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It was diving that really put Hurghada on the map. There are more coral islands here than reefs, including about ten islands within day-trip range and many more that can be visited on extended dive safaris or liveaboards. Sharks, giant moray eels and manta rays can also be found in deeper waters. More detailed information on Red Sea dive sites around Hurghada and elsewhere can be found in Guy Buckles’s Dive Sites of the Red Sea.

Hurghada welcomes hordes of tourists each week, and has more than a thousand tour boats. To help combat the environmental impact of this, the Underwater National Parks of the Red Sea and Protected Islands enforces a daily “environmental tax” (€3) for all divers and snorkellers, the proceeds of which are ploughed back into environmental projects. This is in addition to the standard per-person charge of €3 per day to dive the Giftun Islands and the nearby reefs and €5 per day for sites further south, such as Brothers and Zabargad. The problem is also being tackled by HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association; w hepca.com), which is trying to raise ecological awareness. Tourists can help by using dive centres which belong to HEPCA and display a certificate from the Egyptian Underwater Sports Federation.

There are decompression chambers in El Gouna and the Mubarak Naval Hyperbaric & Emergency Medical Centre (t 065 354 9150 or t 354 4195) in Ed-Dahar, about 500m northwest of the police station.

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