Aqaba - Red Sea

Aqaba - Red Sea

Things to do - general

With its wealth of other attractions, Jordan’s splendid Red Sea resort is often overlooked by modern-day visitors. But apart from being a delightful place for discerning holidaymakers, this is actually a great base from which to explore various places of interest in southern Jordan.

Aqaba is a fun place. It is a microcosm of all the good things Jordan has to offer, including a fascinating history with some outstanding sites, excellent hotels and activities, superb visitor facilities, good shopping, and welcoming, friendly people, who enjoy nothing more than making sure their visitors have a good time.

But perhaps Aqaba’s greatest asset is the Red Sea itself. Here you can experience some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. The temperate climate and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for the growth of corals and a teeming plethora of marine life. Here you can swim with friendly sea turtles and dolphins as they dart amongst the schools of multi-coloured fish. Night dives reveal the nocturnal sea creatures, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, as they search for a midnight snack.

There are several dive centres in Aqaba. All offer well-maintained diving equipment, professional instructors, and transport by boat to a variety of dive sites.

For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, all the deep sea wonders can be viewed through a glass-bottomed boat or by submarine, or you can just relax under the sun on the resort’s sandy beaches. Plus, of course, there are plenty of other water-sport activities available, as well as an extensive and interesting Marine Park.

From as far back as five and a half thousand years ago Aqaba has played an important role in the economy of the region. It was a prime junction for land and sea routes from Asia, Africa and Europe, a role it still plays today. Because of this vital function, there are many historic sites to be explored within the area, including what is believed to be the oldest purpose-built church in the world.

Aqaba International Airport is situated just  20 minutes from the town centre and services regular flights from Amman as well as from several European cities. From the town centre, the borders of Israel, Egypt’s Sinai and Saudi Arabia are no more than a 30-minute drive.

Country Jordan
Visa requirements

Europe

  • Visa can be obtained upon arrival:

Armenia , Austria , Azerbaijan , Belgium , Belarus , Bosnia &Herzegovina , Bulgaria , Croatia , Cyprus , Czech Republic , Denmark , Estonia , Finland , France , Georgia , Germany , Greece , Holland , Hungary , Iceland , Ireland , Italy , Kosovo , Latvia , Liechtenstein , Lithuania , Luxembourg , Macedonia , Malta , Monaco , Norway , Poland , Portugal , Romania , San Marino , Slovakia , Slovenia , Spain , Sweden , Switzerland , Turkey , Ukraine , United Kingdom & North Ireland , Vatican City , Serbia.

  • Visa must be obtained prior to arrival:

Albania , Moldova.

Languages spokenEnglish, Arabic
Currency usedUSD, EUR , JOD

Sports & Nature

ECO & NATURE
Jordan's only outlet to the sea, Aqaba is backed by purple-tinted mountains that are rich in phosphates. Beyond are the rose-coloured deserts of Wadi Rum.
Beneath the clean, crystal clear waters of the Red Sea, is a unique marine environment, where divers can discover Jordan’s amazing underwater wildlife. Brightly-coloured corals, sponges and sea fans are home to millions of reef fish and a range of invertebrates. Even the world's largest fish, the Whale Shark, visits these nutrient-rich waters. These harmless, gentle giants come to dine on the rich plankton harvests that flourish in the area. Other visitors include turtles, dolphins and sea cows.

Bird Watching
Jordan is a great destination for bird-lovers, its remarkable variety of habitats, from rugged mountains and evergreen woodlands to scrubby steppe and hot dry deserts provide perfect environments for many species of indigenous birds. Furthermore, its location at the crossroad of Europe, Asia and Africa means that migrating birds from these three continents can sometimes be seen together in the same general area within Jordan.
A total of 17 sites have been declared as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Jordan’s national parks. RSCN’s nature reserves are also IBAs. Five of the IBA sites are fully protected by law, five are partially protected, and two further have been officially proposed for legal protection.
Great efforts are being made to ensure the protection of the Red Sea marine life, particularly from the impact of tourism. Derelict ships and military vehicles have been sunk in some cases to create artificial reefs. These wrecks provide permanent places for corals to grow and offer marine life a safe refuge to set up residency, not to mention some exciting diving for non-aquatic visitors. The Aqaba Marine Science Station showcases the marine life of the Gulf of Aqaba and the many steps that are being taken to protect it.

Aqaba Bird Observatory
The green areas of Aqaba, particularly the relatively dense vegetation and open ponds at the waste water treatment plant, attract hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of migratory birds every spring and autumn comprised of more than 350 different species. Migratory birds flying from Europe to Africa in autumn visit suitable habitats in the region to make final preparations for the long journey across the Sahara desert. In the spring, migrants tend to land at any suitable habitat in the region, Aqaba being the first station they encounter after a long journey over the deserts of North Africa.
The Jordanian Society for Sustainable Development (JSSD) began the establishment of protected areas in Aqaba, in cooperation with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Aqaba Water Company. The Aqaba Bird Observatory is responsible for the monitoring and protection of the birds, and the JSSD set up a centre for visitors and a research centre at the Observatory.
A Visitors' Centre was constructed with an education room to implement the educational and awareness programs. The observatory has a research facility that will be used as a research centre.
Walking trails in the observatory will lead to the bird's hide, the major spot for watching birds. In addition, the observatory includes a nature garden that educates visitors about the native plants found in the Aqaba area and will support resident birds that depend on such habitats.

Sports and nature image

Culture and history info

Aqaba's long history dates back to pre-biblical times, when it was known as Ayla. According to the Bible's Old Testament, King Solomon built a naval base at Ezion Geber, just 3km from where the modern town of Aqaba stands today.

From 106 AD, the Romans, who ruled the region from their base in Syria, also used Ayla as their trading sea port, until it came under the control of the Byzantine Empire in the early 4th century. The Byzantines appointed Christian Arabs from south Arabia to rule the port city on their behalf.

The Middle Ages were turbulent years for Ayla. In the 12th century, the crusaders captured the city. They built a fort on Far'un Island, known then as Ile de Graye, 7km offshore. Ayla was then retaken by Saladin and the fort became known as Saladin's Castle. In a counter-attack, the notorious crusader, Reynald de Chatillon, took the island, but lost it again to Muslim forces the following year.

When the Mameluk Sultans of Egypt took control of the region, they renamed the city Aqaba and, in the 14th century, built the town's famous Mameluk fort. The Mameluks were followed by the Ottomans, who ruled Aqaba for 4 centuries.

Aqaba was taken from the Ottomans in 1917 by Arab forces together with T. E. Lawrence. At the end of World War I, the British secured Aqaba for Jordan.

The Aqaba Archaeological Museum

The Aqaba Region Archaeological Museum is located in the Aqaba house of Sherif Hussein Bin Ali next to the Aqaba Castle.

The museum was opened to the public in 1990. Presently it houses an important collection from the Islamic site of Ayla, dated to the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid periods, thus representing the Islamic periods from the mid-7th to the beginning of the 12th century AD.

Among the exhibits is a Kufic inscription of "Ayat Al-Kursi" from the Holy Qur'an, which surmounted the eastern (Egypt) gate of the city, and a hoard of gold Fatimied dinars minted at Sajilmasa in Morocco.

Aqaba is presently Jordan's only seaport. Its significant position on the eastern tip of the Red Sea is important for marine and overland trade routes between Syria and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to its being an import station on Hajj route. Finds from the Ayla excavations originating in the Hijaz, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco and even as far a field as China testify to its vitality as a seaport.

Culture and history image
Golden Rose Hotel

Golden Rose Hotel

Aqaba - Red Sea
This property is a 6-minute walk from the beach. Located in Aqaba, 6.3 km from Eilat, Golden Rose Ho More info
InterContinental Aqaba

InterContinental Aqaba

Aqaba - Red Sea
This property is a 5-minute walk from the beach. With a private beach along the Gulf of Aqaba, this More info

Unfortunately there are no tour offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no cruise offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no car rental offers at this location at the moment.

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