Red Sea Egypt, The Best Snorkeling

by Michel Kuijpers
(The Netherlands)

Red Sea Shrimp Goby and Olive Goby Shrimp, a symbiotic relationship, see comment

To us, Red Sea, Egypt is the best place for snorkeling we've seen so far. We have visited the Red Sea some 10 times now, so we have some experience in the area.

We have also visited the Caribbean and Mexico, and we like Egypt far better. Apart from being close to the Netherlands where we live, the corals are great, the diversity of fishes also, and you can always find a comfortable bay, where you snorkel without any trouble from high waves or strong currents.

If anyone has questions about where to go or what to see, please ask.

Comments for Red Sea Egypt, The Best Snorkeling

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Jun 19, 2015
Finally!!!
by: Nicole & Galen

Michel, thank you so much for sharing your pictures and opinions about snorkeling in the Red Sea. We have heard from so many people that they believe it has the world's best snorkeling, but no one has ever shared anything specific with us about it, so thank you for finally doing so.

We along with our readers would love to hear more specifics about where to snorkel there. Is it beach snorkeling? Is it by boat tour? What is it like traveling in Egypt?

And if you would like us to add captions to your pictures, include them in your next comment.

Jun 19, 2015
More Info On Snorkeling In Egypt
by: Michel

One of the best things about snorkeling in Egypt to us, is that it is beach snorkeling. Or to be more precise, bay snorkeling.

At most places, there is fringing reef between the sea and the shore. This is usually very good, but for snorkeling not so attractive, because it's nearly always windy, so on the outside there are waves.

So we look for a hotel on a bay, and there are plenty. In the bay you can snorkel on nice, calm water. Depth in most bays goes from 1-40 meters (120 feet). You can join a dive boat, and do snorkeling from a boat, but again, you'll be in bumpy waters.

We always felt very safe in Egypt, but to be honest, we barely leave the hotel area since we do only snorkeling (that's, apart from sunbathing, the only thing you can do).

On an 11 day trip, we stay in two hotels/bays, to add some variety.

You start your snorkel from the beach, and corals start after a few meters and in very shallow water. Also the corals (mainly hard corals) grow to the surface, so you can snorkel alongside the coral instead of above.

It's difficult to tell everything in a few words, so if there are more specific questions, we love to talk about snorkeling like you guys do...

Jun 19, 2015
Region?
by: Helen

Which region do you recommend?

Jun 19, 2015
Places To Go In Egypt
by: Michel

I would recommend the Egypt mainland instead of the Sinai. So that would be somewhere near Hurghada or Marsa Alam (both have international airports).

Just to mention two: Mangrove Bay and Oriental Bay are great for snorkeling, but there are many other good spots.

Jun 20, 2015
More, Please
by: Pat

I would love to hear all particulars you care to give. Perhaps a rated list of places you have stayed with a bit of detail of the quality of snorkeling, year there, hotel amenities (like good food?), whether you needed a car, or used taxi, etc.

I love the idea of not having to leave, just snorkel, eat, sleep, snorkel again!

We're looking for a place to spend a special anniversary, not interested in "night life" but love to snorkel on our own schedule two/three times a day.

We've snorkeled extensively in the Pacific and a little bit in the Caribbean, but are looking for a safe (no currents) place to shore snorkel with fish that are new to us.

Thanks for the info so far, it's peaked our curiosity! We are considering the Maldives (but they are so far from California) or possibly Indonesia, or ...?

Jun 20, 2015
Wow!
by: Pam

This reminds me of Indonesia where we snorkeled this past April! Awesome corals!


Jun 20, 2015
Some More Info On Egypt
by: Michel

Hello Pat, that's a lot of questions, I'll do the best I can.

As for the places. Most places offer the same habitat. So the best you can do, is pick a nice bay with a hotel that suits your taste. Hotels range from very big, to tented camps that are used by a couple of divers. The bigger places are usually of the "all-inclusive concept".

Something in between is the hotel on Mangrove Bay. It is fairly small, mainly visited by divers, and is run by German management. Mangrove Bay has some of the best corals we've seen in Egypt so far.

Another nice place, with some more big fishes than Mangrove, is Brayka Bay, but that's a very big hotel. Food is good, however it depends on your own taste of course. But you are in tropics, so keep to the 'tropic rules', "Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it". So no salads, no ice, no washed fruits like strawberries and so on. Otherwise stomach problems will haunt you.

Fishes and corals are more or less the same in most bays. When you want to see big green turtles and a fair chance of Dugong (or Seacow), go to a bay named Abu Dabab. It's a large bay with a lot of seagrass. But it's often quite busy and visibility is not always good. Normally in other places visibility is very good, although it depends a bit on the tide.

Best time of year I think is around September. Air temperature is very nice, (77-86) while water is at a comformtable 80. In July - August it becomes really hot, up to 110 and more. You can snorkel all year round, but in the northern winter you will need a full wetsuit to be comfortable.

We normally switch to another place after 5 days or so, but that's just our idea. We always use a local tour operator for local transport called Sylvia Tours. They pick you up at the airport and take care of all transport and are very reliable. We usually manage to identify some 120-140 species of fish during an 11 day trip (but we skip the really small stuff). There's only one very good fish guide "Coral Reef Guide Red Sea" by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers.

When you're looking for species that are confined to more central and southern parts of the Red Sea, you might consider Shams Alam Bay. It has very good corals, but a bit more difficult bay. Since you're looking for safety, I would suggest Brayka Bay, Mangrove Bay and/or Oriental Bay. All not far from the airport, very good and safe snorkeling, good corals, and lots of fish.

Any more questions? Don't hesitate to ask...

P.S. Sorry for any mistakes in my English, but my English is probably still better than your Dutch ;-)

Jun 20, 2015
Picture 3
by: Michel

By the way, the fish in the third picture is a Red Sea Shrimp Goby (Cryptocentrus caeruleopunctatus). It lives in a burrow that's dug by a shrimp, in this case the Olive Goby Shrimp (Alpheus rapax). The Shrimp can dig, but is blind. The goby has excellent eyes, but can't dig a burrow. The shrimp stays in contact with the goby. When the goby spots danger, he retreats in the burrow, and the shrimp also hides in the same burrow. It's a shy couple, but when you're patient, you can make nice pictures.

Jun 26, 2015
Why not Sinai?
by: Nicole & Galen

Michel, we are just curious why you suggest avoiding the Sinai area. Thanks.

Jul 05, 2015
Why Not Sinai
by: Michel

Hello, I'm sorry for the late response, I was in Egypt for the last 12 days ;-)

Not Sinai because from what I've heard and read it's not better than the mainland, and the security situation is not so good (as was sadly proven again last week...).

Aug 02, 2015
Sinai
by: Axel from Munich

Hi! I have been to Sinai several times, preferring the house reef near the Baron Hotel which is located just ten minutes from the Sharm el Sheik airport. The sometimes strong winds blowing out of the Gulf of Aquaba resulting in higher waves at the shores of the mainland are missed here.

The safety situation in the Sharm el Sheik area might be ok as the most terrorist attacks were in the north Sinai, some miles away from the tourist areas.

I just booked for two weeks in November!

Aug 13, 2015
Wonderful Snorkeling In Sharm
by: Ruth

I live in England & go to Sharm el Sheikh with my husband every winter. We go for the snorkeling and always stay in the north of Sharm at the Royal Albatros Moderna which has an approximately 500m long jetty to take you directly to the coral drop.

We meet up with a group of friends we originally met in Sharm some years ago and snorkel together. They have snorkeled all over the world and reckon it is is the best coral etc, especially as it is so accessible.

It can be flat water but it can get very windy. When it is windy, if you are a good swimmer, you can swim when others are not allowed to, as it can get very rough. But that for us is part of the fun. You have to be fit and nimble enough to walk out backwards, quickly, up the jetty steps before a big wave comes....

The hotel is really friendly. We are already booked for a week in February in 2016.

When the weather is good and sea calm, we snorkel continually at a good speed for an hour to the end of Sharm in the north around the fringe reef (which bends in to shore), have a break/snack on the beach (which we tow in a dry bag), and snorkel back again.

For me this place is heaven on earth. And we often don't leave the hotel, as we go there for the sea and snorkel.

Sep 10, 2015
Red Sea Snorkel Liveaboard?
by: Swapna

Michel, plus others, thank you for the tips!

I wonder if you know of a snorkel liveaboard for the Red Sea? I scuba and free dive (5-60 feet - it's all GOOD!!), while my partner only snorkels. He has gifted me this trip and I would love to find a boat vs. a land based holiday... We are going October 2015.

Thanks!

Sep 11, 2015
Stay Onboard Boat
by: Ruth

Hi Swapna - I have looked in to a holiday on a snorkeling boat in the Red Sea, rather than a dive boat and been unable to find one. Let me know if you do, as we would be interested. I think the only way to do this would be to charter one and then fill it up with other interested snorkelers!

As I type this I recall a boat owner that I heard about through the British Wild Swimming Fraternity speak of offering to take their boat to the Red Sea for some wild swimming and live onboard. I am not sure if they did do this or not.

Swim Trek organizes snorkel trips from a Red Sea resort but you stay in a hotel and then get boat support for the swimming each day.

Best wishes.

Sep 16, 2015
Liveaboard Red Sea
by: Denise

Just reading comments about Red Sea snorkeling and I would be very interested in a snorkeling charter.

I've been to Egypt snorkeling several times and would love to find a better/different way of exploring the reefs and a dedicated charter would be fab.

Happy to be involved!

Sep 18, 2015
Liveaboards
by: Michel

We just returned from Egypt this morning. Another very good trip with over 150 species of fish and beautiful corals. New hotel for us was the Marsa Shagra Eco Lodge. I would say: highly recommended. Snorkelers are taken seriously by the diving center, and all the facilities like Zodiak transport etc. are free of charge available for snorkelers as well.

As far as I know, there are no liveaboards for snorkelers in the Red Sea. Of course a liveaboard offers great flexibility in where to go. But on the other hand, being on the open sea is not very attractive in an area where there is usually a quite strong wind (4-5 Beaufort).

I like being in a bay, with the option to snorkel the fringing reefs when the winds are low.

Oct 03, 2015
Stinging Jellyfish?
by: Gene

Are stinging jellyfish a big problem for shore snorkeling in the Red Sea? September sounds like the best combination of water and air temperature. What are the best months to avoid jellyfish problems?

Thanks.

Oct 04, 2015
Jellyfish in the Red Sea
by: Anonymous

Hello Gene,

On around 10 trips to the Red Sea, we've encountered a number of jellyfish on only one occasion, after a few days of strong wind. And this was the species Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia sp. aurita). The sting is very mild. You can feel a prickly sensation, but only for a short time. So I wouldn't bother about jellyfish.

Warm regards,

Michel

Nov 12, 2016
Sharm el Sheikh Snorkeling
by: Alex

December and the beginning of January, are they alright to snorkel at Sharm el Sheikh? Or is it too cold and too windy? I want to go with my wife and 8 year old daughter for snorkeling.

Thanks for any tips.

Nov 13, 2016
Winter in Egypt
by: Anonymous

As for snorkeling in Sharm el Sheikh in December/January, the winds are more or less the same all year round, usually somewhere around 3-4 Beaufort. The air temperature in that period is usually around 25°C and the water around 23°C.

We use a full wetsuit that time of year. But it depends on how much you move around. Some snorkelers swim quite fast, and then it may be OK without a wetsuit or with a shorty. We go very slow since we look for small things and spend a lot of time taking pictures.

So, my advice would be to take a wetsuit, especially for the little girl, otherwise your snorkeling trips might be quite short...

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