When you think of great places to go have a fun, active adventure on a long weekend, the country of Jordan is probably not the first place to come to mind. And if it does, then the ancient city of Petra is likely the go-to choice. But, the southern city of Aqaba is another good option, especially if you prefer water sports style activities.
Aqaba is the only coastal city that you will find in Jordan as it sits along the Gulf of Aqaba, which is at the tip of the Red Sea. The city is not quite as busy as Amman, so it is a good choice for people looking for a laid back experience.
Getting to Aqaba is easy. You can fly into the airport, which is only about 20 minutes north of the city. You can drive yourself or hire a driver to get you there. You can take the inexpensive JETT bus from another city in Jordan. Or, ferry in from a neighboring country.
Like any other international city, you’ll find a nice mixture of hotel and restaurant brands that you are familiar with like Burger Kind and Hilton, as well as local businesses.
I stayed at the DoubleTree Aqaba hotel, which offered an inexpensive rate and views of the sea from the room. But the main reason that I chose an American hotel chain is that smoking is allowed inside virtually all businesses in Jordan and I wanted a non-smoking hotel room. I did not want to be inhaling cigarette smoke before going out and doing something active. So, if you plan a trip to Aqaba, this is something to keep in mind when looking for a hotel.
If you want a hotel that puts you in the best place for enjoying water sports activities, then look to one of the resorts out of the city center like the Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort. I didn’t learn that this was a better location for water sports until after I got to Aqaba.
Scuba Diving in Aqaba
Probably the most popular water activity in Aqaba is scuba diving. And there is no shortage of places offering this excursion. The highest rated places to go is SeaStar WaterSports. They offer a lot of different excursions where you can check out some of the reefs and wrecks along the coast.
I think that prices are pretty reasonable. Expect it to cost you around:
- $50 for a shore dive
- $115 for a day of boat diving
- $235 for basic certification
But if you are staying at one of the resorts, then they can actually get you all squared away for a day of diving. Even if you do not know how to dive, the resorts can take care of teaching you and getting you certified so that you can do your first dive while you’re in Aqaba.
Remember to take your passport with you to the dive center as you are required to present it or you will not be able to dive!
Snorkeling in Aqaba
If diving isn’t really your thing, then snorkeling is a good alternative. It gives you a great way to get in the water and check things out. Plus, it is a cheaper activity than scuba diving. You can do this on your own, assuming that you already have the gear, or connect with SeaStar WaterSports. Of course, if you’re staying at one of the resorts, then they will have all the necessary equipment for you to use as well.
Some of the cruises that you can book also include snorkeling (as well as lunch), so consider that if you want to book a few hours up with this activity.
Other Water Activities
There are a lot of other fun water activities that you can enjoy while in Aqaba. Some of those things include:
And if you want to get out on the water but take it easy, then you might be interested in just a simple cruise or a glass bottom boat tour.
Or, skip all the gear and take a swim or join a game of beach volleyball. There are really lots of great opportunities to get out in the water and get active while visiting Aqaba for a fun-filled weekend.