Hurghada, Egypt was something of a blank canvas for me where I kept asking how I could travel the world yet mentally miss such an attractive travel destination. I was last in Egypt right after the 2011 revolution, a memorable event in world history which continues to keep on average 100,000 tourists from visiting the country annually. The recovery of Egyptian tourism isn’t starting near the lonely Pyramids of Giza but rather along the Red Sea coast over 450 kilometers (~280 miles) away in places like Hurghada.
1. Hurghada Is Safe
Let’s get this issue out of the way first, Hurghada is far from the busy streets of Cairo physically and politically. It has a small population of around 60,000; roughly .00075% of the Egyptian total population of 80 million. Whereas thousands of protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against then president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, only a handful showed up in Hurghada to be readily ignored by residents making their way to work. Cultural revolutions don’t usually begin in resort towns unless the fuss is something related to beach chairs.
2. Direct Flights
Travelers are generally reluctant to opt for flights with layovers to smaller destinations or ones they might be less familiar with like Hurghada. Fortunately, there are a number of direct flights to Hurghada from places like Istanbul (round-trip flights on Turkish Airlines can be found for less than $350) as well as cities across Europe. Currently there aren’t any direct flights from the United States but you could take the opportunity to use multi-city flights to see more for less or get up to 70% off your ticket using MagicFare.
3. One Of The Best Places To Snorkel…
The Red Sea is home to one of the world’s 10 largest coral reefs and top three longest, over 2,000 kilometers (~1,240 miles). This reef system is home to over 1,400 endemic species of marine life where it was recently discovered that part of the coral is itself a new species. I’ve snorkeled in many waters, including off Socotra Island in Yemen, but 500 meters off the shores of The Breakers in Hurghada is the best I’ve experienced anywhere.
4. Scuba Dive…
Not surprisingly, Hurghada is Egypt’s second most popular (but much less crowded than Sharm el-Sheikh) place to scuba dive, rated by CNN as one of the top 50 worldwide. Whale sharks, scary sharks, a number of sea turtles to name a few, plus you can find Nemo here too.
5. …And Kite Surf
On any given day there’s a 65% chance of winds over 14 knots (16 mph) blowing across the warm Red Sea waters in Hurghada. If you like the combination of water with wind while exploiting drag, Hurghada will welcome your kites. Most of the hotels in Soma Bay will store any water sporting equipment you bring so you don’t have to lug it every trip to Egypt. Those of you who want to get into the sport – usually after watching surfers for about 10 seconds – can take lessons and be on the water on your own in about 5 days. Flips and tricks optional.
6. Now’s The Time To Enjoy Bargains On Pretty Much Everything
Nobody in Hurghada will argue with you that tourism there is hurting, leaving many of the hotels there operating at far less than maximum capacity. Fewer arrivals has resulted in noticeably reduced rates at fancier places like the Kempinski in Soma Bay. Apartment rentals are going up but right now seems to be the beginning of a tourism rebound you’ll need to take advantage of sooner rather than later.
Why You’re Not Going: It’s In Egypt
Egypt is a country with such an abundance of worthy tourism destinations that many not-called-the-Sphinx are taken for granted. The Pyramids everyone is confused about, the sole backup of the entire Internet in Alexandria, and haunted palaces of devil worship obscure 760 km of Red Sea coastline. Media coverage and security concerns also pixelate the entire country. Bad news north in the Sinai Peninsula’s Sharm el Sheik resorts bleeds down to the calmer shores of Hurghada a 750 km (470 mile) drive away.
Known fairly well to Russian and other Eastern European tourists, plus nationals from German-speaking nations, the most surprisng thing about Hurghada is not that people are still visiting, it’s that they mostly aren’t.