Dahab, Egypt- The Greatest Place You’ve Never Heard Of

Last year, to the day to be precise, I left for Italy with Auntie L and her friend Stirfry.  I was excited because I had been wanting to go to Italy for, well, ever. But I was also very nervous.  It was the first time I was leaving the girls for more than a couple of nights.  Add to that- The Rugby Star wasn’t home when I left.  He was at a conference in Germany.  So not only was I sneaking away in the middle of the night, but I was leaving them with the nanny for two days until he got back.  Even though I clearly trust the woman with my kids on a daily basis, we had never left them with her for days.  It was terrifying.

And then it wasn’t.  The nanny sent pictures through Whatsapp and The Rugby Star got home safe and sound and the girls had a blast with their dad for the week.  I had an amazing time in Italy and everyone was very, very happy to be reunited when I got home.

This year, when Auntie L suggested a trip somewhere for Spring Break, I didn’t even hesitate before saying, ‘YES! YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!’  But then the question became- where exactly.  We contemplated Europe… but she had just traveled around Eastern Europe over Christmas and I’m moving there in a few months, so it didn’t seem like the best idea.  We thought about Dubai, but no.  We looked at prices to Oman, Jordan, Abu Dabhi but nothing really called to us.  We discussed a stay-cation- spending a couple of days at one of the fancy hotels here in Bahrain, doing brunch, ordering room service.

But we wanted off the island.

Then, my new friend B spoke up.  ‘Why don’t you guys come to Dahab with us?’

Dahab?  Where’s that?  Oh.  Egypt.  No thanks.

But then Auntie L did some research, as she is wont to do.  And Dahab didn’t look like Cairo, which is noisy and busy and, let’s be honest, dirty.  Dahab is on the Red Sea.  It’s a beach town and people go there for the cheap but beautiful snorkeling and scuba diving.  That’s why B and The Mayor were going (she’s not really the mayor but she’s been to Dahab so many times it was like walking with a celebrity through the streets).  It looked quaint and clean and sunny and shiny.  It looked like the kind of place where we could relax and lay by the pool, catching some rays and reading a book.  B and The Mayor suggested a very new hotel, we looked it up on the interwebs, and suddenly we were buying tickets.

After spending almost a week in Dahab, I have come up with 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Dahab, Even If You’ve Never Heard of It:

  1. Scuba Diving is AWESOME!  I did two introductory dives while we were there with Bassem and Samir from Liquid Adventures and I’m totally hooked!  The instructors were kind and patient, even while I freaked out during the first 15 minutes… because breathing under water is WEIRD!  But once I got the hang of it, I saw purple jellyfish, clown fish, and the most beautiful coral reef I’ve ever seen (which was also the first coral reef I’d ever seen anywhere but on The Octonauts)!  Whether you already dive or want to learn, Dahab is the place to go and Liquid Adventures is the place to be!

    Egypt Vacation-33
    You probably can’t tell, but I was a little nervous for my first dive!
  2. There are mountains in Egypt. Specifically Mt. Sinai- aka Moses Mountain- can be found in this part of the country.   But aside from that, there are huge, beautiful, red mountains rising from all around you as you drive from Sharm El Sheikh to Dahab.  I felt like I could’ve been driving through the Colorado Rockies… if there had been a few more trees.
    Egypt Vacation-57
  3. ‘Downtown’ Dahab.  I don’t know if anyone else calls it that, but it’s my name for that area.  It was the tourist area with the bars, shops, and restaurants.  This street was magical.  I cannot tell you why.  Maybe it was the friendliness of everyone you passed, from the shopkeepers who tried to entice you in to buy banter pants or tunics (No, not today?  Maybe tomorrow, okay?  Have a wonderful day!) or the kids running around, riding bikes in their bathing suits.  It could’ve been the tranquility of each ocean-side restaurant, almost all of which had cushions on the floor so you could really stretch out and relax.  Take your time, have a drink.  Have ten drinks.  Have some shisha.  Or don’t.  Whatever.
    Egypt Vacation-15
  4. As you like.  Anything you asked for, anything you requested, was met with the response, ‘As you like.’
  5. The Acacia Hotel.  If you go to Dahab, stay here.  Of course, I didn’t stay anywhere else so I can’t say that it was the best hotel in Dahab, but I can say that it was wonderful.  From the friendliness of the staff, to the cleanliness of the rooms, to the towel pets I found every day, this hotel is one of the best I’ve stayed at.  Auntie L and I splurged and each got a single deluxe which featured a porch overlooking the pool.  It was totally worth it.
  6. The vibe.  Everything and everyone was in beach vacation mode.  But not crazy American-Destin-Florida beach mode (i.e. hurry everyone, out the door with all the sunscreen and tents and towels and toys and snacks- we will RELAX at the beach for several hour with the sandcastle building kit, a kite, football, grill, a beach ball, two boogie boards and the surf boards we rented last night before cooling off in the pool with sandwiches we packed in a cooler; Uncle Ed is already drunk so we’ll leave him on the beach.  We will all run up to the time share apartment at 5:15 so everyone has a chance to shower before dinner at the Sizzler at 6:45pm then bowling and go-carting and maybe some ice cream before bedtime so we can do it all again tomorrow!).  We laid by the pool, got a falafel sandwich for lunch, walked to town when we felt like it, took a nap on a beach chair, got massages.  I got a job, briefly, at the English pub where we played Heads Up and the bartender, my former boss, helped me cheat.  There were a couple of nights of fried bananas and Cards Against Humanity in a restaurant that served Indian, Thai, and Chinese food, and most nights we were all in bed by ten.  I have never been so relaxed.
    Egypt Vacation-72
    Egypt Vacation-10
  7. Egyptian breakfast.  This one is debatable depending on your food preference.  Egyptian breakfast is falafel, pita, a feta-like cheese, and ful (pronounced ‘fool’) which is fava beans.  I ate it five out of the six mornings we were there.  It was delicious.  Except the ful because they mixed it with green peppers and onions and, if you know me, you know what a great sadness that brought to my life.

    Egypt Vacation-22
    The falafel place across the street.  I love Fala-Fell in love!
  8. The Sharm El Sheikh airport is one of the smallest and cutest airports I’ve ever been in, second only to the Kingston airport in Ontario.

I had never even heard of Dahab before B and The Mayor invited us on their vacation and I’m already trying to figure out when I can get back.



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