Sharm El-Sheikh, Hughada, Dubai, Eilat? Nah. When I think about the best beaches in the Middle East, none of these resort towns come to mind. How come? They’re quite popular with European & Russian travelers! Perhaps too much so…to the point of being spoiled. I don’t know about you, but a transformed Western mecca, full of chain hotels isn’t my favorite type of R&R holiday. For this reason, I have decided to share my favorite off the radar beaches in the Middle East and North Africa.
Best Off the Radar Beaches in Egypt: Nuweiba, Marsa Alam
Great news: You can still partake of all the great attractions the Sinai has to offer, including diving in the Red Sea and climbing Mount Moses, while avoiding over-developed Sharm El-Sheikh. In addition to Dahab & Ras Shitan, one of my favorite places to visit on school holidays in Egypt was Nuweiba. Aside from a couple of rooms offered at Nakhil Inn & Swisscare Resort, accommodation is nothing more than bare-bone huts in a camp — and it is absolutely amazing. I’ve never felt so relaxed, so close to nature in my life. You are not only steps away from the Red Sea, but you’re also deep within the desert (and only 2.5 Hours away from Sharm airport!). For the more active traveler, snorkeling, ATV drives & Bedouin oasis tours (i.e. Ain Khudra) are available — and at great prices.
Hard-core diver? Marsa Alam is a fine alternative. Even though it is quite popular within the community, divers have worked hard to preserve the area and fight against over-development. This town, however, is located 237 km east of Luxor (as of, not in the Sinai Peninsula).
Best Off the Radar Beaches in Morocco: Essaouira, Dakhla
I have mentioned them before — and I’ll mention them again. While Essaouira’s tourism is picking up speed (and fast), it still remains a relaxing, authentic beach holiday in Morocco. There are several areas you can stay at, the best being Mouley Bouzertoune, Cape Sim, Sidi Kaouki, and Essaouira Bay. Most are excellent for either surfing and/or windsurfing if that’s your cup of tea.
For a truly off-beaten-path experience though, I recommend the Dakhla lagoon. This is hands down, my favorite beach in North Africa. Already well-known for its excellent windsurfing, it is a place you go to truly get away from it all. Despite its distance and location in a disputed area, there are regular long-haul buses & other shared transport departing from tourist hot spots such as Casablanca and Marrakesh. Dakhla also has a public airport, served by the Royal Air Maroc airline.
Best Off the Radar Beaches in the Gulf: Musandam, Khor al-Adaid
Let’s be honest here: Many travelers don’t know a lick about most Gulf countries. UAE gets all the credit, doesn’t it? Unfairly so! Oman and Qatar, for instance, are great contenders for off the radar beaches in the Middle East. Don’t believe me? Do me a favor and research the Musandam Peninsula beaches, Fuwairit Beach, and Khor al-Adaid reserve (a lake known as “inland sea”). Just a quick Google image search will do. After you pick up your jaw from the floor, you’ll understand what I mean. Better yet? A drive from Dubai, all the way to Oman takes less than 2 hours!
Have you been to any of these off the radar beaches in North Africa and the Middle East? What was your experience?