Gulf of Aqaba, Jordan

The Gulf of Aqaba is a northern arm of the Red Sea and is one of the most sensational diving spots in the world. White beaches and luxury resorts in the city of Aqaba attract visitors from all over the world to the south of Jordan.

The Gulf of Aqaba is located in the north of the Red Sea and is one of our top 10 places to visit in Jordan. Together with the Suez Canal, it encompasses the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and is Jordan's only access to the sea. Its coastline is bordered by four countries: Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.


Egypt in particular used the Gulf of Aqaba; since the Fourth Dynasty, the Egyptians crossed the Red Sea to trade, including Pharaoh Hatshepsut on one occasion. Even today, the Gulf of Aqaba is still considered an important trade route as a link between Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Gulf of Aqaba played a significant role in several armed conflicts, such as the First World War and the Iran-Iraq War, either as a sea access for Iraq via Jordan, for example, or as a blockade for enemy troops.

Facts and figures about the Gulf of Aqaba

The Gulf of Aqaba is almost 200 kilometres long, nearly 30 kilometres wide at its widest point and reaches an incredible depth of almost 2,000 metres (by comparison, the Suez Canal is only about 100m deep).

Formed by Africa's Great Rift Valley, which stretches from Africa up to the Dead Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba still has an incredible temperature of 21°C at a depth of 1,000 metres, where other seas are only a few degrees "warm". The heat of the Gulf of Aqaba does not come from sunlight, but directly from the earth's core; temperatures of up to 60°C have already been measured at its bottom.

Beaches and reefs on the Gulf of Aqaba

Colourful fish in the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Aqaba in the north of the Red Sea, Jordan - © Zbyszek Nowak / Fotolia
© Zbyszek Nowak / Fotolia

The largest city on its shore is the eponymous city of Aqaba, which belongs to Jordan and already served as a trading centre for the Nabataeans under the historical name Ayla. Remains of the civilisation from the Iron Age can still be visited today. Other larger settlements are Eilat in Israel and Taba as well as the tourist stronghold Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

In 1996, an agreement was signed between Eilat and Aqaba, which stipulates cooperation between the two cities in tourism, the environment, land management, energy and natural resources, as well as the promotion and organisation of music and sporting events. In the course of this, the Red Sea Marina Peace Park was also established.

The Gulf of Aqaba has gorgeous white beaches and a spectacular underwater world, making it an attractive tourist magnet. The climate is extremely pleasant all year round, and the large cities of Aqaba, Eilat and Taba all have luxury resorts on the beach.


Diver's paradise off the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba

One of the most important sources of income in tourism are diving tours in the Red Sea. The sensational diver's paradise off the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is the northernmost coral reef in the world and is one of the most breathtaking in the world.

The huge coral reefs and shoals of colourful fish in the crystal-clear water are complemented by old wrecks, some of which were even specially sunk to provide shelter for the marine life.

For example, giant whale sharks, majestic hammerhead sharks and bizarre-looking puffer fish roam the sea around the Gulf of Aqaba. Those who prefer to keep their heads above water but still don't want to miss the magnificent underwater world can also discover it on dry land in a glass-bottomed boat.