It was the very first dive in Eilat and I was already overwhelmed by the beauty, variety and colourfulness of this part of the Red Sea. I was also amazed when we saw dolphins, lionfish and numerous clownfish in the water on a single day. We are soooo lucky here on our dives in Eilat – was the thought I spoke out loud. Our dive guide just said: There is no luck involved. Scuba diving in Eilat is always like this!
On our trip through Israel, during which we mainly visited the Negev desert and the Dead Sea, Eilat was also part of our itinerary. On my first two visits to the Holy Land, I never made it further south than the Dead Sea, but since we rented a car this time, we had all the freedom we needed. Nothing to stop us from visiting Eilat.
To be honest, it was not Eilat itself that called our attention, but the Red Sea coast. The Red Sea! Known to be a paradise for divers – so how could I not give it a try and scuba dive in Eilat! Still, I was unsure how the Israeli part of the Red Sea really was underwater?
We really wanted to stay for a few days and get to know the underwater world of Eilat and the gulf. Let me show you how the scuba diving in Eilat is, what there is to see, and share our favourite dive sites and many more tips in this blog post.
Scuba Diving in Eilat
I don't even know where to begin. The Israeli part of the Red Sea was described to me as not as beautiful as elsewhere, I should be prepared for the fact that it is simply not as colourful there. The Red Sea is a treasure chest with the most colourful creatures, you only have to open a bit to lose yourself completely in it and fall in love.
Israel's share of the Red Sea is tiny compared to Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Sudan. However, the size says nothing about the quality. There are about 30 different dive sites with wrecks and different coral reefs just waiting to be discovered.
Diving in Eilat is done directly from the shore, so you don't need a boat. You can easily get to the dive sites with the dive centre's minibuses. Scuba diving is amazing here all year round – but I would avoid the summer because of the heat and generally many tourists.
In general, you can simply rent equipment and tanks from a dive centre and explore the dive sites on your own with your dive buddy. Again and again, dive accidents happen, because divers overestimate their own abilities. That is a shame because it puts the whole sport in trouble. Let a trained dive guide show you the most beautiful places and if you still feel like going without a guide after a few dives, get a detailed briefing of the dive site.
The Best Dive Sites in Eilat
There are an amazing thirty dive sites on the few kilometres of Red Sea coast in Eilat. The following dive sites were my favourites during our visit:
Katza – Where Eilat's Dolphins Hang Out
This dive site is very close to Dolphin Reef. A few years ago some dolphins that were kept in Russia were released here. They are also regularly fed in the Dolphin Reef Delfinarium, but in fact, they live in freedom. However, as they have become accustomed to the reliable feeding spot, they stay in the gulf and do not migrate further into the Red Sea.
Shipwreck Satil – A Historical Dive
In the Red Sea there are several shipwrecks that are accessible for scuba divers. Eilat is no exception: the 45-meter long Satil is a speedboat of the Israeli navy. In the 1960s, the Satil and other ships were stolen in a delicate operation from the French, who built them for the Israelis but did not deliver them.
The Satil was sunk in Eilat in 1994 and has been a popular spot for divers ever since. Even if you are not into wrecks, you will find a lot of variety at this dive site due to the presence of the numerous schools of fish. At the mast, we even discovered a frogfish that was hanging out there.
More Great Dive Sites in Eilat
Besides Katza and Satil, there are many other dive sites in Eilat that are worth discovering:
- Wreck divers have the opportunity to dive not only the Satil but also the Yatush, which lies at 30 meters and is much smaller than the other wreck. Because of the depth, the bottom time there won't be too long but will leave enough time to really appreciate the corals and schools of fish on the way back to shore.
- One of the most popular and beautiful dive sites in Eilat is Veronica. Thanks to the shallow depth the dive site is ideal for beginners and for the second or third dive of the day. At this dive site, we even saw an octopus!
- Another rather shallow dive site is The Caves and is also one of my favourites. I could have watched the colourful schools of fish for hours here.
- The dive site University owes its name to the University of Eilat. Here you can find some metal constructions that have been sunk for research purposes to study this part of the Red Sea.
Our Tips: Scuba Diving in Eilat
Best time for your visit. In Eilat, you can dive all year round and can always enjoy good visibility. However, I would recommend you to avoid the summer as it is very hot and crowded. We were in Eilat ourselves at the beginning of November and found the temperatures both on land and in the water to be ideal.
Water temperature. The water temperature in Eilat is 26°C in summer and 21°C in the winter months.
Diving equipment. Either bring it yourself or rent it from the diving centre. Many dive centres simply include the price of the equipment in their excursion.
Wetsuit. In summer a 3mm wetsuit is sufficient. In winter we have been diving with our 7mm semi-dry suits from Camaro. We don't have 5mm wetsuits, which would have been enough.
Scuba Diving in Eilat: Dive Centre Tzlilut
The dive centre Tzlilut (also known as Clarity Divers) describes itself as a boutique dive shop. And rightly so. Rarely have I experienced such a comfortable and functional dive shop, which employs great dive guides, who are passionate about their profession.
The Tzlilut Dive Center is located about 500 meters away from the Egyptian border in Israel. Admittedly, a bit remote, but that's why only divers who are serious about diving come here. Many other dive centres in Eilat do not have the same reputation and do not put the same effort and planning into their dives as Tzlilut.
We dived with the dive guide Lior, who has been working in Eilat as a dive instructor for several years and knows the reefs inside and out. He also knows where to find fish like Crocodile Fish.
At Tzlilut, they make sure you have a great time in the water. Small groups of a maximum of four divers (+ guide) are standard. Most times it was just us with our guide Lior.
The dive centre is equipped with hot showers, lockers for both diving equipment and dry gear, a small restaurant and a small self-service area with free water, tea and coffee.
Where to Eat in Eilat? Our Recommendations for Restaurants
In Eilat there are many great restaurants. Here are our three favourites, where we dined several times:
- Omer's: We visited this little place more than once because we liked it so much there. Especially the vegetarian dishes with eggplant and hummus were simply delicious.
- Fish Market: The restaurant Fish Market is decorated in a Mediterranean ambience with a big roofed terrace and is a delicious choice for different fish dishes.
- Steak House Express: For the small appetite I can recommend the fast-food eatery Steak House Express, which is located right next to the upscale Steak House. We enjoyed pita bread with falafel and hummus here, which is very typical for the region. This is a great choice if you want to save some money!
Where to stay in Eilat? Our Hotel Tips
We were quite shocked by the hotel prices in Eilat, because we couldn't find anything nice under 120-150€ per night. Since we wanted to be near the dive centre and not in the city centre, we chose Hotel Orchid. Parking and breakfast were included in the price. We enjoyed spending the mild evenings at the pool with views over the gulf. Check the current prices and availability for Hotel Orchid right here.
Looking for other hotels in Eilat?
- HI Hostel Eilat: This hostel is located centrally in Eilat and has bright dorms and even a private pool. From the roof, you can overlook the whole gulf. A great choice for budget solo travellers!
- Little Princess Hostel: This hostel is also in a great location and only two minutes from the beach. In the immediate vicinity, there are several restaurants, bars and small supermarkets. Ideal for couples travelling on a budget.
- Stacey's Stylish Studio: This accommodation is ideal for individual travellers who value affordable yet beautiful accommodation.
- Isrotel Agamim Hotel: An affordable resort with a large pool area to relax and enjoy. There is also a spa area and breakfast is served until noon.
- Colonia Rest House: Something very special is right above the diving centre Tzlilut. Surrounded by palm trees, spacious luxury tents have been erected here, which clearly fall into the glamping category. There is also a small snack bar with freshly prepared meals.
Still looking for a hotel in Eilat? Booking.com always has great offers – maybe you will find your new favourite hotel in Eilat?
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