Dahab, a former beduin fisher village, is located at the south-eastern tip of the Sinai peninsula (and approximately 80 km north of the city Sharm el Sheikh). During the 1980s and 1990s it was a very popular place for hippies and alternative tourists. Dahab is bordered by the sinai mountains in the west and by the Gulf of Aqaba in the east. This gulf of Aqaba (as part of the Red Sea) with its beautiful fringing coral reefs was the reason for a massive increase in dive tourism during the early years of the new century. World famous divesites like the „Blue Hole“ or „Canyon“ are located close to the city. The increase of tourism of course had consequences. More and more hotels were build and parts of the coral reef suffered from careless divers and snorclers as well as from increasing nutrient input. But a rising amount of tourists also ensured a good source of income for the people of Dahab. And, compared to the reefs of Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh, the corals are still in a good condition. Although Dahab changed during the last 15 years it´s still a special place. And every person I met, who has been here for a while thinks the same! There is still no mass tourism (well, actually there is a massive lack of tourism since the egyptian revolution and since lot of governments brought out a travel warning for the Sinai), there are still beautiful divesites, people are friendly and hospitable (I never felt unsafe during my stays here) and there a lot of cool places to hang out here. In general, the „Dahabian“ way of life is slowed down and if you come here you will do as well! In my opinion, the best way to start the day in Dahab is to have a delicious brakfast at Leilas. Every day there is a special offer (but even without special offers prices are really low here). My recommendation: Take the french toast with fresh fruits and a lemon mint juice 😉
Along the promenade of Dahab there are quite a lot of bars and restaurants but the best so far is, in my opinion, the restaurant of chef Hassanein – really delicious egyptian food, friendly staff and – again – really low prices. Also the native „Dahabians“ eat there, which is probably good sign! To get there, just walk over the bridge to Mashraba. To your left side, vis-a-vis the Bamboo house you will find Hassaneins restaurant. For really relaxed and responsible diving, my personal first choice would always be the Sinai Divers Backpackers divecenter, located directly at the promenade. Whether you want to have some dives directly from shore (the Sinai divers house reef „Bannerfishbay“ or the divesite „Mashraba“ are easily reached by feet) or a boat trip to „Gabr el Bint“ (with chances to spot a whale shark and dolphins) – this is a good place for it! Also around Dahab, there are lot of possibilities for outdoor activities: a trip to Nabq protected area (with the worlds most northern mangroves), a tour to coloured and white canyon or a camel ride into the desert just to mention a few.
Let´s hope that, after the travel warning for south Sinai was banned by the german government, also the number of (hopefully responsible) tourists will increase again. People here surely suffered enough! I still wonder how some places here in Dahab made it through the last 2 years. Believe me when I say that Dahab is worth a trip! If you want to read a more sophisticated article about the situation on the (south) Sinai click here.