Plucked from obscurity and thrust into the limelight during the early days of the Red Sea’s tourism drive, the tiny fishing village of Hurghada has long since morphed into today’s dense band of concrete which marches relentlessly along the coastline for over 20km. Rampant construction has left the town blighted by half-finished shells of pleasure palaces that were never to be. The coral reefs closest to the shore – which put Hurghada on the international hot-spot map originally – have been degraded by illegal landfill operations and irresponsible reef use. In recent years Hurghada’s star has largely lost its lustre with many travellers migrating to the newer, glossier resorts of El-Gouna and Sharm el-Sheikh.
There is hope on the horizon though. Further offshore there is still superb diving aplenty and local NGOs are now playing a leading role in getting the town to clean up its act while new construction projects are attempting to bring back some of Hurghada’s resort sheen. If you want to combine a diving holiday with the Nile Valley sites, Hurghada is a convenient destination. However, independent travellers might prefer to press on to Dahab in Sinai.