Eilat is waiting for you

Eilat is the southernmost city in Israel. It enjoys a bustling port, a 10 km stretch of beach mostly covered with pebbles or rough sand (some beaches have brought gentler sand for the benefit of their guests) and great proximity to Sinai and the ancient ruins of Petra. About 56,000 people live in Eilat and it draws large number of local and foreign temporary inhabitants, who come for temporary jobs, and crowds of tourists who come to swim, sunbathe and relax.

Unless you’re going by plane from Tel Aviv (an hour flight), it’s a very long schlep (about a four hour drive from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem), but one you’ll be glad you took, especially if you’re into water sports.

Eilat is a great place for water skiing and swimming. The calm surface of the sea is also ideal for boating activities: sailboats, rowboats, kayaks and motor boats.

Eilat has plenty to offer in the way of attractions. Along the beaches you will find plenty of water sport centers offering water skiing, paragliding, boat rentals and what not, and a wide selection of scuba diving clubs that offer guided underwater tours, diving courses, introductory courses and trips down to Sinai for some more breathtaking underwater aquatic sights. On land, you will find the famous Dolphin Reef and the fascinating Underwater Observatory (located near the famous Eilat Coral Reef) alongside non-aquatic attractions such as the elaborate 3D cinema (the Imax) and an intriguing icy haven (Ice Space), and the annual famous Red Sea Jazz Festival, among other things.

Eilat is a friendly, serene and fun sea and sun city that seeks to accommodate various travelling tastes and styles. It certainly is a tourist town, with all that the title entails, but it also a very mellow and easygoing kind of place where you can focus on the kind of experiences you favour and avoid the places that less fit in with the atmosphere you seek.

Even if you’re not a diver, you can enjoy the magnificent coral reef from the surface with a snorkel and mask or on a glass-bottom boat ride (though you usually don’t see nearly as much). If you want a really unique view (and don’t mind spending the money), try an underwater safari in a submarine (yup, it’s a real one) that holds 50 people and takes you 200 feet below the surface. And, if you’re really a landlubber, there’s the Coral World Underwater Observatory that lets you enjoy the wonders of the Sea as if it were an aquarium. One of only four in the world, the observatory offers a kaleidoscopic view of the reef and sea life 15 feet below the surface. One of the newer Eilat attractions is Dolphin Reef, where you can swim and dive with dolphins.

Activities in and around the city could take years to explore, with bird watching, camel tours, skydiving and exploring the reefs via snorkeling or scuba diving being just a few of the offerings. The diving opportunities, especially, are considered among the best in the world and draw marine enthusiasts from around the world hoping to swim with the sharks or observe dolphins. The water temperatures are nearly always mild and the visibility under water is usually between 20 to 30 meters. Those interested in history may plan a day trip to nearby Petra (Jordan), which was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.

Less well-known is the fact that Eilat is one of the best places in the world for bird watching. Approximately one billion birds traverse the area between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan mountains, making southern Israel the site of one of the greatest concentrations of migrating birds in the world. The migration from Europe to Africa takes place from September to November and the return flight begins in March and lasts through May. Eilat is the headquarters for the International Birdwatching Center.

If the searing heat hasn’t sapped all your energy, Eilat is also known as a great place to party at night with lots of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It’s also a good place to shop because the city is a free trade zone with no VAT.