I have been a few times in Aqaba and last weekend we visited again, so I wanted to take the opportunity to write something up about the experience this time. Located in the very South of Jordan, just a few km away from the Saudi Border is Aqaba. With access to the red sea, a mountain view and warm temperatures all year, it is especially great for a short Winter escape.
Aqaba is about 320 km away from Amman but you usually need around 4 hours to get there, or 5 if you have little kids, hehe. And that’s the fasted way on the desert highway. Good news, currently most of the desert highway is being renewed with a new asphalt top with 3 lanes in each direction. Bad news, it is not ready but still in construction, so you have to slow down as traffic is redirected onto one of the sides and traffic is coming your way. That means you have to be very careful as heavy trucks are coming your direction and nobody really cares about speed limits or safety distance. Anyway, I am looking forward to the finished roads as this will be a great improvement for Jordan and it was really time for this.
And don’t fall for the trap of buying overpriced items at the bazaars and souvenir shops along the road. Yes, there are some nice items and it is great to support locals, but items are heavily overpriced. For example, a small coffee pot is sold for 65 JD while you can find the exact same product at Al Afghani stores in Amman for 15 JD – and they earn already money with this. There is other examples of furniture or carpets which you can find cheaper in Amman or Madaba.
Aqaba would not be my favorite destination for a 1- or 2-week beach holiday, but it is great if you want to be out of the city for a few days. I have been to the Marina Plaza and the former Radisson Blue in Tala Bay before, but this time we visited the Movenpick in Aqaba City. It is located at the main hotel street, right in the city center and has a private beach which you can access through a bridge that connects the main hotel with the residences section. The hotel is descent. It has everything you expect from a 5-star hotel regarding restaurants, pools, lobby, services and so on. It is not the newest anymore but still OK. Dinner buffet was good as well and in the evening you can enjoy some Arabic live music and a belly dancer. Only the breakfast buffet needs some improvement in my opinion.
The best part is the beach. Since we went on a weekday and pretty much off season it was fairly empty and quiet during our stay. Oppose to the pools which are already a bit cold and not heated, yet, the sea was still enjoyable. The way into the water is very slowly descending which is great if you have small kids as you can walk into the water without drowning immediately. The beach is nice, clean with clear water and soft sand. There is also a landing stage with access to water. From there you can depart for different water activities such as jet ski, glass boat or others. To be honest, we just relaxed as we only had two days and have our small ones.
One evening we went to Buffolo Wings in Aqaba. It is located in an area with other restaurants such as Dubliners, Chinese Restaurant and the golden M. They have good offers for Happy Hour, a nice outdoor sitting area and friendly staff. It was walking distance to the hotel, so very easy to access. We didn’t go much to the city or explore other things, as we have seen it before. All in all it was a great stay although there are cheaper options for stays of course.