To cross the Suez Canal, you should take the Ahmed Hamdy Tunnel from the city of Suez on the southern end into the Sinai Peninsula; expect to pay tolls. Foreign travelers in vehicles who don't have a resident's permit will be expected to join a traveler's convoy. The times for these can vary, so if your hotel has a concierge, ask them to confirm times and the meeting place. If you employ a driver, he will organize your departure time to take into account convoy times, so you don't need to worry.
Roads in the Sinai are mostly single lane, though a two-lane highway is partly built along the west coast. Though the main roads are in fine condition, you might want to take a taxi instead. Getting to remote sights requires some skill, and negotiating winding roads through the mountains requires extreme caution because local drivers usually don't stay in their own lanes.
The advantage of renting a car and driving to the Red Sea Coast is flexibility, but that might not outweigh the dangers posed by other drivers, including many trucks, and the hairpin turns before Ain Sukhna. If you don't have nerves of steel, fly to Hurghada or hire a taxi to take you to the monasteries. If you plan to stay in Hurghada or El Gouna, you will not need a car. If you are going to travel south as far as al-Quseir or Marsa Alam, having a car will be helpful. The road there is well-marked and easy to drive.
Renting a car in Egypt is no different than it is in the United States. You will need to bring both your domestic license and an international driver's license. Prices for a compact car are around $60 per day, hiring a driver is about $25 extra per day (with further charges if you want to keep the driver overnight). Cars in Egypt do not usually have unlimited mileage, so there may be a per-km charge if you exceed the daily allotment.
You do not need a car if you are staying in either Bur Sa‘id or Ismailiya.
Car Rental Contacts
Avis. Morgana Mall, off Peace Rd., Na'ama Bay, Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai. 069/360–2400; www.avisegypt.com.
Avis. Shar‘a Sheraton, Hurghada, Red Sea. 065/344–7400.
El Gouna Limousine. Tamr Henna, el-Gouna, Red Sea. 065/358–0061; www.elgouna-limousine.com.
El Gouna Limousine. Taba Heights, Taba, South Sinai. 069/358–0234.
Europcar. Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, Sharm el Sheikh, South Sinai. 016/554–4313; www.europcar.com.
Europcar. Hurghada International Airport, Hurghada, Red Sea. 016/661–1025.