resort & Casino is another option offering superb service in the center of Naama Bay.

Sharm is expensive and touristy, with private man-made beaches, but warn clients the area turns into a party town during spring break.

That said, there are also some great diving sites. Most of the diving is in the Ras Mohammed, which is actually several sites in one and a protected national park Shark and Yolanda reefs are the most popular spots. Here, clients will see large schools of barracuda and snappers and the occasional hammerhead. Other activities include snorkeling, biking, camel rides, glass-bottom boat trips and moonlight cruises.


For Red Sea dive trips like those described, Colona Dive Center offers liveaboards, day tours, dive classes and mini-safaris. Discounts and commissions are available for travel agents.


Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh

Jolie Ville Movenpick Sharm El Sheikh

Movenpick Elgouna

Nesima Resort and PADI Dive Center


Several recent airport upgrades will make traveling easier for you clients.

Hurghada Airport (HRG) is being updated and expanded to the tune of $7 million. It also serves other nearby resorts such as El Gouna, Soma Bay, Makadi Bay and nearby Safaga all a short drive away.

By the end of this year, Sharm El Sheikh (SSH) airport will also complete its own expansion project including a new terminal, more duty-free shops, restaurants and offices and mall. The project will more than double capacity from about 2½ million to 6½ million passengers each year.

Even the new Marsa Alam Airport (RMF), about 125 miles south of Hurghada, is undergoing a major expansion that will be completed this year the renovation will double the size of its terminals and increase its runway length. The airport serves the new and quickly growing Marsa Alam area and the Port Ghalib resort.

In addition, many airlines and low-cost carriers offer inexpensive or charter flights to get your clients to the Red Sea, including Air Arabia, Air Berlin, British Airways, Condor, Excel Airways, Fly Thomas Cook, RedSea Flights and Thomson Fly.


If your Egypt-bound clients are looking to boost their language skills before departure, here are some basic Arabic phrases to get them started.

Yes:“Na’am” in Morocco, “Aiwa” in Egypt
Please:“Min faDlik”
Thank you“shuKran”
Good Morning"saBah el Kayir”
Big Fish“saMak el Kebir”
Good-bye (literal meaning: Go without fear)“ma’a salama”