The Dahlak Islands

The Dahlak islands are great for scuba diving, sailing and fishing. The archipelago of some 200 islands is located south-east of Massawa and can be reached from there. Since the islands are a National Park you can’t just go there but need to arrange your trip through a tourist agency that takes care of the permits. Charter yachts are available for hire in Massawa.

Only four of the islands are inhabited and the total population only numbers about 2,500 of which most live on Dahlak el Kebir. The inhabitants still maintain their traditional lifestyle of fishing and herding goats and camels.

Some islands have shores lined with mangrove trees or salt bush. Shoals and submerged corral reefs, a spectacular marine life (dolphins, sharks, dugongs, turtle species, hermit crabs, fish, shells), shipwrecks and pumice stones formed from submarine volcanos make the Red Sea an unforgettable diving experience.

Dahlak el Kebir is the chief port for pearl fishing in the southern part of the Red Sea and was formally used as a military base by the Ethiopians. A more sinister aspect of the islands history is that they were one of the most important conduits for the export of slaves from the mainland to Saudi Arabia.