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Plucked from obscurity during the early days of the Red Sea’s tourism drive, the fishing village of Hurghada has long since morphed into today’s dense band of concrete that marches along the coastline for more than 20km. Still, it's a convenient destination for combining a diving holiday with the Nile Valley sites. Further offshore there is still superb diving aplenty; local NGOs are helping the town clean up its act, and the southern resort area and Sigala's sparklingly modern marina have brought back some of Hurghada's sheen.

Unfortunately, the rampant construction has left the coast blighted by half-finished shells of pleasure palaces never realised, while the coral reefs closest to the shore have been degraded by illegal landfill operations and irresponsible reef use. Hurghada’s star has largely lost its lustre with package holiday-makers, while independent travellers prefer to press on to Dahab, El Gouna or further south to Marsa Alam.

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