I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Dahab. And we’ve met surprisingly many people on the road who know this little coastal town in Egypt’s South Sinai desert. Whether they’ve lived there, worked there or just visited for a holiday, everyone loves Dahab. And with good reason! Read on and we’ll tell you exactly why Dahab should be on your bucket list.
Even though we generally visit places only once (because there simply are too many on our bucket list…), Dahab is a place we keep coming back to. So much so, that since 2012 we have our own place here. Sinai Sun Villa Dahab is for rent via Airbnb. We’re not in Dahab year round but we’ve been coming here since 2005. I guess that kinda makes us locals. We often get asked ‘is Egypt safe?’. Well… like lots of places worldwide some areas are and some areas aren’t. But Dahab is definitely safe, even for female solo travelers! “You driving to work everyday is a riskier roll of the dice than a visit to Dahab” as our friends from Once Upon A Backpack explain in their Dahab travel guide.
- 1 10 reasons to visit Dahab, Egypt
- 2 Getting to Dahab
- 3 Leaving Dahab
- 4 The best time to visit Dahab, Egypt
- 5 Dahab hotels & Dahab camps
- 6 Workations in Dahab
10 reasons to visit Dahab, Egypt
Whether you’re interested in Egypt’s history, just want a relaxing sun-filled holiday or want to cross diving in the famous Red Sea off your bucket list, there are many places to visit in Egypt. The Pyramids, Luxor, Abu Simbel, The Nile Delta, Hurghada… Somehow Dahab rarely ends up in this list, which is a shame as it’s one of the best places to visit in Egypt (of course, we’re biased ;-)). Here are 10 reasons why.
Dahab weather: 365 days of sunshine
In Dahab the sun always shines. There might be a few days a year when it’s a bit overcast and if were lucky there’s rain once a year, but other than that it’s sunny all year round. Enough vitamin D for everyone! It’s important to protect yourself from the sun though but please don’t damage the reef with all those chemical ointments and use a reef safe sunscreen! Even in the wintertime when the temperature at night might drop to 10C (and all the locals are wearing warm winter coats and knit caps), it’s still warm enough to wear a t-shirt during the day.
Laid back atmosphere
Compared to the major tourist destinations in Egypt, Dahab is very relaxed. The people are friendly and willing to help wherever they can. Sure, they want you to eat in their restaurant and buy in their shop, but they’re not pushy or aggressive about it. Dahab used to be a favorite among hippie backpackers and this friendly, welcoming and laidback atmosphere is still felt today.
Great for kids
Egyptians and Bedouins alike love kids. And there is plenty to do for kids in Dahab. The central Lighthouse area offers a confined sandy area where kids can swim and play in the water. Our 4-year old loved to go snorkeling there. Full face snorkel masks are becoming more popular in Dahab, but as divers we always think they look a bit silly. We prefer ‘old fashioned’ snorkel gear for our son. We’re so happy he loves the water and marine life just as much as we do! Dahab’s Laguna is a lovely sandy area which is also great for swimming and the mountains are also a great place to spend time with your kids. Kids will be amazed to see your Bedouin guide make tea and prepare food on an open fire. And in the mountains there’s ample space to run and discover. When your kids are a bit older they can try their hand at windsurfing, scuba diving or riding a quad.
Egypt is affordable
For us westerners, Egypt is still very affordable compared to home. Some luxury products are about the same price as we would pay in The Netherlands, but a taxi around town costs you less than $1 and a dinner for two with some fresh juice will set you back about $20. Excursions and activities are very affordable too, so a visit to Dahab won’t break the bank.
The town of Dahab is wedged in between the Sinai Desert mountains and the Gulf of Aqaba, the Northeastern arm of the Red Sea. Natural beauty both above and under the water. Just walking around town you see the impressive mountain range looming in the background. The mountains are easy to reach by taxi from Dahab, for instance at Wadi Gnai. We visited the mountains there recently and had the whole area ourselves. A fantastic experience. The underwater world of Dahab is amazing as well, like swimming in an aquarium.
Dahab diving: freediving & scuba diving
We love to dive, so destinations that offer great diving are a big plus for us. Luckily Dahab has a lot of fantastic dive sites. Practically all dives are shore dives and can be done by both novice and advanced divers. From deep diving at Blue Hole Dahab and Canyon to pristine coral reefs at Gabr el Bint, Dahab has it all. Dahab is also one of the cheapest places worldwide to get your PADI Open Water diving certification. Freedivers also love Dahab. Egypt’s Blue Hole in Dahab is easy accessible from the shore, there’s no current and it’s deep. A great place to practice your freediving skills.
Both active and relaxing
You can easily spend your days in Dahab on a sunbed at the beach, sipping a lovely fresh fruit juice and taking the occasional dip to cool off. In Dahab you can combine this perfectly with some more active choices. There are quite a lot of excursions you can do from Dahab and a lot of activities to choose from. A trip to St. Catherine’s monastery is one the most popular day trips from Dahab.
Plenty of things to do in Dahab
Scuba diving, snorkeling, freediving, swimming, kite or wind surfing, desert safaris, riding a quad, a camel or a horse, mountain climbing or camping in the desert, it’s all possible in Dahab. Really, you never have to be bored in Dahab! No problem if you’ve never done it before, there are lessons available for all levels.
Live like a local
Unlike in the touristy seaside resorts in Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada, you can still experience the local lifestyle in Dahab. Accommodation in Dahab hotels and Dahab camps is available for any budget, but we prefer to rent a local house and live like a local. You’ll often find yourself in a Bedouin area, where the goats roam free during the day and you’ll be cheerfully greeted by barefooted Bedouin kids when you leave the house. Your Bedouin neighbors might even invite you for a tea!
Experience the Bedouin culture
The Sinai Bedouins have been around for a long time. Their culture is unique and Dahab is a great place to discover the Bedouin way of life. There are around 33 different Bedouin tribes in North and South Sinai. And while North Sinai continues to be an area of conflict and difficult to visit, South Sinai welcomes tourists and the Bedouins will gladly tell you about their culture. Go on a desert hike with a Bedouin guide, spend a few days camping Bedouin style under the stars or go for a lovely Bedouin dinner in the mountains. It’s well worth it!
Getting to Dahab
Dahab is located in the South Sinai desert, about 100km north of Sharm el Sheikh. The easiest and quickest way to reach Dahab is to take a plane to Sharm el Sheikh airport and then a taxi to Dahab (costs around $30). EgyptAir and Nile Air operate daily flights from Cairo. There are direct international flights to Sharm el Sheikh from Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), Brussels (TUI) and Amsterdam (TUI). By car it takes 60-75 minutes to travel from Sharm el Sheikh to Dahab. The more budget option is to take a bus from Sharm el Sheikh to Dahab. Buses don’t operate directly from the airport, you first have to take a taxi to the bus station in town. Another option is to fly to Eilat, cross the border at Taba and take a taxi from there. It’s safest to pre-arrange your taxi and make sure it’s waiting for you at the border.
Unless you choose to stay in Dahab (which many first time visitors end up doing), there comes a time when you have to move on or go back home. You can reverse your route and take a taxi to Sharm el Sheikh airport, but you can also easily cross the border to Israel at Taba or go from Egypt to Jordan by ferry. The ferry to Aqaba, Jordan leaves from Nuweiba, which is about an hour away from Dahab by car. Visting Jordan is actually pretty high on our bucket list. We’d love to visit Petra and see the sand dunes at Wadi Rum.
The best time to visit Dahab, Egypt
What is the best month to visit Egypt? Our favorite periods to go to Dahab are April/May and September/October, but Dahab is a destination you can visit year round. While it’s always sunny and there’s hardly any rain, Dahab does have different seasons. The summer months, June, July, and August are REALLY hot. Too hot for us to be honest. In the winter period November – February you can still wear a short sleeve T-shirt during the day, but it gets chilly at night. Locals wear warm winter coats in this season, but we’re usually fine in jeans and a sweater. Spring and Fall are by far the best time to go to Dahab.
Dahab hotels & Dahab camps
Dahab has always been a favorite backpacking destination, and the Dahab camps offer great budget accommodation if you don’t mind the basic amenities and shared bathrooms. But also Dahab hotels are available in every price range. Airbnb is becoming more and more popular, especially among families that are looking for a Dahab apartment or a holiday house in Dahab. A lot of travelers and traveling families chose to spend the winter months in sunny Dahab.
Workations in Dahab
Great news for digital nomads. Dahab has both 4G mobile internet and some great spaces to work. Many people who go to Dahab for a short visit end up staying much longer than they intend. It’s just such a place. But the internet was always an issue. Yes, a lot of the restaurants on the boulevard offer free wifi and it’s alright when you just want to check your email or send a message home. But I always found it next to impossible to get any real work done unless you get there really early in the morning when no one is around. However, now you can have your pie and eat it, there’s 4G mobile internet and it works! Great news for all digital nomads. Dahab is definitely a place where you can stay for a while (and then stay longer…).