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Last updated : Nov 2009
Sinai and Red Sea Coast
Sinai and Red Sea Coast - TravelPuppy
A great example of modern engineering, the Suez Canal links the Red Sea with the Mediterranean sea. Completed during 1869, it has repeatedly been the cause of dispute, most recently when blocked in 1967 during the war with Israel. Port Said is the main city. Anyone travelling to Sinai by road would cross the Suez on a small shuttle boat, or underneath the tunnel.

The Red Sea Coast sits strategically between Asia and Africa, is rich in mineral wealth and revered as the place of miracles and prophets in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. God is said to have appeared to Moses here, and thought to have delivered the Israelites from the Egyptian army to the Red Sea. These days, the region is revered for its beaches, spectacular diving resorts, stunning coastline and vast deserts. This area has some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world, and has a more liberal atmosphere than in the rest of Egypt.

The coastline attracts tourists ranging from expensive package deals, to backpackers in campsites. Sharm el-Sheikh is a large resort, and is good for diving. Na’ama Bay is much better developed and more upmarket, with private beaches. A few kilometres north is Shark Bay, a little calmer resort camp. The beaches at Dahab are spectacularly framed by jagged mountains and holiday villages within a Bedouin settlement are close by.

Nuweiba is a port city, with a few resorts, and is famous for Olin the dolphin, with which people can pay to swim and local Bedouins offer jeep safaris into the interior. Between here and Taba, there are several small, quiet resorts that threaten to be overshadowed by a large new tourist development, Taba Heights.

On the west of the Red Sea Coast, the largest diving resort is Hurghada, once a fishing village and now a main commercial tourist centre. Ras Muhammed is the southernmost point on the peninsula, bordered with lagoons and reefs, and now a National Park.

Little is accessible in Sinai’s interior, a barren area with rocks and sands, and the best way to explore this is by treks or on safari by camel or jeep. One of the highlights is St Catherine’s Monastery and now home to Greek Orthodox monks. St Catherine was the legendary martyr of Alexandria, who was tortured and beheaded for her Christianity. Within the monastery is the ‘burning bush’ from which God is said to have appeared to speak to Moses. Mount Sinai, honored as the site of God’s revelation of the Ten Commandments, is a stony and sheer-faced mount of grey and red, dramatic and steep, care should be taken when ascending. Other places to visit in this region include Oyun Musa (‘Springs of Moses’), Qalat al-Gindi, an 800-year-old fortress, and Hammam Fara’un’s hot springs and the isolated beach.