El Gouna is a magnet for tourists. Marc Ryckaert

Formerly deserted land by the sea located north of Hurghada, El Gouna not only hosts various hotels, it has many town-like features such a hospital, residential areas and schools. El Gouna’s architecture is quite unique, combining both modern and traditional oriental designs to bungalow-styled honeymoon suites by the lagoon. Most areas have an exquisite sea or lagoon view.

Even though it is a prominent touristic area that welcomes people from all over the world, it is home to me. The beautiful sea, endless sunshine, dynamic nightlife and fine dining are the reasons that make tourists return for their every vacation, or even decide to reside there. My favourite beach is Mangroovy, now an internationally known place for kite surfing due to the nature of its open sea and shallow water. It is a splendid place to chill and watch the sea and sky filled with coloured kites. Swimming is best after walking 200 metres in shallow water; it gradually gets deeper until your feet can no longer touch the sand beneath you.

The opportunities to explore the Red Sea’s beautiful landscape and engage in fun excursions are endless. Excursions could be categorised: firstly, soft water activities like snorkelling, canoeing, paddling or going on a crazy banana boat ride; secondly, there are the more challenging (yet still fun) water activities for first timers that include diving, kite surfing, wake-boarding, sailing, skiing and parasailing; thirdly, land activities include beach volleyball, tennis, go-karts, paintball games, golf and horse (and camel) back rides. And last, but not least, an excursion to the heart of the desert by quads, where visitors are welcomed by local Bedouins and hosted with an oriental barbeque dinner by the bonfire.

Islands excursions that are planned by hotels in El Gouna should not fall short of a must-do list. Surrounded by the beautiful clear sea, colourful corals and sea creatures, these islands could definitely be described as heaven. For example, Tawila Island is an empty island known for its crystal clear water. It is suitable for a more laid-back excursion. Usually boats park in the middle of the sea yet near to the island, where it is shallow enough to walk, swim or snorkel to the island shore.

Al Maymeya Island is the place to go for a lively and fun, yet authentic excursion. It contains a restaurant, bar, snorkelling service and bohemian-style tree-shades. It is definitely a place for families, couples and groups. It’s a lovely beach and the shallow water near the shore is suitable for snorkelling, especially for children. It is very likely that one could see dolphins on the way back from both islands.

El Gouna is home to a variety of international cuisines ranging from European to Asian that cater well to individual’s particular taste. Oriental cuisine ranges from the Egyptian El Tableya restaurant located in Dawar el Omda to the Moroccan restaurant Mamounia, located in Abu Tig Marina. El Sayadin restaurant in Movenpick hotel and Offshore restaurant are also noteworthy, and both specialise in seafood. For those who love Asian dining, Vietnamese restaurant Saigon and Indian restaurant Tandoor, both located in Abu Tig marina, are known for their delicious dishes. For a more contemporary cuisine, Orient restaurant and café bar, located in downtown El Gouna, has been getting positive reviews for its tasty food and great service. Also, it’s recommended by people for breakfast and in the evening. A particularly favourite place for me for breakfast/ coffee is the Seventh Star café/ restaurant in Abu Tig Marina; the view of boats coming in and out is spectacular. Also, their breakfast menu offers a variety of choices including freshly baked pastries.

As for the nightlife, there is always something going on, A beach party by bonfire at Mangroovy, late loud parties at Loca Loca in Abu Tig Marina, cocktails by the beach at Moods, Marina, Karaoke at Peanut’s Bar (both also in Abu Tig Marina) and Oriental shows in El Gouna’s Oasis.

Overall, this beautiful town, with its combination of Oriental and modern architecture, beautiful clear sea, endless excursions and sunshine should definitely be your next vacation destination.

Shaden Kamel