The cozy city of Aqaba along the Red Sea Shores. Not only a great destination when you want to simply relax at the beach, but also to get a real taste of local Jordanian life. Not sure what to do in Aqaba? Here are 11 things to do while you’re staying in Aqaba:

  1. Stroll along the Public Beach. Head towards the public beach and simply enjoy seeing the locals having fun. Walk along the public beach from the Royal Yacht club until the Jordanian flag. Take a seat at one of the many local cafe’s, order a lemon and mint drink or sisha and watch the show. Not only you’ll find lots of families enjoying the beach and attempting a swim, you’ll also see young Arabs trying to show off in their boats, going incredibly fast with the latest Arabic hits on full blast from their sub-woofers.
What to do in Aqaba

2.  Take a picture at the Arab Revolt Square to proof that you were there. There’s a big #LoveAqaba sign. From this square, below the big Jordanian Flag, you’ll find locals hanging out, children playing football or other games and fisherman along the coastal line. From here you also are next to the Aqaba Castle which is another ‘what to do in Aqaba”.

What to do in Aqaba

3. Eat fish like the locals do. Continue your stroll along the beach (facing the beach just continue to your left) to find a really local piece of Aqaba than not many know. Take a seat at the Aqaba House, a local restaurant serving nice fish-dishes. Sit down in relaxing chairs and beautiful tents, literally on the beach.

What to do in Aqaba
Fish soup at the Aqaba House Restaurant
What to do in Aqaba
Eating fish on the beach

4. Visit Souk By the Sea. On Friday Evenings you can find Souk By the Sea in the touristic area of Aqaba. What to do in Aqaba? Shopping for numerous of hand-made items such as olive oil soaps, jewelry and local produce. Great souvenirs to take home!

What to do in Aqaba
Souk by the Sea

5. Hang out on a private beach. Next to the 5* hotels and resorts that are directly located at the beach, there are 3 private beaches in Aqaba. The closest beach to the city center is Ayla. Here you’ll find the B12 beach-club, with soft sandy beaches, lazy chairs, hammocks, cabana’s and even a track to go water-skiing or wake-boarding. They regularly organize events in the weekends – check out their Facebook page for more information. The second option is Tala Bay. It’s nice but doesn’t offer that much facilities as the other two. Another option is to visit Berenice Beachclub. Here you’ll find pools, beach, a jetty from where different boat-trips depart, a dive center and other water sports. You can arrange shuttles and entry tickets at the reception of your hotel in Aqaba.

Berenice Beachclub

6. Get lost down town. On the opposite side of the public beach area you’ll find many souvenirshops. Buy your sisha for at home, eat knafa’a or baklava at one from one of the bakeries, visit the mosque and buy spices you can only find in the Middle East such as Sumac or the delicious Za’tar.

7. Play golf at Ayla Oasis. A beautiful golf course includes an 18-hole par-72 championship course, a nine-hole par-three practice course. It’s running on waste water from the city of Aqaba. At their Golf Academy you can also take lessons to know the fine art of playing golf. The 18-hole course, designed by the legendary Greg Norman, is the largest in the Levant region and one of the finest in the Middle East!

Golf in Ayla

8. Help out in the morning at the Local animal shelter. Their small team is completely depending on donations and volunteers. With over 100 dogs to feed and take care for, they have not enough time on their hands.  They don’t have enough people to get the jobs done and are in desperate need of people who want help out and give some love to the dogs in the Animal shelter. Another great “What to do in Aqaba”!

9. Visit the Aqaba Aquarium if you’re not keen on going into the water yourself, or if you just want to see what’s swimming in the Red Sea. The renovated Aquarium is located in the direction of Tala Bay and just behind the harbor. It’s not huge but has beautiful aquariums full of fish. They also have numerous projects in regrowing corals. It’s a very nice excursion with small children.

10. Go on a boat trip. Go local on a glass bottom boat from the public beach area and use it as a water taxi to get yourself dropped of at the south beach area. Take a ride in the Neptune glass bottom boat. Experience an all out and loud Arab disco party and delicious food on the Sun and fun boat or go on the Aladin Yacht during a sunset dinner cruise.

 

11. Go diving or snorkeling. One of the most relaxing, meditative and yet exciting things you can do in Aqaba. Most of the dive and snorkel sites of Aqaba are in relative shallow waters and accessible by beach. The dive sites are concentrated around the South beach area, which is on about a 20-30 minute drive from the town. Local dive centers will take you on either a boat trip or by car to directly access the dive sites. Jordan is unknown as a dive destination yet has so many to offer when it comes to underwater life and dive possibilities. Find out more on what to look out for when going diving in this separate blogpost here.

 

What to do in Aqaba?

Here you have it.  Do you have any tips and recommendations? Leave them down in the comments below! 

Meet Jolinda Cath, In2Jordan’s travel consultant for spiritual, holistic, and wellbeing trips.

If you were to ask In2Jordan’s Yoga & Spiritual Retreat Consultant, Jolinda Cath, where her favourite place is in Jordan, she wouldn’t be able to tell you. After six years living in the small coastal town of Aqaba, choosing just one to top the list is still a challenge.

“Wadi Rum is amazing and has a special energy,” explains Jolinda. “But the Dana Nature Reserve is breathtaking and perfect for hiking. The canyons of Wadi Mujib with its stunning walls and waterfall that you can abseil down is such a thrill. Then again, Aqaba is so close to the desert and at the Red Sea. See, picking just one place is impossible!” she laughs.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

Jolinda says it was an opportunity to work in Jordan that lured her from her native Holland in 2010.

“My story in Jordan began 10 years ago while I was working as a worldwide tour-leader for a Dutch travel company. I had a degree in social cultural development and a degree in activity therapy under my belt and I was running my own photography company at the same time,” says Jolinda. “I liked that my job as a travel guide allowed me to combine my two vocations and introduce photography trips in Jordan.”

A few years later the opportunity to join a new tourism company in Aqaba arose and Jolinda settled in for a desert sea-change.

“We wanted to provide holistic wellbeing and mindfulness retreats that were not yet offered in Jordan.”

Over the next few years, Jolinda recognized the demand for spiritual-based trips growing as a global tourism trend. Aligning to her expertise and passion for yoga, Jolinda joined In2Jordan as a travel consultant and worked to develop a broad offering of wellbeing and mindfulness trips in Jordan.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“Our aim was two-fold,” explains Jolinda. “We wanted to provide holistic wellbeing and mindfulness retreats that were not yet offered in Jordan. We also wanted to create a platform whereby we could tap into the expertise of local yoga and meditation coaches.”

Today, Jolinda leads In2Jordan’s meditation, mindfulness and yoga retreats for travellers as well as offering reiki and massage experiences.

“After all these years I am still so passionate about introducing guests to the variety of landscapes this country has to offer, and exposing them to the kind nature of the local people. It is a blessing to be part of someone’s journey and extra special that I get to guide spiritual journeys, as well as physical ones,” concludes Jolinda.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

To find out more about Jolinda’s private and multi-day yoga, mindfulness and meditation retreats, visit https://in2jordan.com/weekend-trips/

As In2Jordan’s driver and local guide for the south of Jordan, Bukr is the man on the ground who will help unlock the magic of Petra & Wadi Rum during your visit.

Name: Bukr
Age: 28 years
Occupation: Southern driver and guide for In2Jordan
Languages spoken: Fluent in Arabic, fluent in English. Learning Italian and Japanese

 

Q. How long have you been working with In2Jordan?

A. I hosted my first driving tour for In2Jordan three years ago.

Q. What does ‘Southern Driver’ mean?

A. It means my expertise is in the southern regions of Jordan. I mainly take guests from Madaba to the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Jordan is not a big country but there is a lot of history and locations are spread out. By driving the south, I can share more information with guests because I know these places very well.

Q. What’s the best part of your job?

A. Being a driver is a nice job. Every day I get to travel to different places so it is not a boring job. I also really like meeting new people. If I didn’t meet new people I would go crazy.

Q. Which parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?

A. There is a back road through the desert behind Little Petra that I take my guests down to get to the Dead Sea. It is an hour drive through different desert landscapes and is really beautiful. It means the guests get off the highway and get to see Wadi Araba which other tourists miss. It is a really exciting road.

Q. Describe what it is like being in your car?

A. Relaxing and informative. As I drive, I explain to my guests about the history of certain roads like the Kings Highway or old Bedouin routes. I also tell them about the mood or feeling they can expect from sites we will go to. Petra for example, I like to give my guests the history of how people came to the place and how it was built. Then I show them special views that only locals know that are more beautiful than others. Petra is my home and I want to help my guests feel welcome and enjoy it.

Q. Where is your favourite place in Jordan?

A. I was born and still live in Petra, but I really love visiting Aqaba. It has the desert and the Red Sea. It is beautiful there but too hot for me to live.

Q. What is the hardest part of your job?

A. Actually, it is leaving my guests. Many guests ask me to continue north with them but my job is in the south. I keep guests happy because I give them water, juice, Wi-Fi and good information. And I am an honest man. I am so happy when I do my job well and my guests are happy too.

For more information on private tours in Jordan, click here: https://in2jordan.com/intineraries/

Meet Carmen Scholten, In2Jordan’s Co-founder and General Manager. Or as the locals in Aqaba know her, the blonde with the bull.

 

At In2Jordan, Carmen Scholten is known as the boss. But in the small southern town of Aqaba where she lives with her husband, son and her British Bulldog, Carmen is simply known as ‘the blonde with the bull.’

It’s a rather unassuming profile for the woman who drove from Amsterdam to Jordan in a 500 Euro car just to complete a university assignment. This also being the woman who then identified a need for high quality tours in Jordan and launched In2Jordan as the ideal solution two years later.

But that’s the way Carmen likes it. “Always over deliver,” she says.

“Running your own business is fun, especially when you love and believe in what you do.”

From her home office – which also doubles as the reception area of her husband’s PADI dive center – Carmen juggles client service, team leadership, and business development with a smile.

“Running your own business is fun, especially when you love and believe in what you do,” says Carmen. “No two days are the same and I enjoy the diversity that comes with managing financial budgets, motivating the team, developing strategic planning, and translating these elements into practical outcomes for my team and clients.”

According to Carmen, her passion to offer clients high-quality customized experiences in Jordan stems from her own unforgettable first impressions. “I was meant to visit Jordan for a few days but I fell in love with the country. Within six months of graduating university I’d moved here,” she says.

“I studied cross cultural management and sustainable entrepreneurship at university. Pairing that with a passion for travel, a career in the tourism industry was the perfect fit.”

“I believe there is a place for responsible tourism in every destination across the world.”

Since the official launch of In2Jordan in January 2013, Carmen’s team has grown to include five local guides and drivers, and six travel consultants. Each with specialist knowledge in cultural sites, horse tours and yoga and meditation retreats. A partnership with Amani Tours in Amman and travel agents across the Middle East also offers clients a wide range of customized packages and experiences.

“One of my greatest achievements is knowing that I’ve surrounded myself with a team of dedicated and loyal experts at In2Jordan,” says Carmen.

“I’m also proud of how we have tapped into the expertise of local guides and drivers. Not only does their grassroots knowledge add value for our clients; the money they earn directly supports small entrepreneurs and local communities. I believe there is a place for this kind of responsible tourism in every destination across the world.”

It is this kind of thinking that earned Carmen and her off-sider, Gail Reid the title of 2017’s Best New Destination Expert Worldwide on Trip.me.

“I could roam the ancient architectures of As Salt and lush areas of Ajloun all day.”

Carmen also has the gift of the gab with her international clients thanks to her expertise as a destination expert in Jordan, and her ability to speak four languages. “I speak Dutch, English, German and Arabic,” says Carmen. She laughs before adding, “so I guess so does my dog, Hendrix.”

So how does the woman who organizes tours travel herself? “I love walking the numerous beautiful routes in Petra, and climbing the hills of Wadi Araba to enjoy the stillness of the desert,” she says. “Next to that, I could roam the ancient architectures of As Salt and lush areas of Ajloun all day.”

Is there anything the blonde with the bull can’t do? “Well, I’m trying to grow veggies in the desert. We’ll see how that goes,” she concludes.

For more information on In2Jordan’s itineraries, excursions and retreats, visit https://in2jordan.com/tours/