Once the exclusive preserve of divers willing to suffer the most basic accommodations for the sake of the spectacular diving opportunities (for more on this, see "Active Vacation Planner"), the coastline around Marsa Alam is now thick with high-walled luxury resorts. A few of the old dive hotels still exist, but more and more the focus of the local tourist industry is on holiday makers who don't want to do anything more strenuous on their week's vacation than call for another cold beer.
The town of Marsa Alam itself is, to say the least, unprepossessing. The ambience is Mad Max, and the grittiness lacks romance. The locals aren't particularly friendly with non-Arabic speakers, and women without male accompaniment will not feel comfortable. That said, unless you're arriving by bus, there's no reason to go there.