The Sinai Might be More Fun
By Jimmy Dunn
Recently I was told that Egypt's Sinai is closer to the East Coast of the US then Hawaii. That is not correct, but it is only a little more than another hour's flight away. And depending on how hard one looks for airfare, the cost of getting to each location can be very similar, though perhaps once there, Sinai is a bit less expensive.
I make this comparison because there are many similarities between the two locales. While the Sinai is not an Island, most tourist communities are on the tranquil beaches of the Red Sea, backed by rugged, majestic mountains. Both Hawaii and the Sinai are also major tourists destinations, with almost hourly charter flights arriving in the Sinai from Europe. So while many Asians visit Hawaii, Germans, Italians, the French and English as well as Eastern Europeans flock to the Sinai. For both locations, the draw is the same, mostly for the sun, water and high entertainment.
In fact, the Sinai has a reputation of being very European. Not only is it a favorite destination for many sun worshipers, but many of the dive shops, restaurants and hotels are operated by Europeans.
Of course, with all the similarities, there are also considerable differences. Hawaii always seem to be congested with tourists, and likewise, hotspots such as Sharm el-Sheikh near the southern tip of the Sinai can be almost as overrun with tourists. But because of the larger area of the Sinai, there are also quiet getaways such as Nuweiba, where one may walk along a deserted beach hearing only the subtle sounds of the Red Sea's gentle surf.
The Sinai also has its antiquities. Here, one may explore ancient monasteries built during the founding of Christianity, fortresses built by the Crusaders, and ancient travel routes. Treks by camel or jeep may be taken into desert areas and the colorful and unique granite mountains where Moses received the Ten Commandments. By air, the temples of Luxor and great Pyramids of Giza are only an hour away on the Egyptian mainland.
While Hawaii certainly has its beautiful water, the Red Sea is known as a world class scuba diving and snorkeling destination, with pristine reefs, exotic fish, and many shipwrecks for the adventurous diver.
Sharm el-Sheikh is the single most popular tourist destination in the Sinai. This very safe city has been host to many conferences attended by world leaders, including a number of past presidents of the United States. The city is a unique as the rest of the Sinai, but as familiar as Holiday Inns, Hardrock Cafes and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The action here revolves around the long, beach promenade, the beach and the Red Sea. The bay is dotted with dive boats carrying snorkeling and perhaps the less adventurous scuba diving tourists. On the promenade and beaches, thousand of tourists can be found sun tanning or shopping in the small beach stores, while at night the same area turns into an entertainment wonderland. Be it rock-n-roll, belly dancing or Las Vegas style shows, most are free but for the price of a drink (and often not even that).
For a quieter, more relaxed getaway, head north along. The villages of Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba offer accommodations as simple as grass huts, or even camping, or as luxurious as Hyatt Regencies and Hiltons. But they also offer a less crowded, laid back atmosphere that one simply never finds in a locale such as Hawaii. In Nuweiba, sunrises are wondrous as the first rays of daylight silhouette the Arabian mountains across the Gulf of Aquaba, and gossamer fireworks dance upon the Red Sea. Here, one may sit with their lover on the beach, undisturbed by other humans, their noise or their constructs, and truly be dazzled by nature's beauty. Here, one may experience the beginning of time.
Or, head in to Taba for a game of blackjack at the local casino and dance the night away to Euro techno-rock. While quiet stretches of beach and nature abound, there is always nearby entertainment. One may dance the night away, swim with world famous dolphins for just relax with a cool drink on the beach. Its all here waiting for you in the Sinai.
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011