At the top of many scuba divers’ bucket list — and rightfully so — the Red Sea has an abundance of what true underwater enthusiasts desire: warm water, a temperate climate, thriving reefs, amazing wrecks, caves, walls, dropoffs, and encounters with pelagics like dolphins, sharks, whales, and whale sharks. The city of Aqaba, located on the northern edge of the Red Sea, a well-known scuba diving destination, grants easy access to some of the most exciting and dazzling with marine life dive sites along 27 km of coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba.
With a mild climate and the water temperatures between 26 degrees Celsius in the summer, and 20 degrees in the winter, Aqaba makes an ideal location for year-round scuba diving for all levels of experience.
The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) established Aqaba Protected Area as part of the master plan of the coastal resources embodying the coral reserve along the coast.
The area was created to preserve and regulate the natural near-shore marine environment of the south coast with its rich biodiversity while allowing particular tourist uses.
Most of over 21 dive sites along the Jordanian coastline are in the protected area of Aqaba Marine Park and easily accessible by boat or from the shore. Each dive site varies in shape and inhabitants. Slopes, drop-offs, canyons and flat bottoms, all veiled with flourishing corals and a plethora of marine life. Nutrient-rich upwellings wash over the reefs, nourishing soft coral gardens, stunning hard coral islands and pinnacles which can be found in less than 25m of water. The Gulf of Aqaba is home to more than 300 species of hard and soft corals, over 510 species of fish, and 1000’s of molluscs and other invertebrates, some of them amongst an exciting collection of wrecks and underwater structures.
At the same time, it supports efforts to conduct research and monitoring programs on the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the northern Gulf of Aqaba and the coral reefs. The Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan (JREDS) an NGO that carries out regular beach and underwater cleanup programs, organises community awareness and public education and community programs in Aqaba and Jordan. Over the years JREDS has developed an active partnership role with ASEZA, in order to conserve the ecological integrity of ecosystems, habitats and species in Aqaba through marine surveys and various marine environmental studies and solutions. JREDS has actively supported in coral reef monitoring, turtle surveys, water conservation and other environmental campaigns in Aqaba, with ASEZA and Aqaba Marine Park and other stakeholders.
Currently, Aqaba plays a significant role in strengthening the regional capability for information exchange and resource management for the entire Red Sea.
Over the years, ASEZA in cooperation with Aqaba’s private sector and environmental organisations has put loads of effort to protect and support the recovery of natural reefs by drawing visitors away to alternative sites created by scuttling various objects to become the foundation of an artificial reef.
These include a C1-30 Hercules military plane submerged back in 2017 and recently sunk passenger aircraft - Lockheed Tristar. The latest addition to the catalogue of wrecks available for divers in Aqaba is first in the world, underwater military museum. This unusual dive site comprises of 21, carefully positioned on the seabed military relics and imitates a tactical formation. The collection consists of tanks, a military ambulance, an army crane, a troop carrier, an anti-aircraft gun and combat helicopters. All involved in the project gave great attention to the environmental effects of the scuttling and taken all measures to ensure the protection and safety of the marine environment. Before the scuttling, all hazardous materials were removed to comply with the environmental best practices. The depth of the objects varies from 7 to 28 meters. It gives scuba divers and snorkelers a unique chance to explore military machines and to observe coral reef and marine life growth and recovery.
Click Here and Here to go on a photographic and informative journey through the wrecks of Aqaba and dive into a fantastic, underwater world of the Jordanian Red Sea.