After a few days in Jordan, it was time to return to Egypt to continue our trip and check out the famous Red Sea. If you enter Egypt’s Sinai peninsula through Sharm El Sheikh and you’re staying in the resort area, you may qualify for a free permission stamp so you won’t need a visitor visa. This stamp allows you to stay up to 14 days in this region. Check with your nearest consulate for requirements. I had a 1-hour wait at the airport for immigration to confirm the case for my passport. The end result being Trinidad & Tobago passports always require a visitor visa to enter Egypt no matter the port of entry.
As a side note, we investigated sailing to and from Jordan but much of the feedback we received suggested that the ferry service was unreliable. All tour guides recommended that we take flights. In Sharm El Sheikh, you’ll also notice extra security checks done on vehicles before entering the resorts and airport compound.
We checked in to the Radisson Blu Sharm el Sheikh resort (now the Parrotel Beach Resort) located at Nabq Bay with the intention of visiting Mt. Sinai, Moses Mountain and St. Catherine’s Monastery. We were a bit tired from all the activities thus far, so we changed our plans and opted to spend the time mostly lazing at the resort. Maybe I’ll go back one day.
The beach at the resort is a little rocky and has a high barrier of coral reef which makes for great snorkelling on site. When the tide is in, the beach itself is calm (because of the barrier) and good for swimming. When the tide is out, the beach becomes more of a wading pool and you can find a lot of black starfish camouflaged along the shore if you look carefully.
The property has lots of swimming pools and beach activities such as yoga and volleyball to keep you busy during low tide. There’s also nightly live entertainment by dancers and the hotel’s animation team.
We met an independent tour guide in the hotel’s lobby, he always seemed to appear out of nowhere. He actually reminded us of Sesame Street’s Lefty (the shady muppet who tries to sell Ernie an invisible ice cream cone and the letter O). “Lefty”, turned out to be a pretty good guide. He made the best arrangements for a Red Sea submarine tour and short dive trip. There were options available at the hotel but these were half day and full day catamaran tours.
The Submarine Tour
A shuttle picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the submarine boarding point. We passed through the Old Town of Sharm el Sheikh, which has the Sahaba Mosque, one of the prettiest mosques I’ve ever seen.
The red sea is renowned for its biodiversity, the ride aboard the Seascope Submarine was well worth it and lasts about 1 hour. We saw many species of fish, colourful coral and pods of dolphins. The ride is very smooth, so no worries for those (like me) who get seasick.
My first dive
Later that day, Lefty picked us up at the hotel to take us to lunch and then the dive site. This was my first dive ever. After getting into all the gear, I sat at the edge of the boat and was told to lean back into the water at which point I momentarily chickened out and said, “Nope!” I was then given a nudge (literally) and tipped into the water. The instructor was very nice and patient but most of my efforts were spent trying to get my ear to pop to relieve the pressure. Conclusion, the red sea is pretty amazing but I’d probably stick to snorkelling. As a bonus my sister got to drive the boat.
Next stop, back to Cairo for religious Cairo.