Taba, in the eastern Sinai peninsula of Egypt, marks
the location of the southern border crossing between
Egypt and Israel, servicing travelers coming into
Egypt and the Sinai via Eilat. The town has grown up
around the border crossing and offers basic
amenities for travelers - these will no doubt be
greatly enhanced when a new "Taba Heights"
development gathers pace. Taba is a relatively minor
centre for Red Sea diving.
Taba was on the Egyptian side of the armistice line
agreed to in 1949, and returned to Egypt when Israel
withdrew from the Sinai in 1957. However, when Egypt
and Israel were negotiating the exact position of
the border in preparation for the peace treaty,
Israel claimed that Taba had been on the Ottoman
side of a border agreed between the Ottomans and
British Egypt in 1906 and had therefore been in
error in its two previous agreements.
Overview on Taba
After a long dispute, the issue was
submitted to an international commission composed of
one Israeli, one Egyptian, and three outsiders. In
1988, the commission ruled in Egypt's favor and
Israel returned Taba to Egypt later that year.
As part of this subsequent agreement, Israeli
travelers are permitted to visit Taba visa-free for
up to 48 hours, making Taba a popular tourist
Attractions and Excursions in Taba
Pharaoh's Island : One of Taba's main attractions,
Pharaoh's Island, is simply breathtaking. The small
island, surrounded by outstanding blue and turquoise
waters of the Red Sea, was once a Phoenician port,
later occupied by Crusaders and then taken under
control by Sultan Salah El Din. The island and the
castle remain intact. The reef around the island is
popular with snorkellers and divers alike.
Pharaoh's Island, also called Coral Island or
Geziret Faroun, lies eight kilometers south of Taba
and 250 meters off the coast.
Taba Pharaohs Island
The Phoenicians were the first to make use of this
island's fine natural harbor during the 10th century
BC to foster trade with Egypt. Much later the small
rocky island came under Byzantine control.
Early in the 12th century the Crusaders built a
fortress there to protect pilgrims traveling between
Jerusalem and the Monastery of St Katherine and to
harass Arab trade. Sultan Salah El Din (Saladin)
evicted the Crusaders from the island and
significantly strengthened the fortress later in the
12th century. The Mamelukes and Ottomans probably
further fortified it when they became the dominant
force of the region.
Today you can follow in the footsteps of the
legendary Lawrence of Arabia and explore the fully
renovated fortress of medieval character with its
towers, arched doorways, sleeping quarters, baths
Mount Sinai, just south of the Monastery of St
Katherine, is of great religious importance to Jews,
Christians and Muslims. According to the Old
Testament this is where Moses received the Ten
Throughout the centuries the
mountain has drawn thousands of pilgrims from all
over the world. You can ascend to the summit (2285
m, 7497 ft) to experience the ultimate spiritual
high; either by climbing some 4000 steps built by
monks or by following an easier but longer path.
Both lead to an open area known as Elija's Basin
where you walk up the remaining 750 steps to the
At the summit you will find the
Chapel of the Holy Trinity that was built in 1934 on
the site of a much earlier chapel built in 363 AD.
The climb takes about three hours but the view from
the top is truly breathtaking, especially at
The Monastery of St. Katherine lies at the foot of
Gebel Musa, or Mount Moses, in the heart of the
South Sinai. In 330 AD the mother of Emperor
Constantine, Empress Helena, ordered the
construction of a small church by Moses' Burning
Bush. It was called the Church of the
Transfiguration. The fortified monastery we see
today was built around this church during the reign
of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD).
In the 11th century the monastery was dedicated to
St. Katherine of Alexandria, who had died in 310 AD.
Her remains, reportedly found by monks on a mountain
peak next to Mt Sinai, are buried in the monastery's
Fronted by gardens and cypress trees, the monastery
is owned and run by the Greek Orthodox Church. Its
rich library houses the world's second largest
collection of illuminated manuscripts after the
Vatican. You can see the Burning Bush and a large
number of antique works of art: invaluable icons,
beautifully carved doors, exquisite wall paintings
and other fine religious ornaments.
The Museum at St Katherine Monastery
In February 2002, within the monastery's towering
walls, one of the world's finest and most unique
collections of Christian artifacts has been made
more accessible to the public. A small yet
extraordinary nine-room museum, referred to as "The
Sacred Sacristy", was opened to display masterpieces
of the highest artistic value.
Among the tastefully displayed exhibits are
exquisite 6th century Byzantine icons, delicate 9th
century manuscripts written in Syriac, rare Slavonic
prayer books, including splendid objects of silver,
gold, ivory and precious stones. Perhaps the most
valued items on exhibit, presented in a special
glass case, are pages from the Codex Sinaiticus, a
4th century version of the Bible that now rests in
the British Museum.
Now you can see the Monastery's coveted collection,
while listening to gentle Byzantine hymns in an
atmosphere of splendor and reverence. The museum is
open from 9 to 12 am everyday except on Fridays,
Sundays and religious holidays.
One of the jewels on Sinai, Ein Kid is a palm-filled
oasis at the end of a pastel colored path. Promising
shade and tranquility for every visitor, Ein Kid is
the perfect remedy for the stress of urban life.
The walk from Wadi Kid to Ein Kid is stunning as you
spot the water flowing down from the oasis. The path
is flanked by awesome granite boulders hovering, as
you ascend into the oasis. You will feel so small in
the shadows of these stupendous creations.
When you set your eyes on the oasis, you will be
amazed by the contrast of colors created by the
desert landscape and the lush trees. Complete with
date palms, acacias, and fruit bearing trees, Ein
Kid is the ultimate place for an afternoon picnic
and a hike. You can organize a day trip or camping
trip from Sharm el Sheikh or Dahab.
The Blue Desert
The most amazing thing about the Blue Desert isn't
the blue paint on the rocks, it is the wadi itself -
against the backdrop of the legendary blue Sinai
sky. Massive granite sculptures and golden boulders
cover the desert floor along with beautiful pink
flowers dotting the plains. The Blue Desert is a
great place for climbing, taking pictures or just
getting away from it all.
In 1980, Belgian artist Jean Verame came to the
Sinai to paint a line of peace. With the permission
of Anwar Sadat and a grant of ten tons of paint from
the UN, the artist managed to paint four miles of
the Sinai. One year later, a stretch between Dahab
and St Katherine was blue; hence, the name the Blue
Located between Dahab and St Katherine, you can
easily see this site in one day. However, it is a
great place for camping.
Taba Blue Desert
One of the natural wonders of Sinai, the Colored
Canyon is awe-inspiring. Take a walk in between
dramatic sandstone canyon walls streaked with
melting yellows, purples, reds, magentas and gold.
In certain places the canyon walls reach up to 40
meters. You feel as if you are enclosed in a
spectacular coloring book.
Formed by the natural elements over centuries, the
walls of Colored Canyon cascade with colors as a
result of ferrous oxide and manganese. Consequently,
a natural maze has been formed that is excellent for
exploring and taking photographs. A haven of
tranquility, Colored Canyon promises its visitors
peaceful moments and silence.
To ensure your safety, in some areas of the Colored
Canyon you will need to be reasonably fit to
investigate. Day trips to the Colored Canyon can be
arranged from Dahab, Nuweiba, or Taba.
Abu Galum Protected Area
Abu Galum Protected Area, along the Gulf of Aqaba
between Dahab and Nuweiba, is a 500 km2 natural
wonderland. Shell speckled gravel beaches run
parallel most of the way to the splendid coral reefs
below, unless rudely interrupted by plunging
mountainsides. Close examination of the beaches will
expose masses of Nerita splendens, a tiny snail
whose decorative shell blends seamlessly into the
Inland into the park, deep wadis interlace with
massive granite mountains that are intermittently
cut by dark dolerite dykes. Out of a total 167
species recently recorded in this environmentally
unique region, as many as 44 plant species are
endemic. Mammals seem to like this plant diversity.
Nubian ibex, hyrax, red fox and striped hyena thrive
here, as well as a variety of lizards and snakes,
including the black cobra, the horned viper and
Burton's carpet viper.
Tucked away between yellowish sandstone cliffs not
far from the road linking St Katherine with Nuweiba
and Dahab is one of Sinai's most scenic oases. Its
Arabic name Ein Khadra (Green Oasis) perfectly
describes this attractive locale where gushing fresh
water springs nourish date palm gardens in the
seemingly barren desert.
When approaching from the south you'll be greeted by
a splendid panorama view of the small oasis glaring
brilliantly in the distance below. If you enjoy
observing dramatic geological landscape, a walk
through the White Canyon that flows into Ein Khadra
from the southeast is surely worth the effort.
More than just a pretty spot, Ein Khadra is also
historically significant. It acted as an important
stopover for pilgrims traveling the St
Katherine-Jerusalem route. Ancient writings and
drawings on the nearby Rock of Inscriptions testify
that Nabateans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and
Christians of the Crusader period passed through
here. Have your camera ready!
Although not as dramatic as Sharm el Sheikh's walls
or Marsa Alam's offshore reefs, the Taba coast
offers some very rare marine life in an uncrowded
environment. Typical to the area, for example, is a
rare species of frogfish, and many species of
seahorses, hardly found anywhere else in the Red
Sea, making a diving holiday in Taba a unique one.
Most of the dive sites in Taba are situated along
the Red Sea coast, in the fringing reefs which adorn
the Taba shoreline. They are mainly reachable by
boat, but some have shore access from the hotel, and
others and can be reached by car or jeep. Local dive
boats leave every day for day or half-day diving
excursions. The Taba dive sites are, in general,
also easily accessible to snorkellers.
The Taba marine area is protected, as many other
areas in Egypt, and diving centers here operate
under environmental-friendly procedures. This year,
a group of local investors have sponsored a mooring
buoy project for the diving boats in the region,
installing a total of 16 buoys in the most
frequently visited dive sites
Taba Diving Services
Most resorts in Taba have reliable and
well-organized diving centers, which offer all sorts
of scuba diving services, from entry-level courses
to professional courses, introductory dives and
diving packages, with one, two or more dives per
day, for those who are certified. Some diving
centers are also geared up to cater to technical
divers. The area seems to be ideal to try out or
practice with rebreathers.
For the non-licensed diving enthusiasts, most
centers offer free of charge pool intro's, where
visitors can experience the thrill of scuba diving
on a one-to-one basis with a diving instructor in
the hotel's swimming pool. The Taba diving centers
also offer experience programs, where the visitor
can try actual dives in the sea straight away, under
the strict supervision of a diving professional.
Taba, with its generally calm weather conditions and
lack of currents, is an ideal location of the Red
Sea Riviera to learn to dive, and most diving
centers offer the full range of beginners' courses.
Even kids from 8 years on can enroll in
children-dedicated scuba diving activities, such as
the popular bubble-maker course, where kids learn to
be familiar with water and scuba diving and have fun
swimming around in a confined water area.
Taba Diving Sites
Hotels in Taba
Hilton Taba Resort
Tel: 069-353-0140 / 47
Hyatt Regency Taba Heights
Taba Heights Marriott Beach Resort
Sonesta Beach Resort Taba
Radisson SAS Taba