The most southerly of Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, Marsa Alam has shrugged off its just-for-seasoned-scuba-divers image for one of sun and sea with luxe beach hotels and desert adventures. If you’re on a quick trip, here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in the area.
Begin in classic Bedouin style with a dawn camel ride, lumbering through Egypt’s Eastern Desert as the sun rises. Qualified divers, meanwhile, might prefer an early-morning dive around a house reef—although it’s just offshore, Marsa’s marine life is nothing short of spectacular. Later, if you still have energy to spare, consider joining a snorkeling tour to explore a prime marine location such as Sharm El Luli. Those who like to stay on terra firma, however, can head out on a rip-roaring all-terrain vehicle drive across the desert plains.
If you want to view the Red Sea’s underwater world without getting wet, catch one of Marsa Alam’s semisubmersible trips. Cruise out to sea on a comfortable, multideck boat, and watch from a dry underwater observation deck as tropical fish, turtles, and rays glide by. Alternatively, if you’re a scuba enthusiast and missed out on a dive trip this morning, quick-and-easy forays depart from Marsa’s beaches. Otherwise, roam the souks and sights of the historic harbor town of El Quseir, or treat yourself to a soothing spa session at one of Marsa’s upscale beach resorts.
The Eastern Desert is extra-atmospheric come evening, when the fading sun casts the mountains and plains flame red. Tonight, make the most of its beauty—and wide-open spaces—on an all-action sunset ATV expedition. Churn up clouds of dust as you zoom to a Bedouin village for a camel ride, barbecue, and folklore show before driving your ATV back to base. Or if that sounds too strenuous, take it easy: hop in a rugged, air-conditioned Jeep, then ride to a Bedouin desert dinner, stopping at mountain lookouts along the way.