Sharm Information and Travel AdviceEverything you need to know before you arrive and once you are here
Sharm Information and Travel Advice
The following categories should give you much more Sharm information and help to answer any questions that you may have regarding your holiday with us. If you cannot find the information that you need then please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.
Egypt is an arid desert area and the climate is usually hot and dry during the day but cooler in the winter months. From December to February the nights can be cold and it will feel cold on the boats between dives. At this time we recommend to have a warm fleece or sweatshirt to wear on the boats and warmer clothes in the evenings. Diving in the Red Sea is year-round with the average visibility being 30m. The water temperature rarely drops below 20 degrees and we recommend a 4mm suit in the summer months and 7mm in the winter. On average a 5mm suit will suit most divers.
Protection and conservation of the reef and your safety are very important to us at Sharks Bay. We ask all guests swimming and snorkeling from our beach to use the safe entry points of our floating pontoon (located opposite the restaurant). Alternatively you can use the sandy beach entrance near to the boat jetty. Not entering this way will damage the reef and is therefore not allowed. Boat traffic is busy early morning and mid afternoon so we advise guests not to snorkel during these periods and take extra care at all times.
We kindly ask our guests to take care of the following to protect our reef and also abide by the laws of the National Park.
- NO feeding the fish or touching the coral.
- DO NOT walk on the reef.
- DO use the designated entry and exit points to the sea.
- NO diving near boat propellers.
If you see people feeding the fish walking on the reed please tell a member of our staff. Our beach boys do take good care of this but cannot see everything!
National Park Rules
- Do not collect, remove or damage any material, living or dead, from Protected Areas (corals, shells, fish, plants, fossils, etc.).
- It is prohibited to drive off marked tracks and to drive any motor vehicles on the beach.
- Camping is prohibited unless in designated areas (by notice).
- Do not litter. Place garbage in proper disposal containers or take it with you.
- It is prohibited to access any closed area.
- It is prohibited to walk or anchor on any reef area. Please use marked access points.
- Fish feeding upsets the biological balance on the reef and is therefore prohibited.
- Fishing and spear fishing are not allowed in Protected Areas.
- All visitors must leave Protected Areas by sunset unless using a designated camping area.
- Access to diving areas is recommended at designated access points only. This reduces damage to reef areas.
Please take note of any instructions posted in Protected Areas. Offenders are subject to prosecution according to the terms of Law 102 of 1983.
Egypt is predominately a Muslim country and the culture is such that in Cairo and Luxor modest clothing is required. In the tourist areas of Sharm el Sheikh it is fine to wear shorts and T-shirts especially during the hot summer months.
Topless bathing is not allowed and we ask our guests to respect the local culture and not do this.
Although devout Muslims do not drink alcohol it is freely available in bars and restaurants. Imported alcohol is expensive due to the high taxes but local beer and wine are reasonably priced. Alcohol can be purchased at many bottle shops in Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh. You can also buy alcohol from one of the Duty Free shops within 48 hours of arrival (passports required).
The main religious festival for Muslims is the holy month of Ramadan which falls on a different date each year. This is due to the Muslim calendar being based on lunar phases. This is a special time for Muslims as it is a month of purification. Those observing Ramadan must not eat, drink or smoke from dawn to dusk. As the sun goes down friends and family join together for “Iftar” (break-fast). During Ramadan many shops and restaurants are closed during the day and nearly everything closes for an hour at the time of Iftar.
Friday is the equivalent of the European Sunday and most banks and government offices will be closed for the day. In tourist areas shops and restaurants are normally open 7 days a week, until late.
In Egypt there are few restrictions for foreign women. Travelling alone is generally safe although you may receive some unwanted attention. It is generally better to ignore this and saying you are married, even if you are not!
The Sinai desert is the natural land bridge between Africa and Asia and, with its uniquely dramatic landscapes and the fascinating culture of the Bedouin, is one of the most impressive areas of the world. With high mountains and steep wadis (dried out river valleys), fertile oasis and coloured rock formations, the Sinai is one of the most beautiful desert regions. You can experience the amazing contrasts of the desert from its deep red sand to the unspoilt white sand dunes and lush green oasis by modern bikes and cars or more traditional camels.
A full range of excursions and water sports can be booked through the kiosk on our beach when you are here and full details of these can be found on our webpage.
Egyptian food is usually spiced or very sweet and is generally served with rice and bread. Many restaurants offer international dishes and in general the food is safe to eat with the same precautions as you would take at home. Types of Egyptian food include:
- Tahina: Dip made from sesame seeds
- Babaganough: Tahina mixed with aubergine and garlic
- Foul: Mashed fava beans
- Falafel / Ta’amiyya: Fried and mashed chick peas and spices made into a pattie
- Mashi: Various vegetables stuffed with mince and rice
- Shish Tawook: Chicken kebab
- Koshery: Mixture of rice, lentils and noodles topped with fried onions and tomato sauce
The main health concern in Egypt is the heat. It is therefore important to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (4 litres per day, minimum, is recommended). The sun is strong all year round so use a high factor sunscreen and protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses. It is a good idea to bring insect repellent, rehydration sachets and something against diarrhea. Short term diarrhea is a common complaint. To help avoid it do not put ice in drinks, eat unpeeled fruit or clean your teeth with tap water.
Take extra care with cuts and scratches as the coral in the Red Sea can aggravate them causing slow healing. Pharmacies throughout Egypt are generally good and almost anything can be obtained without a prescription.
Health and Diving
Anyone booked to make a diving course must complete the PADI Medical Statement before the start of the course. Daily divers will be asked to complete it on check-in at the dive centre. To save time we suggest you download the form and fill it out before arrival. If you answer “yes” to any of the statements then a diving doctor must sign you off for medical fitness before we can take you in the water.
In Sharm el Sheikh there are excellent doctors available as well as several hospitals. Additionally there is a modern hyperbaric chamber with a 24 hour call-out service for diving emergencies. There is another hyperbaric chamber in Dahab. The chamber doctors speak several languages and have special training in how to treat decompression accidents and all other diving related injuries. To support the chamber we ask all our divers to make a voluntary contribution of € 1 per diving day.
- Hyperbaric Chamber: Dr. Adel, 0122 212 4292 or, Dr. Ahmed, 0122 333 1325
- Sharm International Hospital: +20 69 3660893/4/5
- Sharm Medical Centre: +20 69 3661744
- Sinai Clinic: 069 3666850
The official language is Arabic but most locals who are active in tourism speak English, Russian, German and Italian. A few useful Arabic words and phrases are:
|Response||Wa aleikum es salaam|
|Good morning||SabaH el kheir|
|Response||SabaH el nor|
|Good evening||Misa’ el kheir|
|Response||Misa’ el nor|
|Sorry||Assif / Asfa|
The national currency is the Egyptian Pound (LE). 1 LE is equal to 100 piasters. The dive centre and hotel accept most international currencies as well as Visa, MasterCard and American Express (3% surcharge will be added to your bill) as do most places throughout Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh. The nearest ATM to us is located in Soho Square, just a few minutes in a taxi or a 20 minute walk and there are many more located throughout the whole area.
Opening hours for Egyptian banks are generally from Sunday to Thursday: 09:00 – 14:00 and then from 18:00 – 21:00.
Ras Mohamed National Park is located 25 km southwest of Sharm el Sheikh and is easily accessible by car. Organised excursions are available or you can simply explore the park on your own. First declared a National Park in 1988 it now occupies a total of 829 sq km of land and sea. The actual headland of Ras Mohamed is located 30 km south of Sharm el Sheikh, on the road to El Tor. The park is home to a variety of stunning geological features both underwater and on land. These include uplifted coral reefs, alluvial plains, wadis, granite and sandstone mountains, soft sand dunes. Animals that you may see include foxes, gazelles, lizards and ibexes. The park holds one of the most northerly located Mangrove tree outcropping. This is a valuable breeding area and habitat for migrating and resident birds such as the white stork or raptor.
Nabq is located to the north of Sharm el Sheikh and is famous for its sand dunes. These dunes are found at the mouth of Wadi Kid. Nabq is also home to the largest mangrove tree standing on the Gulf of Aqaba. Coral reefs in Nabq are extremely rich. Visibility however is often poor due to fine sediments washing out of the mangrove area but this doesn’t detract from the beauty and diversity of the reefs. At Shoura al Manquata and Nakhlet el Tal excellent reefs can be dived with easy access.
Abu Galum is said to be the most picturesque park in the country. High mountains, narrow sinuous wadis (valleys), freshwater springs, coastal sand dunes and raised fossil coral reefs give shelter to 165 plant species. Although the park is not easily accessible, we can arrange Bedouin guides and camels to take you there. There is a visitor centre at the northern boundary of the park for further information.
Tipping in Egypt is called “baksheesh” and it’s much more than just a reward for good service. The salaries in Egypt are much lower than in western countries so it’s often an essential means of supplementing income. Constant demands for baksheesh can be very irritating but it is the accepted way here. However do not be intimidated into paying baksheesh if the service does not warrant it. In some restaurants a 12% service charge and 10% sales tax is included in the price so make sure you check the menu and your bill. The 10% sales tax is not applicable everywhere but within most restaurants it is standard.
The sales and service charge is included in all of our prices.
For our diving guests we recommend that a tip of € 5 per person, per day is a nice tip. Normally we divide tips amongst the boat crew and guide/s, although of course you are welcome to tip a particular person if you like. Please don’t forget the back-staff in the dive centre that take care of your equipment, tanks and the centre everyday! Whatever you decide, just remember that you should only do this for good service and never feel that it is obligatory.
Visas and travelling around
The cost of the full tourist visa at the airport is US$ 30. You can purchase this on arrival before passing through customs. The full visa is necessary if you want to visit any area outside of the Sinai and if you want to dive in Ras Mohamed.
The blue and white mini-buses are a cheap and easy way of getting around. There are very few bus stops so the drivers will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on a given route. On the down side these drivers can often be fairly crazy! Taxis can be used for individual trips but ensure you agree the price before getting in.
Car rental is available but driving in Egypt is not for the faint-hearted! The roads in the Sinai are mainly in good condition but the rules of the road vary widely and in most part are ignored.
Do not drive off road without a guide as there are still unexploded mines remaining from various wars.
We offer free airport transfers to guests staying with us and other transfers can be arranged in accordance with our price tariff.