Marsa Alam is a port and resort located on the Red Sea in the southeast of Egypt. It is 700 kilometers away from Cairo and 280 kilometers away from Hurghada
This popular resort is located 135 km south of Al-Qusseir and 270 km south of Hurghada and is connected to Edfu by a 289 Km long desert road. Due to the proximity of Luxor and the shrine of Abu AI-Hassan AI-Shazli and its wonderful beaches, it has become a big tourist center.
Marsa Alam transformed from being just a small fishing village to become a famous sea resort and a center for diving and sea trips. The shore contains amazing coral reefs and diving spots. Marsa Alam also has an airport located 60 kilometers north of the city and can serve more than 50,000 passengers, which added to the huge development that the city went through. Flights from different European countries, especially Italy, come straight to Marsa Alam international airport with hundreds of tourists who chose Marsa Alam to spend their vacation. Unlike more commercial cities like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, the beauty of Marsa Alam is still untouched with the harmful effects of modernization.
The Villages Of Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam mainly consists of two villages: Bernice, a small city located 178 kilometers north of Al Qausier, which is famous for therapeutic tourism and the village of Abu El Hassan Al Shazly which has a famous Islamic center and doesn’t really have anything for Western tourists. But what about the center of the city of Marsa Alam itself?
The plan for the city of Marsa Alam indicates that by the year 2020, it will have 60,000 people and provide more than 17,000 jobs. The Egyptian government has given special attention to Marsa Alam during the last few years for many reasons. The first reason is that the city has the most remarkable diving and snorkeling spots in Egypt. The second reason is the weather in Marsa Alam, which is moderate all year long especially in the beginning of the winter when you can swim in the sea while other people in other cities suffer from the cold weather. The third reason is that Marsa Alam is located near the Nile Valley and near Luxor in particular which makes it possible for tourists who visit Luxor to come to Marsa Alam and vice versa.
Marsa Alam also has significant economic importance as it hosts many of the key gold and marble mines in Egypt. Additionally, there is the Marsa Alam seaport that was expanded considerably over the last few years.
The Egyptian government has also discovered some monuments near Marsa Alam. The supreme council of antiquates was able to uncover a whole ancient town that goes back to the new Pharaonic kingdom. This is in addition to the gold mines in Wadi Baheria that have been used since the time of the ancient pharaohs.
Tourist Activities In Marsa Alam
The beach is the best place to go in the morning. Most tourists prefer to spend the early morning at the beach after having a delicious breakfast. The beach has crystal clear water, shining sun, and wonderful white sand.
When I reached the Qamaraya Hotel, I was amazed to view all the appealing flower and tree gardens. This place is really paradise on earth. The gardens of the hotel are very colorful and amazing. I thought to my self that it is so sad that I don’t have my fiancé with me. We would really have enjoyed this place! I promised myself that I would have my honeymoon at this particular hotel. When I went to the beach, a lot of tourists were enjoying the sea, snorkeling and swimming. Maybe more than 90% of the guests were Italians. I learned afterward that charters come from Rome and Milan straight to Marsa Alam with a lot of Italian tourists.
Other morning activities in Marsa Alam include playing all sorts of sports. Most of the resorts in Marsa Alam have tennis, football, volleyball, and table tennis. There are tennis instructors that can teach advanced and beginner players. A lot of tourists spend the afternoon playing volleyball before going swimming later in the day.
Diving in Marsa Alam
The most common activity in Marsa Alam is diving. There are many diving centers in Marsa Alam that offer modern equipment that is all imported from Europe. There are also some European diving centers that have opened branches in Marsa Alam. The best diving centers in the city include Deep South, Wadi Gimal, Ocean Pro and Aquarius.
By chance, I found out that the Qamaraya hotel hosts the oldest and maybe one of the most important diving centers in Marsa Alam. It is called Pioneer’s diving center. The center has professional diving instructors who can give lessons in Italian, English, German and Spanish. The center provides all types of diving lessons and trips. The instructors give lessons to beginner divers and professional divers. They even have special diving spots for beginners and others for more advanced divers.
The “Shaab Samadai” or Dolphin House is the most interesting diving spot in Marsa Alam. All diving centers in the city organize one-day trips to this incredibly beautiful diving spot where one can view some of the oldest Red Sea coral formations. There is also a chance to swim beside some dolphins. This is why this spot is called ” the Dolphin House”. Another remarkable diving spot (exclusively for advanced divers) is the Elphinstone, which is considered one of the best diving locations in the world to view sharks.
Marsa Alam ‘s Nightlife
I was amazed to find out that there are numerous activities to be done at night in Marsa Alam. One can go shopping for starters, and stores mainly sell gifts and souvenirs like perfumes, pharaonic replicates, small statues, silver and gold jewelry, wooden handicrafts, and some Bedouin outfits and crafts. I actually bought a beautiful silver bracelet for my fiancé and its price was quite reasonable
The most best product to buy in Marsa Alam is herbs. There are some herbs which are only cultivated in Marsa Alam and the area around it and you can not find them anywhere else in Egypt. These herbs are beneficial for health and help in curing many chorionic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Tour Options Around Marsa Alam
For tourists who prefer more energetic and adventurous activities, a lot of resorts and tourism offices offer interesting different tours. One can go in a tour to the desert in the Arabian style riding a camel, watching the bizarre rock formation in the desert, and then laying down and have tea and dinner in the Bedouin tent that will be waiting for you there. Taste the delicious Bedouin cooked dishes especially the grilled veal dishes. if you need to speed up the process, you can use a beach buggy or motor bicycle instead of the camel.
Another entertaining tour is to ride a horse beside the sea or in the desert. There are instructors to teach your sons and daughters how to ride young horses. Riding horses is one of the most pleasurable activities to be done in Marsa Alam in the afternoon or maybe late at night as well.
In each of the larger resorts in Marsa Alam, there are discos, bars, and different types of restaurants. The Qamaraya Hotel where I stayed had a disco that was called Ciao Marsa. They played all sorts of music, especially Latin. Another interesting place is Planet Bedouin, which is a tent on the beach offering drinks and shisha every day. The Bedouin tent also offers some types of tasty Egyptian food like Molokheya, grilled meat, Fetta, and Koshary. There is a bellydancing show two times a week in the tent.
I was lucky I was there on Thursday as this was the day the hotel organizes a beach party. The ticket for the party was for 70 Euros and it included having two drinks. Everybody seemed happy and everyone mingled in group dances. I even met some of the friends I got to know from the desert tour I had earlier in the day. Many resorts offer beach parties every few days to entertain their guests.
Marsa Alam has all sorts of modern services that include communication services like international phone calls, wireless internet, and medical services as each resort has a small medical center. A tourist can also hire a car to take him whenever he wants.
Dreams Come True
I would also like to say that I made my dream come true when I got married. I went for half of my honeymoon trip to Marsa Alam and then me and my wife went on a Nile cruise between Aswan and Luxor. We took a private car with a driver and went to the same Qamaraya hotel in Marsa Alam. The trip took around 4 hours but it was nice as the car was quite comfortable.
Knowing that we are honeymooners, the administration of the hotel gave us a nice cozy room in a quiet spot to the far west of the hotel. The room was wide and had a remarkable sea view. My wife was amazed to see the greenery and flowers of the hotel. We spent four days there that I have to admit were among the happiest days of my life. We spent the morning on the beaches of the hotel and the night in the disco, Bedouin tent, and the small cafe near the hotel where we played cards and enjoyed hot drinks. At the end of our trip, we took a flight straight to Cairo. It’s worth noting that there are many flights from Cairo to Marsa Alam and vice-versa around the week.
Marsa Alam will always hold a special place in my heart. The city is marvelous for divers, honeymooners, and older people who can enjoy the calm beaches. Before leaving Marsa Alam in my last trip, I have heard many people saying that Marsa Alam will be the next Sharm Al-Sheikh, especially after many Egyptian construction companies are building resorts and hotels there such as Porto Ghaleb. Although I would love to see Marsa Alam as famous as Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, I would also like the city to maintain its charm of being an untouched beauty.
Hotels In Marsa Alam
- Iberotel Coraya Beach Resort (5 stats)
- Sol Y Mar Dar El Madina (4 stars)
- Three Corners Fayrouz Plaza Beach Resort (4 stars)
- Iberotel Lamaya Resort (5 stats)
- InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort (5 stats)
- Fantazia Resort (4 stars)
- Elphinstone Resort (4 stars)
- Gorgonia Beach Resort (4 stars)
- Kahramana Beach Resort (4 stars)
- Lahami Bay Resort