This southern seaport town on the Gulf of Aqaba provides Jordan’s only access to the sea. It’s an ancient city: Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and Lawrence of Arabia are amongst Aqaba’s past guests. The sleepy fishing village was only dragged into modernity following a deal struck with neighbouring Saudi Arabia whereby Jordan was granted a couple of extra kilometres of coastline and coral reef south of the now modern town.
Arriving into the port of Aqaba, you may be struck by how big Aqaba appears. Sweeping around the Gulf of Aqaba are indeed two settlements. To the left is Eilat in the State of Israel and to the right is Aqaba, Jordan. Between them lies a large demarcation zone. Right here, you’re at the crossroads of four countries. Just along from the triangular strikingly shaped Hilton Eilat (the last big hotel along the Eilat coast) is a gap and then another smaller settlement and a few high rises. This is Taba in Egypt. Then just around 14 km from Aqaba lays the border to Saudi Arabia. Aqaba is what is known as a Special Economic Zone, where many goods including alcohol are cheaper. Aqaba is also Jordan’s beach base for Red Sea SCUBA diving, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and chilling out. Some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling is centred on the unspoiled coral reefs, which hug the coastline just south of Aqaba town.
History and culture buffs might perhaps pay a visit the 12th-century fort and the port area; watch the fish in the aquariums at the Aqaba Marine Science Station, whilst some people may prefer to embark upon a little retail therapy.
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