For those that have read my articles here or on PADI.com/blog it will come as no surprise that Dahab is one of my favourite destinations for diving. In Fact in the last 12 months I have probably spent a good 5 weeks there. So makes sense to write an article about this great divers town.
Dahab named after the Egyptian for gold is a small resort town on the Sinai Peninsula. This former Bedouin fishing village lies about 1 – 1.5hrs north-east of Sharm el Sheikh and its international airport, the transfer time does vary on the driver, time of day and what state the road is currently in. After a drive through and over the sandstone hills you arrive at the Dahab check-point and proceed into town. Now for those that are used to well maintained and manicured resorts the first view of Dahab might be a bit of a shock, maybe not so much as the hustle and bustle of down-town Hurghada can be, but its a proper Egyptian small town not a fake Disney take on it.
Dahab is pretty laid back, friendly and not encumbered with massive hotel developments and bucket and spade type holiday makers, which gives it a great vibe that will have you hooked in no time. Every time I go I meet lots of like minded people and make new friends!
The town is made up of 4 parts, Dahab city which is in the south and houses the bigger plusher hotels and the Laguna where the kite surfers find the best wind. Next is Mashraba maybe considered the nice part by some with good standard hotels and a number of shops and places to eat, like the great King Chicken! I though much prefer the Masbat area along the see front with the most dive centres, bars and people I know. Finally is Asalah where a lot of the locals live and those driving to some of dive sites like Canyons or Blue Hole will pass through.
Dahab has lots of dinning and drinking opportunities spread out along the whole town. A walk along the promenade can mean you are accosted by a number of touts for each restaurant or souvenir shop, but generally a firm no means they leave you be. Some of my regular places to eat include, Yalla Bar, Chruchills, Blue Beach, Nirvana and for a cheap and filling lunch the Koshary. The German bakery with branches in a number of places also provides a good breakfast of pastry, though is a little more expensive then local options.
When it comes to cash points there seems to be a few less then before and often, especially over the weekend they can run out. Generally I would advise to get out enough cash to cover you for a few days when you get the chance. There is nothing worse then having to walk from Bluebeach all the way to Mashraba just to find a functioning cash point in the evening while others are enjoying a well earned drink!
Diving in Dahab
If you are reading this then I’m pretty sure you are interested in knowing about the diving.
Dahab Quick Facts
- Water Temps – 20C to 28c
- Viz – it does vary on tide and winds but generally 20 – 60m
- What to see – Turtles, Lionfish, Blue Spotted rays, Napoleons, Seahorses, Jacks.
The diving in Dahab is as relaxed as the town itself, no getting up at dawn to transfer to a boat followed by a 1-2hr boat trip, here many dives start a few steps from the Dive centre. Dahab is shore diving with the advantage of providing depths for all levels of diver. With surprising amounts of coral and fish life within a few breaths of your descent. The main entry points along the beach front are generally around the lighthouse area, Eel gardens is also great. A bit further out of town and requiring a taxi ride are some of the best dive spots in Dahab and two of my very favourite dives which offer more challenging dives for those with the correct training (but also fun dives for others). Blue Hole and the Canyons dive sites are fantastic.
The Canyon is a great dive site, and is essentially a canyon that drops down from about 30m to become a covered tunnel with one or two exits outside onto a wall. I prefer descending down along the wall to around 40m where the entry up into the canyon is and then up through the canyon – but the other way round is just as good! The we have the Blue Hole, Dahabs most famous dive site. The site itself was discovered by the legendary Jacques Cousteau and is about 80 meters in diameter and opens to the Red Sea. Part of this sites magic is the arch, which is a 26-meter-long tunnel with a roof at around 53ms and is an amazing dive for those with the correct training. Did I say amazing? I mean absolutley special!
All Scuba training agencies are well represented and there are plenty of great dive centres to choose from in Dahab catering for your every need from beginner diver all the way to some excellent Tec training, Dahab is also popular with Freedivers (especially the Blue Hole) and Kite surfers. For those with family or looking to take a break from the diving then there are plenty of activities like Camel rides, trips out into the desert or a visit to the 6th Century monastery of St Catherine’s.
Finally contrary to what you may see or read in the press and TV news Egypt is still a safe and friendly place for Tourists, in fact now more then ever do the Local stores, restaurants and of course all the dive centres and instructors need your support.