Unforgettable sightseeing is an integral part of any good holiday, and nowhere has more extraordinary ancient tombs and temples to explore than fascinating Egypt. That’s why I go there at least once a year. But sometimes, all you really want on your two weeks away is sea, sand and sunshine. Ok, and a bit of fun. Thankfully, the North African country offers all that, too, not least in the ever-popular resort of Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
Now the ban on direct UK flights to the destination has been lifted, British tourists are booking ahead to soak up all the pleasures of this Red Sea destination has to offer any time of year; it’s fantastic for winter sun and just a five-hour flight away.
Sharm el-Sheikh started life as a little magnet for scuba divers bowled over the multi-coloured marine life and brilliant dive sites. While Naama Bay remains the busy bar, shop and restaurant-packed town centre, these days you’ll find many satellite resorts with individual appeal, collectively offering a range of experiences to satisfy every holidaymaker.
Hotels come in all shapes and sizes, too, from brilliant all-inclusives with their own water parks for never-ending family fun, to chic escapes for adults only and deluxe hideaways for the discerning. Expect them all to have gorgeous pools, bars and restaurants, and great service – Egyptians are very good hosts.
There will be nice extras, too, such as relaxing spas, my absolute holiday must-have – that’s a hot stone massage and a papyrus body wrap for me, please…
Sharm has a choice of upscale resorts, often with their own on-site watersports centre offering diving lessons for absolute beginners with fully qualified instructors, as well as trips out to acclaimed reefs in Ras Mohammed marine and wrecks such as Thistlegorm and Dunraven. Windsurfers head for Dahab or Nuweiba, a few miles from Sharm, where it’s very, well, windy!
There are dozens of operators offering boat trips for fishing or snorkelling, kitesurfing, parasailing, glass-bottomed boats and semi-submarines, pirates’ ship - it’s one great big play park. Off the water, land experiences include desert stargazing, day or night quad biking, dining like a Bedouin, camel riding if you really must.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a look at remote St Catherine’s Monastery, which reputedly marks the site of the Bible’s Burning Bush, followed by a yomp around Mount Sinai if you’re feeling energetic. Whatever you do, remember that whenever you want it, that lovely sun lounger by your hotel pool will be waiting for you ...