If you are looking for a place to enjoy your vacation that offers nightclubs, lively bars, discotheques and so on – you are on the wrong page as Taba offers none of those facilities.
What this incredible resort does offer is extreme natural beauty, tranquility, beautiful restaurants, world – class diving and watersports, golf and the friendliest and most genuine people who will make your vacation experience very special.
Taba is situated in a prime location to explore not only the Sinai and Egypt, but you also have the opportunity to visit the City of Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea, or swim with dolphins in the cosmopolitan City of Eilat. Taba is the gateway to Petra in Jordan so you can avail of this golden opportunity to explore this incredible ancient city, now deservedly one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Taba Heights is also home to Red Sea Waterworld, the watersports and diving center voted by divers the top dive center in the world several times over. There you can enjoy water – ski and wake – board, catamaran sailing, windsurfing and even gain VDWS certification with instruction from their top – level instructors and have a great time doing it! They also offer snorkeling cruises on their sail boat; they have a glass bottom boat and even a semi – submarine so that you can view the beautiful coral reef which surrounds the coastline without even getting wet – great for elderly guests, small children or if you don’t swim.
The Waterworld guides all speak fluent English and pride themselves on their expertise and knowledge of the local reef, and safety is paramount. You can have a go on the fun rides as well on bananas, donuts and other contraptions! Red Sea Waterworld is a place to spend the day, their beach is the best in Taba and totally free of charge including a sun bed. Their beach bar and restaurant has a full menu, and their friendly staff will even serve your meal and drinks on the beach to you on your sun bed! Their home cooked shepherd’s pie and apple crumble is to die for, and their sweet and sour chicken is the best I ever ate anywhere.
There is no reason for you to buy a full Egyptian visa to visit Taba or the Sinai. If you visit Jordan you will purchase a visa for those countries on arrival there, and any Egyptian visa would be cancelled. The only reason you would purchase a full visa is if you are planning to visit the African side of Egypt to go to Cairo or Luxor on an excursion.
Taba is in Asia, and the Suez Tunnel is the route into Africa. Other reasons to have a full visa would be if you are an advanced diver and you want to dive on the Thistlegorm or Dunraven wrecks. This would normally not be an activity offered from Taba, but from Sharm El Sheikh which is approximately a two and a half hour drive from Taba. If you land in Cairo en route to Taba, you would need the full visa; otherwise they give you a Sinai stamp which is valid for a stay of two weeks.
Taba Heights is a very secure and safe resort; purpose – built by experts Orascom who also have other resorts in El Gouna and all over the Middle East. The resort has five hotels the Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Three Corners El Wekala, the Intercontinental and my personal favorite the Sofitel. All are excellent hotels, not just for their facilities but for the quality of their staff. They will bend over backwards to make sure that your stay with them exceeds all your expectations.
The Sofitel has the upper edge for me, most of their staff have worked there since they opened their doors and they never forget anyone. The rooms are enormous, all spotlessly clean and fresh and the young man who looks after it will often surprise you with his skills in towel sculpture! You will return to your room to find your white bath towels on your bed and sculpted into swans, mummies, monkeys and all manner of other shapes. You will feel bad undoing his efforts, and most guests take photos of these skillful arts. The Sofitel has a pleasant balance of international guests and they make a point of keeping that very important feature. Many a vacation has been ruined by hotels who accept too many guests of one nationality as it causes problems with the differing cultures, restaurant habits and choices of menu for the minorities. This is especially important in an Arab destination as the Arab culture is very different to the Western one.
The Sofitel offers an international menu to please sometimes up to fifteen nationalities at one sitting. They have themed evening dinner, including an Egyptian night, and after your meal the entertainment includes belly dancers and the traditional whirling dervish.
There is a golf club in Taba Heights, with a resident golf pro. The course offers 18 holes, and hosts televised Pro – Am twice a year. This is a highly – ranked world 100 course and many people are now coming to Taba just to enjoy it. You can book a round, or even challenge the golf pro to a round, or have lessons. Other facilities include a driving range, club house, golf shop and special program for children.
If you are a food tourist or simply enjoy a special evening out at a specialty restaurant, Taba is the choice for you! The Intercontinental Hotel has the El Mar seafood restaurant, the Bird’s Nest Thai Restaurant and a Tapas restaurant overlooking their salt water lagoon. The Tapas is really inexpensive, but you will have one eye on your plate and the other on the most beautiful serenity you will ever find. Taba is directly opposite the Saudi Arabian coastline, it is just 10 km across the Red Sea. The moon sits on the top of the Saudi mountains opposite, giving a reflection on the water creating a view that would make you cry with happiness. This is the place to make marriage proposals or tell a special someone you love them. The food is beautiful, not just huge portions of tapas, they offer delicious steaks and vegetarian choices as well.
The Thai restaurant is out of the hotel, once again top – level with a chef who has won world championship acclaim for his creations. L’Asiatic restaurant is in the Sofitel hotel, and includes a Teppan grill so that the chef cooks the food as you watch. This is pure entertainment, and he will have you join in at the grill, cooking lobster, steaks, chicken and other delights. This hotel has even entertained celebrity guests, and they were very impressed with the L’Asiatic. If you are looking for a unique experience, the Sofitel has a tower overlooking the whole Bay of Aqaba. They will arrange a private dinner at the top of the tower for you with your exact choice of menu for very humble money. This is something that is a lifetime memory and cannot be repeated anywhere else, the view from the tower is just beyond words.
Other excellent restaurants include the Lebanese at the Hyatt Regency who also have tandoori and charcoal grill restaurants, the Italian in the Marriott who also host a Mexican restaurant which is as authentic as it gets. The Flying Carpet is a favourite not just with visitors, but with locals as well. This is the most family friendly restaurant choice – you can eat everything in there from fish and chips to an amazing fish platter, and you can round off your evening with a traditional Shisha pipe.
All the restaurants and hotels in Taba are a part of the Crystal Program, assuring guests that all cuisine and beverage is completely safe to consume. Crystal Program means all water for drinking, ice and all water used in food preparation and washing is bottled mineral water. Kitchens and food storage are inspected frequently, and staff have special training in “Posi” procedures, a very thorough hygiene program. This includes the restaurant of Castle Zaman, which is owned by Orascom and a twenty – minutes ride out of Taba Heights. The Castle can only be described as the ultimate eating experience; the food needs to be ordered at least three hours in advance as it is slow cooked in a stone oven. It is awesome, make sure to be starving before you eat; portions are fit for at least two! You can go from 1.30pm and enjoy their pool bar, which has beautiful views of a deserted white sand beach, and overlooks the Bay of Aqaba.
As the moon rises later, enjoy the spectacular view of the moon on the water and twinkling Saudi lights as you devour the delicious food. An activity not to be missed in Taba comes absolutely free of charge except for a little effort on your part. Sun rise in summer is around 4.30am or in winter later than that, it comes over the Saudi mountains and is never the same twice. The colors are indescribable, a mixture of hues and ochre, purples to pinks, reds through to yellows. Your camera can make testimony to that, and again in the evening. The sun sets behind the Sinai mountains, a backdrop to the resort shedding strong rays over the Saudi mountains, reflecting their red color onto the water between. When there is no wind, the sea is like glass, a mirror and this effect changes it to a deep mauve color. The sunset is best viewed from the Mexican restaurant, the sunrise from any sea facing spot.
Another excellent photo spot is from the top of the hill at the Hyatt Regency, the beach path which runs from Red Sea Waterworld, past the Intercontinental, Marriott, Sofitel and Hyatt continues up this hill. That is your sunrise prize photo. Quad biking in Egypt is best booked with your tour operator as there are so many cowboy outfits engaging in dangerous practices. They are easily spotted, as their bikes are shabby looking, they will offer you a scarf rather than a crash helmet and likely take you via public roads. Your insurance will never cover public roads or riding without a crash helmet.
In Taba, there is an outfit Quads Canyon who are connected to Red Sea Waterworld, and operate with the same quality. Their one and two hours canyon rides are nothing short of amazing, and they are insured for children over 6 years. All staff are emergency first response qualified, and the majority of their guests go back for a second spin!
Horse riding is available in Dahab, but you need to be careful. As a qualified instructor and very experienced rider, I would be concerned about novice riders doing this activity. The horse tack leaves a lot to be desired, girth (the strap that holds the saddle on) needs your eye to check. There should be 2 separate short straps found under the saddle flap, one with 2 buckles, and the other with 1. It is vital that the 2 buckles on the actual strap that goes around the horse are fastened one on each separate short strap, leaving the short strap with 2 buckles with 1 free. If your girth breaks, this means you and the saddle won’t come off the horse.
Every time I have ridden there, there has been a discrepancy on this. You also need footwear with a low heel, NOT trainers and definitely not flip – flops or sandals. The tongue of your trainer will get caught in your stirrup, and if you fall off – you will be dragged, likely at speed. They do not offer hats which are absolutely necessary but if you ask, they do provide hats and leg chaps. Many of their horses have no brakes, so make sure you are honest about your ability! Having said all that, I have had many a wonderful experience riding there on their beautiful but frisky Arab horses.
Other recommended things to do and see from Taba include the Bedouin evening with dinner and stargazing in the desert, a visit to the Monastery of St Catherine and Mount Sinai and a visit to Dahab to chill out at the beach front restaurants. You can shop in Taba Heights; there is a resort area with many shops and facilities. The Salt Cave there not only offers the cave experience but sells Dead Sea products. There are numerous artist and craft shops, souvenir shops, a wonderful perfume shop, jewellery, clothes and traditional shops. This is the one place in Egypt you will shop with zero hassle!
The shop owners are forbidden by Orascom from being pushy or hassling anyone to buy. They will make you tea – the perfume shop is a great place for tea, and you are guaranteed to leave smelling wonderful even without having spent one penny! April to November at Taba Heights offers a free of charge festival every Friday. Book the Flying Carpet, outside table and you have front row view of the stage to watch the traditional show, live band usually of soft rock genre and a disco after – something for everyone.
Taba offers a unique and very special experience, bringing visitors back repeatedly to their newly found corner of the world. There are no banging clubs, bars or discotheques in Taba, entertainment is mostly limited to the hotels. Taba Heights is a resort especially suited to families with young children, couples, retired people, lovers, honeymooners, single people and people with a sense of adventure who want to explore by availing of what is probably the best excursion choice in the world. Come to Taba!