A paradise townlet on the Red Sea redefines Egypt’s coastal resorts.
An aerial view of El Gouna showcases the seaside hamlet’s impeccable design scheme that seamlessly flows into the surrounding landscape of the majestic Red Sea Mountains. Domes are a distinctive feature of El Gouna’s buildings, typically one or two storeys high, and range in shades across a palette of pastels, joined by peaceful earth tones.
The townlet’s colours, however, are in marked contrast to the piercing turquoise of the surrounding lagoons. Daring designs merged with traditional themes are the work of none other than the American architect and designer, Michael Graves.
Sheraton Miramar Hotel
El Gouna sits on the Red Sea just 23 kilometres north of Hurghada, from where charter flights regularly shuttle travellers to El Gouna Airport, which is also serviced by direct weekly flights from Cairo. Travellers can equally venture to El Gouna by sea, and drop anchor at the luxurious international marina that accommodates dozens of yachts.
Abu Tig Marina (photo: lamaison-bleue)
The townlet is spread over an area nearing 37 square kilometres, 11 of which are blanketed along majestic beachfront. There are two famous yet secluded beaches nestled away in El Gouna: Mangroovy, recognised as the ultimate spot for kitesurfing on the Red Sea, fully furnished with thatched roofs and sunbeds for a relaxing lounge; and Zaytouna, a welcoming island that seems to simply float atop the sea and azure lagoons.
The Red Sea is world famous for its diving sites, and El Gouna is no exception. The townlet actually has a competitive edge in this regard, with greater chances of dolphin sighting in the surrounding waters. Breathtaking underwater gardens of coral reefs and constellations of aquatic creatures are definitely worth putting on your diving suit, and plunging in to the clear waters of El Gouna; the waters enjoy high visibility almost year round.
El Gouna’s palpitating core is the downtown area and nearby Abu Tig Marina. Both are rife with night clubs, restaurants, art galleries and coffee shops, providing travellers with all they could possibly desire in services and entertainment. Transportation within El Gouna is arranged via shuttle buses that run every 15 minutes from everywhere to anywhere in the townlet.
Many activities are available in El Gouna: windsurfing (there’s a school at the Sheraton Miramar Hotel); horse-back riding (at Yala horse stable); go-carts (if you feel the urge for a little retro fun). You can also embark on a lagoon expedition. The cruise through El Gouna’s lagoons and seas will give you a different and incredible perspective of El-Gouna. Perhaps the most simple yet pleasant idea is renting a bicycle or a motorbike on a journey of discovery along the many lagoons and fresh clean landscapes.
A safari to El-Gouna Oasis is also a highly recommended side trip. The oasis breathes life with palm trees, Bedouin tents, roofed huts and Bedouin performances and dances, complemented by dinner, Bedouin style with an outdoor BBQ.
El Gouna has developed into a self-sufficient resort with complete infrastructure, facilities and services. The townlet allows for real estate opportunities and diverse villa designs, keeping the resort feeling natural, not mass produced.
For instance, the “Marina apartments”, designed by the Italian Alfredo Freda who also designed Abu Tig, provide a panoramic view of the marina basin with the docked sail boats all the way out to the open sea. Freda also planned the “Hill villas” in the fashion of Italian Tuscany. From the elevated vantage point, the exquisite villas directly overlook the sea.
Ali Pasha Hotel (photo: reisebuero)
The “Golf villas”, a sport El Gouna is widely famous for, are built in the middle of an 18-hole golf course and surrounded by huge lagoons. Michael Graves designed the villas as well as the par 72 course.
Dawar Al-Omda Hotel (photo: ultramarine)
If you prefer a Mediterranean-style aesthetic, you might want to check out Shehab Mazhar’s “Memphis villas”. Your terrace view will look on to the golf course, and of course the sea. The “Nubian villas” are the enduring classic of El Gouna. Characterised by their lofty vault ceilings, in beige and brown colours, the Nubian villas are the design of Ramy El-Dahan.
With designs like these, El Gouna looks like a small picturesque town out of a fairy tale, replanted in the heart of the Red Sea. There is something to enjoy for every type of vacationer, and the maze of canals and lagoons whisk you away to a coastal paradise.