Words: Fi and Toby Gibson
Pics: Fi and Toby Gibson, Julia Toms
British couple Toby and Fi moved to Dahab, Egypt, 10 years ago, having finally set up their own watersports holiday business. It’s no secret that Egypt is suffering due to its geo political situation, but how is it now on the ground at one of the world’s best freestyle/freeride spots? We caught up with Toby and Fi to see how things are in Dahab these days.
It’s been another fabulous summer in Dahab for wind and sun. The best part from a windsurfing perspective is that there was so much space on the water, as it’s very quiet. Some days only 30 windsurfers will be out blasting along Speedy and two in Baby Bay. Gone are the days where you have to look properly before you gybe – just a quick glance will now suffice!
The wind did not disappoint either. January scored higher than normal stats with 75%. The summer months averaged 77% – 87% with force 4 or above (for at least 3 hours a day). Not the usual 90% but still, we can’t complain.
Dahab is famous for its incredible wind stats and the water is like a bath in summer at up to 28 degrees, so falling in is a pleasure. Air temperature averages 38 degrees in August with low humidity – so it is not a sticky heat. The sea temperature drops to 23 degrees during the off season (Dec to Feb) and the air 20 to 25 degrees.
Whatever else is happening, conditions for windsurfing are still epic. Dahab is unique, as it is very hard to get the mixture of flat water and bump and jump in one spot. Having travelled a lot in Europe and worked in the main resorts around Greece and Turkey, we were so impressed with Dahab that we are still here!
There are many great things for the family to enjoy locally. Plus when it’s blowing 20 to 22 knots (a regular day in Dahab) the kids can be playing happily in the sand without having complimentary exfoliation! Beginners can have lessons in the more sheltered part of the lagoon, as safe as a lake, while the advanced guys are blasting along the other side of the sand spit where the wind increases in strength and consistency.
Living in Dahab has been a great experience. The atmosphere has not changed much over the years. We have been overwhelmed by the friendliness and generosity of the locals. We feel completely safe in the south Sinai and would not live here otherwise. Naturally you may think we are just saying this as we have a business. However, British guests who came in May this year have already booked again for October. Plus many families are enjoying their holidays here. Some guests who have never been to Egypt before are bringing their families.
When we first arrived here in 2006 so many people tried to help us with anything we needed, showed us around the town – the best grocery shop and butcher – offered us tea from their own mug while we were waiting for a bus and nipped into the supermarket to buy us cold drinks while we were waiting for a taxi. There wasn’t anything in it for them, just a genuine desire to help us. The Egyptians are as happy and friendly as ever. They rely on tourism, so are extremely welcoming.
European business is down – there is no denying that – but other nationalities have been arriving to keep the town going. The best thing for windsurfers is that most of these new markets don’t seem to go on the water, leaving us with the most incredible, windy and empty seas.
There is a large community of ex-pats from many different nationalities, so Dahab will never be a ghost town. The Italians, Swiss and Ukrainian’s have been flying in all summer, so these routes have been utilised by the few British guests to get their Dahab fix. The proximity to the UK and Europe, with all year round sun and wind, is a huge draw for holidaymakers. It only rains on average three times a year, so it is almost guaranteed to be sunny with blue skies too!
There is something magical about Dahab that seems to draw many people back. This is why there are so many Yoga, wellness, spiritual and healing classes available locally. There is an incredible energy, especially at sunrise / sunset, which are extremely beautiful times of the day.
A few new restaurants have opened in the local town of Masbat (3kms away). For a small population, we have a lovely choice of dining. If you have never left your hotel before you are missing out on a treat! There is a top quality Indian restaurant, many Italian restaurants (owned and run by Italians, so you are getting fantastic ingredients, freshness and service), plus Korean, Japanese, Chinese and of course many local places serving international and local food, including fish and mezzes.
New produce is arriving, which is great if you choose a self-catering holiday. There are more meats available for the BBQ and much more variety than the hotel buffets usually offer. Rum is still cheap (£3 a bottle) and most restaurants in town allow you to take in your own wine or beer, which saves a fortune.
The best way to show your support for Dahab is by booking a holiday and helping the Egyptians by spending money locally! We incorporate the generosity of local knowledge that was passed to us when we first arrived to enhance your holiday. We can organise anything you wish to do and will hopefully introduce you to new things if you have been before. If you are looking to meet new people then during May and October we offer group weeks with a larger range of social action in the evenings.
Accommodation starts at £6.50pp per night for an apartment, taxi transfers £30 each way for a car (1 hour drive), eat out from as little as £2-£8 (falafel sandwiches are 20p)! Almost all the main windsurfing centres are open, offering rental, storage and lessons.
Check out www.DahabHolidays.com for more information, plus we (Toby and Fi) are based locally to answer questions and tailor make your holiday. If you need advice on flights or have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Your holiday in Dahab is still covered insurance-wise with Campbell and Irvine. 0207 938 1734, www.campbellirvinedirect.com.
Westfield insurance – https://www.divinginsuranceuk.com/