A Guide To The Red Sea

Sometimes, just when you think an adventure can’t get any better, it does. Our journey to the Dead Sea was phenomenal, and we left feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready for the next leg of our desert road trip. We had no idea what was in store for us in Eilat. I actually had little to no expectations, as I simply viewed it as a jumping off point to Jordan, for our visit to Petra.

Our drive from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea was just over 2 hours, taking us through scenic desert nothingness in the land that seemed to be from before time. The route we followed was pretty direct, but we quickly realized there are some small deviations that are possible along the way. We somehow merged onto the wrong road at one point (the even more scenic route), making our drive a bit longer than expected. Do your best to follow the highlighted route below, but when all else fails, just keep heading south towards Eilat. You won’t end up accidentally entering Egypt or Jordan!

Route from the Dead Sea to Eilat

Our first impression of Eilat was simple – it’s a touristy beach-town. Not a lot of authentic culture to be found, only large resorts taking up long stretches of available beach. Smaller hotels and motels are scattered throughout the rest of the city amidst fast food restaurants and ample tour operators pitching camel rides, scuba adventures and other desert excursions. Our time in this tiny, tourist town was short. After all, this was a stopover destination we thought. We really only booked one night’s stay as a means of resting up after our road trip, and preparing for our early morning journey across the border into Jordan.

I took me quite a while and many travel mishaps to learn a very important lesson – locals know best, and sometimes you’ve just got to fly by the seat of your pants. You can read Trip Adviser, Lonely Planet and travel write-ups until you’re cross-eyed, try to plan every hour of every day in hopes of executing a flawless vacation, and fail miserably. It’s important to recognize what portion of your trip requires planning and when it makes sense to just do activities on a whim. We made no plans for our short time in Eilat. We decided to simply ‘do what feels right’ (my all-time favorite motto) and see what came of it. Sometimes no plan is the best plan!

Upon arrival, we asked advice from locals on the best way to spend our time, and received a resounding ‘snorkel in the Red Sea’. We were also told to completely bypass the beach lined with fancy resorts and shops and to head further south. If you have the pleasure of even a quick visit to Eilat, take the advice of the locals and make a short drive along the coast towards the Eilat Coral Reserve. Rent gear (snorkels and fins) in town ahead of time, find a laid-back spot with no hotels in sight, and get ready to have your mind blown. This part of the beach is not exactly ‘picturesque’, but you’re not here to enjoy the scenery above water, you’re here to submerge into a magical world. This is quite candidly the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced!

Red Sea snorkeling Eialt, Israel

I’ve done my fair share of underwater adventuring. Some of my best experiences were in Cozumel, Mexico (the top of the second largest coral reef in the world). I’d even claim that Mexico has some of the best snorkeling in the Americas, but nothing compares to what we experienced in the Red Sea. With a coral reef that extends for more than 1200 meters and reaches right up to the shore, the Red Sea welcomes incredible sea life in easy-to reach locations. I’m sure it would be an incredible place to dive as well, but what’s nice is that you don’t have to venture very far to experience over 1,100 species of colorful fish, enormous sea urchins, mollusks and crustaceans.

Our evening in Eilat was as mesmerizing as our sea adventure. We discovered that a meteor shower was scheduled to peak at midnight, allowing for great viewing (if only you can find a dark place to watch). Time to execute on a whim! By local recommendation, we learned that the best (darkest) place to watch the shower would be at…. the Eilat Cemetery high in the hills over the city.

Eilat Cemetery, Israel

We hailed a cab and told the driver where we were headed. He looked twice at us and said ‘you know what this is, right?”. We tried to explain the best we could why it made sense for us, but you can probably imagine his surprise when we asked him to drop us off at the cemetery at midnight! He left us there, casually adding ‘have fun‘ as he drove off. We spent our night in Eilat enjoying the quiet, stillness of the dead, watching a sky full of life 🙂

From Eilat, we continued our adventure into Jordan for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Petra. Stay tuned for an update from our time playing Indiana Jones in this phenomenal, ancient city made of stone! 


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