7 Red Sea Islands in Egypt Perfect For a Day Boat Trip
Updated: Jan 22
We’ve said over and over how underrated Egypt’s spectacular beaches are, and even then we were talking about our coastal beaches. One of Egypt’s best-kept secrets is actually its Red Sea islands, and we’re almost hesitant to talk about them, that’s how pristine and under the radar they are!
Egypt actually has 521 islands off the Red Sea coast, of varying size and location. Most are uninhabited and just specks on the map, but we’re here to shed light on the perfect islands to visit for a day trip of sun, fun, swimming, snorkeling and other beach activities. These islands are usually just an hour or so off the coast, and boat trips are readily available. The boats usually leave the marina in the morning and return before sunset, and it’s a great way to spend the day if you’re in the Red Sea area.
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These two islands are Giftun El Kabeer (Big Giftun) and Giftun el Sagheer (Little Giftun), but Big Giftun is the one where the real action is at because it’s home to beach havens Mahmya and Orange Bay. These daytime destinations offer beach restaurants, bars and water activities as well as bathrooms and showers for those who’ve spent a long day diving or snorkeling and want to kick back and relax.
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Location: El Gouna
Located 24 km off the coast of El Gouna, Tawila Island is an uninhabited island popular with kitesurfers and those looking to spend the day on a pristine white sand beach. Tawila has zero amenities so you need to bring your own food, drinks and equipment (but please make sure to leave the beaches as pristine as you found them!). You can arrange for a boat to take you on a day trip to Tawila and back from El Gouna.
Local tip: a resort is being built on Tawila (its first ever development!) so try to visit while it's still empty.
Location: Ras Mohamed National Park
Around 10 km from Sharm el Sheikh, in the protected Ras Mohamed marine park, is a white sandbar island called (for obvious reasons) White Island. This plateau is where the waters from the Gulf of Suez meet the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, and sitting on the island you can see Africa to your left and Asia to your right. It's a great spot for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing and you can easily reach it by boat from Sharm or Ras Mohamed.
Read more: 12 Best Things to Do in Sharm El Sheikh
Location: El Gouna
Bayoud is a sandbank about 2 km from the shores of El Gouna, so while it’s not technically an island in the literal sense, it serves the exact same purpose when it comes to Red Sea day trips. Because it's so close to the Gouna shore, any small motor boat or catamaran or mini yacht can anchor in Bayoud; it's common to see people boat hopping and socializing between the anchored boats. Others who are looking to get away from it all can sit and sunbathe in the warm shallow water around the sandbank and swim in the crystal clear water. People usually bring their music, food and drinks and spend a day on and off the boat.
Read more: El Gouna - A Local's Guide
Location: Wadi El Gemal National Park
Qulaan Islands are an archipelago of four islands in a protected bay in the Wadi El Gemal National Park in Egypt’s Deep South, less than an hour away from Marsa Alam. These empty, remote islands are known for their mangrove trees and ecosystem built around the mangroves; marine life flourishes under the trees and it’s a great bird-watching spot. You can take a boat from the Hamata marina and spend a few hours picnicking, swimming and snorkeling on the islands.
Read more: 10 Best Things to Do in Marsa Alam
Location: El Gouna
Close to Tawila Island is Gubal Island, a popular snorkeling and diving spot due to the Straits of Gubal. The Straits of Gubal is where the water from the Gulf of Suez meets the Red Sea, leading to lots of nutrient-rich currents over shallow areas, which attracts tons of marine life. Besides the underwater action, Gubal also has pristine white beaches where you can set up BBQs and beach activities for the day.
Location: Northeast of El Gouna
One of the largest islands in the Red Sea, Shadwan used to be an Egyptian military base and was the target of an Israeli heliborne raid in 1970. Most buildings were demolished except the Shadwan Lighthouse, which was built in 1889, and until today the island remains empty save for divers, fishers and other Red Sea Riviera tourists.
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