Dahab (دهب) is a town in Egypt, located some 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba, near the southern tip of Sinai.
Dahab was once an isolated coastal village, but now there are "more backpackers than Bedouin", and the town has become something of an alternative resort, the "Ko Samui" of the Middle East.
Super cheap accommodation positioned right by the beach, inexpensive food and drink and a relaxed atmosphere combine with the natural wonders of the Red Sea (swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving) to make it a heady enticement for the young and young at heart.
Dahab has two distinct parts. To the north is the former Bedouin village of Assalah on the kilometer-long beach, full of backpackers, hippies, cheap accommodation and the part that most resembles Ko Samui. To the south is the modern town of Dahab, where the resort hotels, banks and other amenities can be found.
Buses connect Dahab with Sharm el-Sheikh, Cairo and Suez daily. Alternatively, Eilat and the Israeli border at Taba are only around 2 hours away by taxi. You can book bus tickets at most of the hotels/hostels, they will also arrange a taxi to the bus station which is a short drive out of the tourist strip. Shared taxis, in essence mini-buses are a cheap way to travel local
Shared taxis, in essence mini-buses are a cheap way to travel locally, these do not tend to conform to a timetable so become useful if you have missed the day's bus to the closer spots such as Sharm el-Sheikh or need to get into Dahab when arriving on the Aqaba ferry. To get to Dahab from Eilat if you don't have a car, take a taxi to the border, walk across, and grab a shared taxi on the other side.
Getting around Dahab itself is quite simple on foot, the promenade runs right along the seafront, with all the amenities appearing along it.
Diving is extremely popular in Dahab and the reefs here are still in relatively good shape.
- Nesima Diving Center. Tel. 069 3640320. . French-run diving center generally judged to be the best in town. They charge a premium pricewise though, as two dives will cost you €47 (plus €20/day for gear rental). Package discounts available. A 5-day PADI Open Water course here is €302.
||WARNING: Dahab's most infamous dive site is the Blue Hole, a cavern 50 meters deep which regularly kills inexperienced and experienced divers foolish enough to risk it. In truth, a shockingly high number of instructors and divemasters have met their fate in the Blue Hole, even many who had succesfully passed the arch dozens of times. Should you be interested in attempting this dive you MUST go through technical dive training and visit the blue hole on the correct gases. Diving this site on air alone is near suicidal, so even if a very experienced person offers to take you through, do not at any price do this unless you have technical training and are using it.
- Friends Restaurant. One of many effectively identical beachfront restaurants offering the same Arabic fare at the same prices.
- Stone Ginger. Located at the Blue Beach Hotel on the beach front, provides comfortable eating with an extensive and interesting menu. The food is well cooked and the steaks in particular are renowned in Dahab. The restaurant is inside and provides warm shelter in the winter and a cool environment in the hot summer months. Can also cater for large groups but book ahead as is often full.
There is little alcohol in these parts, although overpriced beer can be arranged in many restaurants. Instead, the local thing to do is chill out by the beach at one of the innumerable beachfront cafes, lying on a mattress and puffing on a shisha (water pipe).
- Elzar Bar, next to the ruins of the old harbour on the beachfront. The best place in town for anyone wanting to get pissed late at night. Chris the Aussie barman is always on hand until the sun comes up serving a variety of alcoholics including the drunken Welshman and unconfrontational Dave the Canadian nice man.
Dahab has a plethora of cheap accommodation. All are rather the same, generally offering bungalow/chalet type accommodation at very reasonable prices. For the those on an extreme budget, most have areas where you can sleep on mattresses in the open air, usually for under a dollar a night, including a blanket and pillow.
- Star of Dahab, tel. 069 3640130, e-mail: [email protected] . A pleasant family-run guesthouse at the southern end of Assalah, offers basic lodgings at basic prices. Excellent beachside location, but it's a bit of a hike to the center of Assalah.
- Dolphin Camp, tel 0020 69 3640081. Offers very good, clean and cheap rooms right on the beach in Dahab. The rooms are from 20LE-70LE some with bathroom and AC. The camp is well run and the staff are really helpful and laidback. They can arrange excellent desert trips and excursions to St Katherines monestery and Mt Sinai almongst others.
- Ali Baba Hotel, tel. 069 3640876, . Egyptian-run hotel in a mixed European/Oriental style. Minibar, sea view, balcony, and air-con for around 25€/room/night, there is also a "suite" (double size with bathtub) for 33€.
- Self catering villas - great value at E50 per villa per day, sleeps four people. 30 seconds from the sea and run by europeans - clean and well looked after. www.dahabholidayrentals.com or email [email protected]
- Penguin Village and Diving is a very clean, well-run 30-room hotel right on the water, which has a good restaurant and a dive shop. It's popular with travellers in their 20s and 30s who are looking for a reasonably priced place, but who aren't on a really tight budget. Rooms are around E25 for a double.
Drugs, particularly marijuana, are widely available in Dahab and famously cheap. This does not make them legal, so consider very carefully if you want to risk at best large fines and at worst lengthy prison terms in Egypt's notoriously squalid prisons before indulging.
- Mount Sinai, 2 hours away by car, is a popular overnight trip from Dahab. Any guesthouse can arrange return transportation for around LE 30. Alternatively, gather a group of people, charter a taxi and beat the crowds by climbing during the day and seeing the sunset instead. It gets cold, so bring a jacket!
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