Marsa Alam: Egyptian Red Sea Hidden Gem (photo essay)

February 16, 2012

Egypt, Photos

Are your eyes tired of temple viewing, needing a little breather? Yet, you think Luxor is a little too far from relaxing beach towns? Think again: Escape to Marsa Alam!

Red Sea coast, aerial view

Photo: Natalia, Flickr


Located about 237 km from ancient Thebes, this relaxing beach town is no secret to experienced divers. For years now, Marsa Alam has been featured on several scuba diving magazines and websites due to its pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life.

Red Sea landscape

Photo: Youssef Abdelaal, Flickr

Beaches and Wildlife

Whilst swimming, you may spot dugongs, spinner dolphins and even hammerhead sharks. If you are more of a sun-bather, you are in for a treat as well: Marsa Alam’s sandy beaches are perfect for laying out and burying yourself in a book!

Red Sea diving, dugong

Diver spotting a dugong (Photo:, Flickr)

Red Sea diving

big schools of fish are spotted regularly in this area. Diving is superb! (Photo: Derek Keats, Flickr)

Laying out on a sandy beach to read - chillaxing! (Photo: cru7do, Flickr)

Dolphins - Shaab Marsa Alam reef (Photo: Alfonso González, Flickr)

What sets Marsa Alam apart?

My favorite thing about Marsa Alam, though? How proactive its dwellers and visitors are being about preserving its beauty. Several initiatives, most directed by divers themselves, are focused on maintaining the great health of the corals and crystalline waters. With its up-and-coming beach resort vibe, we are hoping this trend continues as the amount of visitors increases every year.

Photo: Youssef Abdelaal, Flickr

How to get there

Unfortunately, regular buses between the Nile Valley and Marsa Alam are only available to Egyptians. Thus, any foreigner must travel between these areas as part of a caravan. For this reason, I recommend you arrange private transport with a tour operator in order to add Marsa Alam to your temple-viewing itinerary. You may ask the experts at my favorite online hangouts, the Tripadvisor forums and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, to get the valuable travel advice you seek.

Marsa Alam accommodation

All Marsa Alam hotels share 2 characteristics: Unique architecture and character (Photo: Abu Nawas villas by Matteo Gentini, Flikr)

Where to stay

Another feature you will love about Marsa Alam is the unique character and charm of its accommodation. Most hotels and resorts share Arab and desert architecture, including domes and arches that are both decorative and practical. The design makes the rooms naturally breezy, without the need of extreme heating or air conditioning.

To find out which hotel or resort is right for you, I recommend you take a look at Tripadvisor’s rankings, which seem to be the most accurate year after year. Guests themselves submit their votes and reviews after their stays, so you can be confident in selecting one of the hotels with good rankings. Accordingly, the top 5 for Marsa Alam at time of this writing (in order) are: The Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort4.5 of 5 stars (213 reviews), the Iberotel Coraya Beach Resort4.5 of 5 stars (542 reviews), InterContinental The Palace Port (143 reviews), Sol Y Mar Dar El Madina 4.5 of 5 stars(267 reviews), and Three Corners Fayrouz Plaza Beach (1,104 reviews). However, many other hotels have good rankings, beyond the top aforementioned.

Carlenia Beach Resort, Marsa Alam

Carlenia Beach Resort (Photo: Bakar_88, Flickr)

Ready to discover this Egyptian hidden gem? Fly into Luxor (LXR) for a temple-and-beach vacation or fly directly into Marsa Alam’s own international airport (RMF) for an unspoiled beach getaway.

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10 Responses to “Marsa Alam: Egyptian Red Sea Hidden Gem (photo essay)”

  1. InsideJourneys Says:

    Wow, Maria, this is stunningly beautiful. I want to go!!!


  2. Denise Says:

    s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g photos!!!!


  3. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista Says:

    I have never been to the Red Sea but have heard great things about it! Your photos are absolutely stunning and make me wish I was there. I have many diver friends who have been so I know the diving is fantastic.


  4. Sabrina Says:

    Looks amazing! I’ve heard so many good things about Marsa Alam, yet I’ve always stayed further north at the Red Sea. Scuba diving there is supposed to be be beautiful because less people make it that far south.


  5. Mary @ The World Is A Book Says:

    What a gorgeous place! I’ve never heard of it but definitely a must visit place with such great activities.


  6. Nancie Says:

    OOOO…this looks amazing. I’m due for another Egyptian adventure. I’ll have to put this on my list.

    I love the fact that the the community is into conservation.


  7. Lisa Says:

    Such beautiful photos – I had no idea that there was such a beautiful resort town on the Egyptian Red Sea. I love the uniqueness of the resorts almost as much as the beautiful beach. Is this a family-friendly beach town or is it more suitable for adults only?


    • Maria Laborde Says:

      Hey Lisa! Thanks for your comment. Resorts in Marsa Alam vary, but for a family-oriented vacation I feel that the resort towns of Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh offer more options. The Red Sea is gorgeous, you should definitively pay a visit!


  8. Anwar Says:

    Makes me wonder why i haven’t gone there yet! Great post!


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