Tips for visiting Hurghada:
- The Hurghada airport seems big from the outside but once in it felt very small. It took 10 minutes to check in my bag, go through security and sit down at the gate. Everything went smoothly and the flight was on time. Arriving in the airport (from Cairo) was also very simple: my checked bags arrived shortly after we got to the baggage claim area.
- Where to stay: There are a lot of resort-type hotels along the coast, north, and south as well as in the city of Hurghada. I stayed at the Hurghada Marriot Beach Resort and they arranged a free shuttle for me from the airport to the hotel, which was a very short 10-minute drive. The hotel was on the older side, but the staff was very nice, the rooms were clean, and they upgraded me to a top corner room with a huge side patio, overlooking the pools & mini island. The breakfast was included for Marriott Bonvoy members and it was a very big spread! The gym was okay and they had a doctor on call if need be (read more below). I hear there are a lot of other great hotels in the area too.
- Getting around Hurghada: I was traveling solo for this part of the trip so I only left the resort once to go to a safe touristy area that my scuba partner had recommended for dinner. I used Uber, and as per my other posts, you have to be very patient with the app. It will give you the wrong pick up time (usually later) and because of low cellular reception, you may have issues ordering one. But it was still worth trying since I could share my location, driver and ride information with my friends. I went to the Hard Rock Café: I was looking for a place where I could trust the food and didn’t want to venture off the beaten paths alone.
- The town of Hurghada: I was so busy with scuba diving that I didn’t really have time to explore the town. I was told there were charming, older parts of town as well as very modern areas too!
- What to bring: see post on Egypt coming soon.
- The Red Sea: such refreshing and clear water! You could see little fish so clearly from the hotel beach. On the second and third day, there were also a lot of jellyfish floating around.
- Bugs: I’m unsure if it was the season, but there were so many bugs! It was quite irritating. I talked with another tourist who comes every year and he said he’d never seen so many, even in the middle of the red sea on the scuba diving boat! I was too lazy to buy bug spray so I’m not sure if that would have helped.
- Scuba diving: you MUST dive in Hurghada. I strongly recommend using Scuba Hurghada– they were so understanding when I had to cancel my first day of scuba diving due to illness. They were also very professional. The driver picked me up on time, the boat was super clean, the dive master impeccable, the lunch tasty! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!
Impressions of Hurghada:
I loved Hurghada so much! I wish I could have spent more time here and hadn’t gotten sick the first night I got there. I will spare you the details but it was a pretty bad case of the tourista. The local pharmacy delivered some medication I’d been recommended by locals and my friends’ father (doctor) to my room. Then in the middle of the night, I had to call the hotel doctor to give me an injection so I would stop throwing up. It was a very easy and cheap ($15 for it all) process and I’m so grateful for it because I was alone on this part of the trip and it could have been much worse! I woke up late the next morning, still not feeling very well, but I knew the worst part was over. Sadly, because of my rough night, I’d had to cancel my first dive. Scuba Hurghada was very understanding and they even told me not to hesitate to reach out if I needed help and recommended some medicine. (I learned the next day that on the dive I missed, they dove with a bunch of dolphins and turtles!! ) I spent the day lounging in the shade by the water, going for a few refreshing dips into the Red Sea, and sleeping under the umbrella. It was hot! The hotel sent some rice and vegetables for me that night, which I ate and was able to keep in so I decided I’d be able to scuba dive the next day.
I had a quick, light breakfast at the hotel and my driver showed up on time. My diving partner, an older Dubliner, was very nice and friendly and I knew right away this was going to be a fun adventure! We showed up at the pier, walked on the boat and met Sayed, our divemaster. He was extremely nice and made everyone feel very welcome and safe. His English was perfect. The boat was in great condition and the staff super nice. The Red Sea was so refreshing and the color of the water was stunning. It’s also so clear! We did 2 dives that day and saw lionfish, a lot of coral, blue-spotted rays, eels and mini fish did a fun trick with our divemaster where they swam into his mouth and right back out! The lunch on the boat was varied and fresh. On the second dive, the water wasn’t as clear but it was still very pretty. When we came out of the boat, I saw those stinging flies for the first time. We were invaded by them on the top deck of the boat and fought them all the way to the pier. They dropped me off at my hotel, I hung out by the water a little bit but got annoyed by the flies so went to the gym, had a little workout and went to bed early after ordering some in-room dining that cost pennies and was very abundant and tasty.
I was up early the next day, got breakfast and headed back out for some more scuba diving with the same company. We did 2 more dives that day and saw big eels, more lionfish and a lot of jellyfish. My divemaster put me with the other group that was sharing the boat with us, as I was more advanced than the 2 other people on our team. I stayed in the water longer and it was nice to be around more experienced divers! We had lunch after we finished our first dive, and just hung out in that area, jumped in the water and enjoyed the clear water. On the second dive, we saw a few Red Sea octopus that changed colors right in front of our eyes to blend in with the coral behind them! So cool! The day ended, we got back to the pier and I really wish I’d had more time to do more dives! It was truly an amazing experience!
I spent my last morning lounging beside the water, fighting bugs and trying to read my book before my very long journey back home, to Los Angeles!
***Divers I met on my trip also recommended Marsa Alam and Sharm El Sheik for some great scuba diving on the red sea. I guess I’ll have to come back!