DIVE IN AQABA
The Aqaba Marine Park is a marine nature reserve encompassing 7 km of shoreline in the Gulf of Aqaba, a part of the Red Sea. It is an excellent place for diving and snorkeling. And also a fantastic place for underwater photography and videography because of superior visibility.
Aqaba Dive Sites
Red Sea Diving
Enjoy Red Sea scuba diving in the Aqaba Marine Park. The protected area includes 21 dive sites, 14 of which are reachable from the shore. Each of them has unique features that allow wreck diving, pinnacles, deep dives, and wall dives. While you can enjoy diving in the Gulf of Aqaba all year round, the waters are warmest from May to September, with temperatures ranging from 23-27 Celsius. Water temperatures gradually decrease to around 21 degrees Celsius in February and March.
The corals that inhabit the gulf are very healthy and resistant to bleaching. There are over 200 species of hard and soft corals. Not only is this an excellent place for diving, but it is also a fantastic place for underwater photography. The water clarity is superb most of the year and averages about 35 – 40 meters. The Gulf of Aqaba touches the Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian boundaries.
The Underwater Military Museum
Most Visited Aqaba Dive Sites
Cedar Pride (9 - 27 meters / 30 - 90 feet)
The Cedar Pride is one of the most beautiful wrecks in the world. It lies in a canyon between the two limestone rocks. Looking at the 1161 ton ship lying underwater is a fantastic experience itself. In 1982 this vessel was in the Gulf of Aqaba. Unfortunately, a massive fire broke out and damaged it extensively. This ship was purposely sunk in 1985 after the King of Jordan asked to make an artificial reef for diving. This dive site is a must-do.
This wreck is easily reached from boat or shore and is an excellent site for both the novice and experienced diver. The most exciting diving is on the seaward side, where you can see the deck and superstructure. The crow's nest is covered with an abundance of soft corals and stands out against the clear blue water. Covering the ship's deck are loads of marine critters, including urchins, shrimps, pipefish, and soft coral crabs. Numerous hard and soft corals also colonize the wreckage.
Kiwi Reef (9 – 18 meters / 30 – 60 feet)
Kiwi Reef was discovered by a diver from New Zealand. It is a popular reef for underwater photographers, which is easily accessed from shore. The reef consists of coral heads and seagrass. The seagrass contains a myriad of marine life, including seahorses, eels, sea slugs, small schools of fish, and large pufferfish. The primary reef system starts at about 20 meters. Here you will find many healthy coral heads interspersed by sandy patches that are teeming with life. Macrophotography is great here as the corals are home to juvenile fish, nudibranchs, glass shrimps, red-banded coral shrimps, and small crabs. There are also plenty of eels, lionfish, trunkfish, scorpionfish, stonefish, and anthius fish to be seen.
Eel Garden (15 – 27 meters / 50 – 90 feet)
Home to one of the largest garden eel populations in the Red Sea! The site starts as a sandy slope that goes to a depth of about 20 meters. If you approach slowly, you will probably see the garden eels with their heads sticking up out of the sand. Enjoy looking at them quickly before they descend out of sight. As you continue, you will come upon a fantastic display of black corals, and then you will see a pinnacle. This pinnacle is a sight to behold. A large variety of reef fish has made this pinnacle their home. All the colors of the reef fish light this pinnacle up like a jewel. Soft corals abound here as well. While here, be on the lookout for moray eels, harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish, and beautiful lionfish.
King Abdullah Reef (6 – 40 meters / 20 – 130 feet)
This is a popular reef named after King Abdullah II. It has a large variety of healthy corals populated by many common reef fishes. Divers have also spotted large schools of pennant coral fish, the occasional torpedo ray, and turtles who come to forage on the seagrass. At deeper levels, there is a gorgonian forest which is home to large shoals of fish. The waters are crystal clear, and because there is very little current, underwater photographers have excellent conditions for capturing some great photos.
The Tank and Seven Sisters (5 - 12 meters / 20 - 40 feet)
The Tank is a great dive site for scuba divers and snorkelers as it is only 5 meters below sea level and is easily reached from shore or boat. This is an old American anti-aircraft tank that is now populated with small corals and juvenile fish. You can also see anthius, lionfish, scorpionfish, and trunkfish. It is very popular with underwater photographers. The Seven Sisters dive site is located a short distance from the Tank, and it is also easily reached from shore or boat. Before you reach Seven Sisters, you will swim over some patches of seagrass and small coral heads that house a lot of marine life. Once you reach Seven Sisters, you will see seven large coral pinnacles that are teeming with life. Underwater photographers love this site. They are at a depth of only 8-9 meters. Commonly seen here are anthius, damselfish, stonefish, lionfish, scorpionfish, fusilier, and eels.
Hercules C-130 (12 - 17 meters /40 - 56 feet)
The Hercules C-130 Hercules transport aircraft was sunk in Aqaba in 2017 in an easily accessible location. It is not far from the Cedar Pride or the M42 tank. Unfortunately, a rare storm with gale-force winds tore the plane up in March 2020. The Hercules now lies in pieces. However, it is still a great dive site that is rich with marine life and soft corals.
First Bay (6 – 30 meters / 20 – 100 feet)
The dive at the north end of the First Bay begins with a sandy bottom with patches of coral heads. It is a sloping reef that gradually descends from 12 to 30 meters. There are some wonderful coral pinnacles to enjoy that are covered in soft red corals and marine life. At approximately 15 meters, you might find octopi, groupers, lionfish, and the occasional school of squid.
First Bay South (6 - 30 meters / 20 - 100 feet)
This dive can be reached by boat or from shore. It is often used to practice drift diving. It is a colorful dive dotted by patches of coral heads that are inhabited by a lot of smaller marine life. Commonly seen are clownfish, cornetfish, parrotfish, and eight-lined wrasse. Most of this dive site is fine for beginners, but near the edges of the sandy gullies, divers can come across strong downward currents. These currents can take you down to 100 meters or more. Your dive guide will keep you safely away from these currents. Technical divers like this site because of the amazing corals that are found below 40 meters. Tech divers call this deep dive site Death Valley.
Black Rock (0 – 45 meters / 0 – 150 feet)
This site is located in front of the private beach of Club Berenice. There is a wide array of corals just below the surface, which makes this a great spot for snorkelers and divers alike. There are some large coral slopes and valleys filled with large black coral forests. Commonly seen here are emperor fish, snappers, lyretail, scorpionfish, lionfish, small triggerfish, parrotfish, as well as the common reef fishes. You might get to see a turtle as they often frequent this area.
Underwater Military Museum (18 - 28 metres / 60 - 95 feet)
The World's First Underwater Military Museum is an amazing collection of old military equipment. It is now open for divers and snorkelers to explore military equipment along shallow and deep coral reefs. They set all the pieces up to imitate a tactical war formation. There are about 19 military relics that comprise of tanks, an ambulance, an army crane, a troop carrier, and anti-aircraft gun, and two Cobra helicopters.
Tristar Wreck (9 - 26 metres / 30 - 85 feet)
The Lockheed Martin L1011 Tristar plane was sunk in late 2019. It was set in an area free of coral reefs on a sloping sandy reef. There is some seagrass in the area along with large black sponges and some small heads of coral. This large 400 seater aircraft is attracting fish, corals and other marine life. It is an amazing site to see this enormous plane in the sea. Divers from around the world enjoy swimming through up through the intake valve. They also enjoy exploring the cabin and cockpit.
Yellowstone Reef (15 – 50+ meters / 50 – 328+ feet)
Yellowstone Reef was named after the famous Yellowstone Park in the USA because there is a yellowish looking pinnacle you can see from the surface in the shallow area of the reef. There are two nice pinnacles with lots of red sponges and nudibranchs on this site. You will encounter some huge green cabbage corals, turtles, pufferfish, and lyretail groupers as you swim over the deeper reef. This site is accessible by boat, but can also be reached from the shore if you are diving from Tala Bay.
Japanese Garden (6 - 30 meters / 20 - 100 feet)
This is one of the best-known dive sites in Aqaba. It is easily accessible from shore or boat. It is located on the same beach as the Cedar Pride wreck. A large variety of corals fill this site, including fire coral, which will burn you if you accidentally touch it, so be careful. This site is also popular with snorkelers because of the corals and sea life that are visible even in shallow depths. It is known as one of the prettiest dive sites in Aqaba. You might be fortunate to see a hawksbill turtle. Typical here are shoals of sergeant majors and fusiliers, as well as anthius, eels, and lionfish.
Power Station (6 – 40 meters / 20 – 130 feet)
The only wall site in Aqaba. It took its name from the oil-fired power station on the coast road located just north of the dive site. Technical divers enjoy this site because it drops down to over 200 meters (656 feet) at the maximum point. This dive is accessed by boat. It is a dramatic wall dive as the drop off is spectacular, and there is an abundance of marine life to enjoy. But it is also a great dive for recreational divers because there is much to see on the top of the wall to enjoy at a depth of no more than 30 meters.
Rainbow Reef (3 – 18 meters / 10 – 60 feet)
This reef is shaped like a rainbow. Hence, its name. It is accessible from shore or boat. The reef starts out around 6 meters and then drops down to about 18 meters. On the north side of the reef, you will swim across telecommunication cables that run over to Egypt. Many people enjoy night dives here as they get a chance to see Spanish Dancers, lobsters, moray eels, and brightly colored feather stars. The site is also popular during the day as it is populated with a vast assortment of marine life. Commonly seen are parrotfish, scorpionfish, wrasse, and butterflyfish. Sometimes eagle rays might be seen gracefully swimming along the reef.
Ashraf’s Grotto – Paradise (5 – 100 meters / 16 – 330 feet)
This site is only accessed by boat. It is a deep dive starting at 20 meters. There are some beautiful red rope sponges and many small fish that underwater photographers enjoy. There are some caves at about 30 meters. Marine life spotted there are turtles, eagle rays, Spanish dancers, octopi, and stingrays. This dive site is only active during high tide.
Ras Al Yamanya (6 – 30 meters / 20 – 100 feet)
Ras al Yamanya is a great place to practice or learn diving skills. Divers can easily stand on a flat sandy bottom and not be worried about damaging any nearby corals. There is also a good diversity of fish and eels to see here. Marine that in this area include all the reef fishes, including lionfish, pipefish, and colorful nudibranchs.
Gorgone One (6 – 15 metres / 20 – 50 feet)
This site is consistently a favorite among divers and snorkelers. This site derives its name from a large gorgonian sea fan coral at the site that divers love to visit. You can find the large gorgonian sea fan amid three pinnacles. Each of these pinnacles has an amazing ecosystem of its own. Some contain cleaning stations filled with shrimps, moray eels, glass fish, and anthius, which makes them popular with underwater photographers. There is also a good amount and variety of corals, including huge cabbage coral, to enjoy. Hawksbill turtles can also be seen here, along with emperor fish, sergeant major fish, stonefish, and lionfish.
Gorgone Two (3 – 21 meters / 10 – 65 feet)
This site is highly rated by both divers and snorkelers. It was aptly named because there are two Gorgonian fan corals found here. The first one is at 20 meters, and the other at 29 meters depth. There are a variety of pinnacles and reefs on this site. In the shallow waters, you can find some very interesting pinnacles to explore and look for the tiny marine life that inhabits them. Be careful of the fire corals at the beginning of the dive. They can burn you badly. Enjoy your time looking at the table corals, bright green cabbage corals, and raspberry corals. If you look inside the raspberry corals, you might be lucky enough to see a small crab hiding there. Divers have commonly spotted large schools of fusiliers, blue tangs, pairs of pennant coral fish, lionfish, moray eels, scorpionfish, parrotfish, wrasse, and the occasional sea turtle.
Al Shorouk Wreck (35 - 60 meters /115 -199 ft)
This is one of the best tech dives in the area reachable only by boat. It is located on the deep end of the Eel Canyon dive site. This wreck was purposely put here in 2008 to create a site for tech divers. There is not much coral growth on it because of its depth. But it is quite a sight to see in the deep blue waters. The bow of this ship begins at 38 meters. The wreck is in excellent condition, and divers enjoy visiting the bridge and engine room. There is more to be seen at even deeper levels, but divers must plan accordingly for deco stops.
Taiyong Wreck (35 – 57 meters / 115 – 190 feet)
Technical divers discovered the Taiyong wreck in 2004. It is a large crane barge that was once used to offload ships in the Gulf of Aqaba. The barge measures 36 meters long, and the crane is 27 meters long. The deepest point of the barge lies at 57 meters. There is not much life on this dive site, but black corals and gorgonians colonize it. The crane is a fantastic sight to see as it plunges to 50 meters. This dive is only suitable for technical divers.
Aqaba is featured in DIVE Magazine. They have some amazing videos of our top dives. Watch the videos, read the article, and get inspired before your visit!
What does Jordan’s stretch of Red Sea coastline have to offer technical divers? Deep diver DAN BURTON went to check it out. Dan dived the Cedar Pride with Deep Blue’s Operation Manager, Mohammed Leddawi, soon after he arrived in Aqaba.
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