The Essential Guide to Aqaba
Perched on Jordan’s southern tip, the city of Aqaba serves as the gateway to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving sites in the Red Sea. There’s history to be explored here, too, as well as some exciting restaurants and hotels. When you’re done on the coast, the deserts of Wadi Rum are just a short drive away.
Aqaba Fort has stood witness to many of Jordan’s great historical events. It was first built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and marked the limits of their incursions in the region until it was destroyed by Saladin in 1187. The Mamelukes rebuilt the castle according to their own design in the early 16th century when Egypt was the dominant regional power, then the Ottomans took it over. In 1916, Arab forces captured the fort in a major victory over the Ottomans, turning the surrounding area into a major port. The flag of the Arab Revolt still flies there today, atop an enormous flagpole that measures a whopping 443 feet. Visitors can head inside the fort to explore a small museum, but the impressive building is really the main attraction.
P.O.Box 111 Aqaba 77110, Jordan، Aqaba, Jordan
Aqaba isn’t considered a prime beach destination, and indeed the city’s public beach is a slightly seedy affair. Instead, head just outside town to Berenice Beach Club. The private resort occupies nearly half a mile of beachfront in the heart of Aqaba Marine Park and has all the facilities you need for a day in the sun, from shaded loungers on the sand and a series of landscaped swimming pools to several restaurants and shops selling beachwear. If you want to get active, you can snorkel on the nearby reef, parasail, water-ski, or even take a boat cruise around the surrounding islands. The $14 single-day entry tickets conveniently include transportation from the center of Aqaba.
Unnamed Rd,، Aqaba, Jordan
Ali Baba has been serving visitors to Aqaba for so long it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that Lawrence of Arabia once hitched his camel outside to take his lunch. It’s definitely an institution, and one that spills out from its air-conditioned salons to the sidewalks of old Aqaba. There are two ways to go with the menu here. Choose the traditional Jordanian option and enjoy an endless stream of delicious mezes, or take advantage of the fact that you’re on the water and order the catch of the day, most likely unloaded from the port just a few hours earlier. Aqaba’s relaxed atmosphere means that, unlike most other places in Jordan, you can indulge in an alcoholic drink while dining at Ali Baba in full public view.
One of Aqaba’s plushest restaurants, Romero sits within the Royal Yacht Club and features a menu to match its upscale surroundings. As is the case with the original location in Amman, Italian cuisine is at the heart of things, though Aqaba’s waterfront location means there’s also a fair amount of seafood and even sushi on offer. No matter how eclectic, all the food is exquisite, and the wine list is equally impressive. There are few better or more stylish places in Aqaba to dine while watching the sun set over the Red Sea.