Pharaoh’s Island is a tiny island in the Gulf of Aqaba, also known as Coral Island. It is located approximately 200 meters off the Sinai Peninsula shoreline in Egypt, roughly 7km to the south of Taba.
The island has a length of only 350 meters and a width of just 170 meters. Despite its small size, it once played an important role.
While you may not see Pharaoh’s Island on many lists of must-see Sinai attractions, it really is a wonderful place to visit, and especially if you enjoy snorkeling or SCUBA diving, or if you just want to enjoy some quiet time away from the crowds.
Pharaoh’s Island – A Brief History
The most prominent feature of Pharaoh’s Island is the large citadel or fortress which dominates its skyline. The actual history of the fortress dates back to 1116, when the King of Jerusalem had a fortress built on the island.
Building the fortress was a part of his strategy for controlling a major trade route between the Far East and Europe.
During the time of the crusaders, Pharaoh’s Island and the fortress served three main purposes.
- Its primary purpose was to facilitate tax collection from Arab merchants.
- It could also be used as a base for attacking Arab vessel if the need arose.
- Last but not least, it served to protect pilgrims crossing over from Jerusalem to visit the St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai.
Later, in 1170, Saladin and his armies conquered Pharaoh’s Island and Saladin had much of the original citadel rebuilt. Although Saladin originally left a garrison of his men on the island, they never remained there for very long.
By the 13th century, the entire area had more or less become a small fishing village.
Pharaoh’s Island Today
Apart from the old citadel itself and some old ruins, there really is not much else to see on the island. It does however provide you with an opportunity to enjoy amazing view of four different countries: Egypt; Jordan; Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Many people who visit Pharaoh’s Island do so because they want to enjoy some excellent snorkeling or SCUBA diving opportunities. The fact that Pharaoh’s Island is also known as Coral Island should tell you something.
However, it is not only the coral people come to see, but also the abundance of reef fish, including the famous Picasso fish.
Visiting Pharaoh’s Island
There is not actually a great deal to see on the island itself other than the fortress and a few ruins.
However, we do recommend visiting Pharaoh’s Island if you enjoy SCUBA diving or snorkeling, or even if you simply want to relax somewhere where you can enjoy some peace and quiet off the beaten track.
If you are considering booking one of our more extensive Egypt travel packages, and you would like to visit Pharaoh’s Island during your tour, please ask for it to be included.
All our tours are fully customizable, and can be tailored to meet the exact needs of our clients.