Eilat

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Eilat is the only city in Israel at the Red Sea. Located at the southernmost tip of the country, with its "window on the Red Sea", Eilat is first and foremost a resort town devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. Some 320 km (200 miles) from the tensions of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Eilat's climate-induced relaxed atmosphere has always provided a convenient year-round escape for Israelis, and during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers. Red sea water temperature ranges only between 20°C (68°F) in the winter to 26.2°C (80°F) in the summer, providing warmth in the winter, and much appreciated chilliness in the summer's heat. (less...) (more...)

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Points of Interest in Eilat

The main swimming area is the North beach and many major and minor hotels are situated there. The South or Coral Beach area is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority, but recent years have seen a decline in the marine life and reef quality. Fortunately, since the removal of the controversial fish cages from the Gulf waters in 2008, a steady recovery of corals has been seen at all dive sites. While many divers head south to the Egyptian Sinai coast to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh, to experience better diving conditions, many divers still prefer Eilat, with far smaller crowds, interesting macro-life and easy, unpressured surface entries.

  •    Coral Beach. the best place for scuba diving and located here are some of the best dive clubs in Israel, offering technical diving courses, rebreather, nitrox, tri-mix etc.. The whole coastal area is protected by the nature reserve authority and divers are expected to follow regulations. It is also a great place for snorkeling, windsurfing and kite-surfing plus it has fantastic views of the bay.
  •    Underwater Observatory +92-8-6364200, e-mail: info@coralworld.com. One of Eilat's most popular attractions, this is a good way to view the Red Sea marine life without getting wet. It's white tower (Eilat's most famous landmark) offers great views above water and goes below the surface to view the marine life. The park's aquariums contain sharks, sting rays and turtles, plus lots of multicolored Red Sea fish, and the huge glass windows allow visitors to get a clear view the tanks' occupants. The Oceanarium simulator is also a lot of fun for kids - though it may be a little scary for the smaller ones. All in all it's a nice family morning out.
  • Dolphin Reef +972-8-637-1846. South Beach (3 km south of town towards the Egyptian border). Entry fee: NIS 42/28 adults/children. Not just a tourist trap, the staff actually work to rehabilitate dolphins for life in the open sea - from whence they came. However, in the past the release of dolphins into the bay has on occasion resulted in the consumption of many of the nearby coral reef's inhabitants, so that the dolphin release project is on hold. Various paid options are available for interacting with the dolphins, starting with snorkeling with the dolphins at NIS 227. It's a very nice beach with lots of small pools and rich shrubbery. It has a fantastic spa (relaxation pools) and is well worth a visit. For those who want to get up-close to a dolphin book your swim or dive as early in the morning as you can. The dolphins get weary of visitors as the day goes on. Piers leading out onto the water allow everyone to get as near to the dolphins - as the dolphins want.
  • "What's Up" The Observatory in Eilat. "What's Up" The Observatory in Eilat has begun a new show. With the addition of a special camera we can show you the deep sky as well as the moon and planets on a computer screen rather then through the eyepiece of the telescope. We can now collect photons in a way the eye could never do and see the wonders of the sky in living color. Watch the image build as the light is collected and hear tales about the personalities of the heavens as well as scientific explanation of what is going on up there. "What's Up" is suitable for all ages as well as being accessible to the handicapped although there are no toilet facilities at the site.
  •    Kings City in Eilat. Is a biblical theme park opened in June 2006. Built over a 40,000 square feet area on three levels, the park resembles a king's palace; the palace has four sections: Journey to the Past, Cave of Illusions and Wisdom, Bible Cave and King Solomon Falls.

Green Beach

Underwater Observatory Marine Park

Coral Beach Nature Reserve

Dolphin Reef

Shlomo Mountain

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Popular events in Eilat in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Eilat

Background

Eilat (pop 85,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert. Sprawled along 7 kilometers of Red Sea coastline, between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, it offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba).

Originally a strategic military outpost, Eilat's first incarnation was as a port town, used to export potash and copper and import goods from Asia and Africa, such as oil and vehicles.

In the 1970s charter flights increased the flow of foreign tourists to Eilat. They were attracted by the coral reefs, breathtaking location, and the dry and sunny desert climate.

Orientation

Today, the 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) North Beach area is full of hotels with opulent names like Herod's Palace and Queen of Sheba. The Tayelet promenade extends the length of the beach front and hosts numerous stalls, street artists, restaurants, and fashionable shops. The promenade has great views of the bay, and each evening is full of strolling tourists.

The southern or Coral Beach, which has coral reefs, is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority. It has many public beaches and excellent scuba diving centers as well as several hotels and hostels.

Whereas the North Beach is within easy walking distance of the city center, Coral Beach is some 7 km. south of it, necessitating transportation. The Navy and commercial ports lie between the two main beach arias.

Sabbath and Kashrut

As in most of Israel, many businesses and transport companies do not operate on the Sabbath (Shabbat) which begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday night; many places do not reopen/renew service until Sunday morning. The same holds true for major Jewish or national holidays, so plan your itinerary accordingly. [See Israel, Holidays for more information.]

Kashrut is the body of Jewish dietary laws which many Israelis and tourists observe, and which many restaurants and almost all hotels adhere to. Among other things Kashrut requires complete segregation of meat and dairy foods, dishes and utensils; select types of fish are kosher but most 'sea foods' are not; and all foods must be prepared under controlled and monitored conditions. Kosher restaurants and hotels display a valid, dated certificate issued by local rabbinical authorities. Kosher restaurants close for the Sabbath.

Activities


The Negev desert surrounds Eilat and its scenic Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve has some of the most spectacular desert routes in Israel. Trails include ancient trading routes and the Great Rift Valley. Desert Hiking, 4x4 jeep tours and camel treks are major attractions in this area of the Negev desert.

  • SPNI's Eilat Hiking Division (Eilat Field School), opposite Coral Nature Reserve (Bus No. 15 from Central Bus Station/5 minutes' walk north of Underwater Observatory),  972 8 632 6468, fax: 972 8 637 0424, e-mail: eilat@spni.org.il. Open Sunday-Thursday 8 am to 3 pm. The Hiking Division gives information and advice on desert hiking and trails in the Eilat Region. SPNI = Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
  • Dromit Desert Tours (Judean, Central and Southern Negev deserts),  972 (0)8 637 4773 or 972 (0)54 548 7332, fax: 972 8 637 5761 (for Colin), e-mail: col1514@gmail.com. Offers half- and full-day desert tours, desert/snorkeling tours, bike and jeep tours. Operated by Colin Porter, Licensed Desert Guide and marine biologist.
  • Every summer, the Red City music festival is held in Eilat (sponsored by 99 ESC radio station.) This beach festival is held on the beach and consists of consecutive days of all night performances (Hip-Hop, rock and especially trance)
  • Red Sea Jazz Festival. Annual event takes place in the last week of August and Jazz musicians from all over the world come to Eilat, for a week of fun, sun and lots of Jazz.
  • Kite surfing, Club Med Beach,  08-6373123. Eilat is one of the best locations in the world for learning how to kitesurf. The weather and sea conditions are perfect for beginners with steady northern winds and a calm sea. KiteXEilat offers various beginners classes.
  • Scuba Diving (Lucky Divers), Simtat Tsukim 5,  972-8-6323466. 3. No license and no experience necessary SCUBA diving. As is legal in Eilat, an experienced dive master will accompany you on what could be your first ever SCUBA experience. They provide a short tutorial of the basics, and worry about all the technical details leaving you able to concerning yourself solely with breathing--and of course observing the magnificent neon subaquatic landscape. 180 NIS.
  • Snorkeling, Along the southern beach (anywhere public). If you don't want to splurge on SCUBA diving you can still see a clown fish or two by snorkeling along the south beach. You can rent the equipment usually from a Kiosk nearby. Rental of snorkel and flippers 25 NIS.

Food

The main promenade is packed with stylish tourist restaurants offering some of Israel's finest cuisine prepared by master chefs. The variety of restaurants understandably comes at a price, though not as expensive as many restaurants in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

As a rule prices are lower the further away from the tourist areas one goes. For those wishing to eat simply and well there are a number of options in addition to shopping the local supermarkets. There are several good restaurants on or near Eilat's main street, Shderot HaTmarim (The Dates Blvd.).

  • For Eilat's cheap yet excellent falafel, check out the falafel joint just across the street from the Central Bus Station on HaTmarim Boulevard.
  • Bar Beach on Coral Beach overlooking the Gulf of Eilat. Built on a deck at the water's edge, have a beer, take a dip and come out for lunch; enjoy a light meal after a dive and take in the magnificent sunset.
  • Barbis. American Foods Restaurant, is a great burger place in the middle of the tourist center. Prices are cheap and the burgers are tasty and huge.
  • Eilat University Campus Cafeteria, North end of HaTmarim Blvd. directions=. 12 noon to 2pm Sunday to Thursday. The cafeteria serves an excellent three-course menu fix lunch: soup of the day, choice of entrees and vegetables, excellent Israeli style salad bar, desert-of-the-day. Food is prepared by Hotel School cooking class. Quality is always good though the seasoning can range from banal to inspired - but is always cheap at the price (salt and pepper on the table). (A grilled chicken alone costs NIS 30-40 in the supermarket.) About NIS 50 per person (Eilat Residents NIS 43, students NIS 39, on presentation of card).
  • Ginger Restaurant. Chinese restaurant and bar. The who's who of Eilat are found at Ginger, the new 'IN' location for Eilat's elite. Not nearly as expensive as it is exclusive, it's a good spot for dining if you don't mind seeing your picture in the local Eilat gossip pages.
  • HaLev Harachav on HaTmarim Blvd. is a sidewalk restaurant serving falafel and shuarma (turkey meat grilled on a rotating spit basted with lamb fat) with your choice of salads and relish - Israel's fast foods to eat on the spot or take-away. There is also an à la carte grill section and indoor seating. (The name means "the wide (open) heart", i.e. generous.) Kosher; closed on Shabbat.
  • Il Pentolino 08-634 3430. On HaTamrim Blvd. is an Italian style dairy restaurant serving an assortment of pastas, bagels and salads. Open air dining and smoking areas. Kosher, closed on Shabbat.
  • Pago Pago floating restaurant. An attraction in itself, it is strictly non-kosher it serves sushi, sea-food and steaks. Anchored on the waters of the Marina. A a little pricey, but no more than other restaurants and you definitely get far more for your money.
  • Pedro's Restaurant for excellent steak, the hang-out of Eilat diving instructors. You'll have to get a cab because it's nowhere near the tourist haunts. Well worth the effort if you are a steak lover... or if you consider yourself an honorary local, either way, it's hard to tell what's tastier, the restaurant's meat or the punters.

Drinks

For a Holiday resort the expected assortment of Pubs and Bars exist on the Promenade and are also densely packed in the main square.

  • Unplugged. The bar is a good option. If you're looking for a place with stuck-up people, barbie doll bartenders, or tough-looking bouncers, look somewhere else, because Unplugged is nothing like it. The drink selection is somewhat limited, but still fairly good. The music ranges from American pop to Israeli trance, and they play songs in both Hebrew and English. You have the option of either sitting at the bar, chilling on a big couch, or dancing with the friendly locals. This place is often crowded, even on a Monday night.
  • While evil isn't heard, seen, or spoken at Three Monkeys Pub live bands and an all-ages dance floor crowd is. Located towards the end of the promenade at the Isrotel "Royal Beach".
  • Bears pub is central fixture in the main square. With a laid back feel and hookahs available Bears lends itself to chatting to the soundtrack of Israeli tunes.

Shopping

As an incentive there is no value-added tax in Eilat. Therefore many duty free shops line the boardwalk and culminate in a duty free shopping centres. Top brands can be found, and it is joked that the first thing an Israeli does on before leaving Eilat is to fill up their petrol tank to the brim.

  •    Mall HaYam (literally in hebrew: in front of the sea), Palmach 1. A mall located on the promenade and beach-line, closest to the airport
  •    Ice park mall, Kaufman street. Eilat newest mall, with ice ring, and many international brands
  •    Big center Eilat, HaSatat 20. Eilat's outlet mall

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Eilat on Wikivoyage.

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