Introduction

There are over twenty main diving sites in Aqaba, most of them suitable for all levels of diver. Aqaba has an all-fringing reef stretching for a distance of over 25kms right down to the Saudi Arabian border – there are no off-shore reefs. The reef starts literally at the water’s edge and extends like the fingers of your hands into canyons leading to pinnacles and drop offs. At most sites, when you are only 100m from the shore, you are already descending to 50m or more.

Of a total of 24 dive sites 15 are easily accessible from the shore and the more popular of these have special kitting up areas for 50m from the waters edge maintained by the Aqaba Marine Park.

By road, the furthest or southern most accessible reefs are the Aquarium and Coral gardens with access via the Royal Diving Club, about 25 minute drive from the town of Aqaba or 1 hour by boat.

Underwater photographers will be pleased to hear that Nitrox is available in Aqaba. If you bring your own diving suit, then in the winter months a 5-6mm suit is OK, in summer a 3mm shorty is fine, but it is always better to be warmer when in the water, especially if you are good on air or an avid underwater photographer.

Several centres in Aqaba now offer technical diving and training through to full trimix. This is best done by boat due to heavy equipment and access to the deeper wreck and sites.

Diving goes on all the year round, with different species to be seen in the different seasons. In June /July there are whale sharks, in February Mantas can often be seen. A northerly wind blows down Wadi Araba all year long, which in the summer is a cooling breeze, but in winter can be a bit chilly.

The sea in the Gulf of Aqaba is almost invariably calm with temperatures varying between 19°/20°C in winter months to 26°C in summer. Diving is both shore based and boat based. The Aqaba marine Park have placed fix moorings for dive boats on all the dive sites and has provided areas for divers to kit up on some of the sites if diving from the shore. Aqaba has a fringing reef which commences at the shore line. There are no off-shore reefs to warrant boat diving. The soft and hard coral formations are spectacular and there are many species that are unique to this area.

The Aqaba Marine  Park is one of the Gulf of Aqaba’s most amazing attractions. This place is known to be one of the most beautiful diving areas of the world due to the amazing combination of sea life, corals, water visibility and good weather all year around. Whether visitors go in the summer or winter, water temperatures are always nice and visibility allows them to observe its marine life with the highest clarity.

There are three wrecks in the Aqaba Marine Park, the Cedar Pride suitable for all divers can be accessed from shore or by boat.

You will enjoy diving in the Gulf of Aqaba whether you are an experienced diver or a beginner since there are dive operators and qualified instructors available for every level.

Dive Sites

POWER STATION

Located 5 KM south of Aqaba town. Swim over fringing reef which drops down to 5m, from where the reef slopes down to 20m and drops away to 200m. Swim down over the wall edge to a depth of 30m and swim south. (Boat access only)

FIRST BAY

From try dives to technical diving, this site provides for all levels of diver. Diving south from the mooring you will find a cabbage coral at 18m on the corner of the reef – follow the wall back to the north and follow the contour of the reef (for tech divers – continue straight out to Death Valley starting at 50m and then south to Walter’s Wall and George’s Gulley which drops to 80m plus). The normal dive continues to the North where you will pass over a wide expanse of coral with black coral trees and come to a sandy gulley – follow this back up to 12m and work your way back across the reefs to the mooring. (Boat or shore access)

EEL GARDEN

Site of the famous “pinnacle”, and named after the myriads of garden eels that reside in the sand and grass areas here (one of the largest populations in the Red Sea!). This provides an excellent area for photography. There is a sandy slope down to 20m (covered in garden eels – you need to stay still for them to appear) where there is a fantastic display of black corals. (Boat or shore access)

KING ABDULLAH REEF

Enter the site through a maze of fringing reef with fantastic displays of Fire coral. Drop down to 5m and follow a slope down to 12m to a large pinnacle full of a variety of marine life. If you head across the sand you will find a large circular reef. Continue down to 24m where shoaling Pennant Fish have a “permanent” home. Ascend slowly in a circle and watch territorial displays Parrot Fish till you reach 10m.

BLACK ROCK

The northern side of Wreck Bay, adjacent to the former Tourist Camp. Enter at a gravel and shingle point, swim out and pick up the reef on the right and swim down to the planned depth, usually around 25m. Heading north there are immense coral slopes and valleys with large black coral “bushes”. This site is frequented by Hawksbill turtles. (Boat or shore access via Berenice Club)

RAINBOW REEF

This also makes a really good dive at night and is also spectacular in the day. Gulleys to the north have electrical cables joining the grid to Egypt. The safety coverings of these now attract a large amount of marine life. (Boat or shore access)

THE WRECK OF THE CEDAR PRIDE

A Lebanese freighter scuttled in 1983 which now hosts a wide variety of hard and soft corals. She is intact and lies across two reefs on her port side. Divers can swim under her at 27m. The top of the wreck is at 7m. She can take several dives to fully appreciate and is an excellent night dive. Jordan’s most popular dive site selected as one of the top 100 must do dive sites in the world! (Boat or shore access)

JAPANESE GARDENS INNER

This site is also in Wreck Bay, but to the southern end. Enter through a narrow gully in the fringing reef and then descend to an eel grass bed, where you will find Snowflake Morays. The main reef is encountered at 5m, then follow it down through shoals of Orange Basselets and Sergeant Majors. (Boat or shore access)

JAPANESE GARDENS OUTER

This site in the marine park has proved to be very popular after a permanent mooring was established. Many Hawksbill turtles are seen here, the reef comes up to as shallow as 3m in many paces and is popular with snorkellers due to the large amount and shoals of colourful reef fish.(Boat access only)

TAIYONG WRECK

This wreck was discovered by the Dive Aqaba Tec Team in 2004. She lies on her starboard side in 50 metres of water off the dive site known as the Japanese Gardens. The maximum depth on the wreck is 57m and the top of the wreck is 35m. She was bought by the Aqaba port authority in 1974 and was used for offloading ships coming to Aqaba. (Boat access and tec divers only)

GORGONE 1

Named after the huge Gorgonia fan coral at 16m. After a zig zag entrance thru’ fringing reef you are confronted with a huge Cabbage coral (the size of a house!). There is also a resident turtle here. (Boat and shore access)

GORGONE 2

Approx 500m south from Gorgone One. There is an easy entry onto a shallow grassy area. From there you swim out a distance of 30m to where the reef starts at a depth of 2m – 3m. Scorpion Fish, Stone Fish and Crocodile Fish are often seen at the base of the reef. (Boat and shore access)

7 SISTERS

Here 7 pinnacles of coral vie for your attention over a solid coral reef. Luckily the depth is only 8-9m so you can enjoy the wonders each has to offer. Big Eye Emperor and shoals of Fusiliers live around these pinnacles. (Boat and shore access)

7 SISTERS TO TANK

There is lots of interesting invertebrate life in the shallows here. Swim through the pinnacles and then turn in towards the shore to another set of pinnacles, known as “the Fairy Ring”. Continue south at 8m where patchy coral makes way for grass and sand. At 6m, you will see an M42 anti aircraft tracked vehicle (“The Tank”) which was scuttled in September 1999 to create an artificial reef. (Boat and shore access)

OLIVER’S CANYON

A little more care is needed on entry at this site as the terrain is rather rugged between the corals. Surgeon Fish are seen here, to a small pinnacle and then continue down a gully with corals rising steeply on either side. (Boat and shore access)

EEL CANYON

Located in what is referred to as “Big Bay”. This site has a spectacular canyon dropping between 2 reefs with an eel garden at the bottom. (Boat and shore access)

AL SHOROUK

This wreck lies deep off the Eel Canyon dive site, to the West of Kirk’s Forest in 38 – 58m. The ship is lying on her starboard side across two reefs lying West to East (bow to the East) which means that depths of over 60m can easily be achieved under the wreck. (Boat access and tec divers only)

YELLOWSTONE REEF

Also in Big Bay, care is needed at the entrance as there is sharp rubble and urchins. Once over this you pass over a large mountain coral (Yellowstone). (Boat access only)

BLUE CORAL

A flat piece of “slab” marks the entrance of this unusual site. Care is needed on entry as the slab and flat stones can often be slippery and there are urchins lurking. Once over this area swim across the grass down to 12m where the reef starts. (Boat access only)

KIWI REEF

At the southern end of Big Bay. This site is named after one of the local dive centre’s divemaster interns, Bevan Airey who came from new Zealand. There is a great reef from 10-20m depth with lots of small pinnacles with grass areas in between. Great for underwater photographers. Deeper depths here lead to Kiwi Arch a great technical dive. (Boat access only)

KALLI’S PLACE

At the southern end of Big Bay. This site is named after one of the local dive centre’s original instructors, Dr Kalli de Meyer. After an easy entry over shingle, descend down a grassy spur to 7m and there on the right you will find a spectacular small reef with a mountain coral on top.

MOON VALLEY

Be careful that you don’t go too deep here! Named after a valley in Wadi Rum, this site drops of steeply but offers a nice dive in the medium depth range 10-25m. Large pelagics can be spotted here, including the occasional shark. (Boat access only)

PARADISE

This site got its name thanks to all the beautiful soft red coral in the area. The dive can only be made at High Tide, by wading out over the reef plateau. The reef drops to 6m straight away and you head out over grass with coral bommies. As you go deeper the coral gets denser until at 30m you reach a wall and a swim though known as Ashraf’s grotto. After this the reef drops further making a great place for tec divers to explore with reef down to over 100m! (Boat access only)

AQUARIUM & CORAL GARDEN

The Aquarium site got its name thanks due to divers feeding the fish here, this is now forbidden by the Aqaba marine Park rules. The current catch this reef so there are a lot of beautiful soft corals in the area. The coral garden is great for photographers as there are lots of isloated small reefs over sand and grass areas. (Shore access by the Royal Diving Club only)

[wppa type=”slideonlyf” album=”22″ align=”center”][/wppa]

Facts

Language: Arabic (although English is widely spoken)

Currency: Jordanian Dinar

Dive Season:  All year round

Climate: Arid

Air Temperature: 20°-36°C (68°-97°F)

Water Temperature: 19°-28°C (66°-82°F)

Visibility: 35 – 40 Metres

Skill Level: Beginner – Professional