Nuweiba Travel Guide
A quiet and peaceful refuge to recharge on the beach
Located just 70 kilometres south of the Israeli border and with regular ferry crossings to Jordan, Nuweiba is often the first or last stop on any Egyptian travel itinerary. Due to this proximity to Israel, young Israelis once comprised the majority of visitors to Nuweiba.
During Jewish holidays in particular one could expect to find the beaches around Tarrabin packed; the guest houses full and the local Bedouin touts and vendors speaking Hebrew to promote their services to passers-by.
In recent years fewer Israelis have been coming to Tarrabin amidst security fears and the start of the second Intifada in 2000 but there is a constant stream of regular visitors who know the area and return time and again to this special stretch of coastline.
Dahab, 62 Km further south has emerged as the backpacker hub of choice among other nationalities and as a result Nuweiba has fallen into decline.
Many of the guest houses, shops and restaurants are now closed and one can even walk through the main thoroughfare without speaking to a single tout.
Today, Tarrabin has something of a ghost town feel to it. A welcome point of difference in a country with predominantly developed resorts.
For the traveller in search of a sandy beach, cheap basic beach huts and a romantic and tranquil ambience, you could do a lot worse than spend a few days in Tarrabin.
The land here is split between two tribes and Nuweiba itself is cut in half by this territory, resulting in a distinctly different atmosphere.
Nuweiba Port is part of the Mzeina Bedouin tribe (the territory extends to Sharm el Sheikh). Nuweiba Medina, Tarrabin (beach), and the stretch of coastline up to Taba (including Ras Al Shatan), is Tarrabin territory. Nuweiba Port
Recognisable by the Pyramid-shaped immigration building, here regular ferries depart for Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The area itself is not known for its beauty, but the port entrance makes for an interesting half-hour wander in the evening, when the ‘souk’ is set up down the centre of the road, selling clothes, shoes, fruit and vegetables and the men come out to sit in the many cafes with large-screen televisions blasting out Egyptian TV channels.
There are a few shops selling practical goods and mobile phone/internet shops. At the roundabout in the centre of the port you will usually find a small barrow selling baked sweet potatoes for 1 or 2 le;- The Bedouin settlement includes shops for plumbers, joiners and craftsmen and as you travel north along the coast you can find the large 5* hotels such as the Hilton Nuweiba.
Nuweiba Medina (city)
On the road from the port to the Medina you will pass some smaller camps which are worth checking out, including the organic farm, Habiba and some restaurants and a great bazaar. A ten-minute taxi drive from the port will bring you to the Medina, which although it has seen better days, still contains a couple of decent local restaurants, cafes and shops. See the food and shopping pages for more information.
Once the hub of tourism here, now Tarrabin is predominantly empty, although the Bedouin who own the land are always trying to develop and encourage tourists to stop here for more than one night on their way through to Israel and Jordan. The Southern end features sand dunes and a paved walkway brings you along the beach front to the camps which are still functioning, as well as a diving centre at the Northern end at Nakhil Inn.
Ras al-Shatan to Bir Sweer
The main area of camps extends up the coast from Tarrabin to the area called Bir Sweer, about 35 kms from Taba. The most famous of these is Ras Al-Shatan, where there is a string of camps once favoured by Israeli visitors but now welcoming people from all over the world. Great snorkeling and a chilled atmosphere.
Excursions around Nuweiba
Around Nuweiba there is plenty to keep the traveller occupied and touts in Nuweiba or at the hotels will be only too happy to arrange the logistics for you.
Try snorkelling nearby at one of the many outstanding coral reefs such as Ras Al Shatan, or head out to the coloured canyon for a day hiking in the desert.
The Sinai Dive centre is located at the Northern end of Tarrabin beach (in the Nakhil Inn) and can organise trips and courses accordingly. The Israeli border is just an hour or so away by car so day trips to Eilat and even Jerusalem are possible. With daily ferries to Jordan departing from the port, Petra is also a plausible excursion from Nuweiba.