Finding Paradise on Giftun Island, Egypt

‘Mahmya Beach’

Heavenly hurghada

Hurghada was a fantastic getaway from the bustling cities, the heat of the desert and the chaos of tourist destinations that our tour group had encountered so far in Egypt. Hurghada is a beach resort town nestled along the Red Sea Coast. We headed north-east 4 hours from the Nile River in a bus to reach here.

Our hotel resort was luxurious and they offered incredible buffet breakfasts, dinners and not to mention the desserts are to die for! We also received free access to a private beach resort just 10 minutes down the road. The town has much to offer from restaurants, bars, clubs, traditional coffee shops and markets. So can you guess what we did all day? Sunbathed and had a dip in the Red Sea of course! We visited here in April/May and the water was a little bit cold but once you’re in it’s fine!

‘Hurghada Beach Resort’

MAHMYA BEACH

The next day was filled with more sunshine and warmth. We walked to the marina to take a 30-minute boat ride from Hurghada to Giftun Island. It looked like we were arriving to an island in the Caribbean. We even had a pod of dolphins welcoming us. It was paradise in Egypt! Mahmya Beach is the place to eat, drink, relax, sail, snorkel and scuba dive.

Our Intrepid Travel tour group had a great buffet lunch at Mahmya Beach’s open-air sea view restaurant. There was such a variety of food to choose from. I think this was the only time I didn’t go back for seconds at a buffet because we were going to snorkel afterwards!

SNORKELLING AT GIFTUN ISLAND

Snorkelling here was a bit of a let down after The Blue Hole in Dahab. The coral didn’t have much colour and there was very little sea life. Its had a dramatic loss of habitat due to the abundance of boats and tourists over the years. In some areas, there’s very little leeway between the coral and the water’s surface. I imagine many tourists kicking and even standing on the coral here. It’s always a sad reminder of the impact we have on the environment.

After spending a couple of hours in the water, it was time to dry off, relax and catch the sun. Conveniently happy hour at the bar had begun at that time. What more could a girl want?
Giftun Island is a perfect family or couples day trip and it’s a must if you visit Egypt. It is in my top 5 places to visit in Egypt!

TRANSPORT TO HURGHADA

Cairo to Hurghada is a 460 km driving distance, a 5-hour drive or a 1-hour EgyptAir flight for 140USD / 110GBP / 200AUD / 190CAD*.
Luxor is the closest tourist-based city to Hurghada. From Luxor, it’s a 290 km distance making for a 4-hour drive.
There are no direct flights from Luxor to Hurghada. The stopover would be at Cairo and it will cost a whopping 280USD*. So I guess if you’re planning to travel to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel, then Hurghada should be your first stop via EgyptAir.
However, there is a public Upper Egypt bus to catch from Luxor to Hurghada departing every 4 hours daily. Costing only 35EGP / 2USD.

‘Credit: Google Images’

HOW TO GET TO GIFTUN ISLAND

A tour company is the best way to get to Giftun Island and Mahmya Beach. The boat ride will be 45 minutes and always take a seasickness tablet before just in case. There’s plenty of tours to choose from depending on your party and agenda. They offer snorkelling, scuba diving, dolphin spotting and swimming, speedboating and luxury sailing packages. Orange Bay is also located on Giftun Island however it’s much less expensive and quieter compared to Mahmya Beach. Day trips to Orange Bay are available too.

For example, Get Your Guide offers the Giftun Island Snorkelling Trip with lunch for 22USD* per person. The tour duration is 9 hours, pick up and drop off at any Hurghada hotel, includes entrance fee, breakfast, lunch, refreshments, snorkelling gear and allows you to snorkel at two locations.

https://www.getyourguide.com/activity/hurghada-l403/from-hurghada-giftun-islands-full-day-snorkeling-tour-t35133?utm_force=0

‘Credit: Google Images’

WHERE TO STAY

Meraki Resort – 9.0 rating (Booking.com) – Meraki is a hotel experience you will never forget. It’s an adults-only resort too! Its bohemian-chic atmosphere will make you fall in love with Hurghada. Meraki sits on a private beach on the Red Sea and is situated right next to the marina where you can haul aboard to Giftun Island. This hotel offers 3 pools, 6 bars, buffet dinners, spa and fitness facilities, all-inclusive booking options and each hotel room has its balcony overlooking the sea!
Sky View Suites Hotel – 8.6 rating (Booking.com) – Enjoy a relaxed and affordable getaway here at Sky View Suites. The facilities include a pool, restaurant, bar, private beach and all breakfasts are included. Family rooms are also available to suit your needs.

THINGS DO IN HURGHADA

Day trip to Orange Bay – Also located on Giftun Island. A much quieter and affordable beach resort to visit compared to Mahmya.
El-Dahar Square – The Piccadilly Circus of Hurghada. Surrounded by markets, restaurants and shops.
Al Mina Mosque – Situated on the bank of the Red Sea next to the fisherman’s marina. A newly built mosque that is charmingly beautiful.
Selkhet Papyrus – A wonderfully laid out museum and shop featuring genuine papyrus artwork.
Hurghada Grand Aquarium – (Adult: 30USD* Child: 15USD*) Home to over 100 species of marine creatures and get an adrenaline rush from diving with sharks! Located 22 minutes south of Hurghada.
Sand City – (Adult: 10USD* Child: 5USD*) 7 minutes further south of the aquarium is Sand City. The most interesting open-air museum to visit and it’s the only sand museum in Africa. They have entertainers and night shows to engage the whole family!
Mini Egypt – (Adult: 33USD* Child: 15USD* including hotel pick-up & drop off) A 30-minute drive south of Hurghada is a fun place for some great photo opportunities. Come to see 60 miniature works of art showcasing Abu Simbel, Great Pyramids of Giza, Karnak Temple and much more!
Dolphin World – (Adults: 33USD* Children: 17USD*) Located next door to Mini-Egypt. Come to watch the dolphins, sea lion, walrus and fur seals perform. You might be lucky enough to meet the stars of the show and have a photo with them for 40USD*. You can also swim with the dolphins for 10 minutes for 93USD*!

Image 1 – Hurghada Grand Museum. Credit: Trip Advisor.
Image 2 – Mini Egypt. Credit: CTE Travel.
Image 3 – Sand City. Credit: Trip Advisor.

WHERE TO GRAB A BITE

The Greek Bar & Restaurant – This beautifully decorated restaurant overlooks the marina and offers incredible Greek cuisines and cocktails.
Sofra Middle Eastern Cuisine – Dive into a variety of shawarma, charcoal chicken, wraps, burgers, Indian dishes and everything else from fish & chips to lamb shanks.
Star Fish – Select the seafood you wish to eat and all the rest will be taken care of at Star Fish. Conveniently located near the marina, you will have the choice of the freshest and finest fish in Hurghada.
Chuchi Chaschtli – Don’t attempt to pronounce the name! It’s also called the Swiss House. That one you can say! Enjoy the fondue and famous Swiss dishes that this restaurant has to offer. You can also choose to cook your meat to your liking on a hot stone.
Nino’s Restaurant – A little piece of Italy in Hurghada. Who doesn’t love Italian dishes any time of the week?

Image 1 – The Greek Bar & Restaurant. Credit: The Greek Facebook Page.
Image 2 – Sofra Middle Eastern Cuisine. Credit: Trip Advisor.
Image 3 – Star Fish. Credit: Star Fish Facebook Page.

*Based on currency rates at the time of being published.