If you’re planning a trip to the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada, one essential part of your experience has got to be a boat trip out to Giftun Island, a protected island just forty minutes off of the bay of Hurghada. Giftun Island is a massive island that is environmentally protected under the supervision of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), and includes Mahmya Beach, Paradise Island and Orange Bay.
According to Orange Bay’s website, the area covers over 3000 square metres and was built using environmentally friendly material in cooperation with HEPCA, which shows just how seriously the bay’s operators take the environment.
A day trip to the island takes off at 9AM from a private marina on Hurghada Bay called Santa Maria, Beach No. 9. A large boat that comfortably fits 20 people will bring you to Orange Bay’s dock in less than forty minutes, and the boat trip itself is a lovely experience, as you get to sail through the beautiful Red Sea waters far away from the noise and pollution of the Hurghada hotels.
Once you arrive at Orange Bay, have your camera ready; the sight is absolutely stunning: the shallow turquoise sea stretches for almost a kilometre till you’re more than knee-deep, while the faded golden sands are decked out with wooden umbrellas, deck chairs, bean bags, klim carpets and wooden cabanas.
A large cabana functions as the beach bar and stocks soft drinks and alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, Bacardi and vodka among others) for somewhat high prices – a can of Pepsi cost us around 25LE. Further into the island, a large wooden patio area serves as the open restaurant, where a buffet meal is set up, offering delicious and freshly cooked vegetables in rosemary, lightly grilled white fish fillet, salads, pasta, rice and meat as well as chicken. You can go for as many refills as you want, and the friendly chef will assist you to your table and ask for feedback once you’re finished.
In one corner of the beach, separate toilets for men and women are located inside basic wooden huts, and the facilities are pretty basic and primitive, but good enough for a day by the beach.
Welcome drinks of cold karkadeh were served to our group as soon as we landed, after which we were left to lounge on the beach. Waiters brought us drinks to our umbrellas, and aside from the annoyingly loud and cheesy pop music blaring out through the speakers, it was an incredibly relaxing day.
You should bring your own towel and sunblock for the day at Orange Bay, and it’s recommended that you bring extra cash, as the beach doesn’t accept credit/debit cards and you may want to load up on the cold drinks to avoid heatstroke.
While the water is perfect for floating about uselessly, you can bring your scuba diving gear and arrange with the boat operator in advance to make two snorkelling stops along the way to or from Orange Bay. The boat departs from Orange Bay at maximum 5:30PM or generally around sunset time. While it’s prohibited to stay the night on the protected island, Orange Bay offers an overnight program where you watch the sunset on the beach and then return to the boat where you spend the night. After that, you return to the beach in the morning for breakfast and another full day.
Our stay at Orange Bay was a relaxing and inspiring experience; the island is truly beautiful and recommended for anyone wishing to have a laidback beach experience in a natural, undisturbed environment. For our group of around thirteen travellers, we paid 200LE per person, which included boat transport to and from the island, an open buffet meal and two drinks as well as access to the bay’s facilities. For more information about Orange Bay, check out their website or their Facebook page.