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11 Jun 2024, Jobi Chan

Regaldive team member Jobi Chan recalls her diving highlights and the exotic allure of Wadi Sabarah, an upmarket resort in Marsa Alam.

The journey to Marsa Alam

I flew to Marsa Alam on a direct flight from London Gatwick - the first available since the pandemic! After just five hours, I landed at the airport and was quickly picked up by an Emperor Divers representative and driven to my hotel. Everything was smooth as silk.

The reinstatement of direct flights to this region between November and April really helps to make this wonderful area accessible once again.

First impressions

I had a friendly welcome from the staff on my arrival at Wadi Sabarah Lodge. It is a beautiful resort, with rooms constructed on different levels along a slope which descends to the beach. The resort aims to accommodate guests aged 12 and older, so the pool area is a relaxing place to unwind. Overall, the atmosphere is so calm and chilled, you can forget the hubbub of the outside world entirely. 

Wadi Sabarah Lodge in Marsa Alam, Egypt. Image by Jobi Chan

Wadi Sabarah’s architecture is simple but well-designed, with the resort calling on time-honoured Bedouin techniques to ensure a naturally cool and pleasant environment. I felt as though I was walking into a Luxor temple. The interior design, pottery, art and Egyptian artefacts evoke a sense of the exotic, setting this resort apart; particularly in the library and lobby.

Lounge at Wadi Sabarah Lodge in Marsa Alam, Egypt. Image by Jobi Chan

My room was located on the beach level and had a private terrace. Despite being a standard room, it was very spacious and conveniently located. The interior had wooden furniture in a natural style, and I was provided with a refillable glass bottle. 

Bedroom at Wadi Sabarah Lodge in Marsa Alam, Egypt. Image by Jobi Chan

A Unique Offering 

Wadi Sabarah is designed to be in harmony with nature and is built by local masons from repurposed fossilised coral limestone. A solar grid powers the lodge, and they use reverse osmosis, and filter water from desalinated seawater.

The coffee was the best I have ever tried at a resort and the local cuisine was delicious. 

There’s plenty to do beyond diving, such as day trips to Luxor and sunset jeep safaris (which I loved!) I especially enjoyed being out in nature as the sun set and the colour of the rock changed before my eyes. 

Jeep safari in Egypt

I also explored the botanical garden at the heart of the resort - it is like a green oasis in the desert. The gardens house over 2000 plants, including over 40 local species, and guests can take a free tour with Dr Irina Springuel. Irina shared a wealth of knowledge about desert plants and traditional medicine. Guests can even scan QR codes to learn more about the plants during a self-guided walk. 

Botanical gardens at Wadi Sabarah Lodge in Marsa Alam, Egypt

But of course, I was there for the diving, which brings me to the incredible brand-new onsite dive centre, run by Emperor Divers.

Team member, Jobi Chan, on a dive boat in Marsa Alam, Egypt

Emperor Divers were so fun and professional 

During my stay at Wadi Sabarah, I enjoyed many dives with the PADI 5-star dive centre. The highly professional team has extensive local diving experience and guided all the dives very well. They were well-organised, delivered good briefings and were very committed to diver safety.

Dive boat in Marsa Alam, Egypt. Image by Jobi Chan

However, what really impressed me was the programme of marine talks. At 6.30pm every evening, the Emperor Divers team hosts a 30-minute educational presentation at Wadi Sabarah. The talks were informative and fun, giving an insight into the marine life you are likely to encounter when diving in the Red Sea, such as oceanic whitetip sharks, dugongs, and moray eels. You won’t want to miss them!

My most memorable dives in Marsa Alam

One of my highlights was definitely enjoying my first-ever dugong encounter at Marsa Mubarak! Emperor operates daily boat tours to this shallow dive site. I followed my dive master as we searched for dugong in the seagrass meadows. We were very lucky and quickly caught sight of one chowing down on some seagrass. We also had spectacular turtle sightings while we were diving there.

Dugong in Marsa Alam, Egypt

Another highlight came after taking a 20-minute speedboat ride out to the famed Elphinstone Reef. Elphinstone is a 375-metre-long reef with sheer drop-offs and steep walls. That morning there was a gentle current so I enjoyed a relaxing dive. Although we didn’t see any of the famous oceanic whitetip or scalloped hammerhead sharks on this occasion, we had some amazing sightings - huge schools of barracudas, travellies and tuna, along with Napoleon fish and lionfish. The visibility was so good I could have been diving in the Maldives!  

Elphinstone coral reef in Egypt

So, is Marsa Alam suitable for divers of all levels?

I’d say anyone can dive here. There is a beautiful shallow reef at Abu Dabbab beach for children and beginners. Wadi Sabarah’s coastline has a pristine fringe reef, so you can have a fantastic experience without even leaving the resort.

Beach in Marsa Alam, Egypt

Experienced divers can head over to Oasis Dive Resort and explore the waters there with or without a guide. I also highly recommend the wreck dives and a drift dive at Elphinstone for seasoned divers.

Thistlegorm wreck in Egypt

Why stay in Marsa Alam?

Marsa Alam is less touristy than Hurghada. With lovely resorts away from the crowds, you can enjoy the sun and sea by yourself. 

Dive boat in Marsa Alam, Egypt. Image by Jobi Chan

Between November and April, you can take a direct flight from the UK to Marsa Alam. Staying in Marsa Alam you spend less time travelling to and from your resort, which means more time underwater. I enjoyed daily boat trips to a wide range of beautiful dive sites.

Green turtle in Marsa Alam, Egypt

For me, the best parts of my trip were the incredible dugong encounter and my fabulous stay at Wadi Sabarah. 

Please get in touch to find out more about staying at Wadi Sabarah Lodge or booking any of our Red Sea diving holidays.