Scuba Diving Jordan
Jordan is a well kept secret that is perfect for the adventurous diver. With a year round dive season, almost invariably calm seas and plenty of sunshine, this destination should be on everyone checklist.
Western travelers have been exploring the Middle East for well over a century, but Jordan is a relative newcomer to tourism, welcoming only a fraction of the numbers who visit neighboring Egypt and Israel. Its popular image abroad encompasses not much more than camels and deserts, yet this is a country of mountains, beaches, castles and ancient churches, with an urbane people and a rich culture. It is safe, comfortable and welcoming – and by far the region’s most rewarding destination.
Jordan is about 85 percent desert, but this one plain word covers a multitude of scenes, from the dramatic red sands and towering cliffs of the far south to the vast stony plains of volcanic basalt in the east. The northern hills, rich with olive trees, teeter over the rift of the Jordan Valley, which in turn runs down to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. The center of the country is carpeted with tranquil fields of wheat, cut through by expansive canyons and bordered by arid, craggy mountains. At Jordan’s southernmost tip, beaches fringe the warm waters of the Red Sea, which harbours some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world.
The country also offers some of the wildest adventures in the region, as well as an incredibly varied backdrop ranging from the red desert sands of Wadi Rum to the brilliant blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from rich palm-filled wadis to the lifeless Dead Sea. Discover the wonders of Petra, the hidden ancient city, the beauty of the red desert – Wadi Rum and even make time for a trip to the Dead Sea.
SCUBA DIVING JORDAN
In the warm waters of the Red Sea, you will enjoy the pristine corals, an abundant marine life and have time to explore the wrecks that lie there waiting for you.
Here you can experience some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The temperate climate and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for the growth of corals and a teeming plethora of marine life.
The Gulf of Aqaba at the North end of the Red Sea offers great diving all year around. On the Jordan coastline we have a protected eenvironmentwith the Aqaba Marine Park with healthy reefs and myriads of fish. The Gulf is deep and drops off to great depths not far offshore along the Jordanian coastline. This results in an upwelling of nutrients from the deeper depths enriching the shallower reefs which are breeding grounds for many species of Red Sea fish and invertebrates. This also brings in pelagic fish and sea turtles, as well as large filter feeders such as whale sharks and manta rays not to mention hunters like dolphins, pilot whales and the occasional large shark.
The Gulf is deep and drops off to great depths not far offshore along the Jordanian coastline. This results in an upwelling of nutrients from the deeper depths enriching the shallower reefs which are breeding grounds for many species of Red Sea fish and invertebrates. This also brings in pelagic fish and sea turtles, as well as large filter feeders such as whale sharks and manta rays not to mention hunters like dolphins, pilot whales and the occasional large shark.
The coral and fish life are truly spectacular. The number of species to be found in the Red Sea exceeds 1000 and new species are still being discovered and catalogued. Of these, about 100 are to be found nowhere else in the world. Soft and hard coral formations are spectacular and there are many species unique to this region.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Aqaba is the perfect place to learn to dive, the ideal destination for underwater photography and marine biologists from around the world choose Aqaba as their base for the study of coral reefs
Aqaba is situated at the top of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. This small port town is an ideal base for a relaxing holiday with a lot to offer – markets, shops, cafes, restaurants, archaeological sites, palm fringed beaches and excellent water sports. Aqaba is a real town where local life goes side by side with tourism.
There is access to more than 18km of coral fringed coastline extending down the eastern arm of the Red Sea to Jordan’s border with Saudi Arabi.
Due to the position of Aqaba at the north end of the gulf there is very little current most of the time and the sea is rarely rough varying from flat calm to a slight chop. The temperature of the water is 22 degrees celcius in th winter, full wet suit advised, to a balmy 27 degrees Celcius in the Summer months when a shorty or even t shirt is sufficient.
The Gulf of Aqaba is renowned worldwide for its underwater sea life. It hosts about 110 species of soft corals, 120 species of hard corals, and over 1,000 species of fish.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
Aqaba Marine Park – Extensive coral communities in the form of fringing reefs dominate the 7 km long Marine Park coast-line, from the Marine Science Station to the Public Security Officers’ Club. Over 300 species of hard and soft coral have been noted. The distribution of the reefs is discontinuous due to embayment’s, which are the outlets of dried river beds which form drowned canyons seaward.
The typical reef structure within the park is composed of the reef flat (shallow coral plateau often exposed at low tides), which is often separated from the shore line by a shallow sandy lagoon. The back reef is the back step leading from the shallow lagoon to the reef flat, while the seaward edge of the reef is called the reef crest. The reef face is the steep drop-off from the reef crest on the seaward side. The fore-reef extends from the reef-face and slopes seaward.
The deep wreck of the Taiyong; discovered in 2004, this barge lies at around 50m at the edge of the marine park. The photographic possibilities here are superb.
The Cedar Pride, a Lebanese freighter sunk in 1986 at the wishes of Prince Abdulha (King Hussain’s son) as an diving attraction. It is possible to pass under the hull of the ship which lays across two reefs. She has been rapidly colonised by soft corals and is home to several large sea bass, Grouper can often be spotted and she is patrolled by a shoal of barracuda! Martin Edge (Diver Magazine) called this one of the world’s best wreck dives.
DIVING SEASON: Year round. but the best time to visit is maybe October and November when sea temperatures are still warm (an average of 27 °C in October and 25 °C in November) and the weather is not too hot.The sea here is almost invariably calm, sea temperatures vary between 27°C in the summer months and 20°C during January.
VISIBILITY: Can exceed 50 meters
WATER TEMPERATURE: 19-28C
WEATHER: For a small country, Jordan has an extraordinary range of climates. The best time to visit climate-wise is in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the daytime temperatures aren’t too extreme. April is probably the best month, when temperatures are warm and wildflowers are in bloom. Temperatures range between 20-37
DIVE ACCESS: Landbased or Live-Aboard
SKILL LEVEL: From Beginner to technical
MARINE LIFE: Here you can swim with friendly sea turtles and dolphins as they dart amongst the schools of multi-coloured fish. Night dives reveal the nocturnal sea creatures, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, as they search for a midnight snack.
DECOMPRESSION CHAMBER: Available in Aqaba
CLIMATE: For a small country, Jordan has an extraordinary range of climates. The best time to visit climate-wise is in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the daytime temperatures aren’t too extreme. April is probably the best month, when temperatures are warm and wildflowers are in bloom. Aqaba’s average daytime maximum temperatures in January is around 20°C. Arid. rainy season in West (November to April)
LANGUAGE: Arabic and English
ELECTRICITY: 220V, 50Hz (Continental round pin & UK plugs)
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Jordanian Dinar (JD), US dollar or Euro. Try to change larger notes as often as possible at larger restaurants and when shopping. One JD is made up of 1000 fils. You will sometimes hear piastre or qirsh, which are both 10 fils (10 qirsh equals 100 fils). Often when a price is quoted the unit will be omitted, so if you’re told that something is 25, it’s a matter of working out whether it’s 25 fils, 25 piastre or 25 dinars!
There are money changers adjacent to the counters; ATMs are only available after immigration.
Most major credit cards are accepted at restaurants, larger souvenir shops and bookshops. Be sure to ask if any commission is being added on top of your purchase price. This can sometimes be as much as 5%.
TIME ZONE: +2 GMT (standard), +3 GMT (April – September)
GRATUITIES: Tips of 10% are generally expected in better restaurants. Elsewhere, rounding up the bill to the nearest 250 fils or with loose change is appreciated by underpaid staff, including taxi drivers. Hotels and restaurants in the midrange and, especially, top-end categories generally add on an automatic 10% service charge.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Telephone services within Jordan are efficient and reliable. Directories in Arabic and English are widely available and international calls can be made from public and private phones. Fax services are available at most hotels while telegrams can be sent from post offices. Internet access is widespread via Internet cafes and hotels.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: Passport Validity: 6 months, One Visa page required for entry stamp. Please note that the rules for entering or transfering through the USA, are constantly changing. Maximum 30 days for tourists. Visas are required by all foreigners entering Jordan.
CUSTOMS: Customs regulations exempt from duty most items carried by tourists, including cameras, radios, hair-dryers, video equipment, etc. So far as duty allowances are concerned, you may carry up to 200 cigarettes or 200 grams of tobacco, and either one liter of spirits or two liters of wine. Modest gifts and other effects are exempt from customs duty.
Cars and electrical appliances, from household goods to personal computers and video cameras, are subject to duty which may be very high. If you intend to take taxable goods with you when you leave you should ask the customs officials to enter details of these goods in your passport to avoid paying tax. Upon exit you will be asked to show that your goods were tax exempted.
DEPARTURE TAX: There are three departure taxes from Jordan: four Jordanian Dinars (JD) across land borders (JD 8 for Jordanians), JD 6 from Aqaba by sea, and JD 15 when leaving by airplane (JD 25 for Jordanians).
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