Marsa Alam has a hot and extremely arid climate. Its high temperatures are somewhat moderated by the waters of the Red Sea, though, which creates very comfortable weather for year-round sunbathing. The desert climate is typified by continual drought, sudden drops in temperature at night and beautifully endless sunshine. Marsa Alam was a small fishing village until recently, but it is rapidly becoming a favourite tourist destination. It sits on Egypt’s east coast on the Red Sea.
Even though temperatures are high throughout the entire year, it is the peak summer months which draw in most tourists. The mid-winter months are the coolest time of year, but even then the temperatures are still very pleasant, making it a popular destination for a winter break among travellers from western and northern Europe.
Marsa Alam owes its climate to the Red Sea and to the Atlas Mountains which starve much of Northern Africa of rainfall. The resultant desert stretches over much of the north of the continent. Low humidity results in insolation, the opposite of insulation, which can be observed in the huge difference in temperature from night to day. If it were not for the Red Sea, Marsa Alam would experience the extremes of desert temperatures. The waters cool the shore and encourage wind to blow inland. However, this effect is minimal and does not reach far inland. Marsa Alam is the southernmost of Egypt’s Red Sea resorts and as a result sees a shorter winter period. The desert climate has resulted in desert terrain, with sparse vegetation in the form of palms and grasses hugging the shore.
Stunning beaches at Marsa Alam in Egypt
However, a step into the Red Sea will open up a stunning world of thriving biodiversity—newly discovered as a tourist location, the coral reef near Marsa Alam is pristine. The wildlife that throngs all about it is varied and often quite rare. Many species of dolphin are to be found and, more famously, Marsa Alam is a place to see dugongs, also known as sea cows, which are highly endangered.
Summer, from April through October, is baking hot. The average high temperature climbs steadily from 30°C (already) in April to a peak of 35°C in July and August, before sauntering back down to 32°C in October. Nighttime lows in the mid-20s, while relatively much cooler, are hard to handle. If you’re on a budget, it is highly unadvisable for air-conditioning to be a factor for compromising. The sun beats down relentlessly. If you can believe it, Marsa Alam is relatively cool in comparison to inland regions of Egypt because it is on the Red Sea. Luckily, costal winds help to make the heat more bearable as does the low humidity and regular dips into the vast salt lake. While the temperature can occasionally get into the 40s in Marsa Alam, in Luxor, 40°C is the average in peak summer.
Still, it is not advisable to stay out in the sun for too long as risk of sunburn, sun stroke and dehydration are high. Diving is better suited to the summer season due to the 30°C water and calmer seas. This allows for prolonged dives, easier swimming and exceptional visibility.
Precipitation is virtually non-existent throughout the year as it is, but summer is as bone-dry as it can possibly get. Hardly a drop of rainfall hits the resort’s beaches in this period and there are almost no days with rainfall.
The Hawksbill turtle in coral reef, Marsa Alam
As stable and reliable as the rainfall—or rather, absence of it—is, cloud cover varies dramatically throughout summer. June is the clearest month of the whole year, with mid-June characterised by 0% of cloud cover, overwhelming sunshine in other words. After June, however, cloud cover increases rapidly. By the beginning of August, it has reached an average of 40% and it reaches its annual maximum of 66% in the beginning of September. It then quickly drops again to 40% in October. That being said; the skies are never overcast in Marsa Alam; at worst, they are partly cloudy.
So, although cloud cover is at its highest—and lowest for that matter—in summer, there is still plenty of sunshine to enjoy. In fact, from May through August, you can enjoy no fewer than 13 hours of sunshine per day. September has 12 hours, while October has 11 sunshine hours.
Winter, from November through March, is milder and the best time to visit the area if you’re planning to lounge endlessly on the beach, though choppy waters and high winds are detrimental to diving conditions. This is also the best time of year to partake in outdoor activities in the area, as temperatures aren’t as scorching as they are in summer.
The average high temperature drops to the mid-20s, dipping down to 23°C in January. Night times are refreshingly cool around 14°C. The overall average temperature ranges from the annual low of 18°C in January to 23°C in November. All other months’ temperatures lie somewhere in between that low and high.
Desert, mountains and red sea at Marsa Alam. Photo by Darla دارلا Hueske
The sea temperature also remains very comfortable throughout the winter season. It averages 23°C from January through March. In November, it still is at a bath-like 27°C, while in April, it averages 24°C. These ideal swimming temperatures, combined with sunny skies and dry weather, are why Marsa Alam is such a hugely popular year-round beach destination.
The sun remains out almost continuously and it stays dry. October is the resort’s wettest month and sees a “staggering” 3mm of precipitation on average. This 3mm is the highest amount of rainfall any month receives in Marsa Alam, attesting to the desert climate which the resort is subject to. Monthly sunshine hours are at their lowest in December, when there are 8 hours of sunshine per day on average—this is still extremely high by all accounts! The other winter months are characterised by 10 to 11 hours of sunshine per day.
Sandstorms rarely blow over from the desert regions of the country and the rest of Africa. They are most likely at the end of winter in March and are carried by the khamsin wind which is hot and sand-bearing.
If you would like to check the weather forecast for Marsa Alam, Egypt, you can do so at this weather forecast page.