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Lovely Israel is tucked between two seas, the Mediterranean and the Red. Spend some time diving in both, where caverns and coral gardens can be found in abundance.

Diving in Israel

Quick facts

Israel lies on the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern shore, but also touches the tip of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba, thus offering two very different scuba diving scenes. More than half the nation’s population lives along the Mediterranean coastline, and there’s some unique diving there. But, visiting divers head for one of the world's shore diving capitals, Eilat, to dive on perhaps the best-protected coral reef in the Red Sea. 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. In the Mediterranean, don’t miss out on the Rosh HaNikra Caverns, unique chalk caverns that are constantly being whittled away by the water. Accessible from the shoreline, you can just jump right in and check out the fantastic grottos and caves. On the Red Sea, check out the Coral Beach Nature Reserve. This protected space makes a home for huge corals, all spread out in fantastic gardens. The large rocks called Abraham and Moses are a great spot to see the abundance of reef fish. And the Japanese Gardens dive site is epic as it is a highly safeguarded site. Wreck divers will want to dive the Satil in the Red Sea. You can reach this sunken ship from shore, which is unusual for this region. In addition, you can swim through the engine room and the missile launching area, all only a stone’s throw away from the beach.

Recommended training

Take the PADI Wreck Diver course to get ready for exploring the historic wrecks. The AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation course will help you appreciate the marine protected areas and healthy reefs. The PADI Enriched Air Diver course is a good idea because enriched air nitrox is readily available.

When to go

Air temperatures are widely varied, especially during the winter. Coastal cities, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The region around Eilat has a desert climate with very hot and dry summers and mild winters with little rain. Diving is available all year, but check with your dive operator as conditions can vary with the season. Furthermore, Mediterranean water temperature ranges from 17°C/63°F degrees in winter to 29°C/84°F during the summer. In the Red Sea, water temperatures range from 20°C/68°F to 30°C/86°F. Plus, visibility varies from 15 metres/50 feet to more than 40 metres/130 feet, depending on the site and prevailing conditions. There is a bit less visibility during the summer months in the Mediterranean.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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* Achziv Canyon, Mediterranean – This prominent submarine canyon just south of Israel’s northern border is offshore in the Achziv National Park. Usually done as a boat dive, you drop onto the top of the canyon, which starts at about 10 metres/33 feet and reaches depths of 30 metres/100 feet. The walls are covered with sponges and soft corals. Look for rays, sea turtles and large fish to swim by. * Rosh HaNikra Caverns, Mediterranean – Waves and currents have carved these unique caverns from the soft chalk cliffs and rocks in the Rosh HaNikra reserve. Because it’s close to the border with Lebanon, divers need Israel Defense Force Navy clearance and a guide for this shore dive. During this shallow dive, you explore amazing underwater caverns and grottoes. * Caesarea, Mediterranean – This unique underwater archaeological park is built around the remains of one of the Mediterranean’s most important historical areas. You explore a variety of guided underwater routes and swim past the remains of a 2000-year-old breakwater, see “negatives” of the wooden forms ancient engineers used to build the breakwater’s foundations, check out the massive foundations of the port entrance guard towers and experience a collection of anchors of varying age. * Coral Beach Nature Reserve, Red Sea – This easily accessible reef just off Coral Beach Nature Reserve drops down to 3 meters/10 feet and gives way to a sandbar where you can find two huge rocks known as Joshua and Moses. Resplendent garden-like coral formations harbor a multitude of reef fishes and invertebrate life, while farther out to sea, a coral wall plunges to 35 meters/115 feet. At the southern end of the reserve, Japanese Gardens is perhaps the best-protected site in Eilat because the number of divers is controlled to preserve the reefs. * Wreck of the Satil, Red Sea – One of the most accessible wrecks in the Red Sea, the Satil is just 20 metres/65 feet off Coral Beach, upright and parallel to the beach. At a depth 25-30 metres/75-100 feet, you can cruise the bridge, engine room and missile launching area along her 46 metres/150 feet because she was prepared especially for divers. Look for several species of lionfish hiding in the ship. * Eel Garden, Red Sea – Alive with hundreds of sand eels poking their heads and bodies up from the sea bed, this dive site should not be missed. With a depth of 14 metres/45 feet, you can spend a lot of time here slowly approaching the eels for a better look and exploring the area.

What to see

Israel boasts two seas and two completely different sets of marine life. The Red Sea has fascinating creatures, some found nowhere else in the world. You can see eels, lionfish, sea turtles and rays. The Mediterranean boasts its own set of wonderful creatures. The coral here is patrolled by smaller fish, making their way through the clear blue sea. Larger creatures like sharks and dolphins can also be seen, though not as frequently. Also present are clownfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, scorpionfish, frogfish, groupers, sea snakes, barracuda, triggerfish, octopus and the occasional whale shark in summer.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Israel is an ancient land where history plays a vital role in everyday life. It is pressed against Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. This chunk of land has long been considered an important and religiously significant area of the world, especially to those of the Jewish faith. Because of tensions within the region, it has been ruled by conquest after conquest, gaining its current form in 1948. With windswept deserts, verdant river valleys and the iconic Dead Sea, Israel has huge geographic diversity. Although it is a relatively small country, it is fascinating. Any trip to Israel is an eye-opening one, a way to learn about the past, present and future of the country.

Other attractions

A hugely important region since ancient times, Israel is regarded by many to be a holy land. Plan to visit as many museums, historic sites and parks as you can fit in. The cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are must visits. Be sure to stop by Eilat Underwater Observatory where you can get up close and personal with Red Sea coral reefs without getting wet. Inland, the weird, wild landscapes of Mitzpe Ramon will blow you away.

Getting there

Israel’s main international airport is Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. A second international airport, used mostly by charter flights, is located at Ovda and serves the south, predominantly, Eilat. After you’ve made it into the country, you can make your way around by the excellent bus system. There are also revamped railways to chug along, while gaining a fuller view of the local scenery.

UTC+02:00

Time zone

ILS

Currency

+972

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

C, 

H, 

M

Plug type

TLV

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.