The “Red Sea” conjures images of brightly coloured fish within hands reach in a coral-reef, tranquil world, metres below busy daily life. It comes as no surprise that the majority of the tourists flock to the Red Sea Riviera just for that: an underwater Eden of fluorescent corals and eel gardens to giant Napoleons and schools of hammerheads.
But, what if you’re not that into diving?
To be completely honest: I’m not.
I take my share of the underwater world snorkelling the reefs near the shoreline. Just last month I was in the area for my annual Red Sea sun-n-fun pilgrimage when I took off with a couple of hours of snorkelling, as usual, and then it was sunbathing like a land-lubber all the way. I just thought that other than diving and snorkelling there is not much to do in the Red Sea. How wrong was I!
Without a doubt, windsurfing is one of the well-established water sports, especially when it comes to the Red Sea. There is hardly a resort town that lacks the classic sport. If you are a windsurf veteran you will certainly have a centre along the entire coast where you can rent equipment or even go for an advanced course.
If you take the road less travelled, El Tur and Ras Sedr offer a world-class windsurfing experience. El Tur is the official capital of the South Sinai governorate, while Ras Sudr is more of a local weekend destination that is located less than a three-hour drive from the Egyptian capital Cairo. Both, El Tur and Ras Sedr are often overlooked, with only a handful of agencies offering tours there. If you are here just for windsurfing, and don’t mind missing on Sharm El Shiekh, El Gouna, or Hurghada’s hedonistic nightlife, El Tur or Ras Sudr is where you should book your next windsurfing vacation.
Kitesurfing is an even more popular water sport than windsurfing. Born in the 1990s, kitesurfing didn’t really gather momentum before 2001, when the equipment became more accessible. Kitesurfing is an adrenaline-intense outdoor sport that leaves you hooked. And those who want to nurture the vice roam the four corners of the globe in search of the perfect lagoon. The perfect spot is a shallow, knee- or maximum waist-deep lagoon that often comes with a sandy bed and no reefs; you don’t know where you are going to take the next fall and don’t want to end up on some protruding reef. Wind is another important aspect of the perfect lagoon. If the wind blows strongly, but steadily without major changes in direction or force, the lagoon becomes more suitable for kitesurfing.
Here in Egypt, we are blessed with a number of perfect lagoons located along the Red Sea coast; from Dahab up north and all the way to Hamata in the south. If you yearn for comfort after spending a whole day kitesurfing, then you certainly need to head to El Gouna. But, if you are just in for the sport, and don’t mind roughing it a bit then, stick around in Hamata. Hamata is the latest addition to the kitesurfing perfect lagoon scene. It comes in with amazing kitesurfing spots and super scenic views for sunrise and sunset silhouettes. Bear in mind: nightlife is virtually nonexistent.
Sailing is a water sport that, for one reason or another, fails to attract the spotlight - at least here in Egypt. However, this doesn’t mean that sailing is not present in the Red Sea. Numerous water sports centres all along the coast offer sailing courses or equipment rentals. Catamaran is the most popular sailing option available in Egypt, and going for a one- or two- hour catamaran sail seems to be a much sought-after option for sailing enthusiasts. Ras Sedr as well as Soma Bay offer a great opportunity to revive your dormant sailing skills.
The newest hit in the thrilling sports realm is, without a doubt, freediving. Going underwater with practically no equipment is both a physical challenge as well as mental. Some argue that freediving is famous (particularly among men) for the purely challenging nature of the sport. However, this point of view totally misses a very important aspect of freediving: the marine life. Once you skip on the air tank, it means that there are no bubbles underwater, which gives you a greater opportunity to get up close and personal with marine life without causing too much disturbance. As any other water sport, freediving requires certain conditions, especially when it comes to currents and visibility. In Egypt, freediving is mostly practiced in Dahab. It is the freediving Mecca. Freediving addicts flock to the sleepy town of Dahab all year round.
If you still belong to the outdoor activities camp, but don’t want to get your feet wet, then perhaps you would want to consider golfing. Many golf-dedicated resorts are springing up along the coast, with a lot of golf-oriented packages on offer. Among the best is Soma Bay’s La Résidence des Cascades with its stunning 18-hole par-72 golf course designed by the South African great golf legend, Gary Player. Practice the perfect swing with the beautiful open sea in sight and the majestic Red Sea Mountains in the backdrop.
Oceansource (El Tur)
Tel: +44 (0)1243 374615
Moonbeach (Ras Sedr)
Tel: +44 (0) 1580 753824
Kite Village (Hamata)
Kite Boarding Club (El Gouna)