Ras Mohammed is Egypt’s first National Park, founded in 1983 and expanded in 1988 to include two islands, Tiran and Sanafir which are located approximately 6 km offshore from the Sinai Peninsula. The total park area covers 480 km², including 115 km² of surface land area and 345 km² area over water. Ras Mohammed Park sits at an advantageous site at the extreme tip of the Sinai Peninsula. This position at the convergence point of the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aquaba is awash in strong currents that bring rich nutrients to the area.
It is these nutrients that account for the vast number and diversity of marine life found in these protected waters. There is a mangrove community, salt marshes, inter-tidal flats, and coral reef ecosystems that are internationally recognized as among the world’s best. The marine area is home to more than 1000 species of fish, 218 species of hard and soft corals, 40 species of star fish, 25 species of sea urchins, more than a 100 species of mollusk and 150 species of crustaceans. Sea turtles, like the green and the hawksbill turtle appear regularly in Ras Mohammed.
Marsa Bareika is a small bay in Ras Mohammed, and Marsa Ghozlani is a very small inlet located across from the park visitors center. Recently, whale sharks have been spotted in the area around Marsa Bareika.
Check out this excellent video of an octopus in Marsa Bareika.
One of the most striking areas of the park are the mangroves. Mangroves are very rare in the Sinai, and in fact are at the very northern edge of their range here. The mangroves grow along the coast and provide habitat, nutrients, and a nursery ground for many marine species. Near the mangroves and approximately 150 m inland, there are open cracks in the land, formed by ancient earthquakes. Some of these cracks are over 40 m long and have filled with seawater to a depth of 14 meters.
Ras Mohammed provides shelter for 80 plant species, 14 mammal species, and 220 bird species including the white stork on its migratory path stopping off on the trek between Europe and East Africa. You can also spot herons, terns, seagulls, and ospreys. The inland area includes a diversity of desert habitats such as mountains and wadis, gravel and coastal mud plains and sand dunes.
Hiking, Swimming, Snorkeling and Diving are common activities in the Park. Please practice a leave only footprints, take only photos policy when visiting this pristine natural area. Touching coral or fish is strictly forbidden, for ecological reasons. In some areas the water is so shallow that its coral could easily be damaged by enthusiastic swimmers.
You can visit the National Park any day from sunrise to sunset, providing you have a full Egyptian visa and not just a Sinai-only one (they check) . The 50 le (about $7/£3) entry charge is usually included in the cost of excursions from Sharm el-Sheikh. Book in advance to visit the park via boat as spots fill up fast. Alternatively, you could rent a taxi (about $85/£40) or car for the day.
Don’t miss this jewel in the Sinai! Ras Mohamed National Park offers spectacular desert scenery, along with hiking, swimming, and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world!