Egypt, Europe and Middle East, Hurghada, Newsletter, Trip Reviews

Insider Guide to Somabay, Red Sea, Egypt

17/03/2023 by .
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Andy Mossack explores luxury at Somabay on the Egyptian Red Sea coast and discovers a real contender for the winter sun crown.

There’s something quietly happening on Egypt’s Red Sea coast which is destined to take winter sun tourism by storm. Maybe even all year round if I’m pushed. Forget the UAE, move aside The Canaries, Somabay is bursting onto the scene as a real contender in my opinion. And while we’re using boxing references, pound for pound, it can’t be beaten. Literally.

The Red Sea has long had a market for winter sun with resorts like Sharm el Sheikh and El Gouda offering drop-and-flop beach and party holidays. But Somabay is an exclusive new luxury development community taking up a ten million-square-metre peninsular of Egypt’s eastern desert coast, and that means you get the Red Sea lapping sandy beaches on all three sides surrounded by a healthy cluster of coral reefs.



It has been quietly developing from scratch since 2003, and now boasts five luxury hotels, a Gary Player-designed championship golf course and sports facility, a marina, horse riding, a scuba and snorkel dive centre, a giant Thalasso Spa, over two kilometres of beach and world-class kite and windsurfing.

I arrived at night and the 30-minute drive through the flat desert from Hurghada airport was ink-black with just the occasional illuminated tanker roaring past into the darkness. Even as we drove through the gates of Somabay and onto the long driveway, there was no hint of what lay beyond. However, the next morning I woke up in my room at The Cascades Resort and Spa, opened the drapes and was greeted with warm sun, a symphony of birdsong, and a killer view.


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There are four other hotels gracing Somabay’s peninsular. The Kempinski and Sheraton complete the trio of 5-star properties, while The Robinson Club and Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge provide beachside accommodation to suit all pockets.

Down by the beach, a two-kilometre promenade stroll provided ample opportunity to check out the sunbathing and wind and kite surfing. Each hotel had its own beach, with plenty of beds, umbrellas, towels and bottled water on hand. Meanwhile, the kite surfers took full advantage of Somabay’s crown jewel, the wind. Apparently, the technical term for it is an aslant offshore wind with consistent gusts of up to 8 beau fort, which translates as a consistent wind yet with seawater like polished marble. Laboratory conditions for kite and windsurfers, ranked in the World’s top three and regularly frequented by professionals for training and competing.

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While the wind is the fuel for surfers, for us, it’s a constant remission from the sun’s dry heat, making the often thirty-degree temperature very comfortable.

With such an abundance of natural marine riches on the doorstep, I visited the dive centre for a spot of snorkelling amongst the coral and technicoloured sea life. Abdo my guide didn’t hold back: “You’ll love it. So many beautiful things to see.” Mrs M on the other hand was a little less enthusiastic, having had no real previous experience.

Yet, under Abdo’s careful tutelage, (not to mention his Hollywood smile) she became a natural within minutes. It is remarkable really, that with just a snorkel and a pair of flippers, you can join an underwater world of natural colour and enchantment all going on less than a metre from the surface. What’s more, we had evidence of our underwater adventure to take back home thanks to Abdo’s camera prowess capturing all the drama for posterity.


Andy and Abdo

Around the marina square, a clutch of good quality restaurants and bars offered a perfect place for an evening out and about. Local shops were open late, and the upstairs terrace of Sobar was a perfect spot for a sundowner or some excellent dinner fare.

The next morning, I was up early for a round of golf on the championship course. Desert golf is very different from links or parkland courses because off the fairway there is nothing but sand and rock. It makes for challenging golf, particularly if the wind is strong. Gary Player knows a thing or two about course design, and this course had more than a few memorable holes where the sea lay in wait to gather any stray ball.

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This is a very impressive golf facility with plenty of added extras. A driving range, a floodlit 9-hole scoring arena – a short course specifically designed for short game practice – footgolf (a mix of football and golf) for those who have no golf skills but fancy some golf-like fun, and opening later this year, a stunning floodlit par 3 course.

Within Cascades lies an enormous spa with sixty-five treatment rooms subdivided by décor for the type of therapies offered, such as Balinese, Thai, or Indian. There’s also a huge Thalasso-inspired hydrotherapy pool. Thalasso therapy is where heated seawater is jetted directly onto your body to massage and invigorate your muscles.

This pool is a circuit of fifteen different zones where water jets, currents, counter currents, showers, and bubble baths each direct the water to various parts of your body. I was introduced to this particular form of liquid torture by Mahmoud, a man of many years experience in such matters. Under his expert guidance, my body was pummelled, pressed, and showered unendingly, staying at the mercy of the water until an order to move was thankfully given. I reckon Mahmoud secretly revelled in my terror.

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Dishing out faint praise one minute “Good Andy! Great work!” then ordering me into the next maelstrom the next. “Move over Andy. Go!” As I finally dragged myself over the finish line after walking against a strong counter-current for three laps, I did feel remarkably refreshed. Mahmoud smiled. “Good, yes?” while enveloping me in a giant towel. “Yes good” I replied, convinced I would ache the next day.

In fact, I sprang out of bed like a gazelle. It seems, seawater therapy wholeheartedly agreed with me. Just as well really as I was off to do a few record laps at the Somabay Raceway go-kart track next door to the Kempinski Hotel. This 700-metre track has more than a few turns and hairpins to tackle. “I’m giving you one of the souped-up karts,” said the manager, who clearly saw in me a budding Lewis Hamilton.

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After a helmet fitting and a short safety briefing, I was off and doing pretty well. By the end of my time trial with no spins and a 44-second fastest lap in the can, I went in to claim my lap record certificate. “44 seconds Andy.” I asked, “Ok what’s the lap record?”  “36.”

My budding racing career was over before it started.

I drowned my sorrows back at the beach at the Seashell beach restaurant. Plenty of options for all tastes and diets, with some cool music and that balmy beach breeze.

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Somabay beach C Andy Mossack

Somabay ticks every box for me for year-round holidays no matter if you are a golfer, surfer, a family, or simply a sun worshipper. It’s also close enough for day trips to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. The Egyptian pound has a favourable exchange rate with most currencies at the time of writing this, so compared to the eurozone or UAE Dirhams a luxury holiday here could be far better value.

No question in my mind,. Somabay should be a major contender for your next holiday destination.

All images (C) Somabay and Andy Mossack

Tell me more about Somabay on Egypt’s Red Sea.

Visit Somabay, for more information on the destination and also Somabay Holidays, for short- and long-term luxury rentals. 

The Cascades Golf Resort, Spa & Thalasso

From £92 per night for a double room on a Half Board basis and from £145 per night for a standard double room on an all-inclusive basis

Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay

From £141 per night for a Double Resort View Room on a Bed & Breakfast basis

easyJet flies regular scheduled services from London Gatwick to Hurghada airport – around 30 minutes from Somabay.

Getting to Gatwick by train: Fast, frequent train services are provided to Gatwick Airport by Gatwick Express and Southern from London Victoria, and by Thameslink from London St Pancras, through central London via Blackfriars and London Bridge. Single fares start at £12 (Advance on Southern, Anytime on Thameslink); Thameslink off-peak return is £22.30.

Egypt Visas

Egypt requires a visa for entry into Egypt from the UK which is available online.  You can also buy the visa at Hurghada airport on arrival for US$25 but please ensure you take dollars with you to avoid any issues.







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