Do you prefer to dive in warm waters full of fish and corals available all the year round? If yes, then Eilat in Israel is waiting for you. It is one of the best destinations to get your first diving experience, finalize your open water course or expand your skills.
When you arrive in Eilat you might be a bit surprised to see Jordan and Saudi Arabia so close to you, on the opposite side of the Gulf of Aqaba. Egypt will also be not far away, just about 9 km (5.5 miles) to the right from Eilat if you are facing the sea. Such position on the edge of the Red Sea ensures warmer waters during the year, fewer currents, fewer waves and better visibility which are perfect especially for the beginners.
Eilat’s coastline is not very long and most of the dive sites are located on the territory of 2 km (1.2 miles).
The entrance to most of the dive sites is made from the shore. It can be either a sandy or a pebble beach. So you’d better choose thick-soled dive boots instead of soft booties in order not to harm yourself if you step over sharp rocks.
Most of the dives are performed in shallow waters with an average depth of 12-15m (39-49 ft.). It is a good idea to take a little bit more weight than you might normally do for a boat dive. That will help you to control buoyancy better especially on the way back to the shore when the tank is much lighter.
Shallow crystal clear waters with a wide range of the Red Sea reef life are very good for underwater photographers and night divers.
Best dive sites overview
The best dive sites are concentrated closer to the border with Egypt in or near to Coral Beach Nature Reserve.
Moses & Joshua Rocks
Moses & Joshua Rocks might be one of the best dives sites in Eilat for the beginners. It is located at Ben Harush Beach. The rocks are situated at the depth of 8m (26 ft.) and they are inhabited by Parrotfish, Pufferfish, Emperor Angelfish, Rainbow Wrasse, and Glassfish. Don’t forget to look for Bluespotted Stingray on the sandy bottom and a Sea Turtle which might be passing by.
Neptune’s Tables is one of the few dive sites which can be recommended for deep dives. It is located in front of Isrotel Princess Hotel. The average depth is 15-20m (49-65 ft.) with a maximum depth of 25m (82ft.). It offers beautiful table corals and other coral formations over the sandy bottom. There you will find Garden Eels, Bluespotted Stingrays, Nudibranchs of various colors and forms, and Starfish.
“Satil Wreck” is located very close to Coral Beach and it can easily be reached from the shore. She was a 46m (150 ft.) long French missile battleship which was used for some time by the Israeli army. In 1994, Satil was sunk in the Gulf of Aqaba and it became the dive site. The wreck average depth is 18-24m (59-78ft.). It is now home for Emperor Angelfish, Asfur Angelfish, Pipefish, Groupers, Morays, and Lionfish. While traveling to and from the wreck look around as there is a chance to see a representative of a venomous sea snake (Banded Sea Krait).
Another nice site for a wreck or a deep dive is “Yatush” located not far from Coral Beach at the depth of 24-33m (78-108 ft.). She was built for US Navy and in the 80’s she was transferred to Israeli Navy. After the completion of the service, it was turned into a wreck. The dive site is full of Parrotfish, Lionfish, Anthias and Garden Eels on sandy areas. It is advised to use a buoy during descent and ascent as the dive site is located in the windsurfing zone.
If you are a beginner or would like to practice a night dive, then choose to the Caves. The place is full of small crevices, formations of corals including Cabbage Leather Coral and an arc where you might find Marine Hatchet Fish. The reef serves as a home for schools of Glassfish, Green Chromis, Sweepers, Bluespotted Cornetfish, Scorpionfish. The depth of the dive is about 7m (22ft.).
Best dive season
The best months to go to Eilat are September and October when the water starts to chill after hot summer and it reaches 26-28ºC (78-82ºF). The coastline becomes less crowded except for Rosh Hashana (New Year holiday) when local families head to Eilat’s seaside. So do not forget to check the exact days of the national holidays to arrive at least one week before or after. March is the month of rains. So if you are planning to go in the first half of the year, better choose April or May.
The water temperature ranges from 20ºC (68ºF) during warm winters with a low level of rain to 30ºC (86ºF) during hot and dry summers. You will be pleased with a good visibility all the year round which is between 15-40m (49-131 ft.).
Snorkeling is as good in Eilat as diving. Shallow waters of the Gulf remind an aquarium where you can enjoy the great variety of the Red Sea flora and fauna.
Try to spend at least one day at the Dolphin Reef where you can snorkel on your own above small reefs on the right side of the bay. If you reach the underwater barrage, you might be able to interact with dolphins.
Eilat gives you a chance to see about 250 species of corals and 1200 species of fish. Among the most typical inhabitants, there are Parrotfish, Lionfish, Triggerfish, Morays, Rays, Glassfish, Chromis, and Cornetfish. In some of the dive sites, you might meet Sea snakes, Turtles, and Octopuses.
Dive resort or liveaboard?
Liveaboard is normally not offered in Eilat, better look for hotels which are often provided on an all-inclusive basis.
Isrotel Yam Surf Hotel
If you choose to stay in Isrotel Yam Surf Hotel then you will just need to cross the road to find yourself on Coral Beach, one of the best beaches of Eilat. There are several dive centers close to the hotel. You can enjoy snorkeling and other water sports besides diving. The hotel offers a Spa, fitness center, and a gym as well as 3 swimming pools, free parking and WiFi in all areas.
Herods Palace Hotel & Spa
If you prefer to stay close to the city center of Eilat, try Herods Palace Hotel and Spa which is decorated in the oriental style with mosaics and antique furniture. It is situated near New Marina and North Beach. That luxury hotel offers about 10 different restaurants and bars, pools, gym, sauna and Turkish bath. There are children’s playground and entertainment programs for different ages.
Orchid Hotel & Resort
Just a few minutes away (by car) from the Underwater Observatory Marine Park and Coral Beach, there is an Orchid Hotel & Resort which is build in a Thai village Style. The Resort offers luxury rooms and villas and the full range of services like pools, gym, Spa, and kid’s club. Among services which are provided free of charge, there are bicycles, international calls, gym and sauna, and Wireless Internet in all rooms and public zones.
U Coral Beach Club Eilat
An “All-Inclusive” U Coral Beach Club Eilat is located not far from the Underwater Observatory Marine Park. It offers close to the beach location, on-site water sports and diving facilities, tennis court, Spa and fitness center. There are 3 restaurants on the territory of the hotel. Both kids and adults can enjoy animation programs; there are also special kids and youth clubs organized by the hotel.
Other activities for non-divers
If you wish to see bigger mammals or predators at a safe distance, then do not miss the opportunity to visit at least one of the observation reserves.
Underwater Observatory Marine Park
The Park consists of an Underwater Observatory which is a tower stretching from the bottom of the coral reef to the surface; Sharks World where you can see the Sharks, Sting Rays, and Manta Rays; The Oceanarium which is a movie simulator; Life in the Dark which exhibits different types of jellyfish, sea urchins and glowing in the dark corals; and an Adventure park which is a nice playground for children.
In that nature reserve, you will have a great opportunity to watch, swim, snorkel and dive with amazing bottlenose dolphins. Make sure that you either make a time reservation or arrive right after the Resort opening until it is not overcrowded. Dolphin Reef also offers relaxation pools and Spa, nice sandy beach and a beach bar.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our Eilat travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!