Israel is a very popular destination for those who enjoy art, culture and history as it has the highest density of museums in the world. Visitors to Israel have much to choose from with interesting archeological sites, scuba diving and beautiful beaches and of course the cultural and religious aspects of the country.
Israel is a highly diverse country with many geographical borders that make for an interesting visit to Western Asia. By land, Israel borders Egypt including the Gaza Strip, Palestine and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It also borders the Gulf of Aqaba to the south and is located on the Mediterranean Sea’s south-eastern shore.
The most popular scuba diving destinations are Eilat and Tel Aviv, and each area has its perks, however Eilat is more popular for scuba diving vacations overall. Israel also has a nearby third, less popular diving destination: the Dead Sea.
Temperatures in Israel vary widely and range from coastal climates to desert climates as you visit different areas of this fascinating place.
Eilat has desert conditions with a climate that is controlled by the Red Sea, so the best times to visit are outside of the warmest summer months of July and August when temperatures can soar to over 40°C.
Temperatures in winter range between 18 and 21°C and Eilat experiences the coolest weather in January and February.
Eilat is located on the Gulf of Aqaba and is very popular with divers and hikers alike thanks to its beautiful waters and mountains, as well as the opportunity for desert exploration. Many would recommend visiting Eilat during the months of September and October.
Tel Aviv is located on the Mediterranean coast and is well-suited to dive training and qualifying dives thanks to its manageable diving conditions. Tel Aviv is the second biggest city in Israel after Jerusalem and is considered the country’s economic center. In addition to great diving, Tel Aviv is also the center for entertainment and culture, with over 2.5 million visitors each year to the “city that never sleeps”.
Tel Aviv has mild and rainy winters where the temperatures are far lower than Eilat and usually in the range of 9-17°C. In the summer months, Tel Aviv will average temperatures of between 24 and 30°C.
Marine Environment & Dive Sites
Eilat is an ideal location for scuba diving as it is on the Red Sea which offers phenomenal visibility and an abundance of varied marine life. Diving in Eilat is suited for all levels of scuba diver including complete beginner to technical diver. The recreational dive sites are mostly shore dives which makes it easy for dive planning and offers flexibility for divers.
With water temperatures of between 19 and 29°C, gentle currents and better than 40 meter visibility, it’s easy to see why Eilat is the most popular diving destination in Israel.
Diving in Eilat
Some of the best dive sites in Eilat are called Japanese Gardens, Neptune Tables, the Nature Reserve, the Caves and the wreck of Satil.
Scuba diving in Eilat presents divers with the opportunity to see a plethora of marine life including eagle rays, turtles, frogfish, stingrays, groupers, crocodile fish, sea snakes, octopus and a number of eels and reef fish. The summer months present the opportunity to see sharks and dolphins too. The majority of the dive sites also boast a vibrant and healthy coral reef with soft coals, branching corals, sea fans, sponges, gorgonians, hard corals and anemones.
Diving in Tel Aviv
Diving is also a popular sport in Tel Aviv, and many people choose to learn to dive in this location due to its easy diving conditions. Popular dive sites here include the sunken port of Ceasarea, Bird Head Canyon and Gordon’s Caves. Gordon’s Caves are very popular due to their interesting topography and the opportunity for divers to swim through and penetrate a number of caves where they can find thorn fish, octopus and axe fish. The Ceasarea Underwater Port is highly unique and offers a roped route for divers to follow. This port was built by King Herod and has been kept mainly intact, allowing divers to see the wall, towers and the port entrance as well as the various nudibranchs and octopi that have now made this sunken port their home.
Israel offers a number of diving operators in both Eilat and Tel Aviv, ranging from dive resorts to instructor development centers. It is easy to learn to dive, rent equipment, and progress your certifications in Israel. For those certified, it is also possible to dive with Nitrox. The majority of advanced options such as rebreather and technical diving are available in Eilat.
Flights to Israel
For international travellers wanting to visit Israel there are a number of options. There are direct flights from Africa, Europe, the US and the far east with Israeli operator El Al. Direct flights from New York are in the region of 11 hours flight time, while flight time is only 4.5 hours from London. Other destinations in Europe may use Arkia and Israir, both Israeli airlines, to transport visitors to Israel and these will generally land in northern Tel Aviv at Sde Dov Airport, or near Eilat at Ovda Airport. Most of the international flights will land at Ben Gurion Airport, roughly 30 minutes from Tel Aviv.