While I was originally going to spend my full two weeks diving in Dahab, my then-travel buddy Dina had a connection in Sharm El-Sheikh and was able to snag us a stay at an Italian Resort called Sharm Club. It was a high-class resort with all-inclusive meals, and while I love backpacking, I’ll never say no to a little luxury.
Sharm is not a place you go to “travel” – it’s a place you go to vacation. The Red Sea coast is lined with many glitzy resorts, which spring up amidst the barren desert backdrop. These resorts are all immaculate with white buildings, manicured green lawns, and pristine swimming pools overlooking the sapphire sea.
Being at a resort in Sharm feels strangely like being on a cruise ship, in that everything you need is all in one place. They have fabulous buffet-style meals in the dining rooms (with a variety of additional restaurants available), planned activities during the day (water aerobics, beach volleyball, etc), and entertainment shows at night. Like a cruise ship, there’s even an activities office to help you book excursions. We ended up going snorkeling, quad biking, and parasailing.
Snorkeling: The first snorkeling trip was to Tiran Island, which had some incredible coral reefs, but the tour was a bit too touristy for our liking. Boat upon boat lined up as crowds jumped into the water, scaring away most of the best sea life… What we preferred to this was our visit to Ras Muhummad National Park (without a tour group), where we had the entire sea to ourselves. Literally like a giant aquarium featuring some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen, Ras Muhummad is incredible! Definitely a must-see if you visit the Sharm area.
Quad Biking: Waking up extremely early for our 4am pickup time, we arrived in the desert just as the night sky began to lighten and stars disappeared. Dina and I shared a quad bike and followed our group off into the Sinai Desert, reaching a nice viewing spot just in time for the sun to peak out over the distant mountains. Quad biking itself (something I’d never done) was fun, and I can’t complain about the surreal desert setting either, but again, this tour was a bit touristy for me.
Parasailing: Parasailing is the perfect adrenaline activity that also provides an awesome 360° birds-eye view of the unique landscape of south Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Though it felt a bit like they were trying to get through as many people as possible to make more money, it was still a fun excursion that I’d recommend doing even if simply for the view.
Overall, Sharm was a relaxing and luxurious break from backpacking, but is far too touristy for me to give it a fantastic review, and aside from its desert backdrop, Sharm doesn’t even feel like Egypt. The area caters specifically to tourists and attempts to make them feel as comfortable as possible, but in doing this, they’ve taken away from Egypt’s unique culture. Sharm is great for a vacation, but I would not have traveled there as a solo backpacker. Instead, I preferred the warmer, friendlier, and much more low-key town of Dahab, just an hour north of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Have you been to Sharm El-Sheikh? What did you think?
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌