The first thing that probably comes to mind when you think of Egypt is pyramids — and while that would be correct, the south Sinai town of Dahab offers a totally different experience well worth seeking out. A former Bedouin fishing village, Dahab’s laid back, low-key vibe makes it a haven for independent travellers seeking a budget-friendly base for exploring more of Egypt and the Middle East. It’s not uncommon for a visitor to end up staying in Dahab for weeks after only planning to spend a few days. The boho beach town is well-known as a must-see spot for spectacular diving and it’s also an ideal base for guided treks into the desert atop swaying camels. For further inspiration, here are some of the best things to see and do in Dahab.
Being so close to the desert and not venturing into it would be a mistake. Just a one-hour drive from Dahab takes you onto the beautiful desert of Sinai with its canyons, unique rock formations, sandstone hills, green oases, mountain ranges, and sand dunes. The length of your camel trek will vary based on how long you want to go for and how far you want to venture. You can choose to be out for a few hours or a full day, or even overnight. If you’re out for a full day, desert stargazing is not to be missed.
Anyone travelling to Dahab should definitely get into the water, whether it’s diving or snorkelling, since the surrounding reefs are world-renowned for the abundance of colourful corals and vibrant marine life. Right in Dahab, two popular snorkel sites include The Lighthouse and Eel Gardens. If you want to go further afield, The Blue Hole is probably the most well-known dive and snorkel site in the area. The famous underwater sinkhole is only for advanced technical divers, but for snorkellers, the area around it is home to an impressive array of underwater creatures of all kinds. Dive centres, tour operators, and hotels can all organise trips to the Blue Hole, but just note that because of its popularity it can often be crowded.
Dahab’s dive scene is huge, from beginners doing their first level open water courses to advanced divers joining guided dive trips. All diving in Dahab is easily accessed from the shore, although you can also join a boat safari day trip to the more remote dive sites north and south of town. There are many dive centres in Dahab so finding someone to take you out shouldn’t be a problem.
Although there might be a seemingly endless array of amazing things to spot under the sea while you’re in Dahab, the diving destination is also known for as a popular place to go windsurfing and kitesurfing thanks to there being nearly 270 windy days a year in Dahab. The best spot to test your balance and agility on a kite or windsurfing board is at the Laguna area at the south end of Dahab’s main strip. There are several places here to rent equipment as well as to take lessons.
Dahab was once a quiet Bedouin fishing village and though it’s much different now, Bedouins still live in the area and no trip to Dahab is complete without enjoying their hospitality. Trek by camel or by jeep into a local wadi (small valley in the Sinai mountains) for a freshly prepared Bedouin-style dinner. Seeing how food is prepared in the desert is a unique experience and there’s nothing like eating a meal under the stars.
Brush up on your bargaining skills as (polite) haggling is commonplace in Dahab and prices are usually negotiable. You’ll find a number of shops along the main boardwalk selling everything from local handicrafts and books, to t-shirts, jewellery, and dive and snorkel equipment so there’s plenty of opportunity to find a few things to take home.