Situated at the southern most tip of Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea, Eilat is nestled between jagged red mountains and crystal clear waters, ruffled by nothing more then a gentle northerly breeze. The year-long hot, dry climate attracts not only tourists from colder reaches, but also provides a haven for a myriad of coral and fish species endemic to the bay.
The city of Eilat is a great dive holiday destination. The Red Sea is a narrow and elongated stretch of blue water, bordered by mountains with an average height of 1,000 – 1,500 meters and peaks over 2,500 meters above sea level. It is connected to the Indian Ocean at the strait of Bab el Mandab (the gate of tears) and to the Gulf of Aqaba at the straits of Tiran. The shallow 134 meter depth of the straits ensures that you will avoid the cold waters from the deep Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. Although the Gulf of Aqaba is very narrow, 23.5 km at the widest point, it is very deep with a maximum depth of 1,829 meters. This creates a very steady water temperature of 22º to 28º Celsius all year long.
The coast of the Red Sea is bordered by coral formations with more than 1,200 species of fish and 250 species of corals. The desert climate of the area provides a long summer with many sunny days making the environment perfect for corals to thrive.
At Eilat you can find world class diving including a local nature reserve that houses a reef of more than 1,200 meters long. Corals can be found at the northern point of the reserve. All of this adds up to a wonderful environment for divers from all over the world to view Eilat’s underwater wonders. Diving is so popular in this region, that there are more than 10 dive centers and over 20 different dive sites, almost all of which are accessed from shore. In addition, Eilat is also often used as a home base to divers traveling to the city of Aqaba at Jordan, or the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. You will not find a safer or more diver friendly dive destination in the world!
Eilat offers the best environment for dive courses and a few thousand certifications are issued every year. If you’re interested in diving, there are a few options. As a certified diver you will be asked to show the following documents:
Diving certificate – a card with name and picture from a known dive organization (such as PADI, CMAS, NAUI, SSI, IANTD, TDI, ACUC, and others).
Divers log book – indicating you have been diving in the last 6 months. Divers who haven’t been diving for more than 6 months will be asked to join a refresh dive before they participate in other dive activities.
Divers Insurance – specific divers insurance which covers decompression chamber treatment or any other necessary medical treatment for diving incident. One can be purchased at every dive center, or on the Internet.
Certified divers can join the daily guided dives to one of the many sites in Eilat. Experienced divers with more than 20 dives can rent dive equipment and go by themselves for a dive in the area.
Four favorite dive sites are:
The Japanese Gardens:
Situated close to the marine observatory, the Japanese Gardens have a beautiful drop off to more than 40 meters with lots of fish and corals. This dive site is accessed by boat. A wreck lies at the deepest point of the drop off at around 50 meters.
The ‘Satil’ Wreck:
A great wreck, more than 30 meters long, standing on its bottom in a depth of 24 meters at the bottom, and up to 12 meters at its mast. The wreck is an old missile ship from the Israeli navy that was sunk in order to create one more dive site. The wreck was sunk in the year 1994 and is 70 meters from shore with its bow directed to north.
Situated about 500 meters north of the Egyptian border, this magnificent reef offers a swim in very shallow waters of about five meters. The caves are the home of hundreds of fish called sweepers that will swim very close to you as you pass from one side of the reef to the other.
The Dolphin Reef:
At this magnificent resort, divers can dive in a secured area with a pack of dolphins in their natural habitat. Most of the dolphins were born at the dolphin reef resort and are extremely friendly and familiar with the guides.
Visitors without any diving experience can participate in a dive course, or in one of the introduction programs. Access to the water is right off the beach and the sea is always calm, with very light wind, and excellent visibility. 12 is the minimum age to participate in a dive course. Courses range in length from a one-day program, to a full week course or longer.
This is a one-time experience for people from the ages of 8 to 80. Anyone can do it! All you need to do is go through a short briefing, and accompany an instructor for a short dive at a depth of up to 6 meters at one of the many local dive sites. The instructor operates all the scuba equipment and the diver only has to breathe and enjoy the underwater tour.
Discover Scuba Diving:
This 1-day program is basically the first step in a diving course, with a minimum age requirement of 12 years old. The program includes one classroom session, one training session at a pool or very shallow confined water environment and an open water dive at one of the many dive sites.
Scuba diver course/ Open water diver course/ Advanced open water diver course:
3, 5 or 7 day courses with a minimum age requirement of 12 years old. This program includes knowledge development, confined water training and open water dives. The courses certify the divers for dives to 12, 18 and 30 meters.
Divers who seek more advanced dive training will easily find it at one of the many dive centers in Eilat which train divers for all sorts of dive certificates including technical diving to a depth of up to 100 meters and instructor courses.
We hope you will choose it as your next holiday destination.
Article and photos are courtesy of:
Manta Dive Center. www.redseasports.co.il