Day 10: Snorkeling in the Red Sea and relaxing at the Berenice Beach Club in Aqaba


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Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba
October 21st 2013
Published: June 9th 2014
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There was one nature treasure left that we had to visit before leaving Jordan; the coral riffs of the Red See. Aqaba is a perfect place to dive, snorkel or for a glass-boat excursion; the reefs are quite close by the beaches. Another plus punt is that Aqaba is still an overshadowed city, in comparing with Eilat in Israel or Sharm al Sheik in Egypt. However, I think it’s a great plus, Aqaba is not touristic, and it still kept his own signature. This makes Aqaba a perfect end of our trip.

In the last past centuries, Aqaba had invested quite in its city; for example the many facility’s and the infrastructure. Aqaba was first a small, harbour village. It growth after a deal with Saudi Arabia, where Jordan, for exchange of desert, gained extra kilometres of coast line, happening in 1965. Jordan used this coast line for facilities and industry. Nowadays, mostly of the Jordan export goes via Aqaba. In the past, Aqaba was a famous stopping point for Pilgrims from/to Mecca, and it still is, making Aqaba also a little bit conservative in society. For example: yesterday night when we entered a terrace full of local man, they
SnorkelingSnorkelingSnorkeling

Who can find me?
were quite surprised that some females came at their terrace; they stopped playing cards and watched for some seconds. Unfortunately, some Western tourists do not respect the conservation; they dress in shorts, and some dress even worse: they wear a bikini top on top. However, the Jordan people won’t accost them on street, however at their behaviour it’s noticeable that they are grieved by the nude clothing, for example gossips, or looking. I do not understand why these – mostly – young women are wearing these nude clothing. I agree it’s very disrespectful and humiliating, they should know that they visiting an Arabic country and adapt their clothing to it. If you want to wear bikini’s and shorts, it’s only possible in resorts though, and you can find resorts in Aqaba and by the Dead Sea.

As told before, Aqaba is a great place for snorkelling, diving or a glass-boat excursion. However, there are also other things to do: the city at evening is great for a hike and going out, as described yesterday. At day you can visit the Aqaba fort and the archaeological museum, or book a hot air balloon/ultra light airplane excursion (however, I didn’t do
Our BoatOur BoatOur Boat

It looks small, but it's quite big.
that). But at least one day you should spend on the water. There are many resorts, and all offers excursions; Snorkelling, diving and cruises are the well-known. However, some resorts do even offer excursions to Petra and Wadi Rum. If you want to do a cruise, I shall recommend to do a glass-bottom boat cruise; (A part of) the bottom of the boat is made out of glass, giving you a great view at the coral reefs. It is ideal for people that can’t or don’t dare to swim. Almost all of us booked a snorkelling excursion cruise. We’ve got a glass-bottom boat, which sailed us at the Red Sea, where we could snorkel. A barbecue lunch was included as well. Only Linda and Sjerk didn’t join us at the snorkelling excursion; they both have a divers pass, and they choice to book a diving excursion.

The Red Sea coral is the most Nordic coral on earth, and its home to many animals and plants. It has a big biodiversity, but it’s not one of the most beautiful corals. But I never did snorkelling at a coral reef before, so I found it quite excited. There might be over 1000 species of fish at the Red Sea. For example, stone fishes, butterfly fishes, clown fishes (Nemo’s), parrotfish’s, jewelfish. Most of these fish swim alone, but if you see a group of fishes, these fishes are probably the damsel fishes. You also should search for the venomous lionfish, but it should be the most beautiful fish at the coral. If you have a lot of luck, you might spot a turtle; the sea had to be calm and you have to be at the right place and time. That counts even more if you would like to see a shark or even a porpoise; they do occur in the reef, but it’s rare to spot them. Divers have more change to see last three animals. Today, the Red Sea wasn’t calm; it was the opposite, so there was no change of seeing those animals in action.

Before we went to the boat, it was time for breakfast. The hotel offered much choice in breakfast, the quality was quite good. I slept well in the hotel night. Today, it was the last day that we could stand up a little bit later. Tomorrow, and especially the day after, we shall wake up quite early. But today, Sjerk and Linda also had to stand up early; their diving tour would start earlier then our snorkelling tour. It was time to go to the Resort. The tour that we booked was via the Bernice Beach Club Resort. They offer different excursions. We were picked up by a free taxi; the Resort offers free taxi’s, driving though the heart of the city centre to pick up tourists at hotels, bringing them to the resort. At afternoon, you can take these every hour until 6 pm to return. I agree it’s a great service. The ride shall take around 10 minutes. When we arrived at the Bernice Beach Club Resort. My first impressions of the resort are good; it was not crowded (yet). It looked good, hygienic, relaxing and with a high quality. When we arrived at the boat, we got a great surprise; we got a glass-bottom boat! We didn’t were the only group that entered the boat. I guess there was place for 50 men on the boat. The boat looks small from outside, but form inside and on top it was quite big. The boat had three decks: one deck on
A Butterfly fishA Butterfly fishA Butterfly fish

Oww, a baby!!
top, one deck in the middle, and one deck at the bottom. If you do not like to swim you could sit at the lowest deck. In the middle deck, there was not much place. The crew used it, and there was a toilet and a shower. First, we dropped our bags at the highest deck, but first, we went downstairs to the lowest deck. So, we wouldn’t miss anything.

At the lower deck we got some instructions, and we came in touch with the first sighs of the coral. It was nice to have a glass-bottom boat, however I agree you have a better sight if you snorkel. The captain sailed us directly to our first sight, 50 meters of the beach. In this place, the Lebanese Cargo Ship “The cedar Pride” sank in 1986. Its wreck is still hidden at 30 meters under water, and it start to cover up with coral. We sailed at top of the wreck, and we saw some divers. “That one is Sjerk”, some one of our group shouted. I didn’t even recognise Sjerk, but in the evening we asked if it was him, and he probably was; they were diving by that wreck, and even went inside. I never saw a ship wreck in my life, and it was quite weird to see such a great ship lying at the bottom of the sea. Also, it looks a little bit creepy/spooky. From here, we sailed to the “Japanese Gardens”, close by the ship wreck, and a very popular place for snorkelling, because of its biodiversity and it contains many colours. Keep in mind, that this coral reef is not so colourful and full of biodiversity as in coral reefs, for example in Thailand or Australia. It is probably not the most beautiful coral reef, but many of us still did enjoy it, also that one that snorkelled by much more coral reefs. I never snorkelled by a coral reef, so for me it was just fun.

Peter helped me with my glass, fins and my snorkel. I jumped in the water, and I tried to snorkel, but I got water in my snorkel and my glass dimed. The Red Sea was quite wild, so there was no change to see a turtle in action. Our tour leader helped we with the glass, and one man of the boat help me
Damsel fishes. Damsel fishes. Damsel fishes.

They do come quite close.
explain the snorkelling. So, I enjoyed snorkelling. But I still had problems with the waves: some waves were quite high and I got water in my snorkel again. I got problems to get all the water out. But, I really enjoyed snorkelling in the reef. I really got some great sighs, I really saw different fish. I did spot the lionfish. Of course, it swam quite deep in the corals, but it was great to see that huge fish. And it really looks special with its fins and colours. It was impossible to miss the damsel fishes swimming in groups, and coming quite close. You couldn’t touch time, but it was great to see that they swim very close underneath you. They swimming quite close to each other, quite fast and it’s great to see them. I was lucky to spot a clown fish (Nemo!). I do saw just one, but others saw more of them. You can see them quite good, thanks to their orange appearance. They do look quite innocent, and quite cute. So cute, that you also want to take one to home. But that’s not allowed, and they are quite hard to catch by hand. So, I just left them swimming in the Red Sea, which everyone should do. Sadly, some people still buy souvenirs of (living) fish and corals. It is forbidden, and they keep the trade of this vulnerable area living. Also, I saw some butterfly fishes, swimming alone, and some quite high at the coral. I agree the butterfly fishes are most beautiful fish that I saw in the reef. I like their colour, they are quite easy to spot, and they swim into the coral, but also quite high. I thought I also spot a jewelfish. Parrotfish’s are quite good in hiding in the coral, but one couldn’t hide from my eyes. One fish, which was too good in hiding, was the stone fish. I didn’t found that one. But, the coral is great. It has different colours, different forms and different heights. It was great to see the fishes living and swimming into it. Too bad that the Red Sea was so wild. If it was calm, I wouldn’t have that much problems with snorkelling, and I might had a change to spot a turtle. In total we had 2 snorkelling sessions. In between, we hang on the upper deck, relaxing and drinking.

Also, a barbeque lunch was included. They even prepared fish, and the flesh contains out of chicken and lamb. During the barbeque lunch, we saw another boat, and Linda and Sjerk were on that boat. So we waved to each other. They were preparing for another dive. We even watched until they went into the water, and started to dive. After lunch, the excursion was over, and we sailed back at the resort. One plus is that if you got your ticket, you could stay the whole day in the resort, so we did. And guess what we did? Laying on our laying bed, sunning, drinking “lemon mint” juice, took an ice cream, swim sometimes in the water pool, reading a book, doing a small nap and do nothing. We ended with the beautiful sunset, before it was time to catch our taxi buss.



At six, we were not alone for the taxi. There were too many people waiting on the taxi, so not everyone could step in. So, I and some others had to wait until the taxi returns. After arriving, it was free choice for dinner tonight. Much of the people went
DinnerDinnerDinner

Syrian Palace
to McDonalds to try the McArabia. However, Richard, Linda, Sjerk and I decide to go to the Syrian Palace restaurant, to enjoy the Jordan kitchen. The restaurant was ok, the food was ok, however, the restaurant is not bad, and it’s worth a try. They do serve a lot of food. Hereafter, we met some others of our group and we decide to drink something by a local bar. That night, we decide to go early to bed.

The Underwaterpicutres are made by Remco. Thanks for sharing, Remco!


Additional photos below
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The Red SeaThe Red Sea
The Red Sea

It still looks calm though.
The Glass-boatThe Glass-boat
The Glass-boat

This is quite ideal for people that can't/dare to swim. They can enjoy the coral reefs as well. The bottom of the boat is made out of glass.
The coralsThe corals
The corals

Some are quite close towards sealevel.
ParrotfishParrotfish
Parrotfish

I quess this is a parrotfish.
Great view of the coralGreat view of the coral
Great view of the coral

And (I guess) a butterfly fish.
RelaxingRelaxing
Relaxing

at the boat.


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