Egypt’s Red Sea offers clear, warm waters, abundant marine life, drift dives, wreck dives and just about everything in between. While the entire region is a diver’s paradise, some spots really have it all. Marsa Shagra Village in Marsa Alam, Egypt is one of them.
Marsa Shagra Village
Marsa Shagra Village is centrally located 157 miles (253 km) south of Hurghada International Airport, 25 miles (40 km) south of the Marsa Alam International Airport, and 12 miles (20 km) north of Marsa Alam itself. It’s far from the crowds, yet still close to both the main airports. Marsa Shagra offers a mixture of modern luxury and natural simplicity — the best of both worlds.
The house reef is one of the highlights at Marsa Shagra Village. One of the richest and most pristine house reefs in the area, it’s home to plentiful marine life and an excellent variety of soft and hard corals starting from 3 to 33 feet (1 to 10 m). There’s a slow drop-off as it reaches the outside walls at 131 to 164 feet (40 to 50 m). This has been a protected area for the last 20 years, and you could easily spend every day just diving here. But, with so much more to see, you’ll want to get out and explore. There are around 18 different dives sites around Marsa Shagra, all of which offer excellent diving. Here are a few you shouldn’t miss.
Best Dive Sites near Marsa Shagra
A 1,200-foot (375 m) long off-shore reef with drop-offs descending to 325 feet (100 m), divers consistently rank Elphinstone Reef among the top 10 dive sites in the world. You can expect to see soft corals and a staggering variety of marine life. When it comes to sharks, Elphinstone is known for oceanic whitetips, scalloped hammerheads, white and grey reef sharks, silkies and threshers. It’s an advanced dive site, and you must have a minimum of a PADI Advanced Open Water certification, as well as comfort diving in potentially strong currents.
Abu Dabbab Bay
Abu Dabbab Bay offers divers plenty of different options. You can see spectacular hard coral reef formation as well as a wrecked safari-boat hull, which caught fire and sank in 2005. There’s also the chance to swim or snorkel with the endangered sea cow, or dugong.
This site is a large, sandy bay and offers a patch of seagrass where you can see dugongs and giant green sea turtles.
Shaab Samadai is local marine park, protected by the government. You’ll need a permit to dive here and HEPCA strictly enforces certain rules. You’ll travel by truck to Marsa Alam Marina and another 40 minutes by boat to reach the reef. You will usually do two dives as it’s quite a long distance from the village. Snorkelers are welcome too and will be provided with mandatory life jackets.
Although most people visit predominately to dive, if you’re traveling with a non-diver or need something to do on your dry days, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Hire a kayak and sail around the house reef or try your hand at kitesurfing. You can also book full or half-day desert tours or sunset experiences.
By guest author Sarah Richard
Guest author Sarah Richard is a travel writer currently living in Hong Kong. She is a divemaster who has been diving for eight years and has most recently worked on a liveaboard in Micronesia. She also runs her own travel blog here.