Dahab enjoys large numbers of tourists. It is world-renowned for its windsurfing. Reliable winds provide superb flat-water conditions inside Dahab’s sand spit. Further away from shore, wavy conditions couple with strong winds to provide formidable conditions for keen windsurfers. SCUBA diving and snorkeling are also popular activities with many reefs immediately adjacent to waterfront hotels. The nearby Blue Hole and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots. Land based activities include camel, horse, jeep and quad bike trips. Mount Sinai is a two hours drive, with Saint Catherine’s Monastery being a popular tourist destination.
Historically, most visitors to Dahab have been backpackers traveling independently and staying in hostels in the Masbet area. In recent years, development of hotels in the Medina area has facilitated the arrival of a wider range of tourists, many of whom visit Dahab specifically to partake in the windsurfing, diving and other activities.
The word Dahab is Arabic for gold and is possibly a reference to the geographic locality; gold washed down from the desert mountains may have accumulated on the alluvial flood plain where the town was built. The name may also be a reference to the colour of the sands to the south of the town itself. Some locals attribute the name to the colour of the sky, just after sunset.
One local story concerning the town’s name is that it stems from the floods that wash through the town every five or six years. Larger than average seasonal storms in the mountains cause a great rush of water to surge down to the sea, dragging with it great amounts of sand. During this time, the town is cut in two by the flood, and the bay is stirred up and the sands turn it a golden yellow. It typically lasts a few days, and has caused damage and loss of life in the past as people were unaware of the sudden onset and the force the water moves at. Nowadays locals are ready when they see the clouds over the mountains, and anyone lucky enough to witness it will remember it for a long time.