Sharm el Sheikh Holidays
Sharm el Sheikh Holidays – Incredible scuba diving, lively nightlife and fascinating cultural trips
Formerly a small fishing community of just over 100 Bedouins, Sharm el Sheikh has since grown into a tourism behemoth and one of the most popular travel destinations in the Arab world. The resort stretches for 35km along the Red Sea Coast, with a National marine Park at either end. The vast majority of accommodation in Sharm el Sheikh is offered on an all-inclusive basis, however those looking for budget accommodation will find self-catering accommodation in Shark’s Bay and the Hadaba area.
The resort has a lively, boisterous clubbing area in Naama Bay; full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes, while the Old Town provides an authentic Egyptian shopping experience with its souks, bazaars and markets. Long golden sandy beaches are found all along the city’s coastline.
One of the main draws to Sharm is the scuba diving. Some of the best dive sites in the world are found here, including Sharks Reef, Yolanda Reef, the Ras Mohamed Marine Park and Tiran Island. Combine this with jeep safaris into the desert, Bedouin feasts under the stars, camel riding, quad biking, trips to Cairo and Luxor, excursions to the impressive St. Catherine’s Monastery and a visit to Mt Sinai and you’ve got all you need for an action packed holiday.
This is a fantastic choice for exploring Egyptian culture, vibrant nightlife and a whole host of holiday activities.
When to go
For nightlife, sunbathing on the beach and enjoying activities such as camel riding and quad biking, October-April are the best time to visit Sharm. The climate over this period sees comfortable temperatures of 20-30C and plenty of sunshine. Christmas/New Year and Easter, as well as November and April are considered the ‘high season’ points, with the resort getting very busy and prices generally rising.
For those looking to scuba dive, May-September is the best time to come as there are more fish around and better water visibility. This is the hottest period, with temperatures often reaching over 40C, but has the benefit of cheaper holiday prices.
Those looking to visit in March and April should be aware that the resort can get very windy over this time, due to the strong Khamsin wind that blows in off the desert.
The weather in Sharm el Sheikh
You can visit Sharm el Sheikh at any time of year. While the area has two distinct seasons – summer and winter – the winter period is as hot as a UK summer, if not hotter, and is arguably the best time to go. Winter is from October-April and sees temperatures of between 21-30C on average, with between 8-10 hours sunshine a day. The summer period is between May-September and can get incredibly hot, with average temperatures between 32-35C on average, and highs of 40C and above. Sea temperatures are warmest in July and August.
Getting the best deal
To get the best deal on Sharm el Sheikh holidays, you should be sure to book as early as possible. This is particularly true if you plan to visit over the peak times of Christmas/New Year, Easter, April or November. The best priced rooms in the most popular hotels will sell out fast, with Naama Bay and Sharks’ Bay especially popular. Try to avoid travelling over notoriously expensive periods such as the UK half term school holidays.
For cheaper budget accommodation, you’re most likely to find something in the Hadaba or Shark’s Bay districts. Otherwise, the majority of people will take all-inclusive holiday in Sharm el Sheikh. Despite the slightly higher initial cost, this can actually work out very cost effective as all meals and drinks are paid for upfront. Find the best prices we have to offer by looking at the deals. For early birds, paying a low deposit at time of booking makes any holiday much more affordable.
Airport and transport need to know
As one of Egypt’s prime tourist destinations, and one that has been pretty much purpose built for mass-tourism, it’s perhaps no surprise that the resort has its own large, modern airport. The Sharm el Sheikh International Airport (SSH) is an attractive building that has been designed to look like a billowing Bedouin tent. You’ll find two terminals here, with a third under construction due to be completed by the end of 2012. The majority of UK flights will fly into the main Terminal 1. A wide selection of duty-free and luxury goods shops, bars and restaurants service the Arrivals and Departures halls, and you’ll also find cash points and currency exchange facilities.
Flight time from the UK to the airport is around 5 hours, depending on your departure airport. You can fly from virtually anywhere in the UK, including all the main London airports, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, as well as smaller regional hubs such as Cardiff and Bournemouth.
Most people will have a transfer arranged for them by their hotel from the airport. If not, the majority of resorts in Sharm are very easily accessible from the airport, with journey times taking no longer than 25 minutes. The exception is Dahab, which is located further down the coast outside of Sharm city, and takes around an hour to reach in a taxi.
Taxis wait outside the Arrivals halls and operate on a fixed price basis. You should always agree the price before you get in, agree which currency you’ll pay in, and make sure you’re paying for the vehicle, not per person. Some taxi drivers will try to charge you triple the usual amount to get from the airport to your resort, assuming that you’re a ‘green’ tourist. You should pay around 25LE to get in to the centre of Sharm el Sheikh, and maybe 5LE or so more to get to more southerly resorts such as Hadaba. It won’t take more than 20 minutes to get anywhere in Sharm city proper.
You can also catch a minibus into town. Minibuses are small and blue and can be caught from the Peace Road outside the airport. It costs around 10LE and you’ll need the right change or thereabouts, as they won’t give change for large notes. Female travellers should dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention, as these buses are the favoured mode of transport for locals.
Another option for airport transport is to arrange private car hire for the duration of your holiday, with the vehicle picked up when you arrive. Companies such as Europcar will provide this service. It will cost around £250 a week depending on the model and size of the car.
View Sharm el Sheikh in a larger map
The best beaches in Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh has 35km of long, golden sandy beaches that are lapped by the waters of the warm Red Sea. There is a beach for everyone here, whether you’re after peace and seclusion, watersports or a lively beach bar scene.
Naama Bay is the largest, liveliest and most touristy beach in the area. Here you’ll find a pristine stretch of coast that is divided into public areas and private areas owned by the beach front hotels. You’re welcome to go on either, but hotels may charge you a small fee for using their sunbeds. There’s a long, attractive promenade behind the beach that is lined with hotels, bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants. Naama Bay can get very busy and has an energetic buzz about it, especially over the peak season. You’ll find a good selection of watersports, including banana boats, jet skis and kayaks.
For some of the best snorkelling in the area, consider visiting the Ras um Sid beach in the Hadaba area to the south. This is a quieter beach with its own jetty that takes you out over the spectacular coral reef. Don your snorkel and you’ll see myriad brightly coloured fish, manta rays, whale sharks and turtles. Scuba diving trips leave regularly for the Ras Mohamed Marine Park from here.
If you fancy some time away from the hustle and bustle and crowds, spend a day at the beautiful Nosrani Bay. This is one of the least developed beach in Sharm, with less beach bars and hotels and long, golden sands stretching into the distance. This beach is very popular with kite surfers and windsurfers due to the strong winds here.