CNN Travel has named the beaches in Sharm el Sheikh on the Egyptian side of the Sinai Peninsula as Africa’s best. If you consider the likes of Anse Soleil in the Seychelles, Bazaruto in Mozambique and Camps Bay in Cape Town (which all made the top-ten), Egypt overcame some tough competition to land that coveted top spot.
According to the Daily Mail, about 1.4 million Brits book Sharm el Sheikh holidays every year. The large majority of that number visits the Red Sea resorts, of which Sharm el Sheikh is in the centre. One of the most obvious appeals is this city’s proximity to the United Kingdom (about five hours from Gatwick Airport). But what do these two adjacent bays – Na’ama Bay and Sharm al-Maya, which are Sharm el Sheikh’s main beach areas – have that bring so many tourists to Egypt’s shores?
The sun shines in Sharm
Those coming from countries of perpetual rain can really luxuriate in Egypt’s desert warmth, which in the winter is hot during the day and cool at night, while summer can be scorching, with temperatures climbing into the high 30s. From June to September the average rainfall is zero millimetres (doesn’t that sound wonderful?) and during Christmas, temperatures hover comfortably between 22 and 27.
Exploring the Red Sea reefs
The meeting of the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, deep water and vertical drop-off ledges create an incredibly unique diving environment whose preservation is supported by the National Park. As a result, the reefs are abundant with fish and coral species, and divers report impressive concentrations of marine life including swirling schools of fish, sponge species and big pelagic fish like dolphins and sharks, which swim among wrecks such as the SS Thistlegorm.
Wide beaches make for bronze bodies
For those who have had their fill of the numerous shops in Na’ama Bay, head to the beach area, which is a wide stretch of sand that’s perfect for swimmers and sunbathers. During the midday heat, you can retreat to one of countless Bedouin-style cafes and nestle among soft cushions and colourful rugs to enjoy a refreshing drink.
A place that 20 years ago was a sleepy coastal town in the Sinai desert, Sharm el Sheikh has transformed itself to provide some of best and most at affordable holiday accommodation – and when you combine that with the guaranteed sunshine and lure of the Red Sea reefs, it’s easy to see why Sharm is popular. Not forgetting ancient culture (a day trip to Cairo should be on everyone’s agenda!) and proximity to the desert where you can enjoy quad biking and camel rides, it’s really that easy to keep everyone entertained, no matter what floats your boat.