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Aqaba & the Red Sea

In the last few years Aqaba has grown a great deal, and is set to grow much more by the end of 2010. The town itself is not particularly large, but has a variety of shops and a market, as well as a decent choice of restaurants. But it is the number of hotels which makes Aqaba what it is, and this is of course due to its position on the Red Sea. Aqaba is Jordan’s one and only beach resort, and has sandy beaches next to the generally warm waters of the Red Sea. It is on the same stretch of coast as Israel’s Eilat, which is just over the border and can be clearly seen from Aqaba.

There are two sections of beach - North Beach (within walking distance of the town) and South Beach (about 15 minutes by car from town). North Beach is now completely taken up by the 5* hotels such as the Kempinski, Movenpick, and Intercontinental. There is no access to the beach here unless you are either staying in one of these hotels or you pay one of the hotels for a day pass. There are 3* and 4* hotels in and near the town centre. Some of these are quite good, and they offer much better prices than the 5* hotels, but of course you need to be happy with going outside of the hotel for the beach. South Beach also has hotels with private beachfronts, but there is also a public beach to which anyone can gain access, which is in the Aqaba Marine Park. The public beach is well kept, and has facilities such as changing rooms, toilets, showers and there is also a restaurant. There is a good diving centre at Coral Bay Resort called Royal Diving, and this really is the best place to go if you want to dive.

In town there are two restaurants of particular note - Ali Baba’s and Al Shami - though there is a lot more choice than just these two. It is not a hassly place in general, and you should find the local people very happy to help and make your welcome. After all, many/most of the town's inhabitants are probably making a living from tourism - either directly or indirectly. If you are making Aqaba your base for your holiday in Jordan, you can easily take a day trip to Wadi Rum from here (under 1 hour), and with an early start you could also see Petra. Getting to Aqaba from Amman is possible either by plane (about a 1 hour flight) or via a direct drive down the Desert Highway. The latter takes about 4.5 hours with a toilet break. Flights sound a much better option on the face of it, but delays and cancellations are common on this route which makes it rather uncertain.

Jordan has only a small strip of coast adjacent to the Red Sea, but this are has good beaches and is rich in marine life. The waters of the Red Sea are famous for their unspoilt coral reefs, and this area is great for snorkelling and diving. The Red Sea is an ideal location to spend a few days relaxing after exploring the riches of the rest of the country.

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Aqaba & the Red Sea accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT +3 hours

Flight time:

There are direct flights from London with Royal Jordanian and British Airways. The flight time from London to Amman is approximately 5 hours.

Language: Jordan's official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken.

Visas:

All British citizens require a visa which can be obtained on arrival at Amman airport.

Health:

There are no compulsory vaccinations.

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