Most of the resort action in Eilat takes place around the Lagoon that’s located at the Red Sea’s very northern tip. There’s a boardwalk that hugs the waterfront where you’ll find plenty of shops (tax-free shopping is one of the city’s biggest draws), restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. There’s a lively atmosphere here on summer evenings when those who’ve returned from their day by, or in the Red Sea, head out to experience the region’s famous nightlife.
Diving & snorkelling
The Red Sea’s reputation as one of the world’s best dive destinations precedes it. Spectacularly colourful coral reefs and a high concentration of marine wildlife can be found under the surface of the beautifully clear sea, currents are minimal, the water temperature hovers around 24 degrees and visibility is an average of 40 metres. And in Israel’s southern-most city, you don’t have to go too far from the shore to reach the majority of its dive sites. Whether you’re a diver or snorkeller, you can see some of the 250 types of coral and 1000 or so species of fish just a few metres from the water’s edge.
The Coral Beach Nature Reserve, which is situated approximately three quarters of the way down along Israel’s Red Sea coast, is an Eilat favourite. The beach can get very busy between June and August, although there is a limit on the number of divers who can enter the water every day. As you glide over the incredible coral belt known as the Japanese Gardens, or around the Joshua and Moses Rocks, you’ll forget about anything other than this glorious underwater world where clownfish dart in and out of sea anemones and rays drift by.
The rugged Eilat Mountains are an ever-present backdrop during your stay in Eilat. Hidden within the sandstone peaks just 20 minutes from the city is the Red Canyon, a slot canyon that wouldn’t look out of place in the American state of Utah. Carved and shaped over the years by wind and water, this narrow fissure has multi-coloured wave-like walls that are a photographer’s dream, especially under that unbeatable golden hour lighting. While in the mountains, keep an eye out for wildlife such as the striped hyena, the golden jackal and the Dorcas gazelle.
The Eilat Mountains make up the southern-most part of the Negev, a vast desert which covers approximately half of Israel. A little further north you’ll find the breathtaking Timna Park, a region with both natural and human interest. This 15,000-acre park is home to a horseshoe-shaped valley that’s surrounded by soaring cliffs and dotted with unique sandstone formations such as Solomon’s Pillars, a selection of natural arches and a balanced rock named for its resemblance to a mushroom.
Alongside natural wonders, the park is home to the world’s oldest copper mine, which dates back to around the 13th Century BC, and an Egyptian temple situated at the foot of Solomon’s Pillars. First built during the reign of Pharaoh Seti I, this ancient temple is dedicated to Hathor, the Goddess of Mining. Other points of interest include cliff carvings depicting Egyptian chariots, and the man-made Lake Timna.
From Eilat, one of the highlight day-trips is a visit to the Lost City of Petra – one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World – in neighbouring Jordan. This incredible ancient settlement has been carved into the sandstone cliff faces of the mountain Jebel al-Madhbah and is reached through a narrow and winding gorge with 80-metre-high cliffs. As well as taking in the iconic Treasury, wander along the Street of Facades, see the incredible theatre which once held 4000 people and explore the intriguing side valleys.