Turquoise waters edged by fine, sandy beaches and rimmed on both sides by barren, rugged mountain chains give Nuweiba one of the most attractive settings among Sinai’s resort towns. Stretched randomly over about 15km, however, Nuweiba lacks a defined center and a cohesive ambience, and functions primarily as a port town rather than a travelers’ retreat. As a result, Nuweiba has never managed to attract the cult following of nearby Dahab or the massive development of Sharm el-Sheikh. Indeed, most travelers pass through Nuweiba either on their way to the scenic camps and resorts further up the coast, or to catch the Aqaba-bound ferry en route to Petra in Jordan.
Yet the lack of crowds gives Nuweiba its own appeal, and the town makes a reasonable stop if you’re working your way up or down the coast. Nuweiba is also a good place to organize jeep and camel safaris into the interior, and its modest diving scene means that its offshore reefs are comparatively uncrowded. Although it’s perhaps not a tourist destination in itself, a number of low-key resorts and backpacker-friendly camps make Nuweiba a pleasant enough place to spend a few days.
During the Israeli occupation, Nuweiba was the site of a large moshav (farming settlement), which has since been converted into a residence for Egyptian government officials. In the 1990s Israelis formed the bulk of the tourist trade, but the vagaries of the regional political situation over the past decade and the fallout from the Iraq war have forced many new tourism projects to a halt. Today the outskirts of Nuweiba and the coastline north to Taba is littered with the shells of half-built resorts.