Updated: Aug 14
Did you know Egypt has incredible beaches? It seems obvious when you look at a map, yet prior to arriving here I simply had images of Cairo and pyramids. If yoga, scuba diving, snorkeling, live music, and floor pillow filled seaside cafes sound like your scene, keep reading!
An hour's drive from Egypt's famous resort town, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab is chilled and understated in comparison. The coast lining the Red Sea is world renowned for its impressive coral and dive sites, such as the Blue Hole and SS Thistlegorm. Learning to dive has given me entirely new perspective traveling, and Dahab is a great place to get certified!
In a town that seems to have more restaurants, cafes, and dive shops than people, its easy to fall in love with this place. Check out this guide for inspiration on activities, stays, and nomad workspaces to get the most out of your time here.
Dahab: The Ultimate Guide
From the moment I arrived, I fell in love with Dahab. Stepping out of my airport transfer, the sun was setting in bright red and orange hues, reflecting off the Red Sea. Just across the way, I could clearly see mountains and lights in Jordan coming to life. As I walked down the waterfront path, or El Mamsha, musicians were setting up in countless bohemian restaurants and cafes laden with floor pillows and swing sets. There are so many restaurants here I could eat at a new one each day for a month without repeating.
The community here is something really special, and there is something for everyone. No matter how you found yourself here, you are sure to make long lasting friendships and connections, and have a trip full of adventures and novel experiences.
Getting Your Visa For Egypt
Americans coming to Egypt can get a visa on arrival.
Check to see if your country requires a visa for entry. Visitors headed to Sharm el Sheikh for 7 or less days and staying in certain hotels will not need a visa, but all American travelers headed to Dahab will.
As of Jan 17, 2022, a negative PCR test taken within 72h of arrival, or proof of vaccination must be shown. Both the test and proof of vaccination must have QR codes on them. They prefer a printed copy. This is the first thing that will be checked in Sharm el Sheikh after disembarking the plane. In my experience, they very quickly glanced at each passengers papers to ensure there was a QR code, and then passed us through.
Next, there will be several counters where you can purchase a single entry visa for $25, which will last you for 30 days. Another counter will give you a sticker for this visa on arrival. Have cash on hand, as there is one ATM that was broken when I arrived.
If you'd like to pre-purchase your visa to save you some time and hassle at the airport, you can do so on the Official Site.
After this, you will pass through immigration, be stamped, collect bags, have your luggage scanned, and be on your way! The entire process from exiting the plane to getting in my cab took me just under an hour.
There are several SIM card stands as you exit the airport. In my experience, Vodafone and Orange have the best service in Dahab. As internet can be a bit shaky, its always a good idea to carry a backup in case you need to hotspot.
Be aware that the data packages they sell are a bit deceptive. For instance, a 10 GB data package will be 5 GB for certain social apps, and 5 GB for surfing the web, or other applications.
Google Fi works quite well here, alternatively, and you are able to hotspot from that on an iPhone as well. As of now it is only available for people from the US. Google Fi works instantaneously in most countries, keeps your phone number, and connects to local providers for generally great service.
Getting to Dahab
There is a taxi stand at the airport that can get you to Dahab, but will be considerably more expensive. Some friends that did this had a less than awesome experience with run-down cars and unsafe drivers.
I pre-organized transportation through Sharm Club and would recommend them. Transfers ranged from $40+ depending on the size of car needed. The drive was about an hour and pretty smooth.
The Basics: Weather, Currency, Wifi, Dress Code
Best Times to Visit Dahab
Temperatures average 65℉ (18 C) making it the perfect temp for outdoor exploring and hiking, and just a little chilly for swimming in the Red Sea. If you're here to dive, a thicker wet suit is recommended! Jan-Feb can also be quite windy at times.
Temperatures can range from 83℉ to 102℉ (28-38C) with dry heat. Pack your moisturizer! May is considered high season, and chances of rain are very low.
With an average temp of 75℉ (24C), many consider this time to be the sweet spot for water sports, ATVs, and Poolside lounging in Dahab.
Egyptian Pound- At the writing of this post, $1 USD is 15.7 EGP
The cost of living is quite inexpensive, with cheapest meals around $4, and averaging around $10. Most stores and restaurants are cash only, and ATMs are scattered around town.
For shopping and services, haggling is expected! If you are uncomfortable with this, try halving the first cost a vendor offers, and working with them from there, or having a point of comparison of what something should cost before beginning negotiations to avoid the "tourist price".
Work from Dahab
Internet speeds are notoriously low here (averaging 6 mbps), and vary by time of day and weather. High winds or a storm could knock out the area's wifi. If it is important to be available at all times, make sure to have a SIM card!
Here's some spots I've found that are reliable for work:
What to Pack for Dahab
Many blogs will recommend dressing conservatively in Egypt, especially women, as to respect the local culture. While that may be true of other areas, things are quite lax in Dahab. Walking along the Mamsha, you'll see travelers in shorts, coverups, and sundresses, and this seems to be fine.
Bikinis are acceptable on the beach, but one should put on clothes before heading into a restaurant or walking on the main road.
I was here in January, and it was colder than I expected! I was happy to have a windbreaker, and most days I wore pants and a long-sleeved shirt. My room was not very insulated and most accommodations here do not have heating. I purchased a soft poncho to sleep in from one of the local shops, and it keeps me cozy on cold nights! Thermal layers and athletic gear is recommended if you plan to hike Mt. Sinai, as it is tradition to hike overnight to see the sun rise. It's as spectacular as it sounds, but very cold!
Cafes and Restaurants in Dahab
Places to work from
The Everyday Cafe- Pictured above, the shabby-chic boho decor will charm your socks off. There are actually several Everyday Cafes scattered around Dahab. The Old Everyday and Everyday are several doors down from each other. While the Old Everyday has decent wifi (I've seen 20 mbps), the Everyday does not have customer access. Instead, enjoy the charm while sitting on a swing over the ocean, journalling or getting some offline work accomplished.
Cafe Paris- Protected from the elements, Cafe Paris has AC for the warm days and is protected from the chilly wind on cool days. With a large selection of gourmet deserts with high quality ingredients, and the best croissant I think I've ever had, its hard to leave this spot. Even better, every table has outlets to plug in your laptop. While not a formal cowork, the internet connection is generally stable and the music is soft.
My Hostel Cowork- For a couple dollars a day, gain access to this cozy coworking space with mountian views and ergonomic chairs.
Mojo Cafe and Cowork- A digital nomad favorite, Mojo is positioned kitty corner to the beach and other commercial street. There is a quiet upper floor and a bustling cafe downstairs to work from. They have AC in the summer months and stay open late for those East Coast hours calls. The coffee is good, and the internet is reliable!
The Best Coffee in Dahab
Coffee and Cotton- I would award this gem the best coffee in town. Made with precision and love, the cappuccinos are frothy and strong. They provide environmentally friendly reed straws with their juices, and have a nice selection of toasts and baked goods to choose from. Its a small spot, but seating overflows into the sushi restaurant next door when they get full.
Flat White- If you're looking for an iced coffee done properly, look no further. They even come in mason jars with a little brownie on the side. Beachside, you can enjoy their reasonably priced breakfast selection, overlooking the sea. The folks that work here are so nice, and add to the charm!
The Breakfast Cafe- Tucked on the upper floor of a boutique hotel, Breakfast Cafe is a hidden gem. They serve nice coffees alongside classic breakfast dishes. Their shakshouka and salmon eggs benedict are worth going back for again and again!
Coffee Wheel- If you're looking for aesthetic, artisanal coffee shop chic with SoCal beach vibes, look no further. This small wooden box on the beach has family style tables inside where you can make friends, blocked from the wind. Outside seating allows you to sink your toes in the sand while enjoying your morning cup of Joe. While they don't serve food, you are welcomed to order a breakfast from across the street at the hotel, and they will bring it over to your Coffee Wheel table.
Where to Eat in Dahab
Vegan Lab- Although I'm not vegan, I fell in love with this charming restaurant offering high-quality healthy salads and meals. They also have a great selection of artisan coffee with milk substitutes, and fresh juice and smoothie options.
Red Cat- In the mood for some Russian food? Red Cat's got you covered. Their chicken pelmenis were to die for, and they offer a wide selection of classic Russian comfort foods in addition to pizza, pasta, and a little Indian. Their masala chai can warm your bones on a cold and windy day.
Meya Meya- As you walk along the main street, you might hear Smiley, the appropriately nicknamed restaurant owner, call out to you with authentic and unique compliments. Maybe he urges you to come sit by the indoor fire for a moment, or test out the sunny upper roof deck. The fire is really nice on cool nights, and seating around it can accommodate for large groups. Like other restaurants here, they don't sell alcohol but don't mind if you bring a bottle of wine from outside to enjoy with your dinner.
Kung Foo Pasta- While I can't yet speak to the quality of their noodles, Kung Foo is a lovely place to come in the evenings and listen to live music. Most nights starting around 7:30, melodic bands perform covers or local music while folks sit on floor pillows and rugs enjoying a hot beverage and soaking up the vibes.
Shams- Honorable mention to our lovely home for the month! I recommend their fish in butter and rosemary sauce, served with veggies and rice. You can find all the Egyptian classics here, in a comfortable setting by the sea. Street cats may curl up in your lap while you enjoy your coffee and your view.
Full disclaimer, I am still in Dahab and will be continuing to add to these recommendations as my experience broadens!
Check out 10 Unique Experiences to have in Dahab
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