Nothing excites travelers more than the sight of sparkling clear blue water seen against a background of towering purple mountains. Eilat is one of the few places in Israel where visitors can see such a panorama with the sun rises from behind the mountains of Moav and setting behind the mountains of Eilat, shedding it warmth on the sea, the town, and its residents and visitors.
Among the waters of the Red Sea lies one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Its mazes, bays, deep canyons, and the abundant beautiful fish that swim among the majestic coral have made it an internationally-renowned diving site. The magic and silence of this underwater world is calming and enchanting.
The coral reef in Eilat extends for over 1200 meters along the shore, and is one of the northernmost reefs in the world, and the only one of its kind in Israel and as such has been declared a nature reserve. The reef has become a pilgrimage site for sea naturalists and for professional and amateur divers and snorkelers. The reef is made up of a primary wall of coral that descends to a depth of 3 to 4 meters. Behind this is a sand bar with two huge rocks known as Joshua and Moses, and behind these is another steep wall of coral that descends to a depth of 35 meters. The beautiful coral creates colorful garden-like formations containing many varieties of fish and marvelous sea creatures. There are over 270 species of coral in this underwater jungle, among which are numerous small habitats that contain over 2,500 species of underwater life – some of them unique to the Red Sea. These include sea turtles, sea urchins, oysters, sea anemones, crabs, sponges, octopi, cuttlefish, tropical fish, and even several types of cheerful dolphins - making diving at the site a special experience.
There are several well-known diving sites along the reef such as the two rocks, Joshua and Moses that can be reached by a special bridge at the northern end of the reserve, and the Japanese gardens at the southern end. These were so named because of their similarity to a Japanese garden. The gardens are the most well-protected diving site in Eilat and extend over an area of 500 meters, and descend to two different depths.
Since the coral reef is a complex and delicate ecosystem, any deviation in its balance is liable to cause a negative chain reaction. The site therefore imposes strict precautions designed to preserve its natural ecological balance, and the number of divers that are permitted to enter the site at one time is limited.
Outside the reserve there are several other diving sites. These include the caves – a popular and convenient site close to the Taba border terminal, with two underwater passages. One of these can be crossed while diving. The eel garden, located north of the reserve is a popular site where divers can watch a forest of eels standing upright in the current. The lighthouse is situated at the end of the southern shore and has two circular diving routes with marked entrances. The sculpture garden looks like statues placed in the sea, and can be reached only with boats and a guide. Another site is the battleship - a ship belonging to the Israeli navy that was sunk in 1994 opposite the southern marina. Another site, known as Paradise, is located near the battleship, and is one of the most widely toured sites. The University, located on the shore of the Interuniversity Institute, is a place where research and experiments are conducted on growing coral. Another Israeli navy craft, the Mosquito, is a boat that was sunk opposite the Coral Beach. The Tables of Neptune, also known as the Coral Tables or Veronica, are located on the southern shore on the way to Taba. This is a relatively large site where the coral appears like tables to divers swimming above.
If you already know how to dive, there are many places along the shore where you can rent equipment and enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery. If you do not know how to dive, Eilat offers you dozens of certified diving schools where you can learn to dive and fulfill your dream of visiting the underwater world.
The tourist information center in Eilat offers visitors a variety of possibilities and recommendations for renting equipment, as well as recommending diving sites and general information about the city and its tourist attractions. The tourist center is located at Beit HaGesher 8 on the northern promenade.
Telephone: 08 6309111
Internet site: www.goisrael.com