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Nuweiba, Taba and Pharaoh's Island - Sinai

Pharaoh's Island - Sinai Desert

Taba & Nuweiba

Nuweiba is situated some 465 km southeast of Cairo, the Red Sea coastal city of Nuweiba is ideal for backpackers. Nuweiba refers to both the town of Nuweiba and a large piece of coastline which stretches almost from the town up to Taba. Nuweiba, the town, is very little, with only a couple of restaurants and a bazaar. Sandwiched between the picturesque Sinai mountains and the tranquil gulf of Aqaba, the small, camp-based tourist spot provides all a traveler could ask for when he or she needs a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city.


Taba is a frequent vacation spot for Egyptians and tourists, especially those from Israel on their way to others destinations in Egypt or as a weekend getaway. The place attract tourists with its "Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai", (stretching from Taba down to Sharm el Sheikh, and including Nuweiba, St Catherine and Dahab ), marvelous diving spots where many people come to either free dive, scuba dive or learn to dive via the many PADI courses on offer and newly established desert style golf courses. More Details: Taba Heights - A Breathtaking Escape in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

The Gulf of Aqaba is created by seismic activity along the Afro-Syrian Rift, the Gulf of Aqaba is a deep narrow body of water, bordered by Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and is one of the hinges connecting the Asian and African continents. The gulf extends 180 km from Eilat and Aqaba and joins the Red Sea at the Straits of Tiran, with its widest point spanning 28 km. Israel's gulf shore extends only a few kilometers, from the city of Eilat to the border with Egypt at Taba. Jordan's shore reaches some 20 km in length, extending to the Saudi border opposite Marsa al Muqabila in northern Sinai. Egypt enjoys the longest gulf border, which stretches some 170 km between Taba and the Straits of Tiran.

As part of this subsequent agreement between Israel and Egypt, travellers are permitted to cross from Israel at the Eilat - Taba border crossing, visiting the "Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai", (stretching from Taba down to Sharm el Sheikh, and including Nuweiba, St Catherine and Dahab), visa-free for up to 14 days, making Taba a popular tourist destination. The resort community of Taba Heights is located some 20 km (12 mi) south of Taba. It features several large hotels, including The Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Sofitel and Intercontinental. It is also a significant diving area where many people come to either free dive, scuba dive or learn to dive via the many PADI courses on offer. Other recreation facilities include a new desert style golf course.
Taba Heights (Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai).
Sailboat in the Red Sea near Taba Heights (Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai). The mountains of Saudi Arabia are in the background.

Just like Taba, Nuweiba attracts tourists with its diving spots and the desert activities one can do in the area, one of which is camping.Tarabin village, located not so far away from Nuweiba, is well known for its Bedouin-style camps where you can rent cheap huts with or without air conditioner. Quiet and beautiful, Tarabin is paradise for anyone willing to enjoy a good rest and fun holidays. Nevertheless all the camps don't offer the same quality (particularly the food). For a good restaurant, Petra camp is considered as the best in the village. It also offers huts with air conditioner pretty cheap regarding others (between 20-60 L.E. at summer).

Nuweiba, on the east coast of the Sinai
Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Nuweiba in Sinai, the oases of the Western Desert and cities like Aswan are high on local and international tourist. In Nuweiba, on the east coast of the Sinai, heading northwards to the entrance of the Colored Canyon, where nature’s impressive play of colors in the clay-red boulders and also impassable terrain with countless crevices and heights. Over sand and pebbled territory the path then take you to the south west to Mount Catharine. Every step over the rocks buried in the sand is a challenge; after stumbling twice the extreme runner carried on with a pained face. Mount Moses (2.283 m) and Mount Catharine (2.637 m) are the most strenuous and coldest stages. After sundown the temperatures on the peaks dropped to minus 5° Celsius.

While the Swisscare Nuweiba Resort Hotel and the Hilton Nuweiba Coral Resort are both fine hotels, the ultimate Nuweiba experience is to enjoy one of the Bedouin-style camps located along the beach. Cheap huts are available in these camps for backpackers visiting the coast to enjoy the sand and sun or go snorkeling in the pristine Red Sea.

Noweiba/Nuweiba is about 85 km north of Dahab, just above Abu Galum, lies the beach resort of Nuweiba. From here there are trips possible to different sites like Abu Galum, the Coloured Canyon and many more. Hotels are available along the coast line. This spot is especially suiteable for windsurfers, since there is constant wind most of the time.

Two camps are particularly popular in Nuweiba: Soft Beach and Basata Camp

Basata, one of the very few eco-lodges in Sinai, is almost internationally recognized as the ultimate tourist spot in the area. The management’s laissez-faire philosophy--whereby guests cook their own meals--creates an almost hippy-like air of intimacy. But despite the basic setting, one can end up paying up to LE150 per night, including food.

Nevertheless, the camp’s environment-friendly policy, writ large in every detail of the camp, is both inspiring and encouraging.

Soft Beach, on the other hand, is cheaper than Basata, and--as indicated by its name--is located on drags of soft, white sand, with a beach in which you can swim without worrying about rocks or unwelcome sea creatures. Soft Beach’s huts are small and uncomfortable, though, unless you take one of the new huts located away from the beach.
Camps at Tarabin, Nuweiba
Petra Camp, meanwhile, is a personal favorite. It is located in a central area that is a ten-minute walk from Soft Beach, allowing you a to drop by the beach there. The hotel itself is built with some sense of artistry and boasts a huge dinning area where an excellent chef serves a variety of dishes. The huts are air-conditioned and spacious, furnished with a bed, an extra mattress and a table. You pay around LE60 per night, and can expect to pay LE50 for the three daily meals.

Castle Beach is another commonly visited spot on the coast, situated at the famous land intersection by the beach known as Ras el-Shaitan. Castle Beach is known for its delicious pasta and pizza, and has been home to repeat visitors from around the world.

Other than swimming, eating, smoking and playing cards, there isn’t much to do in Nuweiba. There is no party scene or clubbing venue. The coast is exclusively meant for relaxation, where little happens except sun and calm waves. Nothing could be more soothing and therapeutic after a hectic week in the busy city.

To reach Nuweiba
To reach Nuweiba, you can either fly, or take a car, bus or microbus. The flight schedule is twice a week (Sundays and Thursdays); a round trip from the capital costs LE775 on economy class. Buses leave from Cairo in the morning and at night; bus tickets cost about LE70. They depart from the downtown Torgoman bus station and from the Heliopolis bus station in Almaza. The Nuweiba Port is in the eastern part of Sinai Peninsula.

Drive you car until the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, where you can take the ferry and cross the Gulf of Aqaba heading to Jordan. There is a daily ferry, leaving around noon time, from Nuweiba to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. To be more accurate, there are two ferries every day of the week, except for Saturdays, when only one operates. Two ferries run on a daily bases, except for Saturday when only one operates. The Israeli port of Eilat lies between Jordan and Egypt, but you can easily take one of the three ferry sailings a day between the Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba, and Nuweiba, about 35 miles to the south, on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. You can either go for the speedy one that cuts the whole trip in a little less than an hour, or if you are more into contemplating the scenery and want to enjoy the journey, take the slower ferry with an estimated trip duration of a couple of hours. Once you land safely in Aqaba, look for a taxi to Petra, or perhaps you may opt for a night in the busy port and head to the historical site fresh in the morning.

Nuweiba Port - ferry between Nuweiba and Aqaba
Nuweiba Port with half a dozen sailings daily between Aqaba and Nuweiba, using fast car ferries the Princess and the Queen Nefertiti, ( journey time just over 1 hour ), and four large car ferries ( The Pella, The Black Iris, The Shehrazade, The Bridge and the Dodo ) all of which take 3 - 4 hours to make the trip. However, foot passengers are now usually required to take only the fast ferries.
Nuweiba Port - ferry between Nuweiba and Aqaba
The fares are now US$ 70 one way on the fast ferries and US$ 60 on the slow ferries. There is also a departure tax of LE 50 per person when sailing from Nuweiba Port.

Nuweiba port is located at the southern side of Nuweiba, with a small town around it, which also has the bus station, four banks, three ATMs and the Duty Free Shop. Nuweiba Port is about 5 km south of Nuweiba Town.

AB Maritime introduced the service of high speed crafts "Princess and Queen Nefertiti" to encourage tourist transportation between southern Sinai resorts, "Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm El-Sheikh and Taba" ,and the golden triangle in Jordan "Aqaba ,Petra & Wadi Rum"

This step has had a major role in promoting tourism between Asia and Africa by providing excellent services to tourists in terms of completion of travel procedures onboard and speed of transition from one country to the other in less than an hour and distinguished service in unique, enjoyable and safe trips. For full details.... http://www.abmaritime.com.jo/main.html .

Pharaoh's Island

Just a few kilometers south of Taba, at the very top of the Gulf of Aqaba and just a few hundred meters from the coast, lies Pharaoh's Island. Surmounted by the imposing crenelated bulk of the restored citadel of Salah ad-Din, Pharaoh's Island is one of the most blatantly picturesque spots in the entire gulf.

Pharaoh's Island (Jezeirat Faurun, Coral Island) on the northern Gulf of Aqaba has many names including Jezeirat Faraun (Pharaoh’s Island) and Isle de Graye. Some believe that it is biblical Ezion Geber. The island is 7 miles (11 km) south of Eilat in Egyptian waters. The waters between the island and the Sinai mainland are a natural anchorage, protecting ships from the rough storms on the Gulf. The breakwater here was created by silt from Wadi Jereya.

While the restored fortifications have firmly imposed a medieval character upon the island, the history of Geziret Faroun in actually one of exceptional complexity and interest. The fortress on this Geziret Fara'un (Pharaoh's Island) was built in the Byzantine's period. Since 1986 it is open to public in its restored form. Also, there is the Phoenician port (Ezion-Gaber) to be seen.
Pharaoh's Island on the northern Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt's eastern Sinai Peninsula
The earliest recorded constructions on the island are those of Hiram, king of Tyre (c.969-936 B.C.), a friend to both David and Solomon. Tyre, an ancient city situated just off the coast of present-day Lebanon, was in Hiram's time one of the most powerful cities of the Mediterranean. Hiram figures prominently in the Bible (see Kings 9-10), where it is related that he supplied much of the cedar and gold for the Temple of Jerusalem. Hiram's interest in Pharaoh's Island, which he knew as Esiongaber, was to further develop trade with Egypt, and he built up the island's fine natural harbour. About two thousand years later, the Byzantines occupied the island, and they were followed there (in the 12th century) by the Crusaders and then by Salah ad-Din. In 1182, Salah ad-Din rebuilt the Byzantine and Crusader fortifications and further strengthened the island's defenses, and it is his "Kasr El-Hadid" that has in large part been restored here. One little-known episode related to Geziret Faroun is a visit paid to the island by the young T.E. Lawrence, better and later known as "Lawrence of Arabia." While on a survey expedition to the Sinai in 1914, Lawrence asked for, and was refused, permission to visit the island and its ruins, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Having failed to secure a boat with which to defy this refusal, Lawrence built for himself a makeshift raft, on which he and his bedouin guide managed to swim out across the bay. Twenty-six at the time, Lawrence appears to have been more enthralled by the sheer adventure of the episode than by the evocative ruins on the island itself.

Pharaoh's Island refers to an island on the northern Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt's eastern Sinai Peninsula. In the 12th century, Crusaders defending nearby Aqaba, now in Jordan, built a citadel on the small island, which they called Ile de Graye. In 1170, Saladin conquered the island and reconstructed the citadel.

Because of its location near Jordan and Israel, the island and its coral reefs have become a popular among tourists based in Taba, Eilat, and Aqaba.

Last Updated on Saturday 15th January 2011