The Sinai is big, and if you try to move around much, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time waiting for buses or sitting in taxis. My advice is to figure out what you want and stay in the place that provides that for as long as your schedule will allow. If you need a laid-back resort atmosphere, then head to Dahab. If high-end resorts and nightclubs are more your speed, Sharm el Sheikh or Taba Heights will fill the bill. Unless you're going to stay a long time, and exhaust the diving possibilities of one area and have to move on, it's really not worth chasing your tail up and down that long hot coast looking for something better than what you've got.

Warning: Sinai roads, particularly on public holidays, can be lethal. Something about unpoliced blind corners brings out the very worst in Egyptian drivers, and the results speak for themselves. You'll see wrecked cars and buses close to the edge of the road, and the odds are that you'll also come across recent accidents on the road itself. It is, therefore, imperative that you have transport that you trust. If you drive yourself, be aware that no laws apply to, and even the laws of physics are rarely respected by, the other drivers: Don't ever think that just because it's a blind corner or a blind hill somebody's going to think once, let alone twice, about passing. This isn't a place that you want to be driving tired or under the influence. If you have a car with a driver, insist on seatbelts, and do not hesitate to tell him how to drive. Somebody has to have common sense, and it's your life on the line as well as his. Finally, I personally avoid public minibuses; they rarely have any safety equipment at all, and the drivers have generally been scraped off the very bottom of the barrel.

2 Days for St. Catherine

Day 1 -- Take the bus, or drive, early in the morning from Cairo to St. Catherine. Arriving early in the afternoon, check in and have lunch at the Monastery Guest House. If you're feeling energetic, try a walk to one of the sites nearby, such as Wadi Ferrah and Wadi Shrayj to see the Nabatean and Byzantine ruins, and maybe spot an ibex. Check to make sure that you don't need to go into the village to buy fresh flashlight batteries before heading back to the Guesthouse for an early dinner. This is a good opportunity to see who else is there, get to know some of your fellow travelers, and, crucially, find out what time the sunrise is going to be the next day.

Day 2 -- Well before the crack of dawn -- you should be on your feet and moving about 2 1/2 hours before the sun comes up -- head up Mount Moussa. Pause at the foot of the mountain in the dark to get your bearings and appreciate the peculiar beauty of the scene: the line of sleepy pilgrims trudging up the slopes above you is traced by the small golden dots of their flashlights. You'll be back down in time to breakfast at the Guest House and be at the door of the Monastery at 9am. If you're one of the first through the door, you'll get just a moment of seeing it without the crowds who are pressing in behind you. Grab a quick lunch at the Guesthouse, check out, and head for the coast or back to Cairo.

4 Days on The Sinai: St. Catherine and Dahab

Days 1 & 2 -- Follow "2 Days for St. Catherine;" this itinerary picks up where Day 2 leaves off.

Day 2: Unwind & Plan Ahead -- You've booked ahead at Castle Zaman, so you're expected as you roll up to the front gate. Spend a few hours lounging by the pool and sipping cold drinks while dinner cooks. Eat fairly early -- around dusk -- because you have about an hour's drive to get you down to your hotel in Dahab. (Obviously, this only works if you've hired a car.) Thumb through the "Active Vacation Planner", and decide what to do tomorrow.

Day 3: Active Outdoors -- Spend time today doing whatever activities you decided on last night. On a recent trip, I rented snorkel equipment from one of the many little stalls on the main street and stuffed it in my bag next to the packed lunch from my hotel. I hopped in the back of a jeep -- after a 10-minute discussion on prices -- for the 15-minute drive out to the Blue Hole for a long, lazy afternoon of alternately swimming with the fish and looking at the coral and lying about at one of the informal cafes chatting with slackers and hippies from every corner of the world. For dinner, try the seafood at Lakhbatita.

Day 4: Relax, Rinse & Repeat -- After a late breakfast, I recommend hiring a bike and heading down to Dahab City for a bit of fun with the wind. After all that lolling about yesterday, you might want a bit of adrenalin, so you can try kitesurfing. If not, hang at your hotel, watch the waves, and do a little snorkeling.

In the late afternoon, load into a taxi and head to the airport in Sharm el Sheikh for your return to Cairo.

4 Days on The Sinai: St. Catherine & Trekking

Days 1 & 2 -- Follow "2 Days for St. Catherine;" this itinerary picks up where Day 2 leaves off.

Day 2: Al Karm -- Meet up with your guide, and walk from St. Catherine to Al Karm Ecolodge. It's about 15km (9 miles) and will take you around 3 hours, getting you there well before dark (vital if you've elected to do this without a guide). Enjoy the sunset light on the mountains around Al Karm with tea and biscuits (the wise will have packed snacks with them). Dinner will be something tasty and filling concocted by Jamal and his associates.

Day 3: Trekking Sheikh Awad -- This is a full day of trekking around the rugged valleys and hills of the Sheikh Awad area. You can consult the St. Catherine section for ideas, but the staff at Al Karm or your guide will have a much fuller menu, along with helpful ideas tailored to your fitness level and interests. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, but you'll probably see more people than animals. Trekking on the Sinai can actually be quite a sociable activity: You'll certainly have hours of alone time, but inevitably you'll run across shy-but-friendly shepherds and farmers.

Day 4: Heading Back to Cairo -- You have time after breakfast for another walk in the area before you head back to Cairo in the early afternoon, making sure that you arrive before dark. The traffic between the tunnel under the Suez Canal and Cairo itself, especially on a Saturday evening or at the end of any public holiday, is something to avoid after dark.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.