Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Egypt's leading beach resort, Sharm el-Sheikh overlooks the Red Sea at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula. For decades it was a destination just for scuba divers exploring the unspoiled coral reefs and backpackers looking for a cheap place to crash on the sand. These days it's the best beach escape in the Middle East, offering numerous outdoor adventures both in and out of the water.
What We Love
Bedouin Desert Evenings: Several local outfitters arrange al fresco evenings in the Sinai Desert that include authentic belly dancers, Egyptian music, camel rides, and an incredible spread of Middle Eastern food.
The Food: Sharm's 300-plus restaurants offer a wide range of culinary treats, from excellent Lebanese and Indian to French, Italian, and even Mexican.
Best Known For
Pristine Reefs: Because it's so far away from everything else, Sharm's coral gardens remain largely untouched, with an amazing array of tropical fish and other underwater creatures.
Desert Adventure: Perched right on the edge of the desert, Sharm makes it easy to explore the Sinai on a quad bike, 4x4, or even camel safaris. Or make like Moses and climb Mount Sinai at dawn before visiting the legendary St. Catherine's Monastery.
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Who It's Best For
Scuba Divers: Dive sites include underwater icons like Ras Mohamed and the Straits of Tiran, as well as several substantial shipwrecks.
Sun Worshippers: The ancient Egyptians who venerated the sun god Ra would have really liked Sharm el-Sheikh, which gets an average of 363 days of sunshine per year.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You Won't Be Alone: With more than 150 hotels and daily flights from numerous European and Asian cities, Sharm el Sheikh attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.
It's Also Really Remote: Other than the southern Sinai, you can't day trip to anywhere else in Egypt without flying. Cairo and the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor are both an hour-long flight from Sharm.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.