The primary attraction in Aqaba is perhaps the Red Sea itself-which, despite its name, boasts some of the most gorgeous turquoise waters in the world, chock-full of the most magnificent marine fauna and flora. This is the place to go if you want a respite from the arid deserts of Jordan, a place where one may indulge freely in water sports and general enjoyment of the beach and the waters lapping at the sands. This is so-called Red Sea Riviera.
Most people coming here simply lounge at the beaches, of course, but you are certainly not restricted to the sands when you come to the beachside. Besides swimming, you can also enjoy diving in the many spectacular coral reefs and wreck sites of the Gulf of Aqaba, as well as snorkel around islands of such import as the lovely Ile de Graye (also known as Pharaoh’s Island and an entry in the tentative list of UNESCO Heritage Sites). Besides these, one may also indulge in a less well-known but still highly enjoyable activity in the sea: windsurfing.
There are some who might not be as comfortable with getting into the water to see the marine life, of course. For such persons, there is a solution: the glass-bottom boat ride or the Neptune Boat ride, both of which offer some excellent views of the underwater life if you cannot swim or dive. The Neptune Boat is probably the better choice if you want a more “immersed” experience, as instead of a plain glass-bottom, almost the entirety of the Neptune Boat’s keel is clear, which means passengers can actually feel as though they are sitting surrounded by the sea on every side.
When on the waters, you can also catch some great photo opportunities-and not just of sunsets and the sea itself. There are great views from the sea of harbours and towns like nearby Eilat, of the mountains surrounding Aqaba, of the Giant Flag or the flag of Great Arab Revolt (the pole is 137m tall, the flag itself is 40mx20m).
Recently, more and more people have been coming here for their vacations or special trips. The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority’s promotional efforts for the Golden Triangle of tourism in the area-the points of the triangle being Aqaba itself, Wadi Rum, and the archaeological site of Petra have been gaining new ground for the region’s tourism, with increasing numbers of tourists coming in from other continents. Note that the peak of the tourist season is March to May, so you may have to deal with more people competing for bookings in hotels and on cruises at that time. Another thing to probably note for your trip to the Red Sea is that as recently as 2010, there were some reported shark sightings and attacks in part of the sea, around the waters surrounding the tip of the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The more northern parts of the Gulf of Aqaba-the waters near the city itself-are relatively safe by comparison and have not seen similar reports.