BeachesThe waters around Eilat are relatively wave-free and safe. The small sharks are not particularly hungry for you; however, stepping on spiny sea urchins can be a major danger.
North Beach is a stony and sandy beach that starts in front of the Leonardo Eilat Hotel and extends to the Dan Eilat Hotel and Herods Palace Hotel complex. Because it’s relatively free of coral and sea urchins, this is a good beach for swimming. The nicer part of the beach is at the end near the Dan and Herods Palace hotels. Water skis and boats can be rented, but make sure you know where you’re going, because you don’t have to ski very far to get into Jordanian or Egyptian territory and hot water.
Mosh Beach is named for dreadlocked Israeli musician, Mosh Ben Ari, who opened this laid-back beachy oasis. Amenities include huts with palm-frond roofs, hammocks, and a shoreside restaurant serving mostly vegetarian food. Mosh Beach is a short drive or bus ride from North Beach, towards the Egyptian border, and if you can’t find a wicker sofa available there then go next door to Dekel Beach.
Coral Beach, which is a short drive or a no. 15 bus ride around the curve of the bay, is the best beach for snorkeling and diving. It’s blessed with coral reefs just offshore and lots of fish. Snorkeling equipment can be rented. Much of Coral Beach is now a nature preserve, perfect for both first-time and intermediate snorkeling and scuba diving. The best snorkeling is inside the actual Coral Beach Nature Reserve (see below).
Dolphin Reef is certainly the prettiest beach in Eilat, dotted with palm trees and thatched-roof palapa structures for shade. The dolphins, though, are the main attraction. The reef’s institute believes in informal, personal contact between humans and dolphins. The dolphins are free to come and go to the open sea as they like, but for years have chosen to attach themselves to Dolphin Reef. As you swim and sun, you can watch them frolicking and being fed just beyond the roped-off human swimming zone; you can also walk out to a wooden observation pier in the dolphins’ free-swimming area for a closer look. For NIS 360 per adult above the age of 15 (NIS 330 per child above the age of 8), you can join a guided group of snorkelers for a 30-minute swim among the dolphins. (Advance reservations are necessary.) Snorkeling equipment is included in the fee. For qualified divers, guided dives can also be arranged. Sometimes, these swims can bring close encounters, while at other times, the free-swimming dolphins keep their distance. You must be a confident swimmer, and there are no guarantees, refunds, or rain checks. Or, you can sit right on a raft while dolphins come up to the trainers for snacks and play sessions. Dolphin Reef also hosts supportive experiences with the dolphins, geared towards children with emotional challenges.
Also offered at the Dolphin Reef are Relaxation Pools—one is fresh water, one Red Sea water, and one heavy mineral water not unlike the Dead Sea. Individual or group sessions are available, can last 2 hours, and include New Age music, refreshments, and a botanical habitat for resting. The price is NIS 320 for the one-on-one flotation experience, and otherwise NIS 170 per person and reservations are necessary. General admission to Dolphin Reef is waived for those entering with reservations for snorkeling and diving with dolphins and for the Relaxation Pools.
There is a reasonably priced cafeteria serving hot and cold drinks, snacks, and full meals on the premises, as well as a pub and a program of films on dolphins. Once a month there is live music and dancing at the beach’s pub. This is one of the best places in Eilat to spend a day or an evening.
Dolphin Reef is midway between North Beach and Coral Beach (tel. 08/630-0111 for activity reservations). It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm. Admission is NIS 6970 for adults over 15 and NIS 48 for children 3 to 15. Take bus no. 15.
Bird WatchingEilat is one of the best places on earth for bird-watching, due to its prime location on the Jordan Valley–Red Sea–Great African Rift Valley migration path between Europe and Africa. Migration times are twice a year: From September through November, the birds head south to Africa, and from March through May, they head back north to Europe.
Eilat’s International Birding and Research Centre is a clearinghouse for information and activities. Entrance to the bird sanctuary is free, but should be coordinated in advance by phone or email. The center also offers guided bird-watching tours for NIS 750 per group of 50, or extended tours that include flamingo pools for NIS 950. Two-hour seminars cost NIS 1,200 per group.
Each year in March, the Center participates in the Eilat Birds Festival that has been growing in reputation. Check www.birds.org.il/en for information about the many special programs and discounts on accommodations and car rentals at the time of the festival.
BoatingYou can hire boats at all hours of the day at the North Beach marina and lagoon—boats for water-skiing and water parachuting, sailboats, fishing boats, paddleboats, motor sea-cycles, sailboards, and kayaks are all available. GetMyBoat.com is a good resource for larger rentals, with crew or without.
Glass Bottom Boat RidesBoats leave from the jetty just north of Coral Beach or from North Beach. Israel Yam operates daily 1.5 hour glass-bottom boat trips, leaving North Beach several times during the day for NIS 70 for adults and NIS 50 for children. Look for a 15% discount coupon, often available in the free Hebrew- and English-language tourist brochures. Galaxia offers similar glass-bottom tours (every day but Saturday) for NIS 60 for adults and NIS 50 for children.
Snorkeling and Scuba DivingNote: If you want to scuba dive, you must bring your certification from abroad or obtain a license in Israel.
The best-equipped firms for snorkeling and scuba diving are Aqua-Sport and Red Sea Sports Club. Aqua-Sport is located across the highway from the Isrotel Yam Suf Hotel on Coral Beach. Aqua-Sport also has a program of weeklong adult diving lessons and summer camps for kids ages 10 to 15 during July and August. Aqua-Sport is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pam.
Red Sea Sport Club’s Manta Dive Center, located at the Isrotel Yam Suf Hotel, is another recommended diving center at Coral Beach. It offers facilities similar to those at Aqua-Sport, plus diving courses for divers of all levels. There is even a special sauna facility for divers. It’s open daily from 8:30am to 5:00pm in winter and until 6pm in summer.
Snuba diving, tethered to an oxygen tank on a raft over the coral reef, is an easy, enjoyable way to dive without any extensive training. The Snuba Diving Center will arrange a variety of excursions for you. Prices start at NIS 200 for 1.5 hours and include training. Look for a discount coupon on the Snuba website.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.