Explore Dahlak islands of Eritrea, the hidden gems of Red Sea

Scattered over a vast area of the Red Sea like a string of pearl upon the azure, translucent waters of the Red Sea, more than 350 Eritrean islands, among which more than 200 islands belong to the Dahlak Archipelago, remain one of the last great unspoilt destinations in the world. Dahlak Archipelago is an exceptional ecosystem, which has few rivals in the world. A tourism specialist, on the return from a cruise has summarised as follows his admiration for these islands: “The Maldives are the best destination in the world where services and nature have a mix unrivalled, but …. the Dahlak!!!  They are the Maldives of 20 years ago!).

Of the 1,000-plus species or subspecies of fish known to inhabit the Red Sea, some 15% are not found anywhere else. Some corals and echinoderms, such as certain star fish, are only found here. Current records for coral fish include 40 species in 24 families on stresses coral patches near Massawa and over 250 species in 49 families on outer coral reefs such as angelfish, parrotfish, barracudas, pipefish, surgeonfish, sharks, tuna, caranx etc. Mantarays which have wing spans measuring up to several metres, occasionally leap clear of the water and flap down on the surface. The fins which form in front of the eyes and on either side of the mouse, the dark back and long whip-like tail give the manta a somewhat sinister appearance. But they only fed on small shoaling fish and they behave sweetly when a diver hitches a ride on their shoulders. There is a good chance, too, of seeing five types of turtles including the famous “hawksbill” (hawksbill turtle) and the green turtle, many species of dolphins among which the “souse” of Indian Ocean and the “tropical stene”. The sparsely populated Dahlak offer a haven for these threatened animals when they breed. Female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the beach and bury them in the sand. When hatched the babies make their way to the sea to fend for themselves.

Off the leeward coast of Dahlak Kebir, at the mouth of the Gulf of Zula, lies the Island of Dissei, formed by a narrow ridge of little volcanic hills which tapers off at either end. Dissei’s beaches are so quiet and remote that when the island’s only village comes into view in a wide, sandy bay, it appears like a settlement of survivors from a long-forgotten shipwreck. Huts constructed from driftwood and strung with old fishnets strengthen the impression that this is a community of several dozen Robinson Crusoe.

The Dahlak Islands is a journey of the senses and an unforgettable experience that beckons visitors to return time and time again.

Dahlak Islands – Eritrea

Filtered by Italian artistic sensibility, Asmara has welcomed practically all the styles of the early twentieth century becoming the Modernist city of Africa par excellence. A sort of white paper where the Italian architects of Italy’s fascist era, far from the constraints of the mother country, could design the city of utopia. A place to test yourself with the most different architectural styles in vogue in the first decades of the last century in Europe. Asmara has the highest concentration in the world of some of the most advanced architectures of the 1930s. Simple geometric shapes of classical proportions are enhanced by slender horizontal curves and soaring stepped towers. We find portholes, loopholes and elongated windows, circular balconies and jutting wings; cylindrical stairwells and arched canopies, curved shelves and bizarre zig zag chimneys, originally whitewashed, this beautiful city has been enriched by the colours of Africa with apricot and turquoise, burgundy, lime green and pale gold pastels. Marble vases suspended with geraniums and dahlias, and occasionally we discover a Renaissance villa, with wrought iron gates and turret towers, a French castle-tower, or a Palladian villa with Corinthian columns and pink tympanum. Art deco style villas, cubist, rationalist, expressionist, futurist and neoclassical architectures decorate the corners of the city with a western style magnificence that can leave you perplexed.

The Dahlak Islands are surrounded by crystal-clear waters that mirror the sky above, doubling the beauty of the sunset. As the sun nears the horizon, the sea becomes a shimmering mirror, reflecting the kaleidoscope of colors overhead. The sight is both surreal and calming, as if the islands are immersed in a world of dreams.

As the sun dips lower, it casts its soft, golden light on the islands’ landscapes. Palm trees sway gently in the breeze, their silhouettes accentuated against the mesmerizing backdrop. Traditional fishing boats, known as “dhow,” glide gracefully on the placid waters, completing the idyllic scene. It’s a perfect moment to reflect on the simplicity and tranquility of life in this untouched paradise.

The allure of the Dahlak Islands’ sunsets goes beyond the visual spectacle. It’s a time when travelers pause, immersed in the beauty around them, and contemplate life’s wonders. The peaceful ambiance encourages a sense of connection with nature and a feeling of being one with the surroundings, making it a truly soul-nourishing experience.

For those fortunate enough to witness a sunset in the Dahlak Islands, it becomes an indelible memory, a cherished moment etched into their hearts forever. It’s a memory to revisit during times of stress or longing for tranquility, offering solace and a reminder of the natural beauty that exists in our world.

The Dahlak Islands Archipelago is a true haven for sunset enthusiasts, offering a symphony of colors, reflections on the water, and a chance to embrace the peace and simplicity of nature. As the sun bids its daily farewell, the islands come alive with a magic that leaves travelers enchanted and inspired. A sunset in the Dahlak Islands is a journey of the senses and an unforgettable experience that beckons visitors to return time and time again.

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