Scuba Diving Israel
Amazing Diving 3 seas from one country! The Mediterranean, The Dead Sea and The Red Sea.
Israel deserves to be well placed on any intrepid diver’s to do list. With sun baked beaches, and perhaps the best-protected coral reef in the Red Sea, Israel lies on the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern shore. It’s a diverse land, with deserts to the south, fertile valleys inland and occasionally snow capped mountain ranges.
The country’s temperate climate, beaches, archaeology and historical sites draw millions of visitors every year. As you might imagine, Israel also has a plethora of museums, interpretive centers and reserves. Of particular note for scuba divers, one of these is underwater. It’s just one of Israel’s many varied dive sites that range from dramatic wrecks to archaeological tours to stunning coral reefs replete with myriad marine life.
SCUBA DIVING ISRAEL
Diving in Israel is well organized, supervised and maintained. Israeli diving authority regulations require the diver to present his/her diving certificate, and a log book with logged and stamped dives dated within the last six months (unless the diver is a Dive Master or above) to the dive center in order to receive diving services, rent diving equipment or join in one of the guided dives. In the State of Israel, all diving centers and divers are subject to the existing laws, as well as the regulations of the Israel Diving Federation.
There are several excellent sites for scuba diving in Israel, most of which are located in the region’s well known Red Sea. Most of these dive sites can be reached from Eilat which is the country’s southernmost city. These sites include the Satil Wreck, the Yatush Wreck, Eel Garden, The Caves, the Coral Beach Reserve, and many others.
The Red Sea is not only one of the best places for scuba diving in Israel, but is actually one of the best locations in the world for this purpose. It is located in a particularly warm climate and the water offers excellent visibility. Israel deserves to be well placed on any intrepid diver’s to do list. With sun baked beaches, and perhaps the best-protected coral reef in the Red Sea, Israel lies on the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern shore. It’s a diverse land, with deserts to the south, fertile valleys inland and occasionally snowcapped mountain ranges. More than half the nation’s population live along the Mediterranean coastline, and there’s some, literally unique diving there. But, visiting divers will also want to visit what is one of the world’s shore diving capitals, Eilat at the tip of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba. Other areas to dive are: The Dead Sea, Haifa and the shores near Tel Aviv.
DIVE SEASON: Eilat welcomes divers all year long with the very high season in July and August. Eilat is then completely crowded when the water can get to 29 degrees Celsius. September and October is the best time to come diving as Eilat is quieter and the water is still really warm. January and February are usually the low season and the coldest water temperature with a minimum of 19 degrees Celsius. Other areas to dive are: The Dead Sea, Haifa and the shores near Tel Aviv.
VISIBILITY: It is a paradise for underwater photographers as water conditions for scuba divers are excellent all year round with water temperatures a constant 21-25 C°, with little or no currents and clear waters with an average of 20 – 30 meters or 60 feet to 90 feet visibility.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Depending on the season, water temps range from the low 70s in winter to the low 80s in summer
WEATHER: Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible. Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev. Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.
HOW TO DIVE ISRAEL: Most of the diving in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean coastline areas is done with a shore-based, day boat dive operation or a live aboard dive boat.
MARINE LIFE: At all of the different spots, you could come across turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, blue spotted rays, all kinds of coral reef fishes, many clown fishes, butterfly fishes, parrot fishes and gracious lionfishes, scorpion fishes, stone fishes, frogfishes, groupers, sea snakes, crocodile fishes, barracudas, trigger fishes, puffer fishes, eels and all kinds of moray eels, also octopus, sometimes dolphins and exceptionally whale sharks (during the summer only but every summer). So there is plenty to see!
The coral reefs and corals are a very diverse and beautiful living world in the Red Sea. You will find a huge variety of corals: reef-building corals or stony, brain, table, branching corals, also many kind of soft corals, sea fans, gorgonians, fire corals… You also have anemones and sponges.
CLIMATE: Israel is a year round destination. Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers and generally mild winters with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Temperatures can vary widely so just pack for the “right” weather and you’ll be fine.
LANGUAGE: Hebrew, the language of the Bible, and Arabic are the official languages of the State of Israel. Hebrew (and Arabic too) is written from right to left. Almost every highway and street sign is in English as well as Hebrew (and Arabic), and English language newspapers, magazine and books are available everywhere.
ELECTRICITY: The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Shekel; you’ll find it abbreviated as NIS (New Israeli Shekel). Exchange rates of the Shekel to all foreign currencies. You can use your ATM card to obtain Shekels at ATM’s throughout Israel. You can also use American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards at most Israeli hotels, restaurants and stores.
GRATUITIES: The going rate for tipping in Israeli restaurants and cafes is between 10-15% depending on how pleased (or not) you are with your waiter/waitress. 10% is usually the minimum, with 12% an average tip. Only where warranted of course, a generous tip is always appreciated. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped (or at least – they are not surprised by non-tippers. Locals do not tip in taxis). Please note that restaurant wait-staff prefer tips in cash, and some might ask you not to add a tip to a credit card bill. The choice is yours – at your convenience. For this reason, it is recommended that you have some small change on you, even if you plan on charging your meal(s).
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: If you have an international plan, your cell phone may work in Israel, please check with your local provider. Most hotels in Israel have Wi-Fi available for hotel guests at customary prices. Many cafes and restaurants offer a complementary Wi-Fi service. Since September 2013, Tel Aviv offers a citywide free Wi-Fi network which provides 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the city.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: Upon arrival in Israel, visitors undergo a security check and are requested to present a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their departure. Arrival by Air and Land Crossings – Incoming travelers continue to the passenger luggage area after their passports have been inspected. Carts are at their disposal. From there, they continue to customs control and to the airport exit. Important note for tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries: It is recommended that you request that an Israeli stamp does not appear on your passport. You must notify the clerk of your request before your documents are stamped. As of July 3, 2008, an official decision has been made that will no longer require entry stamps on foreign passports. In such cases, you must fill out form 17L including your personal details, and that form shall be stamped by passport control upon entry/exit. The form 17L will not be collected upon exit of airport as it is necessary for the collection of tax refunds and proof of legal entry.
CUSTOMS: Alcoholic beverages – up to one liter for hard liquor, and up to two liters for wine, per person aged 17 and over. Tobacco of all types – up to 250 grams per person aged 17 and over. Presents and other commodities – items other than alcoholic beverages, alcoholic perfumes, tobacco, and television sets, costing up to $200, as determined by the clerk at the entrance terminal, according to lists in his possession. Food – up to a total weight of three kilograms, on condition that the weight of each type of food does not exceed one kilogram.
DEPARTURE: Passengers must arrive at the airport three hours before departure time. Passengers arriving at the airport must first undergo a security check before approaching the counter of the airline they are flying. Passengers and their luggage are inspected by airport personnel with modern security equipment. They will then check in their luggage and receive a boarding pass and seat number. After the security check in the departure hall, passengers continue to passport control. They must present their passport and airline ticket.
GETTING THERE: More than 80 airlines operate flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport (known simply as Tel Aviv or TLV). Five airlines operate as many as ten flights a day nonstop from North America to Tel Aviv (Air Canada, Delta, EL AL Israel Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways). The chief gateway to Israel is Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, 25 minutes from the heart of Tel Aviv, and 35 minutes from the heart of Jerusalem. Opened in 2003, the new terminal at Ben Gurion was designed by a panel of architects including the world-renowned Moshe Safdie, and is not only one of the world’s most efficient and passenger-friendly airports, but also one of its most architecturally beautiful.
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