Snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh engages and delights just as it did years ago; this was the first town famous for coral reefs on the 'Red Sea Riviera,' and its wealth of marine life remains fabulous enough to keep it a top-tier destination for underwater enthusiasts from around the world. Sharm El Sheikh snorkeling puts you face to face with seriously good reefs containing live coral and plenty of fish, just along the shore in some cases, and a boat trip out to sea in others. Some of the best snorkel sites and diving sites lie within established protected areas, putting tourism in line with conservation. On land, hotels, amenities, restaurants, and plenty of nightlife make Sharm El Sheikh a hopping tourist destination.
Marine Life in Sharm El Sheikh
A snorkel trip to Sharm El Sheikh, as with much of Egypt's Red Sea, is remarkable for its visibility- up to 70 meters! The country's desert environment benefits its reefs; no big rivers are present to empty silt into the clear coastal waters. Because sunlight penetrates the surface layers of the sea, reef colors shine with a vibrancy lost in lower visibility. Amongst the gardens of hard and soft corals, a profusion of reef life graces Sharm El Sheikh snorkel spots, like triggers, surgeons, parrotfish, snappers, anthias, and others. Larger individuals like Napoleon Wrasse are present, even just offshore. And on the daytrips to islands farther from the coast, turtles and sharks (and mantas if you're lucky) may be found. Sharm El Sheikh protected areas also hold other explore-able coastal environments, like tidal flats and the two most northerly mangrove forests in the world.
Best Snorkel Sites in Sharm El Sheikh
Ras Mohammed Marine Park is one of the best snorkel sites in Sharm El Sheikh. As part of the peninsula containing the Ras Mohammed National Park, this area of ocean gave Sharm El Sheikh its claim to fame. It holds the second northernmost mangrove forest in the world and sports lovely beaches with incredible coral reefs just offshore. Grey reef, whitetip reef, and blacktip reef sharks, turtles, and barracudas are some of the large marine creatures found in the park. On a smaller but no less impressive scale, a huge carpet of anemones and their resident 'Nemos' delight visitors in the aptly named 'Anemone City.'
Tiran Island in the Straits of Tiran is one of the most-loved Sharm El Sheikh snorkel tours today, for solo travelers and families. Here you'll find vibrant, healthy corals and an abundance of colorful fish, along with turtles, grey reef and whitetip reef sharks, and awesome visibility.
Some might say that a snorkel trip to Egypt isn't complete without visiting the Blue Hole in Dahab. This fabled circular drop into the deep blue depths has claimed the lives of multiple divers, but snorkelers can simply enjoy the coral and great fish life that ring the surface of the hole.
Various Sharm El Sheikh beaches offer great snorkeling just offshore, namely Conrad Beach at the Baron Resort, Shark's Bay opposite Tiran Island, El Fanar Beach, and the northern end of Naama Bay. Be aware that hotels charge entrance fees for access to these private beaches. A variety of terrains can be found in these snorkeling spots, from pinnacles to coral flats and gentle slopes. The reefs are bejeweled with the full roster of tropical fish life- butterflyfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, angelfish, and even Napoleon Wrasse.
Best Time to Snorkel in Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh snorkeling is great throughout the year. In Egypt, the main seasonal variation concerns water temperature, which can cool to 21C in the winter and heat to 30C in the summer. However, as a snorkeler, you will always be in the surface layer of the ocean, which is the most warmed by the sun. If you are concerned about getting cold, consider bringing a wetsuit along on your vacation. It's also very easy (and much less bulky) to buy or rent a wetsuit in Egypt, once you've asked your tour operator for the most up-to-date information on water conditions.
How Do I Get To Sharm El Sheikh?
Sharm El Sheikh has an international airport which receives direct flights from most European countries, as well as regular flights from Cairo. Cairo is a major international hub to which a busy schedule of major airlines fly from all over the world; if you can't find a convenient flight straight to Sharm El Sheikh, get to Cairo first and then transfer to a domestic flight. The arrival tax is 25 USD. Also note that some marine parks charge entrance fees, which may affect you if you snorkel in Ras Mohammed or other protected areas. A great option to explore snorkeling in some harder to reach areas is to choose an Egyptian liveaboard which will usually offer itineraries for 6/7 nights onboard.