So, you’re planning a trip to Israel? Great! Where do you plan to go? Well, if you’re like most of the tourists who visit the country, your itinerary probably includes stops in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is not only the capital, but also the most important pilgrimage destination for followers of the world’s three leading monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Tel Aviv is Israel’s secular capital. It’s a city that never sleeps, with beaches, clubs, and a gay-friendly atmosphere.
Of course there are other places you can visit on your next trip to Israel, including Haifa and the Galilee; the Dead Sea; Caesarea and the Mediterranean coast; and the Negev Desert. However, far in Israel’s south is a destination usually off the beaten path for most visitors.
The city of Eilat has attractions, beaches, and water sports and is well-known as a year-round resort destination. Sitting at the northern end of the Gulf of Eilat, also known as the Gulf of Aqaba, Eilat is very close to Israel’s borders with Jordan and Egypt. Saudi Arabia can be seen in the distance.
Eilat’s main attraction, of course, is the water. Although the gulf is actually an offshoot of the Red Sea, the water is deep blue in colour. The coral reefs stretching from Eilat down along the Sinai Peninsula are among the healthiest in the world. There is an abundance of marine life including colourful fish that you can see from the shore. To get a closer look, visit the Coral World Underwater Observatory, with its spectacular display of fish, coral, sharks, mollusks, stingrays, turtles, and other marine animals.
If seeing larger forms of life excites you, visit Eilat’s Dolphin Reef, where you’ll be able to enjoy a secluded beach, magical views of the sea and the distant mountains, and all with the unique opportunity of observing and interacting with dolphins in their natural habitat. You’ll be pampered at the reef, especially if you take time to enjoy the relaxation pools.
The most popular way to enjoy Eilat is to actually go into the water. There are many water sports available at the city’s beaches. Popular activities include jet-skis, kayaking, banana boats, parasailing, water-skiing, and tubing, as well as sunning on the shore. For a more leisurely experience, take a trip on a glass bottom boat or rent a yacht for a few hours of seaboard extravagance.
Eilat is more than just the water. There are hotels catering to every budget and there is no shortage of restaurants, clubs, bars, and nightclubs. If you’re a bit more adventurous, consider taking a jeep trip into the mountains to the west and north of the city. Even if you stay put you’ll be treated to some amazing desert landscapes
Admittedly, Eilat is bit expensive, but you don’t need to win the Powerball lottery to afford a visit. There is a growing number of low-cost flight packages available directly from Europe. The number of visitors to Eilat will certainly grow in the coming years. You would be smart to add Eilat to your itinerary when you next visit Israel!