Jordan came late to the "tourist diving industry", and approached it slowly with all regard for the preservation of marine life. The results are paying off as far as the coral reefs are concerned. Profession photographers claim that the reefs here are easily as good as in the Maldives.
Equipment: If you bring your own diving suit, then in the winter months a 5-6mm suit is OK, in summer a 3mm shorty is fine, but it is always better to be warmer when in the water, especially if you are good on air or an avid underwater photographer so scarcely moving from one pinnacle.
There are over thirty main diving sites in Aqaba, most of them suitable for all levels of competence.. The reefs stretch for a distance of over 25kms or right down to the Saudi border. Aqaba is all fringing reef, there are no off-shore reefs. The reef starts literally at the water's edge and extends like the fingers of your hands into canyons leading to pinnacles and drop offs
The beaches are all easily accessible and the transport used can drive right up to the edge of the water - a big advantage. There is no problem for getting into your gear on the beach, and no clambering over rocks. Boats are not much used since by water it takes too long to reach the more distant ones. By road, the furthest reef (the "Saudi Border" reef) is about 25 minutes from the town of Aqaba.
Here is a map of the main reefs in Aqaba
The Royal Diving Club located at Coral Bay Hotel on South Beach about 10 minutes outside of Aqaba is a great way to relax on the beaches of the Red Sea.
The Shuttle bus has regular pick ups at the hotels in Aqaba - just call for a pick up or ask your hotel - starting at 9:00am. 11JD buys you return transportation, entrance, sunbed/lounge chair, mattress, towel and one free soda. The facilities are new with beach front bar and restaurant, ice cream stand, modern bathrooms, fresh water showers on the beach, and changing rooms with showers. The hotel has two pools and a PADI dive club as well as a bedouin tent. The beach front is private and overlooks Taba. Last shuttle to Aqaba City Centre returns at 7:00pm (5:00pm and 3:00pm returns are also available). Even if you're not staying at a hotel in Aqaba, the shuttle will pick you up in the city centre.
Snorkelling is 5JD, fins only are 2JD, dive full equipment is 26JD. Watersports - windsurfing, water skidoo.
Lunch is about 5JD for a grilled burger, fries, salad, cold drink with taxes and service charges. Beer is available.
Royal Diving ClubPO Box 39 Aqaba 77110, Jordan
Physical: Aqaba Southern Coastal Road(16 kilometres from Aqaba town)
Tel: +962 3 2017035 and +962 3 2032709
Fax: +962 3 2017097
Equipment: Bring your fins, mask, snorkel and shortie wet suit if you have one. Scuba boots or water sandals come in handy. The Red Sea in Aqaba is mostly ringing reef - this means as soon as you step into the water, you're stepping on coral. Use the jetty to enter the water.
For diving, snorkelling or just a day on a boat on the Red Sea, try Dive Aqaba located in Aqaba City Centre, across from the Golden Tulip Hotel.
2 boat dives full kit including lunch and drinks on board Laila One 55JD
1 boat dive full kit including lunch and drinks on board 35JD
Day snorkelling from boat including lunch and drinks 25JD
You can also complete your PADI Open Water Course at this centre.
Al-Saada Street, Aqaba 77110, Jordan.
Also in Big Bay, care is needed at the entrance as there is sharp rubble and urchins. Once over this you pass over a large mountain coral (Yellowstone) at 5 m a good place for a safety stop at the end of the dive.. At 10m there is an old oil drum, now home to a host of Morays and coral reef colonisation, which is why it has been left there! Swim south to a reef spur with a pinnacle at the end at 18m with lots of Red Fire sponge and 4 colour nudibranchs. Passing over a gully you reach the main reef and follow the contour down to the planned max. depth, usually 25 - 30m. Across this reef it is one of the few places to see groups of Bat fish and at 27m there is a massive Black coral bush, which marks the turn around point. Move up the reef to a depth of 12-15m. Look into the blue as there are often large Jacks and Tuna. On reaching the reef spur with the pinnacle head up across the grass to the Yellowstone coral for the safety stop, watch out for lines of squid in formation across the grass.
A little more care is needed on entry as the terrain is rather rugged between the corals. Swimming through the fringing reef Surgeon Fish are seen here, to a small pinnacle and then continue down a gully with corals rising steeply on either side. Black coral and wire coral sprouts from the canyon sides. A max. depth on this dive is 30m, turn and follow the reef back up to the top at 12m with 2 pinnacles and a variety of Grouper and Angel fish. Closer look often reveals Frog fish, Crocodile fish and giant Scorpion fish. The reef starts at 12m and drops to 30m plus. Large squid are founding feeding in shoals around the shallow corals and octopus abound on the fringing reef. Young turtles are often seen finding their ground around the reef. Swimming up to 6m we will find The Tank, for an excellent long safety stop.
Approx 500m south from Gorgone 1. Easy entry onto a shallow grassy area, swim out a distance of 30m to where the reef starts at 2m - 3m depth, often Scorpion Fish, Stone Fish and Crocodile Fish are seen at the base of the reef. At 6 m there are 2 large pinnacles fronted by Broccoli coral and then across a solid reef of Rose coral which drops down to 20m and a large Gorgonia Fan coral. Lots of Lion Fish and eels. Continue on to ....
Named after the huge Gorgonia fan coral at 16m. After a zig zag entrance thru' fringing reef you are confronted with a huge Cabbage coral, the size of a house, there is also a resident turtle. This site is known for its 3 pinnacles teeming with life, Lion Fish, golden anthias, occasional Jacks and Cornet fish, plus a resident Arabian Angel and Yellow Mouth Moray. Good easy, shallow dive. From the first pinnacle continuing at 16m due west you arrive at a massive double Gorgonia Fan coral. Continue on to a small pinnacle with a number of Morays and hanging soft coral "gardens". Move slowly up the reef to another pinnacle at 9 metres, with an overhang full of Glass fish, Coral Grouper and Stone fish. Plus lots of cleaner shrimps providing a popular cleaning station. Swim back to the large Cabbage coral marking the entry point through the coral and the exit.
Also in Wreck Bay but to the southern end. Entry is through a narrow gully in the fringing reef and then descend to an eel grass bed, where you will find Snowflake Morays. The main reef is encountered at 5m then follow it down through shoals of Orange Basselets and Sergeant Majors. Keep at a 20m depth and swim along edge of reef over bushes of black coral. If sharks are to be seen (White Tip Reef sharks) this is where you will see them in the deep blue of the Gulf to your right. At 23m at the head of a gully there is a large Gorgonia Fan coral. From here start working your way into the shallows, keeping an eye out for resident turtles. At 15 there is a pinnacle with a large Yellow Mouth moray and large Cornet Fish hunting in the shoals. Continue up to 2 pinnacles at 6m filed with Lion Fish and shoaling Basselets and the occasional Barracuda.
The northern side of Wreck Bay, adjacent to the former Tourist Camp. Entry at a gravel and shingle point, swim out and pick up the reef on the right and swim down to the planned depth, usually around 25m. Heading north there are immense coral slopes and valleys with large black coral "bushes". This are is frequented by Hawksbill turtles. Ascend slowly to 10m and swim south again back to the entry point. Shoaling Fusiliers, cruising Parrot fish are common, as well electric Torpedo Rays. At safety stop watch out for Moses Sole and flounders in the sand and gravel as well as grey morays.
Approx 5 mins drive from the Club in an area known as the Tourist Camp. Enter the site through a maze of fringing reef with fantastic displays of Fire coral. Drop down to 5m and follow slope down to 12m to a large pinnacle full of a variety of marine life. Head across the sand to a large circular reef with a Gorgonia Fan coral in centre. Continue down to 24m where shoaling Pennant Fish have a "permanent" home.
Ascend slowly in a circle and watch territorial displays Parrot Fish till you reach 10m. Following the reef south you encounter many Clown fish and anemones, plus occasional Ghost Pipe fish in the anemones, Scorpion Fish in the purple acropora coral. Approaching the safety stop area at the base of the fringing reef, many Burr Fish and the occasional Toad Fish.
This another site located at the Club Murjan area. Enter on left side of gully and edge down and south to 10m swimming over grass to a pinnacle at 19m covered in Christmas Tree worms of al colours. Continue south at 25m through a forest of black coral, ascend the sand slope to coral outcrops surrounded by Banner Fish and Lion Fish and up to a pinnacle at 7m that is a photographer's dream...
The pinnacle is covered in an array of soft corals, a home for many different species of Morays, rare Harlequin Shrimp and Ghost Pipe Fish. Plus lots of Glass Fish protected by a Red Toothed Grouper and Lion Fish. Head back over the Ell Grass home, to hundreds of eels, disappearing and reappearing as divers swim over, back to sandy area in the gully at 5m for safety stop.
Next to the Marine Reserve and also the location of Club Murjan, the Alcazar's beach club. Enter at south side of gully edging down to 18m, lots of Cornet fish and Fusiliers, a cabbage coral marks the corner of the reef. Swim northwards over some large black corals to a pinnacle at 17m covered in soft coral. Lots of Lunar Tail Grouper and nice Table Coral and cleaning stations. Head up to 10/12m and move southwards, often Barracuda are seen in the shallower water, plus Grey Morays and Lion Fish and cleaner Wrasse Stations. On sandy areas Moses Sole, Dragonets and Flounders. Turn left into the gully for safety stop at 5m where you will often see Puffer Fish and Whitebait.
Entry point is 200 m north of Club Murjan (10 Kms south of Aqaba town), through the lagoon until you are in waist deep water. Snorkel out to the fringing reef and drop through a gap to 3m. Continue finning North through patch coral to an area of white sand with small coral outcrops scattered around inhabited by many different species of Morays. Continue further north to a pinnacle covered in red soft corals, move out to 12-15m depth and begin to drift south towards Cazar Reef. This open area many Lunar Tail Grouper and large slipper lobsters and above at around 5m are often seen Great Barracuda. As the bottom drops away to over 30m head inland and around 10-12m you will often find Frog Fish and Stone Fish. Continue down to the entrance of Cazar Reef for safety stop and exit.
Located 5 Kms south of Aqaba town. Swim over fringing reef which drops down to 5m with sand and patch reef, from where reef slopes down to 20m and drops away to 200m! Swim down over the wall edge to depth of 30m and swim south. Pelagics are seen "in the deep blue". There are overhangs at 25m with excellent fan corals, with large Yellow Mouth Morays. Ascending to top of wall and travel back northwards at 15/18m with a nice pinnacle at 16m with lots of glass fish, Frog Fish, Scorpion Fish. Turtles and Napoleon Wrasse also frequent this area. Still ascending and working back to entry point at 10m depth look out for green-blue Devil Scorpion Fish, Frog Fish and Octopus. Safety stop at 5m with lots to see at edge of the fringing reef.