Let’s face it. Divers love nothing better than being underwater. We love warm, clear waters, healthy corals, and a good variety of marine life or wrecks to enjoy. One of the top destinations for scuba divers has always been the Red Sea. And more often than not, they head towards Egypt. But The Red Sea coastline touches Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Israel, and Jordan. Aqaba, Jordan is not as well-known as Egypt, but it has some of the best dive sites in the Red Sea. Aqaba is a hidden gem full of healthy corals, diverse marine life, wrecks, artificial reefs, and warm sunny days. And it is located in the Golden Triangle of Southern Jordan where Petra, the 7th New Wonder of the World, and Wadi Rum desert are located.
Whether one is just beginning to dive or advanced, the calm waters make it easy for divers to do both shore and boat dives. The 23 dive sites offer a variety of diving experiences. And snorkelers can enjoy some of the sites due to their proximity from shore and shallow depth. Beginner divers enjoy the Hercules C130 plane because it is a beautiful wreck filled with juvenile fishes, lionfish, trunkfish, and soft corals. Just nearby is the M42 Duster tank that sits on a sandy bottom in just 5 – 7 meters of water. The tank is encrusted with corals and also filled with marine life. Close to the tank are also large pinnacles covered with anthias and other smaller fishes. Another favorite is Japanese Gardens. It is a colorful site full of corals, bannerfish, anthias, clownfish, sergeant majors, an occasional turtle and octopus, eels, and macro life.
But Aqaba offers something more than just corals and fish, is quickly becoming well known for a vast array of artificial reefs. Besides the Hercules C130 and Tank mentioned above, there is the renowned Cedar Pride Shipwreck. They sunk the ship in 1985 to make an artificial reef for divers. It is accessible from shore and boat. This wreck is a favorite to explore because it is covered with colorful corals, and a myriad of marine life makes this ship their home. It is also a favorite among underwater photographers because of its massive size. It is 74 meters long and lies on its side at a maximum depth of 28 meters. The crow’s nest is a highlight on this ship, and divers often spot large fish resting there.
Aqaba boasts the first and only Underwater Military Museum. In 2019 the dive site was set up with 19 battle vehicles placed in battle formation in an area where there wasn’t already a reef. The plan was to draw divers away from some of the heavily dived areas and attract new marine life. It worked! Images from the Underwater Military Museum are frequently published in dive magazines, blogs, and social media. Divers enjoy seeing Cobra helicopters, Howitzers, armored personnel carriers, ambulances, tanks, and jeeps. Juvenile fishes now inhabit many of these vehicles. Divers also see crocodilefish, giant frogfish, pufferfishes, lionfish, snake eels, jacks, tunas, bannerfish, turtles, trunkfish, and clownfish. Soft and hard corals are populating the vehicles as well.
And if this wasn’t enough, Aqaba recently scuttled a Lockheed Tristar passenger plane. It is the northernmost dive site and is reachable by boat only. Much work was put into making this artificial reef happen. The plane had to be completely dismantled and removed from the Aqaba Airport and brought to the old phosphate port, reassembled, and then carefully lowered onto the reef at a depth of 15-28 meters. This passenger plane is a sight to see as it is about 50 meters long. Divers enjoy swimming inside the plane and finding the skeleton of a stewardess inside the lavatory.
Petra and Wadi Rum
Tourists have been flocking to Petra and Wadi Rum for years because of their ancient history and beauty. The red dunes of Wadi Rum and the structures cut out of sandstone in Petra offer a stark contrast to the blue waters of Aqaba. Wadi Rum is only one hour away. It is a massive desert wilderness covering 278 square miles. Bedouins have called Wadi Rum their home for millennia. Favorite activities include 4×4 rides, camel rides, trekking, and mountain climbing. Besides the stunning desert landscape, Wadi Rum has 25,000 petroglyphs, 20,000 inscriptions, and 154 archaeological sites. After spending a day romping around the desert, visitors enjoy spending the night in a Bedouin camp (there are basic to luxury camps available), enjoying the sunset, a traditional Bedouin meal, the star-studded skies, and a night of peaceful sleep in the cool desert.
One cannot visit Jordan without touring Petra. This ancient city was made famous by the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and only a 2-hour drive from Aqaba. This ancient city was first established by the Nabateans in the 4th century BC, but some historians believe it may have been around since 9000 BC. Photographers and historians enjoy the breathtaking sandstone structures that line the mountain walls. It can take days to see all of Petra, but tourists who are short on time can see a large portion of it in a day. Budget to luxury hotels are available outside of the park in the city of Wadi Musa.
Deep Blue Dive Center in Aqaba is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center. We offer daily boat and shore dives and dive packages. And until February 2022 we are offering a special package rate for dive groups of 5-7 divers. This package includes boat dives and a tour to Wadi Rum and Petra. Contact Deep Blue Dive Center for details.