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What You Need To Know

Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city, a busy port and popular resort at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. Home to 48,946 people, Eilat is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava, adjacent to the Egyptianvillage of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf. Eilat’s arid desert climate and low humidity are moderated by proximity to a warm sea. Temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) in summer, and 21 °C (70 °F) in winter, while water temperatures range between 20 and 26 °C (68 and 79 °F). Eilat averages 360 sunny days a year. The city’s beaches, coral reef, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism.

Area: 52 km²

Population: 3,713,200

 

Currency

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  • Eilat uses the New Israel Shekel (NIS) as its currency. One shekel can be divided into 100 agorot. Both paper bills and coins are used. A 10-shekel and 5-shekelcoin is about the size of an American quarter and a one-shekel coin is about the size of an American dime.
 

 

Dive tourism

Skin and Scuba diving, with equipment for hire on or near all major beaches. Scuba diving equipment rental and compressed air are available from diving clubs and schools all year round. Eilat is located in the Gulf of Aqaba, one of the most popular diving destinations in the world. The coral reefs along Eilat’s coast remain relatively pristine and the area is recognized as one of the prime diving locations in the world. About 250,000 dives are performed annually in Eilat’s 11 km (6.84 mi) coastline, and diving represents 10 of the tourism income of this area. In addition, given the proximity of many of these reefs to the shore, non-divers can encounter the Red Sea’s reefs with relative ease. Water conditions for SCUBA divers are good all year round, with water temperatures around 21–25 °C (70–77 °F), with little or no currents and clear waters with an average of 20–30 metres (66–98 feet) visibility.

 

Economy

In the 1970s tourism became increasingly important to the city’s economy as other industries shut down or were drastically reduced. Today tourism is the city’s major source of income, although Eilat became a free trade zone in 1985.

 

Language

Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Russian. English and Russian are the most popular unofficial languages in Eilat. The quadrilingual warning (English, Hebrew, Arabic and Russian) on the optical cable manhole cover in Tel Aviv.

 

Health and security

  • Yoseftal Medical Center, established in 1968, is Israel’s southernmost hospital, and the only hospital covering the southern Negev. With 65 beds, the hospital is Israel’s smallest. Special services geared to the Red Sea region are a hyperbaric chamber to treat victims of diving accidents and kidney dialysis facilities open to vacationing tourists.
     

Transport

  • Air

    • Eilat Airport is located in the city centre and is used largely for domestic flights (IATA: ETH, ICAO: LLET).
    • International flights often use Ovda International Airport some 50 kilometres (31 mi) northwest of the city (IATA: VDA, ICAO: LLOV).
    • The new Ramon International Airport will handle commercial domestic and international flights to Eilat from 2017.

    Road

    Eilat has two main roads connecting it with the center of Israel – Route 12, which leads North West, and Route 90 which leads North East, and South West to the border crossing with Egypt. Egged, the national bus company, provides regular service to points north on an almost hourly basis as well as in-city on a half-hourly basis during daylight hours.

    Border Crossings with Egypt and Jordan

    • The Taba Border Crossing allows crossing to and from Taba, Egypt.
    • The Wadi Araba Crossing, renamed the Yitzhak Rabin Border Crossing on the Israeli side, allows crossing to and from Aqaba, Jordan.

    Maritime

    The Port of Eilat and Eilat Marina allow travel by sea. Future plans also call for a rail link, sometimes referred to as the Med-Red to decrease travel times substantially from Eilat to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, via the existing line at Beer Sheba; planning is underway.

 

Tourism

Eilat offers a wide range of accommodations, from hostels and luxury hotels to Bedouin hospitality. In recent years Eilat has been the target of millitants from Egypt and Gaza causing a reduced tourist inflow to the region. Attractions include:
  • Birdwatching and ringing station: Eilat is located on the main migration route between Africa and Europe. International Birding & Research Center in Eilat.
  • Camel tours.
  • Coral Beach Nature Reserve, an underwater marine reserve of tropical marine flora and fauna.
  • Coral World Underwater Observatory – Located at the southern tip of Coral Beach, the observatory has aquaria, a museum, simulation rides, and shark, turtle, and stingray tanks. The observatory is the biggest public aquarium in the Middle East.
  • Dolphin Reef – A marine biology and research station where visitors can swim and interact with dolphins.
  • Freefall parachuting.
  • Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, established in the 1960s to conserve endangered species, including Biblical animals, from this and similar regions. The reserve has a Visitors Center, care and treatment enclosures, and large open area where desert animals are acclimated before re-introduction into the wild. Hai-Bar efforts have successfully re-introduced the Asian Wild Ass, or Onager, into the Negev. The Hai-Bar Nature Reserve and animal re-introduction program were described in Bill Clark’s book “High Hills and Wild Goats: Life Among the Animals of the Hai-Bar Wildlife Refuge”. The book also describes life in Eilat and the surrounding area.
  • Marina with some 250 yacht berths.
  • Timna Valley Park – the oldest copper mines in the world. Egyptian temple of Hathor, King Solomon’s Pillars sandstone formation, ancient pit mines and rock art.
  • “What’s Up” the Observatory in Eilat, a portable Astronomical Observatory with programs in the desert and on the promenade.
  • Ice Mall ice skating rink and shopping mall.

 

Weather

Eilat has a hot desert climate with hot, dry summers and warm and almost rain less winters in Köppen climate classification). Winters are usually between 11–23 °C (52–73 °F). Summers are usually between 26–40 °C (79–104 °F). There are relatively small coral reefs near Eilat; however, 50 years ago they were much larger: the corals have been dying as a result of water pollution.