For the final leg of our Egyptian vacation we scheduled a few days in the resort town of Hurghada. Hurghada is on the east coast of Egypt along the Red Sea, and seemed like the perfect place for us to relax after a couple weeks of constant sight-seeing. We stayed at the Mövenpick Resort and, after having their delectable ice cream while we were in Jordan, we were looking forward to it!
Upon check-in we decided to upgrade our room for a nominal charge to one that had a view of the Red Sea. We’re actually surprised that we didn’t have a sea view room by default since the resort was so empty. When we got to our room we were pleased with the upgrade and saw that we had a great view of the Red Sea, not to mention the first grass we’d seen in weeks! We also had a nice deck and a comfortable bed. Both key ingredients in a relaxing stay!
We walked around the grounds exploring for a while and quickly noticed that the resort was almost empty. We heard that Hurghada was popular in the winter months since it was pretty warm there (we visited in December), but there were very, very few people around. Egypt is hurting for tourists and it definitely showed in Hurghada.
We spent much of our time at the resort enjoying the pool (when it wasn’t too windy outside), eating, and watching movies while being lazy. We particularly enjoyed sitting at the poolside bar for lunch because they had hamburgers! Dax hadn’t had a burger in so long and was craving one — and it absolutely delivered!
Prior to staying at the Mövenpick, we’d only ever been to resorts in Cabo and Cancun, Mexico, and the differences were quite noticeable here in Hurghada. There were almost no guests, little to no poolside entertainment, waiter visits were few and far between, and the food wasn’t the best (aside from the burger, of course). It would have been nice to see the resort at the height of Egyptian tourism to make a true comparison, but as it was it was a pretty steep downgrade from our previous resort experiences. That being said, we made the best of the situation and really enjoyed our time there.
The highlight of our stay was the day we spent SCUBA diving in the Red Sea! We booked this SCUBA diving excursion at the activities desk of the resort. We reviewed their available activities the first day we arrived. (Low-priced activities were a recurring theme during our time in Egypt — and SCUBA diving was no exception — a benefit for travelers visiting a destination hurting for tourists.) On the actual day, we received a ride to the boat, The SHEHAB, courtesy of the resort . It was windy out that day so we found shelter inside the main cabin until we pushed away and set out on the open water.
In addition to us, there were ~20 other people aboard the ship ready to dive. Many of these people were certified divers. We had only been SCUBA diving once before in Mexico, which made us feel a little unprepared. It turned out not to be a big deal at all. After a refresher on SCUBA safety, we got suited up and jumped in the water for our first session. All of the non-certified divers had to dive 1-on-1 with an instructor. This was a bit of a bummer, but still fun. The instructor Dax dove with insisted on holding his hand for much of the dive. Eventually she relaxed and let him dive on his own.
The Red Sea water was glorious and the temperature was absolutely perfect! We could have swam around without wet suits and been perfectly fine the whole day.
As far as marine life near the reef where we were diving, there were some colorful fish but none that blew us away. We were, however, followed around all day by a curious mother and baby dolphin! They swam with us at both of our diving locations and were almost close enough that we could touch them! This photo really does it no justice.
In between our two dive sessions the crew aboard the SHEHAB prepared lunch. It was a delicious spread served buffet style.
After our second dive we stayed in the water snorkeling until it was time to leave. I have to reiterate that the water was so perfect we could have spent all day in it. It was a bummer when it came time to get out.
When we returned to the dock we assumed the same driver would be waiting to take us back to the resort. He was not. We waited around for a while fully expecting that they forgot about us. We anticipated that we might have to walk a few miles back to the hotel on our own. Eventually someone did show up to take us back, which was a relief. Consider speaking to the resort staff about coordinating your return trip before you go on a similar excursion!
Back at the resort, we spent our final evening having dinner at the on-site Italian restaurant. We ended up being the ONLY guests there for dinner that night. The Italian music was on full blast. There was a high probability our waiter simply walked next door to the buffet to load up our plates. It made for an interesting evening to say the least.
The major negative from our trip to Hurghada was that somewhere along the line Dax’s credit card info was stolen. We used the resort internet to book future travel and had to physically plug in to their internet connection. The wifi was non-existent outside of the main lobby and even there it was equivalent to dial-up speeds at best. There were several fraudulent charges made with the card. Luckily our bank was able to reverse those and issue us a new card asap. If you plan to visit Hurghada, make sure to avoid using the resort wifi for credit card (or other) purchases, or anything else of a personal nature. (A good rule of thumb when traveling anywhere!)
Our plan was to fly to Greece next, but to accomplish that we had to make our way back to Cairo to fly out of the Cairo airport. Our tour company arranged for us to take a 6 hour bus ride back — less than ideal! In retrospect, we would have paid extra to arrange a driver. For the bus ride, we had seats right up front giving us a great view of the absolutely insane driving the bus driver emplored! The driver was passing cars left and right into oncoming traffic! To top it off, he was chain smoking cigarettes throughout the trip. Brutal, but we survived and eventually made it back to Cairo.
Hurghada was an okay experience. Not quite the resort stay we were hoping. However, in order to SCUBA dive in the Red Sea made it all worth it. We would love to return some day when the tourism industry is back. We would love to see Hurghada in all it’s glory!
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