If one were to ask what the Gulf of Aqaba is known for among tourists, the answer would be pretty easy: diving. The gulf is popular with diving and snorkelling enthusiasts for the beauty of its waters and the impressive biodiversity found within them. A glorious exhibition of the best marine life the Red Sea has to offer, this is the place to go in Jordan if you are in search of water sports and environmental immersion.
The Gulf of Aqaba is quite pleasant all year round. Aqaba itself suffers from sweltering desert temperatures for most of the year, so the waters are a popular respite for locals and tourists alike. The water temperatures near the surface run from lows of about 66 degrees Fahrenheit around winter (November to February) and go up to about 81 degrees Fahrenheit around the summer. Thicker wetsuits are typically used only in winter, but this is dependent on the person, of course, since some can actually stand diving and snorkelling without thicker insulation even at such temperatures. Just be sure that you plan your dive at the right time-specifically, the right time of day-if you are sensitive to temperature changes. Your guides can provide a great deal of assistance here.
The waters have superb visibility. You can usually see as much as 30 metres ahead of you in most of the areas and there are even locations where 40-metre visibility is possible. All the better for the eager diver: the sights are truly splendid! One has to experience it for oneself to really understand the draw of Aqaba’s waters, but in a nutshell, one can expect to see an explosion of colour from both marine flora and fauna and also added points of interest like wrecks and coral reef walls with dramatic slopes. From turtles to snappers to barracuda, you are certain to find some wonderful creatures under the turquoise waters of the area.
The waters are mild as well. Currents are typically very low here, which means newbies should not worry about having to navigate powerful sea tides. Unfortunately, it also means that you may have to put in a bit of effort to swim where you want to go when the dive is of the “drift” type. Still, this should not deter most from trying out the waters for themselves.
Perhaps the best places to go diving in the Gulf of Aqaba are the spots found within the famous Aqaba Marine Park, which was established by the government for the purpose of conserving and protecting the kingdom’s waters from anthropogenic interference and injury. The park boasts some superb locations, including the famed Cedar Pride wreck (on the wreck site of a Lebanese cruiser) and First Bay, with its lovely fringed reef. Note that the gulf may also be enjoyed in other ways. For instance, beaches abound for public use-also in the marine park-and there are a lot of glass-bottomed boats used for trawling the waters and letting people get a look at the wildlife in the water without having to get wet.