Snorkelling in the Red Sea, Aqaba, Jordan. That’s not something one thinks of when they’re planning a trip to Jordan, neither is Jordan a destination one thinks of while looking for a snorkelling holiday. But there it was on my itinerary. An entire afternoon floating in the waters between the coastlines of four different countries.
Honestly, it was the prospect of just being there, within viewing distance of four different countries that had me most excited about my afternoon on the Yasmina boat. Which is just as well as you’ll find out. We drove into Aqaba, a beautiful and quiet resort town on the shores of the inky blue Red Sea and saw Eilat, a city in Israel just next door. Stepping off our air conditioned buses and onto the Pier where the boat and her captain were waiting for us, we felt the difference in climate. So far Jordan (Amman, Petra etc) had been hot, dusty and dry. Suddenly we felt the sticky humidity of the seaside air. It was a windy day, and the water looked choppy as the boat bobbed up and down. Offering up his hand, the captain pulled us into the boat one by one.
Shoes off, sunscreen and shades on, we settled in as the wind wreaked havoc with our hair. The captain merrily pointed out the different countries in the (not so far) distance. Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and of course the one whose jurisdiction we were in – Jordan. (An interesting note, and shoutout of thanks to our Zain mobile network, the 4G was zooming even out there!)
After half an hour of gently cruising through the water, the boat hummed to a stop where the inky blue expanse gave way to beautiful azure patches. Looking over the railing, I noticed the sparkly water was much clearer here and I could make out small schools of fish flitting about under the surface. Looking out, I could barely discern what were corals under the water, and decided it wasn’t too far to swim out to. (I’m a decent but nervous swimmer, and after having gotten my feet wet snorkelling in Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi and the Philippines’ Nalusuan Island Marine Sanctuary, I told myself, “You’ve got this.”)
Snorkelling in the Red Sea, Aqaba
With a loud thunk, the captain and his son flapped a bunch of lifejackets and snorkel masks onto the deck and looked around for the first scapegoat. True to form, a bunch of Russians threw their GoPros (floaties attached) and jumped in without hesitation. Since there were just about enough lifejackets for the non-swimmers, I got onto the ladder and reversed in sans gear of any sort. The water was freezing, but that wasn’t the real shock. Clearing the ladder for others, I found myself being pulled away from the boat and reed by the strong currents. Swimming against it was a task since most of my energy was being spent in fighting the choppy waves, the kind that end up in you swallowing mouthfuls of water. Salty. Very very salty water. I was yet to experience the Dead Sea at this point, and I couldn’t begin to imagine water saltier than this. Realising I was barely halfway to the coral reef, I tried to take a break, treading the water with all my might. This turned out to be an exercise in futility as I realising I was expending just as much energy.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the afternoon wore on. I’d return to the boat for a break, and make another halfway attempt several times, never once getting to the reef itself. All of this had me working up quite the appetite and watching the captain merrily grilling some fish on the edge of the boat, inhaling the delicious flavours hadn’t helped much. So getting back on board, I settled down to some lunch and sat back enjoying the sun, wind and surf as we made our way back to shore. Perhaps I didn’t have my A-Game on that day, perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be, but Aqaba, you and I have a score to settle, and I’ll be back. Who knows, maybe the next time around I won’t just be there for snorkelling in the Red Sea, Aqaba, Jordan. I might just be up (or down) for some diving too!
This post was made possible by the Jordan Tourism Board. Opinions as always are our own.