Volume II, Number 8August 1st, 2001
by Jimmy Dunn
Nuweiba, which means "bubbling springs" in Arabic, is a 7-km long town stretched along the Aqaba coast of the Sinai Red Sea. Developed from a barren isolated place with no infrastructure into a promising and attractive tourist destination, Nuweiba has just recently been discovered by tourist investors who have established hotels along the coastline south and north of Nuweiba, connecting it with Taba in the north and Dahab in the south
Due to the problems in Israel, tourism to the area is now down. This is not because of any danger within the area. Rather it is due to the fact that Israelis once made up a significant segment of the tourist population to the area and are no longer traveling as much because of their own internal conflict. This really ends up being a bonanza for other travelers to the area who are seeking a laid back, non-congested beach or scuba diving vacation. Vacation specials abound, and the local tourism industry is working hard to promote the area to new markets. In fact, Tour Egypt is working with area merchants and at the end of this article; readers will find special Tour Egypt deals for Nuweiba.
Nuweiba can roughly be divided into a number of sections.
Nuweiba Tarabin, the northern part, consists of a thick grove of palms, a shallow bay and the ruins of a Turkish fort. The well inside the ruins has served the Bedouins as a fresh water source for centuries. In the early 80s, the process of settling started, when families of the Tarabin tribe who occupy the area north of Nuweiba, permanently moved to live in their summer location. At this time the Bedouins set up the first simple accommodations made of scrap wood and metal, the only material available. With an increase in tourism and an improving infrastructure, soon many campsites and small hotels sprouted like mushrooms along the bay.
Tarabin is known for its lively oriental atmosphere. Restaurant by restaurant and bazaar next to bazaar gives you the impression of a colorful oriental market place. Along the beach you find lively outdoor restaurants in Bedouin style furnished with carpets and cushions that invite you to lay back and relax and let the time pass by.
The town itself is built around the former Moshav Neviot, which was established during the Israeli occupation in 1971. Its significance lies in marking the tribal boundary between the Tarabin tribe in the north and the Muzeina tribe in the south.
The only bank in Nuweiba Town is found at the Helnan Hotel. A new commercial area opposite the Helnan is in development. Some restaurants and supermarkets are already operating. Opposite the small commercial center lies the public bakery that provides fresh pita bread from early morning until midday. A little path leads you to the Post Office, which is open from 9:00am until 2:00pm except Fridays and on holidays. There is also a 24-hour Telephone Communication Center, the "Central", from where one may buy telephone cards. Separated through a little park lies the veteran center of Nuweiba with supermarkets, bazaars and vegetable shops. This area is great for low budget tourism in a bazaar atmosphere a la Khan El Khalili.
The Dunes are the extension and connection between Nuweiba Town and Nuweiba Muzeina (Nuweiba Port). Along the shore exist a conglomerate of many camps and small-scale hotels on the beautiful sandy beaches with spectacular coral reefs just in front of them. The Dunes are divided between "Duna" and "small Duna". Most of the campsites and hotels are built in the southern "small Duna", while "Duna" remains a romantic virgin place with simple accommodations of thatched beach bungalows and some small restaurants with brilliant views.
Nuweiba Port, also known as Nuweiba Muzeina, is the industrial area. With the construction of the port in 1985 trade business between Egypt and the Arab countries on the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba increased. A highway was built through the mountains connecting mainland Egypt with the Sinai Peninsula to accommodate this trade.
Egyptians from all over the country came to live in Nuweiba as work flourished. Homes and schools were built, shops and business centers opened and the first hotels were established.
Originally Nuweiba port was the summer location for the Muzeina tribe. It was a sparsely inhabited oasis, which came only into life in the late summer, when the Muzeina flocked to the palm groves to pick dates. The thriving trade encouraged the Muzeina clan to settle. Today, they are running their own businesses by renting out their places as shops or other facilities to the Egyptian newcomers.
Here, one can buy goodies that are Duty Free. There are several banks close to the port's entrance and so is the ticket-office where one may purchase tickets for the ferry to Jordan. The common port area is scattered with shops and supermarkets, where one may find a good bargain for commodities not available in Nuweiba Town. There are also good, cheap local restaurants about the area.
What to Do and Where to Go
For dancing try the disco at the Hilton, Helnan, or Dolphin Beach every night. During the week there are often events on the beach including a beach disco at the Hilton, as well as animation shows. In fact, during season there are beach party discos at most of the hotel bars. There is usually live music at Nuweiba Village (once the Helnan) and the Hilton's pool bar. Beer (Stella) local is usually around $3.00 US while imports such as Heineken go for about $5 in the hotel bars. However, ask around and you might find a few better deals.
Instead of the Bars and Pubs the Beach Cafes in Tarabin provide candlelight and music. Some places offer oriental drum music, and a mixture of oriental life and international live music with dancing. Or to get laid back, try the Habiba village and let the hours drift by sitting, talking and watching the stars.
Other popular nighttime entertainment includes Bedouin dinner in the desert and night scuba dives.
Probably one of the most popular excursions form Nuweiba it to St. Catherine's monastery, which often includes side trips to Nawamis with its early Bronze Age burial chambers. Other stops include the Stone of Inscriptions that has writing from the Proto Sinaitic era (the beginning of the Semitic writing developed from Hieroglyphics), Byzantine and Roman writings and wall paintings (stories of hunting leopard, ostrich...), and even messages from/to travelers.
Other excursions include camel trips (by the day or hour on the camel), which usually cost around $25 to $40 US. As an example of short tours from Nuweiba, a three-day Colored Canyon or five-day Ain Hudra trek usually runs about $40 per person/day. However, the same tour can usually be arranged for one day by jeep. The Colored Canyon and Oasis Ain Hudra (biblical Hazeroth) treks take you to palm gardens and great landscape while the oasis of Ain Um Ahmad, is the most beautiful and biggest oasis in South Sinai. Bedouins growing fruits such as oranges, almonds, peaches, figs and dates, along with some corn, wheat and vegetables, cultivate the land.
Jeep trips to Ras Abu Gallum, a Nature Protectorate are popular. This beautiful bay has excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. Other excursions include a three day Jeep Tour to Serabit El Khadem where the Turquoise Mines and Temple ruins of the Goddess Hathor are located.
Fishing Trips can be organized in Tarabin.
And then there is the diving. Boats such as the live aboard Princess Mikela offer diving trips between Taba and Nuweiba where you may also swim with the free dolphin Lady Olin and her baby.
Extensions to Petra, Jordan also leave from Nuweiba. Typically, these trips are one day and cost approximately $150.00 US excluding the transportation fee.
Special Tour Egypt Deals for Nuweiba:
- 1 week package: accommodation 7 nights at Nakhil Inn & diving 5 days $360 per person B/B.
- Weekend package: accommodation 3 nights at Nakhil Inn & 2 days diving $170 per person B/B.
- I. Package 7 nights on BB base: US $ 99
- II. Package: US $ 199 7 nights on FB including: 1 day by camel
- III. Package: US $ 375: transfer airport/CB/airport, 7 nights accommodation on FB, 1 day by camel, 1 day by jeep, Bedouin dinner in the mountains with Bedouin music, 1 day snorkeling
- Package I. US $ 195: 5 nights on BB. 3 day camel trek to the Colored Canyon
- Seven days half board accommodation at the Salah El Deen hotel $385.00 for 2 people.
Diving packages from Octopus Dive Center, including lunch:
- 5 days boat diving (10 dives) with full equipment $349.00
- 5 days boat diving (10 dives) with tank and weights $279.00
- 1 day diving from Pharoe Island (2 dives) with full equipment $99.00
- 1 day diving from Pharoe Island (2 dives) with tank and weights $82.00
- 1 day shore dive (2 dives) excluding lunch with full equipment $49.00
- 1 day shore dive (2 dives) excluding lunch with tank and weights $32.50
Types of Travel to Egypt by Jimmy Dunn
Neil Bush Family Visits El Gouna by Hazel Heyer
Party Time in Ancient Egypt by Ilene Springer
Camel Trekking in the Sinai by Joyce Carta
Nuweiba by Jimmy Dunn
Egyptian Hajj Painting by Sonny Stengle
Where Have All the Pharaohs Gone by Anita Stratos
Marvelous Melokiyah by Mary Kay Radnich
Exploring Isis by Catherine C. Harris
Never Mind, Just Crossing the Moon by Arnvid Aakre
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Hotel Reviews By Jimmy Dunn & Juergen Stryjak
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
The Month in Review By John Applegate
Egyptian Exhibitions By Staff
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Nightlife Various Editors
Egypt On Screen By Carolyn Patricia Scott
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around Various Editors
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
July 1st, 2001
June 1st, 2001
May 1st, 2001
April 1st, 2001
March 1st, 2001
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August 1st, 2000
July 1st, 2000
June 1st, 2000