Bali is known as a paradise for travelers looking to enjoy laid-back island life. For decades, tourists, surfers, digital nomads, and backpackers alike have flocked to the Indonesian island.
But the long-time favorite has some competition from an unlikely newcomer.
Along the untouched coastline of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula lies a sleepy town that most travelers wouldn’t suspect to be a trendy hotspot. But make no mistake – Dahab, Egypt is an up-and-coming bohemian beach destination on track to become the next Bali.
When you think of Egypt, images of ancient pyramids and bustling markets probably come to mind – not blue waters and sandy beaches. But this fantastic North African country is home to a wide variety of wonderful beaches.
From the big-name Red Sea resort towns of Sharm El-Sheikh and El Gouna to the protected reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park and Wadi el-Gemal, there’s a beach for every kind of traveler in Egypt.
Dahab ticks all the boxes for a Bali-esque hotspot. Sunny beaches, surf, adventure sports, affordability, vibrant culture, and laid-back vibes… the list goes on. But Dahab also has that alternative X-Factor; a charm impossible to quantify, but crystal clear to see after just one visit.
Travelers looking for what Bali used to be 20 years ago should look no further. Dahab is the new “it” spot.
Sleepy Beaches And Dazzling Diving
Netflix’s new documentary ‘The Deepest Breath’ has generated plenty of buzz about the Blue Hole near Dahab in the Red Sea. It’s true that this unique 100-meter deep underwater pit is a bucket list item for experienced divers, but there’s so much more to Dahab’s beaches than the Blue Hole.
Less risky and equally dazzling diving spots like The Lighthouse, Eel Garden, and The Canyon (where you can night dive underwater caves during a full moon!) are worthy of sharing the spotlight. With over twenty centers and countless dive sites for everyone from beginners to experts, it’s safe to say Dahab is a diver’s paradise.
For adventure lovers, Canyon Beach offers more than just underwater cave diving. Its colorful mountains and clear waters are great for a simple swim. Meanwhile, Lagoona Beach is the spot for a relaxing beach day or a walk along the sand.
No matter what kind of beach you’re after, Dahab’s sea sites promise the dazzle of natural beauty without big crowds.
While some travelers head to Bali to catch big waves, others flock to Dahab for world-class kitesurfing and windsurfing. Dahab is home to over a dozen kitesurfing and windsurfing schools that are especially popular with international travelers.
In fact, tourists come from all over the world specifically to kitesurf here in Dahab’s ideal conditions. With high winds 280 days of the year and calm lagoons safe for teaching beginners, Dahab is the perfect spot for these adventurous water sports.
For those who prefer to keep their adventures on land, amazing hiking is only an hour or two away in Nuweiba and St. Catherine.
Welcoming And Vibrant Culture
Egyptians are some of the most welcoming people on the planet, and Dahab is no exception to that fact. The local culture is foreigner-friendly, eco-friendly, and animal-friendly.
The pace of life in Dahab is slower and more relaxed compared to bustling Egyptian destinations like Cairo. (Bali’s infamous motorbike traffic jams are nowhere to be found in Dahab.) But chill definitely doesn’t mean boring in Dahab.
The international community here is small but active and intermingles with locals. Most of the social scene happens along the beach promenade. Artisan markets, open mic nights, and bustling restaurants offer plenty of opportunities to make connections with all types of people.
Nowhere is the international melting pot of cultures in Dahab more evident than the unbelievable variety of international food for such a small town. From German bakeries and Italian eateries to Lebanese dives and Egyptian slow-cooking joints, Dahab’s gastronomy is a microcosm of the global community.
Something about the mix of bohemian travelers, laid-back kite surfers, and hospitable Bedouin tradition sets Dahab’s unique culture apart from the rest.
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Dahab is nearly 50% lower than Bali, according to NomadList.
In fact, Dahab is one of the cheapest destinations in the world. Long-term travelers, expats, and digital nomads can easily enjoy Egyptian beach paradise for $700-$1,000 per month, with rents averaging $350-400 per month.
Tourists on short trips can budget for $30-40 per day, plus $200-300 per week for a scuba diving or kitesurfing course. Mid-range hotels will cost $10-25 per night, while luxury 5-star options offer great value at $50-90 per night. Local meals cost $2-5, and coffee will only set you back a dollar.
Growing Digital Nomad Hub
Given the town’s stunning beaches and laid-back global community, it’s no surprise that digital nomads and tourists alike are drawn to this hidden Sinai gem.
Dahab is growing in popularity with remote working travelers, in an upward trend mirroring the country-wide tourism boom breaking records this year. Dahab in particular is expected to explode as a top digital nomad destination in the near future.
This year, underdog Dahab competed with the likes of Capetown to make the cut for the top 10 most popular digital nomad cities in Africa, according to Business Insider. TechNext also named Dahab one of the top 7 emerging African cities for tech nomads this summer.
Working remotely from Dahab is extremely affordable. Coworking spaces start at $6 per day or $115 per month. Cafes are the most popular option for digital nomads in Dahab.
Wi-Fi can sometimes get spotty in such a remote area, so most digital nomads opt for $20 local SIM cards with dirt-cheap data top-ups to ensure they stay connected no matter what. Internet infrastructure is slowly but surely improving to meet demand.
Digital nomad and long-time solo female traveler Lara said about her time in Dahab: “As I spent my days working in cafes by the red sea, learning to free dive, and enjoying delicious meals with like-minded friends, I wondered why more people didn’t know about Dahab.”
The raw ingredients are all there. Bohemian vibes, global community, affordability, sun and surf, growing digital nomad hub, and an elusive charm.
With a little time, the sleepy Egyptian beach town of Dahab is definitely on track to become the next Bali.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com