Many will tell you that Egypt's where femininity comes to die, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong – for a country famed for its historically strong, beautiful women, Egypt has a lousy way of showing it. But it’s also home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and diving and snorkeling sites, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy them in your itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polkadot bikini. Bearing in mind that everything in Egypt costs money, including freedom of dress, and with hefty hotel rates and exorbitant rents comes the freedom to wear whatever you damn please. Here are 9 scenic spots in Egypt that make for serious Instagram candy and where you won’t stick out like a sore thumb wearing a bikini.
SAHEL (NORTH COAST)via LoveByN
Sahel is the epicenter of summer life in Egypt. It’s where the big beach parties and the country’s biggest club franchises set up shop for the summer, and where the cool kids like to get their pictures taken. It’s basically the nation’s summerwear runway. But it’s also where most middle and upper middle class Egyptian families spend the weekends in the summer, so there’s certainly something for everyone in Sahel. This also reflects on the beachwear women will sport at the many beaches scattered along the coast, so breaking in your brand new skimpy bikini in Sahel won’t be an issue. If you like your plunge bikini, but not the attention it brings to your…euh…eyes, make sure your hotel has a private pool or opt for a vacation rental in a fancy gated compound, like Marassi, Tellal, Amawaj, Diplo, or Almaza Bay.
AIN SOKHNAvia Flying Carpet Tours Egypt
Ain Sokhna (commonly known as Sokhna) is kind of the opposite of Sahel in that people who vacation at the Red Sea gem don’t quite take as many selfies. Like Sahel, however, the coastal town attracts all types of people – from the uber-conservative to borderline nudists, but it’s all about location, location, location. Sokhna is a bit trickier, though, because it’s less about the compound/hotel and more about the community. Some of the best gated communities there, where no one will leer at you or look at you judgingly, are La Vista, Tulip, and Stella di Mare. You can also hit Clique Beach Club if you’re only in town for a day.
MARSA ALAMvia Giorgio Galeotti
Marsa Alam holds one of the Middle East, North Africa, and the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful beaches: Sharm El Luli, a pristine paradise where the water runs crystal clear and marine life comes in all shapes and colors. The town’s indigenous Bedouins are hospitable, gracious, and, most importantly, couldn’t care less what you’re wearing. If you’re looking for something less commercial than Sahel, Sokhna, and Gouna, look no further than Marsa Alam. The city offers all the perks of a basic beach getaway minus the crowded shores (so you won’t be bumping into any frenemies), and with the added benefit of an unrivaled underwater entertainment experience. All in all, Marsa Alam is bikini-safe, even its public beaches (like Sahrm El Luli and Abu Dahab). Some go-to camps to stay at are Marsa Nakari and Marsa Shagara, both equipped with bikini-friendly beaches.
MARSA MATROUHvia Ahmed Fares
Marsa Matrouh is another legendary beach getaway. It's a little past its prime in terms of domestic summer travel trends and the social scene there is not exactly Sahel material, but it holds historical significance – it’s home to Rommel’s Cave Museum and Cleopatra’s Beach, where legend has it the Queen of the Nile actually once took a dip! But your bikini will be met with damning eyes everywhere you go bar for the Belle Vue Beau Site Hotel's private beach, and certain parts of the legendary Ageeba beach.
via El Gouna Real Estate
Everybody walks around naked in Gouna.
via Olivia Heredia
Like Marsa Alam, this diver’s paradise rolls out the red carpet and welcomes everyone with arms wide open. Underneath its sapphire blues lie some of the world’s most wondrous coral reefs and colorful marine life. One of the world’s best diving spots, Dahab’s beaches are mostly public, inclusive, and open to all with no entry fee. Beachgoers there come from all social strata and cultural backgrounds, so you may very well find Salafis sitting across the table from enamored (thus unmarried), exhibitionist couples!
Nuweibaa is a hippie commune, consisting of camps scattered along the coast, which are your only way to secure access to the beach. Most camps are concentrated in one strip of land for a reason – don’t use the beaches you see on the road as they are often unpatrolled and the water might not be safe to swim in. Other than that, your stay should go without a hitch! These camp communities are often relaxed and laid back, and their beaches are not very crowded and mostly frequented by veritable hippies, pacifist anarchists, and escapists from all across the world.
ALEXANDRIAvia Saoud Elghannam
Alexandria is one of Egypt’s longest standing beach getaways; it has consistently been one of the country’s favorite summer spots for the past 5 decades. But like Egypt, Alexandria too has had its fair share of sociocultural shifts, and they have taken their toll on the Pearl of the Mediterranean’s beaches. Beaches in Alexandria used to be open to the public and frequented by visitors of all sorts, but as Egyptian women became more conservative with their dress, beachwear too has grown more demure. Beach culture in Alexandria can now only be described as a sartorial landmine, so we highly advise against wearing your skimpy bikini to a public beach. Instead, look for a nice hotel with a private beach – the Sheraton Montazah is a wonderful and affordable option for a weekend.
RAS SUDRvia Igor Larkov
Ras Sudr also runs the full gamut of beach cultures, from burkinis and halal beers to bikinis and beyond. A convenient 3-hour drive from Cairo, Ras Sudr stands out as the Sinai Peninsula’s most accessible weekend beach getaway for Cairenes, so yes, it might be crowded, but the more the merrier, right? The town is famed for its relatively shallow, still waters and blowing winds, making it the ideal place to enjoy activities like kiteboarding and windsurfing. Ras Sudr’s most bikini-friendly places are Matarma Bay Hotel and La Hacienda, which is a gated compound, so you can either stay in a vacation rental or book a room at their hotel.