A guide to Dahab by area and information by each area of the town. Dahab is a perfect place for a relaxing holiday and has some interesting places to explore and the good thing is Dahab is small enough that you can travel by foot, or by bicycle.
Assalah is the area north of Eel Garden and runs along the beach almost up as far as the Canyon dive site and towards the back of Dahab up to the base of the mountains. All this area is known as Assalah, although some people call the apartment blocks at the back of Assalah. It is a fairly large area, some parts of it have been given other names to help people get around. Some people will say Assalah Big Mosque, or Assalah Beach, or Assalah Old Mubarak area…. It helps a bit. Many of the streets in Assalah still don’t have street names, although this is changing as the town is becoming more developed.
Asslah is the main residential area of Dahab and is home to a largely Egyptian and Bedouin population. However many expatriates from Europe and beyond also live in Dahab either permanently or for part of the year.
This is a shopping area but also and area with a few restaurants and coffee shops. Although it is not really an area aimed at tourists many do visit Assalah square. It is the Egyptian quarter of Dahab, with that baladi egyptian market feel about the area.
The shopping here is not touristic at all, it is mostly food shops, vegetables, home wares, mobile phone shops, DIY and electrical shops. The cafes here are also not tourist focused however tourists that decide to try some of these places to eat get a very pleasant surprise, the prices here are much cheaper than along the beach front. The area focuses on the locals living in Dahab, so good value food places and Dahab’s fast food equivalents.
It is interesting to sit and people watch here for a few hours, there is always something new and interesting to see in Assalah Square.
The Eel Garden is just under 10 minutes walk north along the beach footpath from the Lighthouse. As well as being the place for the Dive and Snorkel site, the area around it is a mix of Residential and Hotels, it is also a very nice part of Dahab to enjoy. With a selection of some of Dahab’s best restaurants in this area it makes a quieter alternative to the main town centre of Dahab.
This area comes to life on a Friday afternoon when the Dahab Community Market (just at the end of the beach foot path, one minute walk north from the Eel Garden entry point) is held. It is a weekly market with local and tourist sellers with fresh cooked food, local art and crafts and new and second hand items.
The lighthouse area of Dahab marks the start of the main town centre of Dahab and the Masbat area. The area between the Eel Garden and the Lighthouse also hosts some excellent places to stay and more great restaurants. The beach promenade makes it a great spot to stop by and enjoy before hitting the town centre.
The main lighthouse area is close to the dive and snorkel site entrance point. Which becomes a hub of activity in the day time. When experienced divers and beginners make use of this dive site it often becomes very busy so you need to keep your wits about you when you are in the water here.
This dive site always surprises divers and snorkelers. Considering how close it is to the town centre people often see here turtles, spotted rays and even dolphins. You never know what you will see diving or snorkeling here and sometimes it can be amazing. The reef here is also very popular for night dives.
There are several good restaurants fairly close to the dive site and some cafes have sun loungers next to the sea.
Masbat officially starts at the Lighthouse and covered the area from there to the bridge. Masbat bay is the town centre of Dahab and its busiest commercial and touristic area. It is a fraction of the size of Naama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh and you can walk around the entire bay in about 10 minutes.
It is here you will find most of Dahab’s restaurants, several bars and cafes. There are also many tourist bazaars along this stretch of promande, many selling beautiful hand made Egyptian art and crafts, as well as the more cheesy items such as ‘Dive now work later’ t-shirts. This is the area of Dahab where you are most likely to be hassled by shop owners, safari companies and restaurants, all are fighting each other for business and some of them can be pushy. Just ignore them if you are not interested and carry on walking. Some of the locals refer to this area as ‘running the gauntlet’ or have other nicknames for this section of Dahab.
Hotels and camps are set back from the beach here and many do not have their own beach area’s. Many of them are budget camps and popular with back packers.
The bridge is almost in the middle of the bay and was constructed to enable visitors to pass over any flood water from any rain storms. However when there is a major rain storm many areas of Dahab can become flooded, including the entire area before the bridge.
Many of the cafes and restaurants here offer high level of service but higher prices than usual. Many of them offer similar menu’s and it can be hard to differentiate one place from another. However some new places have opened in recent years offer some new flavours to this strip including Thai food and Chinese.
This is the area from the bridge south towards the Lagoona. The area continues along the beach promande but also behind the beach into the shopping area and onwards towards more residential areas of Dahab. There is a street mostly full of Bazaars, running from next to the police station and behind the beach. Some of these bazaar’s sell unusual things, although many of them have the same items at hugely different prices. So it is worth shopping around or haggling here.
There are some good restaurants in this area also, both on the beach and off the beach. There are many places to stay in this area, from Bedouin camps to three star hotels with swimming pools. All offering good value accommodation. Many are on the beach although some are also behind the road and slightly away from the beach.
One of the notable things to look out for in Mashraba is the ruins of the Nabatean port. This port dates back over 2000 years and was an important part of the trading route for the Nabateans who also built the wonderful Petra in Jordan. The port is not so impressive to look at and at the moment little formal excavations have been made. But it proves the importance of Dahab as an historical area. No one knows what the Nabateans were transporting here. We hope archeologists will do further work here. The area is next to the beach and the beach foot path. It is a fairly sizable area and there are some signs explaining that it is a old port. It is not possible to entire the site at the moment.
Some hotels behind the port look at they they may also have been built on some of the archeological area, but at this current time no further work or research is being done here.
Walking further south along the beach foot path and passing more places to stay and places to eat you will eventually find yourself passing empty hotels, building sites and ghosts of former lovely hotels. After about 15 – 20 minutes walking you will finally reach the start of the lagoona area.
The lagoona is a naturally stunning sandy area. From above it looks like the boot shape of Italy in miniature. It is completely sandy and is one of the few areas of public beach in Dahab. Currently development here has been restricted but unfortunately things are starting to change.
The area stretches from the Islands, South towards the Napoleon Reef area. The sand then curves around creating a lovely bay, some of which is sandy and some is coral in shallow water on entry. The other side of the sandy spit is all sand and faces the hotels area of the Lagoona and Dahab Bay.
For the moment there are limited cafes on the sandy point although this is changing with one or two recently in development.
On the other side of the bay of the Lagoona is the hotels area, featuring several 3, 4 and 5 Star Hotel resorts and the majority of the wind surf centers in Dahab. It is possible to walk along the beach front although most hotels do not really like it, it is impossible for them to stop you. There are several beach front cafes and bars belonging to the hotels here.
The hotels area of the lagoona features really nice sandy beaches with easy access into the sea. This is why it is also a popular water sports area. You can also find banana boat, donuts and other water sport rides in this area of Dahab.
At the end of the hotels section is a public beach area called baby fish which is situated just before Dahab’s jetty/marina area. Which is not so impressive but does feature a few boats including the glass bottom boat which is popular with tourists.
This is a very unimpressive area for tourists. It is mainly just an area for administrative offices, such as the city council, head of the police office, the main Dahab post office and a few other government offices. There are a few shops but it is not impressive or worth visiting if you are a tourist.
The area is also partly residential, with several apartment blocks and small houses.
The bus station of Dahab is here, but other than that not so much of interest to the average visitor.
North Dahab – The Canyon and Blue Hole
A new area of Dahab has started to emerge here in recent years, several new hotels and resorts stretching along the coast from the North of the town of Dahab up to and past the Canyon dive site. There are also a few small scale residential projects along this stretch of road.
The road from the town to the Canyon is mostly tarmac but just after the canyon the road stops and the remainder of the way to the blue hole is driving on mostly sand.
Around the canyon and around the blue hole sites there are cafes. The blue hole itself has become very developed with a fair stretch of restaurants and even a few touristic shops. The Blue Hole becomes particularly busy between 11am – 2pm when it is often packed with tourists, many of them coming on day trips from Sharm El Sheikh.
For people staying in Dahab it is best to avoid the Blue Hole during this peak period in order to enjoy it the most and feel some peace and calm in the water.
Ras Abu Gallum
Ras Abu Gallum is a protected area, about 6 kilometers north of the Blue Hole. It is accessible by foot or by camel along a mostly coastal path that starts at the Blue Hole. It is a popular diving and snorkeling destination and is also a popular get away. It is one of the few places in South Sinai where you can stay without electric in a very basic hut on the beach and enjoy the simple but lovely Bedouin life style.
Ras Abu Gallum is mostly a Bedouin fishing village but also the region is host to some unique flora and fauna. North of the main village there is another beautiful area known as the Blue Lagoon which is very popular particularly in the summertime.
South of Dahab
South from the Lagoona a new tarmacked road heads towards the Three Pools area and Wadi Gnay Oasis. On the way there are a few more resort hotels and then the tarmac ends and it is back to sand for the last section towards either the three pools snorkeling and diving area or the Wadi Gnay oasis. Both areas are beautiful and well worth the visit whilst in Dahab.
South of the Three Pools is further sand trail to more southern dive sites including Golden Blocks and The Caves and then to Gab El Bint.