in Hurghada, Egypt.
Other things to do / Good
- Bad / Windsurfing in Egypt / Accomodations
The first thing you notice as you circle over
the sea with the plane preparing to land, is that the Red Sea
is definitively not red. Whoever came up with this idea must
have had too much red wine…. The second thing you notice is
the whitecaps, plenty of them. The deep blue, green in the shallow
areas, expanse of water is covered with these little sheep,
all running downwind, but never seemingly getting anywhere.
From above, the seas, the desert, even the tiny little people
windsurfing seem perfect.As the plane lands and taxies to the
terminal, the excitement level rises a notch, only to climb
sharply again as we step onto the tarmac and feel the sauna
like heat attack us with relentless power, driven by the wind.
As we drive to the hotel, we notice the barbed wire fences
of the airport are covered with multi colored plastic bags stuck
at different heights, another good sign. On one side, the desert,
hot, arid, unfriendly, lifeless, derelict buildings, not at
all like the scenery from the plane: no sand dunes in this area,
just hard, caked sand. Even the hills (mountains?) in the background
are just a darker shade of beige, sometimes almost black, over
backed, as if someone had left the oven on for too long. On
the other side, green, blue water (definitively not red…), palm
trees, grass, cacti, buzzing with activity, a hotel being constructed
here, another being renovated there, life, as it is almost everywhere
else. We arrive at our hotel, by this time the wind has died
down, go through all the check-in procedures and drop our luggage
in our "Bungalow" and head for the beach to find the windsurfing
center and organize our gear for the next 2 weeks, maybe even
get some sailing in, as, arriving at the beach we realize it's
still blowing quite hard, the hotel buildings were just shading
It takes us a while to orient ourselves and we finally find
Friedl Pro Center. Unfortunately it is closed (ok, in our
excitement we didn't realize that it is 19h00, local time (Egypt
is 1 hour ahead of Central European time). The area is empty,
but there are rows upon rows of boards, and pre rigged sails
everywhere, for us never having been on a windsurfing holiday,
the place is paradisiacal. Instead of sailing, we just head
out to the sea and enjoy the warm, yet refreshing, greenish
crystal water, the sun setting over the hills in the background,
igniting the sky with different hues of red and orange. The
should have called this place the Red Sky, not the red Sea…….
The surf center in the evening light
We have dinner, enjoy the activities organized by the hotel,
and finally go back to our bungalow, anxious about the coming
dawn: Will it prove to fulfill the promises of the day just
A not so early rise (why not, we're on vacation….) promised
a great day as at around 9h00 the wind was already blowing quite
hard. We had breakfast, not hurrying thinking that thermal winds
usually get stronger in the afternoon when the temperature is
at its maximum, we headed of the surf station and organized
everything that needed to be organised and finally got our boards
and sails and hopped on the water. The wind had died down, but
was still quite good (5.2m). I started off going not so far
just to check things out, scope the area around, make sure my
sail is not too big etc… after a few minutes, I realized that
the wind seemed to be calming down and very gusty, it was hard
to keep a plane all the way back to the beach on the last straight
and I got back to wait around for the wind to pick up again.
As it turned out, the wind didn't pick up again that day, despite
the promises of the people working there. At around 17h00 the
wind did come back to a decent force, but was very irregular
and it didn't last very long.
So it turns out that in Hurghada, the wind is stronger in the
morning where it is side-offshore, and then turns around 11h00
to become side-onshore and lessens down a bit, with a bit of
a revival around 17h00. We spent 14 days, of which only 2 were
really good (4.1m and 4.7m) a few of them, maybe 4, were good
(5.8-6.2) and unfortunately too many of them where it would
have been good with a 7.4-8.0m sails. These sails are available
at the surf station, but I didn't bother.
things to do in the area, when the wind is not blowing:
Kitesurfing: For kitesurfing, the wind conditions were
good, from what I see they can have a lot of fun when the wind
is not strong enough for windsurfing. Many people tried it,
as the surf center gives lessons.
The bay area for kitesurfing.
|Snorkeling: The easiest available snorkeling:
right next to the beach, walk to the beginning of the deep waters
and swim for 5 meters from there on, you can swim through quite
a big number of coral reefs, if there is a bit of wind, make
sure, for your own safety, that you do not drift into the windsurfing
area. On windless days, where nobody is on the water, there
are some even more interesting reefs in the windsurfing area
of the beach. You didn't bring your equipment? For 15 Egyptian
pounds, you can rent for a whole day a mask, snorkel and fins,
the later not necessary) at the Jasmine Village (neighbouring
hotel) dive center. The snorkeling amazed me, I have never dived
outside the freezing gray waters of the lakes in Canada, and
the coloured corals, fish of every types and shapes, left me
slacked jawed, which is quite dangerous when snorkeling….I will
try to make a page of pictures of all the fish I saw and corals,
but it might take some time as I took none, and will have to
borrow from other websites. This was just the coral reefs near
the surf station, everyday, the Jasmine Dive center organises,
snorkeling and real diving trips to the outer islands, some
of which are famous, and the deeper sea itself, which has a
worldwide reputation for being one of the most amazing diving
places on earth. I have no problems believing that after having
had a beautiful glimpse of it in the bay where we were staying.
village dive center
Archaeological trips: Of course, you are in Egypt,
what else should you do on non-wind days but visit the great
sites that history has to offer: Luxor, Cairo, and Aswan.
Visit the town: Go and visit Hurghada and it's market,
the town is approximately 15 km from the surf center, or 2
Egyptian pounds if you use the minivan taxis, do not let them
charge you more than 3…..
Good and the Bad
We spent a total of 2 weeks there, staying
in the Aladdin hotel, close 200m from the surf station and
all in all, we were disappointed with our vacation, the
statistics were not in our favor (normal September shows
a 70% of force 4 winds for more than 3 hours), but there
is nothing we can do about that.
- When the wind is blowing, the area is nice and fun, the
chop gets high enough to get some good jumps on the way
out from the beach, mainly, but the way back is nice as
well. I have never been in a tropical windsurfing area,
and the blue-green waters are very attractive and fun to
sail on: the colour of the water changes from deep blue
to green to a slightly darker shade of green, to go back
to a light blue and so on.
- The surf station is well equipped, plenty of boards, and
sails, all pre rigged, a good variety of the same sizes,
so they don't run out when everybody is going with 5.0.
It is easily possible to change boards as the wind conditions
vary; they even have a few young very friendly locals to
help you carrying the sails to and from the beach (not that
the distance is very long, 25m, but the sand does get really
- When the wind is blowing, the instructors from the surf
station in the afternoon are often on the water demonstrating
a variety of freestyle moves.
- The surf station organizes some activities, in case you
get sick of the ones from your hotel: Movie nights right
on the beach on Mondays, on Saturdays there seems to always
be a voodoo party somewhere in town.
- The wind is irregular, due to the presence of other hotels
in the bay (either there or being built).
- The area for total beginners is pretty good, behind the
surf station, a little artificial lagoon, but it is very
small. The beginner's area on the sea itself is very small,
maybe 25 meters long, and for someone who is not comfortable
water starting or would like to learn, there isn't much
room for doing so, without being in the deep water where
you cannot stand, or being bothered by other people that
use the flat water area to practice free style maneuvers
- Lessons seemed expensive (but I wouldn't have anything
to compare with)
areas in Egypt:
Click on the map to view an interactive map of Egypt
|Dahab, which seems to be better for wind and
mostly more regular, with a bigger shallow area for beginner
|Moon beach: A british owned surf center
|A French sports group (UCPA) organises sometimes
some windsurfing trips on the Red sea, more in the adventure
type, you sleep in tents in the desert, and the nearest town
is 1-hour drive from the camp.
We stayed at the Aladdin
l (15km from the center of the town of
Hurghada and 5 km from the airport) only about 150 m
from the surf center. The travel agent recommended this
hotel. The room was spacious and comfortable, with air
conditioning and satellite TV. Disappointment was the
price of bottled water and the variety of the food,
we expected more local specialties.
A bit cheaper and nearer to the surf
center is the Jasmine
, sister hotel to the Aladdin.
These are the 2 closest to the surf
center, Hurghada is a resort town, so there are plenty
to choose from, but be aware that they might be quite
distant (up to 5 km) from the surf center.
While alcohol is not illegal in Egypt,
it is hard to find, and therefore expensive, especially
in the hotels. It is illegal to import alcohol in Egypt,
but a good, and legal thing to do, is to buy a few cases
of beer, or hard alcohol at the airport in the duty
free when you arrive. Make sure that you hide them in
your luggage before going to the hotel, as most hotel
specify that it is not allowed to bring in food and
Especially for women, but applicable
to men also: Egypt is a mainly muslim country (there
are about 20 million cristians) therefore it is nice
to show respect. When in the vincinity of the hotel
or surf center you can dress any way you like, but when
leaving these premises, please respect other people's
religions and wear decent clothing, women should at
least cover their shoulders and legs at least to the
knees. Men can wear anything, but a t-shirt and a pair
of pants is recommended.
If you go and visit the archeological
sites, remember that it is these people's history and
that also people will come and visit these sites for
many years to come, scratching your name on a nice statue
is a very nice sign of stupidity. When visiting tombs
and other places that have been closed to light and
normal air for thousands of years, DO NOT TAKE FLASH
PICTURES as the extra light will cause the hieroglyphs
to lose their sharpness and colour and also DO NOT
TOUCH THE WALLS, this will also cause the hieroglyphs
to fade and even crumble, these things are extremely
fragile. I know it sounds stupid to warn you now, but
despite all the warnings and the signs, during our visits
people were still touching and taking flash pictures,
it does not only get the local guards and guides mad,
it is a blatant sign or retardeness, stupidity and disrespect.
If you want pictures you may take as many non flash
ones (for a fee), or buy postcards, they are better
anyways than any picture you could take yourself.
Bargain: when buying anything (almost)
you should bargain, it is expected from you and will
definitively lower your budgeted expenses, it may take
time, but is enjoyable. Remember to bargain in a friendly
and civilised way.