A piece of paradise in Dahab, Egypt

It was love at first sight.  The aquamarine waters, the gentle sea breeze, and the cloudless skies were the perfect setting for the cozy hotel we booked ourselves into at the last minute ten days ago.  We’d love to stay another month but it’s going into high season and everything is booked, not to mention the fact that we’re already well into the 15-day grace period permitted on our Tourist Visa.

Dahab is a small town located about 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh, which is a larger, popular resort city with a population of 35,000.  We flew into the airport outside of Sharm el-Sheikh from Cairo and didn’t so much as set foot there.  Instead, we loaded our gear into our pre-arranged taxi and headed straight for Dahab.  We weren’t interested in staying at one of the monolithic, all inclusive resorts that attract hordes of European and Russian tourists.

From what we had read, Dahab sounded more our style.  It used to be a Bedouin fishing village, but is now a tourist town, reportedly offering some of the best diving, snorkelling and windsurfing in the world.  The number of dive shops is staggering, with over 50 dive centres competing for your business.  There is plenty to do in this piece of paradise, or you can easily do nothing at all, whatever suits your fancy.

There is a paved boardwalk that extends over three kilometres connecting the three main areas around Dahab:  Masbat, which includes the bedouin village Asalah, in the north where we are staying; Mashraba, south of Masbat which is more touristy with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops; and Medina  in the southwest where there are a few large chain hotels near the Laguna area, famous for its excellent shallow-water windsurfing.  The boardwalk has offered us a perfect running route early in the morning before the heat sets in.  At night, it is aglow from the exotic looking lanterns and tiny christmas lights shining from all the restaurants lining the pathway.

We’ve been staying at the El Primo Hotel, a small nine room establishment overlooking the sea in the popular area called Eel Garden, about a ten minute walk from the centre of town.  Emily, the young German owner, exudes warmth and hospitality making her guests feel comfortable and at home from the moment we arrived.  Our room is bright, colourful and cheerful, a nice change from the bleak, grim places we’ve been in lately.     Each room is air conditioned, with private ensuite  and a balcony overlooking the sea, with the faint outline of the hills of Saudi Arabia in the distance.  A hearty breakfast is included too.  The price is a little steep compared to what we have been paying in Egypt, 300 EGP per night (about $50 CAD).  Even though we’re paying more than we usually do, we think we’re getting good value for our money.  This place is spotless, comfortable, the perfect place to chill by the sea.

View from our balcony.  

The days have blended into each other in a blur of restful bliss.  We haven’t really done too much of anything to be honest.  Sure, we snorkel almost every day, sometimes for hours at a time as the entire coastline is one amazing coral reef, teaming with a variety of colourful fish and gorgeous coral.  By mid afternoon, the sea is as flat as a pancake making it the perfect time to head into the refreshing waters.  In the heat of the day, it is best to retire to our air conditioned room for a siesta, or relax in the bedouin style area by the edge of the water, letting the gentle sea breeze cool us off.  This place has inspired me to start writing a book and that has kept me busy each day as I can barely keep up with the words that are just spilling out of me.  Who knows if anything will come of this project, but since I have always wanted to write a book, it feels good to be fulfilling this lifelong dream for once and for all.

It hasn’t been completely perfect as both Chris and I have each had a bout of stomach upset, the most severe we’ve experienced since beginning our travels.  It is difficult to pinpoint just exactly what has made us sick as we are eating in the same restaurants, usually the same food, and we got sick on different days.  Just as well, so we could take care of each other as it really knocked us off our feet for a couple of days each.  Now that we’re feeling better, we’ll eat at the restaurant at our hotel which dishes up lovely, Egyptian cuisine that we know we can trust.

When you’re staying in one place for a while, you start to notice things that you might otherwise overlook.  For instance, we’ve noticed a lot of Russian women here, with young blond children and babies, but very few men.  Apparently, there has been something of a Russian invasion in recent years, with Russians buying up much of the prime real estate around town.  The women are deposited here with their children, for what purpose one can only surmise or speculate, and the men are back home somewhere in Russia.  Sadly, these local Russians have made something of a reputation for themselves with their scantily dressed women, and naked babies that defecate wherever they wish, making them unwelcome in most establishments, including our own hotel.   The other thing that is noticeable is that there are very few local Egyptian women around.  Either they are all at home out of tourists’ sight, or they are somewhere else.  I have no idea.

We’re feeling better now, and getting ready to move on in a couple of days.  We’ll be travelling to Petra, Jordan via bus and ferry on Thursday. 

In spite of the sign we saw camels and horses
walking along the boardwalk everyday. 

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6 Responses
  1. Angus says:

    Looks like a real paradise. I don’t think I’ve seen Chris look so relaxed since you started the trip.

    • christina says:

      It was the most relaxing time we’ve spent in a while – we didn’t even go diving while we were there, but we did lots of snorkelling. I think we both needed a good break from the travelling and this was the perfect place where we didn’t feel compelled to do or see anything.

  2. Devin White says:

    So going to the Palestine Israel border or “Gaza Strip”? I’m a good friend of Wes’s

    • chris says:

      We may go to the border and venture into Palestine territory… the two young lads from Norway that we’re sharing a dorm room with here in Jerusalem went today without incident and thought it was worthwhile!

      Glad to see we’ve got some followers up Sudbury!



  3. Emily says:

    Hello the both of you! It was so wonderful to have you here in Dahab and I’m so happy that you enjoyed and relaxed a lot. I’m just wondering where you are right now…but soon I will know I’m sure.
    Take care and still enjoy your travelling.
    Lots of hugs from Dahab

    • christina says:

      Hi Emily,
      We’ve been in Jerusalem for a week and tomorrow we return to Amman. I’m so behind on the blog right now because we have been so busy seeing and doing so many amazing things. We could use another week at El Primo to recover 🙂 On Monday we will try to get caught up on the blog with lots of photos from Petra and Israel. And then on Tuesday we say good-bye to the Middle East and fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
      Take Care,
      Chris and Christina