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Snorkeling in the Red Sea by Aqaba City, Jordan

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Red Sea Snorkeling

There is no secret that the Red Sea offers a World-class snorkeling and diving experience, but it is less known that Jordan has 27 km grasp of it. There are plenty of great sites for snorkeling or diving including the Japanese Garden, Gorgorian gardens, the cedar pride and other shipwreck. Just be careful to not daydream too far from the shore as it is easy not only to lose the sense of time, the feeling of space as well while swimming further looking down at the beautiful deep blue abyss.

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

Snorkeling prices in Jordan

As in any other competitive market, the prices might range, but for a whole day equipment, you’ll pay 8JOD at Royal Diving Club. You can find cheaper options from locals hanging out at the beach, but for better quality equipment, I would suggest using one of Diving Clubs.

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

Best time to visit the Red Sea

Snorkeling experience southward of Aqaba city is pleasant throughout the year, the average temperature of the water during the Summer is 26°C and 22,5°C in Winter. Though it might get busy between January and May while October to November visit can be ruined by unexpected rain. Summer season from May to September might get too hot on the shore and during December the weather is totally unpredictable.

The name of the Red Sea

The Mare Rostrum or the Dead Sea probably got its name from either the red sandstone mountains surrounding it or from algae living in the sea and blooming in reddish brown.

Geography of the Red Sea

Separating Africa and Asia, the Red Sea is actually a rift, ripping the Arabian Peninsula from the horn of Africa. It is called the Red Sea Rift and is a part of the Great rift valley which is tearing apart the Eastern part of African tectonic plate. The hole created by the Red Sea rift started to be filled with Indian Ocean water somewhere 40 million years ago. Due to its origin, there are no rivers going into the sea and its narrow enclosure to the Indian Ocean results in exceptionally clear water, perfect for diving and snorkeling.

The Good

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

Beautiful fishes in the Red Sea

One way or another, most people are coming to Aqaba not for its historical significance, but for beaches, snorkeling, and diving in the Red Sea. For its world-class reefs you need to pay a relatively cheap price and with a guide, you‘ll definitely wont be disappointed. In these rich coral reefs, you can meet beautiful inhabitants of the Red sea including:

Ritiks [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Alexander Vasenin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Philippe Bourjon [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

mendel [CC BY-SA 1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Abe Khao Lak [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Dangers of snorkeling in the Red Sea

As you probably expect there are also dangers under water. Don’t be surprised to meet sharks, though most of them are harmless. If you notice a hammerhead shark, don’t be afraid either, in open waters there is no fatal attack recorder to this day and attacks in general by these shark species are extremely rare. Just mind your own business. What you should be afraid of are Tiger Sharks, these species are known for its attack on humans, but you probably won’t meet them in a shallow water and even in the deeper levels, attacks on humans in this region are relatively rare. Besides the sharks, lookout for these species:

SeanMack [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Stonefish – Lays hidden in the sand.

Photo by Jens Petersen

Lionfish – Has poisonous spikes.

Avispa marina.jpg: Guido Gautsch, Toyota, Japanderivative work: Mithril [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jellyfish – Depending on the species, their sting can be very painful.

Photo2222 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Coral – Cut from corals are slow to heal, be careful as it is easy to get infected in warm waters.

jon hanson on flickr. [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Crown of Thorns Starfish – Poisonous, invasive species affecting local ecosystem. Inform your dive master if you see one.

Other creatures to avoid: Sea urchins, Moray Eels, Fire Corals, Blowfish, Triggerfish, and Turkeyfish.

Another thing which you will probably going to notice is the trash. The South of Jordan seems to be way cleaner than the North, but still, it will catch your eyes. Most of the facilities in the beach are dirty as well, though still does the job.

The Ugly

Even worse, Aqaba is the only port town in the whole country and next to it stands Israel’s port Eilat, this causes a huge traffic of transport ships through the gulf and damages the coral reefs.

Renting the gear for snorkeling is cheaper from random people in the beach, for best the experience I would suggest diving clubs. The gear might be dirty and leaking, therefore your whole snorkeling day could be ruined by it.

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

My impressions of Aqaba and Snorkeling in the Red Sea

If this is your first trip to Jordan you might get surprised by the trash and randomness, but soon it will be overwhelmed by the hospitality and friendliness of locals. Of course, it does feel like you are visiting a country populated purely by man and my impressions would be worse if I was a lonely woman traveler, but most of the people we met showed respect to my female friends. If you are to visit Jordan, I would highly recommend going South, because of Petra and Wadi Rum. Aqaba is the biggest city in the region and it is relatively easy to enjoy compared to Northern parts. And there shouldn’t even be a question if you are a fan of the seaside, diving or snorkeling.

Photo made by Simas Radkevičius

Snorkeling and diving rules:

Be aware that the reef is easily affected by human activities. In order to protect and preserve it, visitors must follow these rules:
Do not stand or damage in any other way the reef.
Do not disturb local fauna, don’t feed it or ride on turtle’s backs.
Swim calmly near the reefs as quick moves can cause a big surge of water which affect the microorganism on the reef.
Do not throw any rubbish to the sea.
Don’t attach boats to corals.
Don’t take marine souvenirs, it is illegal in Jordan.

The map of Aqaba for snorkeling and diving

The usual snorkeling spaces are to the South of Aqaba towards Saudi Arabia and can be easily reached from the city as a day trip.

Best places for snorkeling and diving at the Red Sea

The Power Station; First Bay; Cedar Pride; Japanese Garden; Gorgonian I and II; Big Bay; The Aquarium and Golden Gardens.