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! 

The Rea Sea is truly an aquatic wonderland that is enjoyed by beginners and advanced divers of all ages. The best place to immerse yourself in the heart of the Red Sea is via the small coastal town of Aqaba. Identified by its expansive white, stony coastline and crystal clear waters; Aqaba is the gateway to a multitude of breathtaking dive spots and snorkel sites. You reach them right from the shore which leaves you with unforgettable memories of your time in Jordan.

What to expect in Aqaba?

Dive Center South beach
Dive instructors at South Beach Resort

Located in Jordan’s south, Aqaba is a 3,5hr drive from Amman. It is dotted with over 20 various resorts and dive centers that offer SCUBA and snorkelling services. Starting from downtown Aqaba and stretching to South Beach and Tala Bay, your opportunities for dive certifications, wreck, shore and boat dives, and discovery adventures are endless. The rule in Jordan however is simple: you get what you pay for. This means you pay a large sum for a 5 star PADI dive resort experience, or a lower price for a standard service. But be warned: not all dive centers in Aqaba operate according to international dive standards.

Signs of a reputable and safe dive center

Open Water dive course Aqaba PADI
Audience during a open water course

Key signs of a safe and reputable dive operation include:

  • Always providing an official dive instructor or divemaster to go in the water with you
  • Equipment is not less than two years old and is free of damage and holes
  • The dive package is inclusive off all essential gear, such as a wetsuit, boots, fins, a sealed mask, a regulator, BCD, and a full tank of oxygen
  • Investigation of your medical disclosure statement to insure that you are fit and safe to dive

Dive sites in Aqaba

Cedar Pride Wreck diving Aqaba
Cedar Pride Wreck Diving Aqaba

Aqaba has only recently caught the attention of international tourists so the diving sites are relatively quiet and open to explore. With the position of Aqaba nestled in the north-east corner of the Red Sea, the waters are calm and shallow all year around. It makes of the dive sites accessible from the shore. This makes Aqaba an ideal haven for beginners and kids keen to take their first dive down under!

The Seven Sisters and Japanese Gardens sites are two shore dives that comprise of beautiful reefs where coral and fish are in abundance. For experienced divers, the Cedar Pride Wreck is one of the most popular sites in Aqaba. Resting 26 meters below the surface, the old 78 meter long Lebanese freighter is still largely intact. Its deck is  now colonised by various hard and soft corals and smothered by urchins, shrimps, crabs and fish. For a drop off, the Power Station has a very lively coral plateau sloping from 12 to 20 meters. Here you see moray eels and coral pinnacles.

Coral reefs

Diver in Aqaba
Diver in Aqaba

Because of the geographic location in the Gulf of Aqaba and the shallow waters, coral reefs tend to grow fast in Jordan. A great place to visit is the Marine Park for a different ‘underwater garden’ experience. Corals from the harbor are relocated in the Japanese Gardens. Here you recognize the pieces on the tags that are still on there.

A place to relax and rejuvenate

Excursion to Petra during dive holiday Jordan
Camel at the Monastery Jordan

So what if Aqaba’s 20 underwater sites appeal to your family but diving is not your thing? Next to relaxing at the beach or swimming pool, there is a good amount of excursions to make from Aqaba, including sites like the World Wonder Petra, and UNESCO heritage Wadi Rum desert.

There really is something for everyone in Jordan!

Do you want more information? Feel free to contact me with questions or to get you an offer for a diving holiday at the Red Sea.