Focus on Sharm El Sheikh

  • © Bryony Whitlock

Marco Polo's Bryony shares her experience of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

When I told my friends and family that I was off on an adventure to Egypt, the only response I seemed to get was “Oooh the pyramids” and then I responded with “No, I’m going to Sharm El Sheikh!” which would be followed by a dull, uninterested response. I was determined to prove that Sharm El Sheikh is a fantastic holiday destination and that it most definitely does live up to the renowned city of Cairo.

Sharm El Sheikh used to be a small fishing village, however it has now been transformed into a seaside paradise and attracts tourists from all around the world. If you enjoy diving or snorkelling then it is definitely the holiday destination for you - with its spectacular coral reefs and tropical fish. We came home with a camera full of Finding Nemo look-a-likes! If water sports aren’t your cup of tea then you can always sunbathe on the gorgeous 13 mile beach, sip a refreshing cocktail and take in the picturesque views. 

 

Naama Bay

Naama Bay is home to many international hotel chains, rows of shops, cafes and a bazaar, which makes it the perfect place to have a good night out. Naama Bay is very quiet in the daytime and nothing is open, so make sure you don’t go until after 6pm! At night it is a dazzling, bright and colourful place, buzzing with life.


There are endless rows of stalls where you can buy clothes, jewellery, food and a range of other souvenirs, whilst interacting with the locals and taking in the traditional culture. The main thing to know about shopping in Egypt is that nothing has a fixed price and you have to haggle with the shop keeper to buy an item. We found that because we were English, it was assumed that we were very wealthy and therefore they expected us to pay a lot more for souvenirs. Ensure that you are not taken for a ride and only pay what you think is a fair price. Haggling is all part of the culture in Egypt so it’ll become second nature after a few days.

There are a range of great bars in Naama Bay including the Camel bar, the Tavern pub and Palm Lounge, which is situated near the beach front and provides reasonably priced food and drink. You might experience some hassle from the locals who want you to go to their café / look at their stall but generally they don’t mean any harm - it is just their way of life. In order to stay safe in Naama Bay just remember to keep all of your belongings in sight and firmly say “no” if you feel that you are being pushed into anything. Finally, do not trust anyone who tells you that they want to show you something or someone because before you know it you’ll be in their shop buying some tacky fake gold jewellery! 

 

Soho Square

If the noisy nightlife in Naama Bay isn’t appealing to you, then Soho Square offers a strip full of shops, restaurants and bars, which give off a very mellow vibe. There is a very strict “no hassle” rule here, which makes the place a lot more relaxing and chilled out than most places in Egypt. An entertainment stage and garden seating area also occupy a large area of Soho Square, which offers singing and dancing acts on a nightly basis. There is also a dancing fountain, which really brings the place to life! We found that the staff in Soho Square were all very friendly and helpful and tried their best to make you feel at home. There is also an English bar called the Queen Vic, which plays English TV and radio for anyone who wants a taste of home!

 

Hotels

Shark’s Bay Umbi Diving Village – This was the first to set up in Shark’s Bay. It has retained its idyllic atmosphere, and today you will find well-equipped, Bedouin-style dwellings built onto the hillside at the back of the bay with views of the Gulf of Aqaba from your bed, plus wooden cabins down at the beach. Communal showers. 76 rooms | Shark’s Bay | Tel. 069 3 60 09 42 | www.sharksbay.com | Budget

 

Amar Sina – Insider tip, although it is not on the beach, there are shuttle buses from the hotel to a private beach. It is a friendly resort with a pool and a petting zoo for kids. 101 rooms | Hadaba, near Ras Umm Sid | Tel. 069  3 66 22 22 | Moderate

 

Maritim Jolie Ville Golf & Resort – Pretty resort on a rocky stretch of coast-line, with its own beach, lots of greenery and a large golf course.  A branch of the renowned Subex diving centre is located in the complex. 421 rooms | Um Marikha Bay | Tel. 069 3 60 32 00 | www.maritim.com/en/home | Moderate-Expensive

 

Food and Drink

Hakuna Matata – A food court offering a variety of cuisines including Italian, Chinese, Mexican and Arab | Tel. +2 01000 109109 | Daily 7pm – 11:30pm | Budget | www.soho-sharm.com  

 

Abou El-Sid – Arabic cuisine and views of Naama Bay from the terrace. Above the Hard Rock Café | Tel. 069 3 60 39 10 | Daily 7pm – 11:30pm | Moderate

 

Il Frantoio – Angelo Zantetechi cooks in the country’s best Italian restaurant. Four Seasons Resort | Tel. 069 3 60 00 81 | Daily 7 – 11:30pm | Expensive

 

Written by Bryony Whitlock

 

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