When planning a trip to Israel, people usually want to see Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is also worth visiting Eilat, a city with access to the Red Sea, which is surrounded by the Negev mountains.
Although I have been living in Eilat for 42 years, I still feel as if I am on holiday here thanks to the 360 sunny days a year. Autumn, winter and spring bring in nearly ideal weather. Even during the hot summers, the weather is bearable thanks to the extremely low humidity and windy climate in this region.
Paradise for divers
One of the great things about Eilat is that the sea and the mountains are easily accessible. I love taking friends who visit me to enjoy some snorkelling, especially if they have not done it before. This is an ideal place to start this sport. The Princess and Snuba beaches located south of the city are especially interesting. The colourful fish and corals are visible by just stepping into the water.
For those who do not like to dive, I recommend going to the observatory, which is located 6 meters below the surface of the water, where you can enjoy the beauty of the underwater world. You can also visit an oceanarium on the shore, and observe sharks, sea turtles and rays through its huge windows.
Underwater dolphin dance
Lately, the Katza Beach has become my favourite. Its best part is the possibility of swimming with dolphins in their natural environment. Despite having access to the open sea,
the dolphins often swim together with people around Dolphin Reef. The beach also offers three different pools in the heart of a tropical garden. Surprisingly, I rarely see tourists there.
Canyons and dry waterfalls
In the mountains surrounding Eilat you can find diverse trails that offer varying levels of difficulty. People tell me that when they hear that we are taking them to a desert, they picture rolling sand dunes and are surprised to discover mountains, canyons, dry water falls, and fanciful shaped, coloured rock formations.
Although the popular Red Canyon is exciting to experience, I prefer trekking in the Shchoret (Black) Canyon and Amram’s Pillars. For a stunning view of the four countries whose borders meet around the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba: Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, you must climb to the top of Mt. Zefahot especially at sunrise or sunset.
CAnother Interesting attraction is Timna Park, located a 20-minute drive from Eilat. It combines the history of the ancient Egyptian copper production, incredible scenery, and the chance to visit the full-scale model of the ancient Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. One of this trip attractions will surely be the flamingos that make their home at the Evrona Salt Ponds.
No one can resist taking a picture of these large, pink, graceful birds contrasted with the blue water and multi-shaded brown mountains in the background. The migration of millions of birds crossing over Eilat starts in late March and early April, as well as in October.
I live in a place that has the atmosphere and convenience of a small town but still a variety of restaurants. The citizens of Israel and Eilat spend a lot of time dining. You should definitely try Israeli breakfast. At the moment my favourite restaurants are Branja, Uga Chaga, and Rachel. Furthermore, the popular shawarma and falafel stalls stand on every corner of the main street.
One block of Sderot Hatmarim, the main street, has a number of local, interesting eateries, e.g. Lev Harachav, which offers shawarma, Saga Sushi – a small Thai/sushi place, an Ethiopian bar, and two Mexican restaurants. Something for everyone who wants to eat away from the hustle and bustle of the promenade.
An hour or two
Contrary to what one might expect, Eilat, although located in the south of Israel and isolated on each side by the desert, is very well located. It only takes two hours to get to Petra in Jordan, three-hour drive to reach Mt. Sinai in Egypt; four hours to get to Jerusalem and two to get to the Dead Sea.