Nuweiba - nothing but laid back
Nuweiba Travel Blog› entry 10 of 13 › view all entries
For our last couple of days in Egypt, we hung at the Nakhil Inn in Nuweiba. We chose Nuweiba because of the ferry to Aqaba and because of the recommendations on TripAdvisor for the hotel, AND because we wanted to hike Colored Canyon.
We found that Nuweiba is indeed laid back - especially at this time of year, their winter. The town is pretty spread out, but the tiny tourist part has one (yes, 1) cute shop and a fantabulous restaurant - Restaurant Cleopatra - with the best fresh fish, the best looking owner/chef (even the guys noticed that he must work out), an amazing organic garden in the back, and nice cold beer. We really enjoyed our lunch there after hiking White Canyon.
Jac & I had fresh-caught fish from the Sea and the guys ordered two beef burgers with fries. When the food arrived, we were surprised to see the strangest looking burgers ever - we would call it a stew. Chopped up pieces of beef in a sauce served with 'french fries' which looked surprisingly like rice. Not sure if the order was lost in translation or if that is Cleopatra's special burger plate. I'm pleased to say Ed & Charlie wolfed it down with no complaint.
Colored Canyon apparently has been written up so much in Lonely Planet and other guides that it's now overly touristed, according to Samer Aly, proprietor of Nakhil Inn. He recommended Rainbow Canyon or White Canyon.
Our only complaint, as in almost every place, was we needed more time. It would have been great to hike additional spots since each canyon seems to have it's own unique flora, fauna and rock formations & colors.
We also snorkeled off Nakhil Inn's private beach. Nuweiba is not known for having good reefs and we found the reef there was not colorful and the fish weren't very plentiful - but since it was just steps from our rooms it was worth trying. Also, the equipment - though free - was worth what we paid for - our masks leaked.
Other than a disappointing but accessible reef, the hotel is amazing, with huge rooms and fantastic views of the Sea. Small and 'homestyle' we thought it really cute - reminded me of some of the hotels in Koh Samui and other undeveloped beach areas. Food was good too, although we think they caught it, slaughtered it and cooked it since it took over an hour to arrive. (That's why we tried Cleopatra the next day - although they took quite a while too).
Nuweiba town is interesting in that there are several partially built developments. We read that these were started when the area was occupied by the Israelis, who also used it for tourism, but after they left the developments were abandoned.
The day we left, we chose the 3pm ferry since the 11am ferry is apparently unreliable. Being an international crossing, we were advised to go early, which was wise since the ticket window is several blocks away from the ferry terminal. After fighting to get our tickets (for the first time we found no concept of a line or politeness - everyone just kept walking right in front of us until we figured out that we needed to get our elbows working to make it to the front of the line. Note: the line we were in was for foreigners, not Egyptians - who had a different line, so this may be why we hadn't seen it before.
After we got the tickets, we went through immigration - no lines - and found ourselves in the ferry's huge, dirty waiting room - similar to the Alexandria airport - yucky. The ferry was an hour late, so it was a great time to people watch. One guy was laid out on a bench sleeping, while a waiting room cat dug through his luggage to find - and eat - his lunch. A couple of really friendly Jordanians approached us to say welcome to Jordan - almost and Obama - yes. They also helped us navigate the bus to the ferry and the checked luggage area - since westerners were given a separate compartment for their luggage.
All told it was a long few hours waiting for the ferry in slightly inhospitable surroundings. The ferry itself is nice - with friendly staff and refreshments. Clean bathrooms too! It only took 90 minutes and clearing Customs in Aqaba was easy and fast. But, then we hired a taxi for our trip to Petra and the next adventure began...