In-the-know divers have been heading to Marsa Alam for years, attracted to the seas that offer up some of Egypt’s best diving just off the rugged coastline. Despite this, the far-flung destination stayed well off the tourism radar for a long time. While the town itself remains a sleepy, nondescript place, the strip of coast to its north and south has been snapped up by eager developers and is now home to a plethora of resorts and half-built hotels.
Despite the construction, Marsa Alam’s coastline is still a diving aficionado’s dream, and there are some long-standing beach camps here specifically for those who want to spend most of their time underwater. This is also the best base from which to venture into the southern reaches of Egypt’s vast Eastern Desert, where gold and emeralds were once mined by the Romans in the barren, mineral-rich mountains just inland.