Soma Bay: Egypt’s exclusive Red Sea holiday destination
SOMA BAY- Although it is relatively small and little known, Soma Bay is among Egypt’s most attractive Red Sea resorts, famous for its rich marine life and white, sandy beaches.
Situated on a secluded desert peninsula 45km south of Hurghada International Airport, the upscale resort with its many luxurious five-star facilities is not necessarily suitable for travellers with a limited budget but, considering the quality of services, time vacationers spend there is worth every penny.
“This is one of the best places on the Red Sea in this country,” said Bashar Abu Taleb, head of the self-styled Hurghada Tour Guides Union. “Although the resort is not very large (5 sq.km), those who come here discover they have not done or seen everything that is offered by the time they leave.”
Soma Bay allows for direct contact with all that Egypt’s nature can offer: clear blue skies and crystal-clear waters with a backdrop of desert hills, Abu Taleb said.
The place is an exemplary environment for water sports. There is scuba diving and snorkelling on some of the world’s best coral reefs and a steady offshore wind ensures excellent wind- and kite-surfing.
Undersea scenes of colourful coral reefs and a large variety of fish are a feast for the eyes, attracting diving enthusiasts from all parts of the world.
Internationally known bands have occasional concerts that add another dimension to vacationing at Soma Bay.
Apart from the beaches and the undersea wonders, Soma Bay has developed an unmatched reputation for being Egypt’s golfing centre. The 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course that cuts a velvety green swathe through the dusty landscape and Soma Bay’s golf teaching centres attract an increasing number of golfers, including professionals.
“Playing golf in such an environment has a different taste, in fact,” said Karim Ahmed, a member of the Hurghada Tour Guides Union. “The beautiful surroundings of golf courses turn golf into more than just a sport.”
While Soma Bay is a secluded spot for those wishing to relax in luxury if not on the water, Hurghada, known as a party town, is only a 30-minute drive away.
Overlooking the Red Sea and boasting some of the best beaches, Hurghada suits all budgets. It has five-star hotels and resorts and plenty of low-cost accommodations for travellers on a limited budget.
Luxurious restaurants and bars are as much available as street food in the traditional souks of the resort, which are much cheaper and a lot more authentic.
Soma Bay is also 5km from Sharm al-Naga, a secluded town overlooking the Red Sea that has been declared by Egyptian authorities as a protected zone.
The Egyptian government recently took measures to limit access to the protectorate to safeguard its exquisite marine life and nature. However, those measures do not limit the memorable times in Sharm al-Naga’s unlimited beauty.
“This is a place that really fits the term ‘virgin’,” said Ahmed Ghalab, the Ministry of the Environment official responsible for overseeing Red Sea protectorates. “Everything there bears the original mark of nature, which is why it is different from any other place you may visit on the shores of the Red Sea.”
Still, human intervention has done a lot to turn Soma Bay into a comfortable and enjoyable place.
One of Soma Bay’s biggest attractions is Les Thermes Marins des Cascades, a spectacular spa and thalassotherapy centre, where the focus is on the health properties of mineral-rich seawater and seaweed.
Soma Bay’s wonderful features kept it afloat when Egypt’s tourism sector was in recession because of a series of flight suspensions following the bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai in late 2015. The same features will be Soma Bay’s future strength as the tourism sector is expected to pick up after flight bans end.
However, things are unlikely to return to normal until the resumption of direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, something Egyptian aviation officials are to discuss with their Russian counterparts in May.
Hotel prices at Soma Bay range $80-100 a night.
With year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, Soma Bay offers vacationers an ideal Red Sea holiday.
“Those who visit the resort once often want to relive the experience, which is why there is always a flow of visitors to the bay,” said Ali Abul-Magd, an Egyptian doctor who has visited Soma Bay several times in the past few years. “When they are there, visitors find everything they need for a great vacation: nature, perfect service and fun that make Soma Bay so popular.”