Thirty-five kilometres north of Sharm El Sheikh, Nabq is the largest coastal protectorate on the Gulf of Aqaba. Named after an oasis that lies within its boundaries, Nabq straddles 600 sq km of land and sea between the Straits of Tiran and Dahab. Less frequently visited than Ras Mohammed National Park further south, Nabq is a good place to see Sinai as it was before the arrival of mass tourism. Within the park are several hiking trails and snorkelling spots.
There is a visitors centre located off the road leading from Sharm El Sheikh past the airport and Ras Nasrany. Nabq’s main attraction is its mangrove forest, which runs along the shoreline at the mouth of Wadi Kid and is the most northerly mangrove stand in the world. Mangrove root systems filter most of the salt from seawater and help to stabilise shorelines, while also providing an important habitat for birds and fish.
Just inland from the mangrove forest are the dunes of Wadi Kid, which are home to one of the Middle East’s largest stands of arak bushes (arak twigs were traditionally used by Bedouin to clean teeth). Gazelles, rock hyraxes and Nubian ibexes can be seen in the protectorate, and there are two villages of Bedouin from the Mizena tribe. Offshore, rich reefs are easy to access, although visibility can be poor because of sediment from the mangroves.
You’ll need a vehicle to get here, or join an organised tour from Sharm El Sheikh or Dahab.