At the southern tip of Israel and the northern tip of the Sea of Aqaba lies a well known paradise for Israelis that is beginning to show up on the international radar as a destination that is devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. The town in question is Eilat. For Israelis, Eilat a perfect weekend getaway destination and is often overlooked by foreign tourists, as many only visit Israel to see Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. What exactly does Eilat have to offer? The town is a perfect base for a day trip to Petra, a great place to snorkel or dive, has fantastic wildlife and nature reserve and is a great beach town getaway.
The most popular hotel in Eilat is The Dan Eilat Hotel, which is located in the center of town, only a few minutes walk away from the many beaches nearby. Condé Nast Traveler, one of the most highly regarded travel publications recently voted The Dan Eilat Hotel as one of the top ten hotels in the Mediterranean and Africa. The hotel combines luxury and style with entertaining, casualness, and activities that guests of all ages will enjoy. Everything that a guest could possibly want can be found this truly amazing property in Eilat.
Tour to Petra
The first activity that makes Eilat a perfect getaway is that it is a base for a day trip to Petra in Jordan. Eilat is a two-hour drive from the historical ruins and is available 7 days a week year-round. Most day-trips depart early in the morning (7am) and return from Petra at 7pm.
Most packages includes pick-up from your hotel, a guide, lunch, transportation and the entry fee into Petra. However, many companies do not cover the cost of the border tax (USD$65) or the Jordanian visa fee of USD $60. If you want to spend more time in Jordan to make the most of the visa, two-day trips are also available. Most of these trips offer a one-day tour and a personal day to do explore what you like at Petra.
Want to relax?
Eilat is a spectacular place to snorkel or dive. Since the town is in the desert, snorkeling or diving is on offer year-round and is one of the best places to see a truly pristine marine ecosystem. The coral reefs along Eilat’s coast are recognized as one of the prime diving locations in the world; as over 250,000 dives are conducted here annually and makes up nearly a tenth of the economy in southern Israel. Since the snorkeling and diving sites are located so far inside the Sea of Aqaba, there are no currents, which also makes for great visibility.
Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve
If you have already been diving and want to check out the land wildlife that the Middle East has to offer, explore the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. The reserve was established in the 1960s to protect endangered species, including Biblical animals, from the Middle East. The nature reserve is located about a 30 minute drive north of Eilat and features a visitor’s center, care and treatment enclosures, as well as large open areas where desert wildlife are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. The large reserve sits on 3,000 acres and is home to many types of wildlife including the Caracal, Arabian Leopard, Gazelle, Striped Hyena and Arabian wolf as well as many breeds of birds of prey like the Griffon vulture.
Another great attraction in the south of Israel that is rich in history is Timna Park. The park is located about 25km (17 miles) north of Eilat in the Negev Desert and covers about 16,000 acres in a valley surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides with Mount Timna, the world’s first ever copper mine, in the center. The copper mines closed long ago and instead, hiking trails make their way around the valley. Along with great hiking, there is a small lake with a campground and restaurant that offers activities such as paddle boating, sand bottling and other arts and crafts activities.
Sometimes, it is good to just take a break from it all and just do nothing. In addition to many activities, Eilat can offer beaches that stretch for miles along the Sea of Aqaba. The water is clean, clear and always refreshing. Since temperatures in this area of the Middle East never usually drop below 68 degrees and it only rains about 12 days a year, Eilat is a perfect town to enjoy the beaches.
Eilat is becoming one of the most famous resort towns in the Middle East. With activities such as Petra day-trips, snorkeling, nature reserves, historical parks and hanging out on the beach, Eilat is the perfect family-friendly destination that will be sure to please everyone that comes here.