The Red Sea’s coastline is fast becoming a popular destination for sun-seekers and water sport enthusiasts alike.
With some of the world's hottest waters, locals boast that taking a dip here is like having a relaxing bath. Many health experts suggest that the sea's high salt levels provide benefits too, such as boosting blood circulation and reducing skin inflammations.
On Egypt’s east coast, a holiday hotspot has risen from the desert over the past three decades. Taking its name from the dazzling sun, the town of ''El Gouna'' has a population of just 24,000 people. It's located 25 kilometres north of Hurghada and is only a four-hour flight from Europe's major capitals.
Whether you are backpacking or looking for a luxury VIP getaway, there are many ways to discover the Red Sea.
Here are some of the most popular for travellers.
Along with Malaysia’ Sipadan Island and Cocos Island in Costa Rica, the coastline of Egypt is often ranked as the best place to dive in the world.
Below the surface, it’s home to more than 1,200 species of fish, including 44 species of sharks. A fifth of these are only found in this body of water. This thriving biodiversity is mainly due to the sea's coral reef ecosystem, stretching for 1,995 kilometres along the coastline.
But you don't have to be a master diver to enjoy what’s on display in these turquoise waters, explains Emad Emad a master diver from Scuba World in El Gouna,
"We cater for all levels of divers. For beginners, we start in a pool or a shallow lagoon to build divers’ confidence. After this, we dive deeper around the corals to see the sea life."
There are many PADI dive schools to choose from in El Gouna, and like Scuba World, they all cater for beginners as well as experienced divers.
"We have a unique dive where we explore a recent shipwreck,” Emad said, adding,
“One of Scuba World's divers remembers the ship when it was afloat. Before exploring the inside of the sunken ship, he tells the divers the story of the dramatic day that it sank. You can expect to see many items inside such as dinner plates, playing cards and much more.”
Further from the coastline into the Red Sea, the SS Thistlegorm (a British Merchant Navy ship) can be found. Built in 1940, it sank during World War II. Since then, it has been reclaimed by an array of colourful fish and coral.
A single dive costs around €35.
El Gouna's shallow lagoons and onshore winds create ideal conditions for kitesurfing. At any time of the day, you can expect to see many kite surfers on the water.
Every year the global kitesurfing community arrives in El Gouna for the watersport festival 'Kite Mania'. Spectators can watch some of the world's best surfers get some air and battle it out on the waves.
There are many kitesurfing schools in El Gouna that offer courses for complete beginners, with most also offering equipment to rent too.
Sliders Cable Park
For water sports fans who prefer not to rely on wind conditions, there’s Sliders Cable Park - one of the largest Olympic standard cable parks in the world. Spanning over 90,000 square metres, it has both clockwise and anti-clockwise cables.
Aleksandra Lach manages the park and told Euronews, “Wakeboarding is a water sport, very popular in Europe. However, due to the seasonality there, people can wakeboard roughly four to six months in the year.”
“We chose El Gouna as it offers great weather conditions all year round. It has been home to us for many years. We've observed how quickly it developed and became a well-known tourist destination, especially popular among kitesurfers. Wakeboarding and kitesurfing are similar sports, however, kitesurfing requires wind to pull you. Being located in El Gouna marked us as one of a few Cable Parks open all year round and a great alternative to no wind days for kiters,” he added.
A full day at the park costs €37, which includes a life vest and helmet.
Sailing on the Red Sea
To enjoy the beauty of the Red Sea at a relaxed pace, going aboard a catamaran sailboat is a good option. Roaming Egypt's coastline with nothing but the sound of the wind is a refreshing experience.
"The catamaran’s hull is very stable which helps people prone to seasickness. It also allows the sailboat to glide over shallow reefs before dropping the anchor at world-class snorkelling spots." says Tarek Abdon, the captain of Ocean Diva.
Dolphins and whale sharks, which are usually found in the deeper waters of the Red Sea, can often be spotted.
For families, an excursion on a glass-bottom boat or a submarine is the perfect opportunity to see the coral.
Sindbad Submarine departs from El Gouna marina and can dive to a depth of 22 metres. Onboard the whole family can explore the seabed without the need for any diving equipment.
The majority of tour operators offer a hotel pickup and dropoff free of charge.
Tour guide and German native, Natascha Samusch, said her favourite place is Lel Dera. This popular spot is a shallow coral reef located about 20 minutes, by boat, from the marina of El Gouna.
”It’s colourful with an abundance of fish. You can forget about the outside world,” she tells Euronews Travel.
For those keen to bring out their inner A-lister, relaxing in luxury is made possible with the many superyachts available to rent. They vary in size, with some reaching 40 metres that can sleep 14 people in large suites.
“If you come to the Red Sea, you must see the coral reef and the fish surrounding them. There are not many places in the world that have this,” says Hans Joachim Bliss, a German tourist visiting the area.