The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, located between Africa and Asia. It is said that prehistoric humans settled the area over 30,000 years ago. The Egyptians settled in the area in 3,000 B.C. Around 1,400 B.C. is when it is believed that Moses lived here and spoke to God on Mount Sinai. The area´s religion officially became Islamic in 1,000 A.D. when the Arabic people came into the region. To this day the area is affected by ongoing warfare between Middle-Eastern countries.
The area is best known for its scuba-diving and snorkelling sites, which are outstanding and plentiful. The best time to visit is in either Spring or Autumn, as the summer is very hot and the winter can be too cool for lying on the beach.
- In the past, sailors referred to the directions with colours; South was Red, hence where the southern-lying Red Sea got its name.
- The Red Sea played an important role as a trading route for the Romans.
- The Red Sea has a surface area of about 169,100 mi².
- The mangroves that grow along the coast of the Red Sea are protected by law. This type of plant has glands to rid itself of excess salt.
- The Arabic name for the Red Sea is “Bahr al-Ahmar”.
Things to See and Do
1) Start your day with a sunrise horseride with the much recommended "Mangroovy Horses" in Sharm El Sheikh, who have many well-looked after horses suitable for riders of every level of riding ability.
2) The Red Sea is famous for its amazing underwater life, and is shallow enough in many areas to be snorkelled, if diving isn´t your thing. Well-known sites include Ras Mohammed, SS Thistlegorm (shipwreck) and the Elphinstone Reef. The Sea Dancer Dive Center in Masbat or the Shams Dive Centre, Dahab offer courses, rent out gear and guide their customers around some of the most amazing dive spots in the area.
3) If you would rather explore the desert, go on a day tour quad-biking through the desert with for example Sharm Happy Tours or Falcon Adventure Sharm Day Tour Excursions.
The Red Sea´s Food Delights
Whether you are looking for regional dishes or a taste of home, there will restaurants in the area to cater for your taste. For good value and plentiful Arabic food, go to the Hurghada outlet of the Gad restaurants. Local specialities include foul (fava beans), taameya (falafel, deep fried patty of mashed vegetables), koshary (rice, pasta, lentil, tomato sauce), feteer (pie with a variety of ingredients, but mainly cheese and vegetables). The Palm Lounge Cafe in Sharm El Sheikh is a great place to go for a drink and a snack and to people-watch while relaxing with a shisha pipe. If you are on the lookout for something more familiar, then the South Beach Bar & Restaurant has a great selection of tapas, pizzas, grilled foods and other international dishes. There are large comfortable loungers for reclining on while enjoying your drinks and food.
Getting To and Around the Red Sea Coast
Sharm el Sheikh airport is the main airport for this region. Buses are the best way to get around the region, and consist mainly of converted VW buses that have been painted pink. You can hail them in the street much as you would a cab, and similarly it is expected that fares will be negotiated with the driver. If you take a taxi, also make sure to negotiate a fare before entering the car as rates are not fixed, and fares for night travel and long distance are more expensive. If you decide to rent a car, be aware that road conditions aren´t that good and that you must have an international drivers permit. This is available from the car rental agency against a few, make sure to ask.
Accommodation and Rentals on the Red Sea Coast
The Red Sea region has many accommodation options available for its visitors, such as hotels, both of the expensive and budget variety, bed and breakfasts and self-catering holiday rentals. Should you also want to experience how the locals live, then perhaps you´d be interested in checking the offers on holiday apartments and villas in the area on Wimdu. Not only do you get an interesting insight into the local life, but your host may also be able to give you some great insider tips on the region.