A popular and economic day trip in Sharm el-Sheikh is the Tiran Island snorkeling trip. You can find this excursion at every single tour office in town running between US$30-40. If you ask at your hotel you might be able to get it a bit cheaper.
As the name indicates, you would expect to visit Tiran Island. You don’t. Tiran Island is a military outpost owned by Saudi Arabia and administered by Egypt. You do, however, visit some reefs near the island.
The day started with a pickup at our hotel around 8am. We were driven to the docks at Na’ama Bay where we registered with the boat affiliated with our tour company. We signed waivers and rented snorkeling equipment at an extra cost. It’s also possible to do scuba diving for a much higher fee. Then we waited. And waited some more. And a little more.
Finally, we were allowed to get on the boat. We didn’t actually set sail until about 10:30am. The views of Sharm and the mountains in the background were incredible as we sailed away.
During the trip, we made three snorkeling stops. We had to get in the water with a professional guide and follow him the entire time for safety reasons. The water was warm and comfortable and there wasn’t much of a current. At the beginning of the trip, the Egyptians tried to rent us wetsuits and flippers, but it wasn’t really worth spending the extra money. Maybe the flippers would be great for some people, but I have huge feet so I don’t really need them. Most importantly, the fish and coral were beautiful but in our opinion didn’t compare to nearby Ras Mohammad National Park.
The third snorkeling stop at Gordon Reef has one of the coolest backdrops I’ve ever seen. The reef was the scene of the shipwreck of the Lovilla, a Russian ship. It ran aground in September 1981. In fact, the Red Sea near Sharm is a diver’s paradise with several shipwrecks to explore deep beneath the surface. We weren’t able to approach the Lovilla for safety reasons.
While on board, we were served a delicious buffet lunch. It was included in the price of the trip. The boat was full but we found space to sit and enjoy the meal. We also met some wonderful people from both Egypt and abroad taking their holiday in Sharm.
We arrived back at the docks shortly after 4:30pm and were transferred back to our hotel. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable day. Even if you don’t like to snorkel or dive, being on a boat in the Red Sea, taking in the sun, and enjoying the company of friends or family is well worth it.