Divers are sure to fall in love with Aqaba, Jordan’s lone coastal city, which has become known for its dive sites in the Red Sea — everything from amazing coral reefs to a sunken shipwreck!
Aqaba is a great pitstop for tourists and travelers on their way to famous sites like the historical city of Petra, the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, the legendary Dead Sea, or even Sinai in Egypt and Eilat in Israel.
Aqaba is in the northern part of the Red Sea, on the southernmost end of Jordan. Neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel can be spotted from Aqaba on a good day.
What to do
Aqaba is known for diving, but one doesn’t necessarily have to dive to have close encounters with the rich marine life there.
Among the many water activities the town has to offer, one can take a dip with friendly sea creatures such as sea turtles, dolphins, and rainbow-hued schools of fish; or else board a submarine or glass-bottom watercraft and see the marine life upclose. A quick trip to the nearby Pharoah Island for snorkelling or diving can also be done. One doesn’t even have to go in the water to see the fish — a visit to the city’s Marine Science Station Aquarium will do the trick.
For those who aren’t so keen on getting wet or going underwater, there are still a lot of activities you can do: sunbathing on Aqaba’s beaches, or shopping in the souk. Those who would like to get to know more about the city’s history can visit the ancient Aqaba Fortress, or see the Aqaba Flagpole, which stands at over 130 meters and is the sixth tallest freestanding flagpole on earth.
Aqaba is in close proximity to more famous tourist hotspots. An hour’s drive away is Wadi Rum, the iconic valley where one can enjoy a bumpy camel ride or an adventurous drive on a 4×4.
Two and a half hours north of Aqaba is Petra, a historical and archaeological treasure, and included among the Seven New Wonders of the Ancient World.
Also two and a half hours away from the coastal city is the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world
What to eat
Being a coastal city, Aqaba’s seafood is abundant and fresh, and there is also a wide variety of dining options to suit any traveler’s taste and budget. International cuisine from Chinese, to Italian can be found there, as well as traditional Arabic dishes like falafel and shawarma.
When to go
Aqaba is sunny all year round, with temperatures going as low as only 18 to 20 degrees Celsius in winter. In the summer, the temperature can go as high as 35 degrees Celsius.
It’s best to go from the months of March through May, or from September to November, as it is not too hot or cold.
Visitors to Aqaba have a lot of options when it comes to accommodation. There’s a place to suit every budget: from affordable hostels, to five-star resorts. The best ones will be those on the beachfront that offer various water activities and other fun events for guests.
For avid divers, several places have in-house dive centers, and great deals are available on packages that combine diving and rooms.
For those who are travelling on a budget, more affordable places can be found in town. Camping on the beach is also a possibility. For a unique experience, one can also try the Bedouin style villages.
Getting to Aqaba
By plane, Aqaba is 45 minutes away from Amman, the capital of Jordan. The Royal Jordanian has regular flights to Aqaba.
One can also reach Aqaba by road, with varying routes and travel times from Amman. The quickest route only takes 3 hours along the Dead Sea Highway. Going via the Desert Highway, it takes 4 hours. For a scenic 5-hour drive, take the winding and ancient King’s Highway.
Getting Around Aqaba
Even in high temperatures, Aqaba’s city center can be explored on foot — one only needs to be mindful of the heat. Taxis and minibuses are also readily available in the city.
Scuba Diving in Aqaba?
Check out our Aqaba dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!