EL GOUNA, EGYPT
Located 22 kilometres north of Hurghada and just 30 minutes from Hurghada Airport, El Gouna is a purpose-built private resort community complete with its own school, hospital and library. It is a great place for a good-value, hassle-free holiday with some of the best kitesurfing anywhere.
Hotels and villas have been built overlooking inland lagoons and waterways, some with direct access to the beach. There is a small area of shops known as Downtown and a number of bars and restaurants in an attractive development clustered around Abu Tig marina.
To the north of the resort, 5 minutes by tuk-tuk or resort bus, is Mangroovy beach, home to one of the largest areas of kitesurfing beaches in Egypt. This huge expanse of beach is home to three separate kitesurfing centres, each with a slightly different set-up
WHERE TO STAY
Three Corners Inn, Rhianna
Its easy to find a good value, all inclusive deal in El Gouna. Our pick was the Rhianna, Three Corners Inn. The location is great with just a short stroll downtown and a local bus service to the kite beach. There are 3 pools in the resort and countless bars to chose from. The all inclusive drinks come in plasti cups and the wine glasses at dinner are so small you need to take 2 at a time - but you can have as many as you want. The rooms are comfortable (ask for a pool view though or you'll be facing the road) and any of the hotels drawbacks are outweighed by the quality of the food which is very good. Egypt is not known for it's cuisine so don't expect gourmet but you won't be left hungry with plentiful selection at both breakfast and dinner. If you stay at the hotel all day you'll also get lunch and an afternoon snack. For kitesurfers, the bonus of staying at this hotel is that they have a beach bar and cafe where they serve all inclusive soft drinks and a bbq at lunchtime (much better than paying for all your food and drink at the beach all day). Word of warning - take a pack of cards and avoid the cheesy evening entertainment!
Another great option is the Captains Inn or Turtle Inn in the Abu Tigg marina - bed and breakfast mean you have the freedom to explore other restaurants and the location is stunning, overlooking the super yachts.
Mangrovy beach is reserved for kitesurfers and there are 4 schools dotted along it. The best in our opinion is the Kiteboarding club (known to locals as the Budda school!). It seems to have the most space to kite and if you can tack up wind past the swimming area you'll have an entire playground to yourself. Check the tides before you go because at low tide the water inside the reef is barely kite-able and will leave you sitting on a windy beach.
Storing your kit at the kite centre is super convenient and very safe - each box will fit 2 kites, a board, harness and whatever else you want to throw in - and will set you back 50 euros a week. Money well spent. The centre also offers a large roof terrace for sunbathing, a shaded cabana, bean bags, toilets, a pool table, internet (slow) and a little cafe.
Abu Tigg Marina
We'd be lying if we said you won't get sick whilst your in Egypt. You will. Take immodium. The intersting thing is that apparently you don't actually get sick from the food - it's the money that carries all the germs. Nevertheless - it's not the best food you'll eat, but it's fine. There's a variety of restaurants downtown and in Abu Tigg marina, serving everything you could wish for - the best being in the Abu Tig marina. Eating out is expensive though.
This is a muslim country but there are a few good bars in El Gouna. Our favorite was in the middle of the marina with a large terrace overhanging the water. It has a pretty good happy hour to cheers to good day on the water. El Gouna is a sleepy town tho - if you're looking for a big night, head to Hurghada.
It's unlikely that you'll have multiple days of no wind in El Gouna but if you're unlucky make sure you have a good book to curl up on a bean bag with. The snorkelling is stunning - the wind is spectacularly clear when the wind isn't blowing. Go-karting is a really fun option if you're looking for more action or something to do in the evening.
Tuk Tuk's are 5 Turkish lire and this isn't the sort of place you barter - the El Gouna government states that this is the amount that any journey will cost you. And it's usually 5 lire per person.