Until recently a minuscule Bedouin fishing village and located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula next to the beautiful Gulf of Aqaba, adventurous travelers seeking a tranquil seaside paradise have found Dahab to live up to the meaning of its name ("gold") with the golden sands of the Sinai Desert and majestic peaks of Mount Catherine to the west, the golden beaches at the southern edge of the city and the gold sky immediately after the sunset every evening. While summer days in Dahab can get very hot with average summer temperatures reaching 95.6° Fahrenheit (35° Celsius), winter days are mild, allowing the beaches and the sea to be enjoyed throughout the year.
There are many stories concerning the origin of the town's name, ranging from the golden color Masbat Bay turns after rare heavy rains in the mountains cause a deluge that splits the city into two to gold nuggets that may have been found where Dahab now stands. However, the Bedouin have what is perhaps one of the most interesting stories concerning the origin of the town's name, stating that it was originally called "waqaat thahaab" (literal English translation: "Time Goes") as the area has such a relaxing atmosphere it can become difficult to keep track of the passage of days. According to this tale, the shortened name of the area, "Thahaab", was chronically misheard by travelers as Dahab, leading to the name of the town. Many tourists that visit Dahab can attest to the weight of the Bedouin tale of how Dahab got its name, often returning again and again to this seaside desert gem or even staying in the town for several years. With Dahab being far removed from the fast pace of the cities, there is a relaxed atmosphere coupled with friendly, easygoing Bedouin hospitality. As such, this is a prime destination for those who want to enjoy the natural wonders of Egypt and relax on gorgeous beaches any time of the year while escaping hectic city life.
One of the most popular activities in Dahab is various forms of diving, from snorkeling and SCUBA diving to freediving with over ten diving spots in the area including Gabr El Bint and Three Pools. The most infamous of these diving spots, the Blue Hole, holds the nickname of "The World's Most Dangerous Diving Site" as many experienced divers have lost their lives in their attempts to dive down to an arch tunnel that leads to open water approximately 190 feet (58 meters) below the surface. However, recreational divers can safely dive in the Blue Hole as long as they do not descend beyond 131 feet (40 meters). With winds blowing through Dahab for more than two thirds of the year, windsurfing and kite surfing are popular activities in Masbat Bay as well as spots such as the Laguna at Ras Abu Galoum.
Experienced wind and kite surfers will enjoy the challenge of stronger winds and rougher waves farther out from the Laguna. For an unforgettable deep desert excursion, hire a Bedouin guide to experience their culture as well as enjoy the beauty of the desert. These tours can be conducted by riding on a camel, on quad bikes, or in a vehicle. Other popular tours include trips to the St. Catherine monastery, Mount Sinai, and the oasis of Ein Khudra. While impractical to do during the summer months due to the heat, the nearby wadis offer excellent rock climbing opportunities for all experience levels. Handmade Bedouin crafts and silver jewelry make for beautiful souvenirs of time spent in Dahab. As the golden tones of the post-sunset sky begin to change to night, there are a multitude of restaurants offering delicious Bedouin, European, Indian, and Egyptian fares at reasonable prices along the the seafront as well as further inland. Night life in Dahab is vibrant, with a party held at various bars nearly every night where visitors can partake in beer and cocktails before dancing the night away to a wide variety of music. There are also several juice bars that offer freshly made fruit juices for travelers who prefer not to imbibe alcohol.
After the parties have ended, there are few things more welcome to a weary traveler than a comfortable place to rest. There are over 60 hotels in Dahab to choose from with affordable rates and clean, comfortable rooms, ranging from traditional Bedouin camps to luxurious hotels in Dahab rooms with a relaxed contemporary feel. In addition to on-site restaurants and bars at many of camps and hotels in Dahab, particularly those with higher nightly rates, several hotels in Dahab offer arrangement of safari tours and diving activities by their friendly and helpful staff.
It is worth noting that not all of the less expensive camps and hotels have air conditioning or private bathrooms in the rooms, so travelers requiring such commodities should ensure that the hotel or camp they choose provides such in all rooms before booking. Many of the town's hotels have English-speaking staff to accommodate guests who do not speak Arabic and provide easy beach access, either to public beaches or private beaches owned by the respective hotel, in addition to rooms offering a view of the Gulf of Aqaba. A few hotels have their own diving centers and offer yoga classes to guests staying at their establishment in response to the increasing popularity of various types of yoga in Dahab. There are few places in the world with scenery quite like Dahab's majestic mountains, beautiful desert, gorgeous sandy beaches and breathtakingly stunning coral reefs lying below the surface of the sea. It can take several hours to get to or from Dahab from the Cairo or Sharm El Sheikh airports but is generally inexpensive and worth making the trek to this beautiful and charming town. With friendly locals, a calm, laid-back atmosphere and stunning location, travelers visiting Dahab for the first time may very well find that their time in this lovely town passes far too quickly for their liking and will look forward to when they can make their next visit.