Eilat, Israel | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Eilat, Israel

Eilat (אילת, aka Elat) is the only Israeli city on the Red Sea. Located at the southernmost tip of the country, with its "window on the Red Sea," Eilat is first and foremost a resort town devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. Some 320 km (200 miles) from the tensions of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Eilat's climate-induced relaxed atmosphere has always provided a convenient year-round escape for Israelis, and during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers. Red Sea water temperatures range only between 20°C (68°F) in the winter to 26.2°C (80°F) in the summer, providing warmth in the winter, and much-appreciated chilliness in the summer's heat.

Eilat (pop 85,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert. Sprawled along 7... Read more

Eilat, Israel


Eilat (אילת, aka Elat) is the only Israeli city on the Red Sea. Located at the southernmost tip of the country, with its "window on the Red Sea," Eilat is first and foremost a resort town devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. Some 320 km (200 miles) from the tensions of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Eilat's climate-induced relaxed atmosphere has always provided a convenient year-round escape for Israelis, and during the mild winter months also attracts thousands of European sun-seekers. Red Sea water temperatures range only between 20°C (68°F) in the winter to 26.2°C (80°F) in the summer, providing warmth in the winter, and much-appreciated chilliness in the summer's heat.

Eilat (pop 85,000) is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert. Sprawled along 7 kilometers of Red Sea coastline, between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, it offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba).
Originally a strategic military outpost, Eilat's first incarnation was as a port town, used to export potash and copper and import goods from Asia and Africa, such as oil and vehicles.
In the 1970s charter flights increased the flow of foreign tourists to Eilat. They were attracted by the coral reefs, breathtaking location, and the dry and sunny desert climate.


Today, the 2km (1.2 mi) North Beach area is full of hotels with opulent names like Herod's Palace and Queen of Sheba. The Tayelet promenade extends the length of the beachfront and hosts numerous stalls, street artists, restaurants, and fashionable shops. The promenade has great views of the bay, and each evening is full of strolling tourists.
The southern or Coral Beach, which has coral reefs, is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority. It has many public beaches and excellent scuba diving centers as well as several hotels and hostels.
Whereas the North Beach is within an easy walking distance of the city center, Coral Beach is some 7km south of it, beyond comfortable walking distance. The Navy and commercial ports lie between the two main beach areas.

Sabbath and Kashrut

As in most of Israel, many businesses and transport companies do not operate on the Sabbath (Shabbat) which begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday night; many places do not reopen/renew service until Sunday morning. The same holds true for major Jewish or national holidays, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
Kashrut is the body of Jewish dietary laws which many Israelis and tourists observe, and which many restaurants and almost all hotels adhere to. Among other things Kashrut requires complete segregation of meat and dairy foods, dishes, and utensils; select types of fish are kosher but most 'seafoods' are not, and all foods must be prepared under controlled and monitored conditions. Kosher restaurants and hotels display a valid, dated certificate issued by local rabbinical authorities. Kosher restaurants close for the Sabbath.

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Eilat, Israel: Port Information

Eilat Port is situated at the northern tip of the Red Sea. It has a 1200 m modern terminal and is very close to the city.

Get around Eilat, Israel

On foot

Central Eilat, that is the Promenade Area and City Center - Central Bus Station, Main Post Office, banks, etc. - are within easy walking distance, although during summer months the scorching temperatures make walking around unpleasant. Only the closest public beaches are a sweaty stroll from the center; dive sites require transportation.

By bus

Local bus services usually begin 7:00-08:00 AM and end 8:00-9 PM. Ask the driver for exact times.
Bus Numbers 1 and 2 do a complete circuit of the city, both passing through the City Center before their routes diverge. Both buses leave every 20 minutes from Tarshish st. nearby Dan Panorama and Ceaser Premier hotels at the North Beach area.
Bus Number 1 leaves every 20 minutes on the hour, passing through the City Center before following a clockwise route through most of the city's neighborhoods, returning to North Beach via City Center.
Bus Number 2 leaves every 20 minutes at 15 minutes past and to the hour, passing through the City Center before following a counter-clockwise route through most of the city's neighborhoods, returning to North Beach via City Center.
Bus Number 5 from Shachamon to the new industrial area leaves every 30 minutes on the hour. The bus passing through some of the city's neighborhoods, the City Center, the North Beach hotels, and terminates at the new industrial area near Big Eilat Shopping Center.
Bus Number 6 runs the Number 5 in reverse, leaving the new industrial area every 30 minutes on the hour.
Bus Number 15 to Coral Beach leaves every hour on the hour from Platform 7 at the Central Bus Station. It passes through the City Center and does a circuit of North Beach hotels as far as Kings City before turning south towards Coral Beach and its terminus at the Taba Border Crossing (to Egypt).
Bus Number 16 runs the Number 15 in reverse, leaving Taba between 30 and 40 minutes after the hour.
Night Buses Numbers 10 and 11 do a complete circuit of the city. Both buses leave every 1 hour from the new industrial area near Big Eilat Shopping Center. These buses are only operated on weekends including Friday nights.
Bus Number 10 leaves every 1 hour on the hour, The bus does a counterclockwise route through most of the city's neighborhoods, The City Center, the North Beach hotels and returning to the new industrial area.
Bus Number 11 leaves every 1 hour on the hour, The bus does a clockwise route through the North Beach hotels, the City Center, most of the city's neighborhoods and returning to the new industrial area.
Check with the Egged Bus Company for additional routes, rates, and updated schedules.

By taxi

Taxis prowl the streets day and night looking for fares. Insist on the meter, or agree on the fare in advance (Eilat's taxis are famously mercenary).
The meter rate goes up between 9 PM and 6 AM as well as Saturdays and holidays. Also, by law taxis may charge extra if ordered by phone, for a third passenger and for each piece of baggage/luggage transported.

What to see in Eilat, Israel

  • The Tourist Information Center (+972 8-6309111) can be found at 8 Beit HaGesher St. in the Bridge House near the pedestrian bridge from the yacht harbor. The main swimming area is the North beach and many major and minor hotels are situated there. The South or Coral Beach area is protected by the Israel Nature Reserve Authority, but recent years have seen a decline in the marine life and reef quality. Fortunately, since the removal of the controversial fish cages from the Gulf waters in 2008, a steady recovery of corals has been seen at all dive sites. While many divers head south to the Egyptian Sinai coast to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh, to experience better diving conditions, many divers still prefer Eilat, with far smaller crowds, interesting macro-life and easy, unpressured surface entries.
  • Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve - the best place for scuba diving and located here are some of the best dive clubs in Israel, offering technical diving courses, rebreather, nitrox, tri-mix etc.. The whole coastal area is protected by the nature reserve authority and divers are expected to follow regulations. It is also a great place for snorkeling, windsurfing, and kite-surfing plus it has fantastic views of the bay. 
  • Underwater Observatory, ☎ +92-8-6364200, e-mail: info@coralworld.com. One of Eilat's most popular attractions, this is a good way to view the Red Sea marine life without getting wet. Its white tower (Eilat's most famous landmark) offers great views above water and goes below the surface to view the marine life. The park's aquariums contain sharks, stingrays, and turtles, plus lots of multicolored Red Sea fish, and the huge glass windows allow visitors to get a clear view of the tanks' occupants. The Oceanarium simulator is also a lot of fun for kids - though it may be a little scary for the smaller ones. All in all, it's a nice family morning out. 
  • Dolphin Reef, ☎ +972-8-637-1846. South Beach (3 km south of town towards the Egyptian border). Not just a tourist trap, the staff actually work to rehabilitate dolphins for life in the open sea - from whence they came. However, in the past, the release of dolphins into the bay has on occasion resulted in the consumption of many of the nearby coral reef's inhabitants, so that the dolphin release project is on hold. Various paid options are available for interacting with the dolphins, starting with snorkeling with the dolphins. It's a very nice beach with lots of small pools and rich shrubbery. It has a fantastic spa (relaxation pools) and is well worth a visit. For those who want to get up close to a dolphin book your swim or dive as early in the morning as you can. The dolphins get weary of visitors as the day goes on. Piers leading out onto the water allow everyone to get as near to the dolphins - as the dolphins want. 
  • Eilat History Museum
The Negev surrounds Eilat, with many popular sights. The closest ones are Timna Park, The Red Canyon and Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, easily reachable from Eilat for a day trip.

What to do in Eilat, Israel

In the city

  • Every summer, the Red City music festival is held in Eilat (sponsored by 99 ESC radio station.) This beach festival is held on the beach and consists of consecutive days of all-night performances (Hip-Hop, rock and especially trance).
  • Red Sea Jazz Festival. Annual event takes place in the last week of August and Jazz musicians from all over the world come to Eilat, for a week of fun, sun and lots of Jazz. 
  • Ice Mall Eilat. A shopping mall with an ice skating rink. There is free skating as well as lessons. Once a day you can watch a professional ice show.  

In the Red Sea

  • Kitesurfing, Club Med Beach, ☎ +972 8-6373123. Eilat is one of the best locations in the world for learning how to kitesurf. The weather and sea conditions are perfect for beginners with steady northern winds and a calm sea. KiteXEilat offers various beginners classes. 
  • Scuba Diving (Lucky Divers), Simtat Tsukim 5, ☎ +972 8-6323466. 3. No license and no experience necessary SCUBA diving. As is legal in Eilat, an experienced dive master will accompany you on what could be your first ever SCUBA experience. They provide a short tutorial of the basics and worry about all the technical details leaving you able to concerning yourself solely with breathing--and of course observing the magnificent neon subaquatic landscape.
  • Snorkeling, Along the southern beach (anywhere public). If you don't want to splurge on SCUBA diving you can still see a nice variety of Red Sea fish by snorkeling along the south beach. You can rent the equipment usually from a Kiosk nearby. Flippers or suitable footwear recommended as the coral is sharp. 

In the desert

The scenic Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve has some of the most spectacular desert routes in Israel. Trails include ancient trading routes and the Great Rift Valley. Desert Hiking, 4x4 jeep tours, and camel treks are major attractions in this area of the Negev desert.
  • SPNI's Eilat Hiking Division (Eilat Field School), opposite Coral Nature Reserve (Bus No. 15 from Central Bus Station/5 minutes' walk north of Underwater Observatory), ☎ +972 8 632 6468, fax: +972 8 637 0424, e-mail: eilat@spni.org.il. Open Sunday-Thursday 8 AM to 3 PM. The Hiking Division of the SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) gives information and advice on desert hiking and trails in the Eilat region.  
  • Dromit Desert Tours (Judean, Central and Southern Negev deserts), ☎ +972 8 637 4773, +972 54 548 7332, fax: +972 8 637 5761 (for Colin), e-mail: col1514@gmail.com. Offers half- and full-day desert tours, desert/snorkeling tours, bike and jeep tours. Operated by Colin Porter, Licensed Desert Guide and marine biologist.

What to eat and drink in Eilat, Israel


The main promenade is packed with stylish tourist restaurants offering some of Israel's finest cuisine prepared by master chefs. The variety of restaurants understandably comes at a price, though not as expensive as many restaurants in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
As a rule, prices are lower the further away from the tourist areas one goes. For those wishing to eat simply and well there are a number of options in addition to shopping the local supermarkets. There are several good restaurants on or near Eilat's main street, Shderot HaTmarim (The Dates Blvd.).
  • On the Beach Restaurant. Falafel, Shawarma and Pizza. 
  • Ginger Asian Kitchen and Bar. Chinese restaurant and bar. The who's who of Eilat are found at Ginger, the new 'IN' location for Eilat's elite. Not nearly as expensive as it is exclusive, it's a good spot for dining if you don't mind seeing your picture in the local Eilat gossip pages. 
  • Bar Beach on Coral Beach overlooking the Gulf of Eilat. Built on a deck at the water's edge, have a beer, take a dip and come out for lunch; enjoy a light meal after a dive and take in the magnificent sunset.
  • Barbis. American Foods Restaurant, is a great burger place in the middle of the tourist center. Prices are cheap and the burgers are tasty and huge.
  • Eilat University Campus Cafeteria, North end of HaTmarim Blvd. 12:00-2:00 pm, Sunday to Thursday. Price includes a choice of entree with vegetables, soup and salad bar (+ desert, if any). Food prepared by Hotel School student chefs; tasty and good quality. Takeaway.
  • HaLev Harachav on HaTmarim Blvd. is a sidewalk restaurant with indoor seating: serves falafel and shuarma (turkey meat grilled on a rotating spit basted with lamb fat) with your choice of salads and relish (Israel's fast foods to eat on the spot, sit-down or takeaway) as well as an à la carte grill. (The name means "the wide (open) heart", i.e. generous.) Kosher; closed on Shabbat. New branch: opposite Mall-Hayam shopping center.
  • Il Pentolino, ☎ +972 8-634 3430. On HaTamrim Blvd. is an Italian style dairy restaurant serving an assortment of pastas, bagels, and salads. Open air dining and smoking areas. Kosher, closed on Shabbat. 
  • Jacknis, Mor Center. Favorite eatery of Eilat's no-nonsense business community. Takeaway. 
  • Pago Pago floating restaurant. An attraction in itself, it is strictly non-kosher it serves sushi, seafood, and steaks. Anchored on the waters of the Marina. A little pricey, but no more than other restaurants and you definitely get far more for your money. 
  • Pedro's Restaurant for excellent steak, the hang-out of Eilat diving instructors. You'll have to get a cab because it's nowhere near the tourist haunts. Well worth the effort if you are a steak lover... or if you consider yourself an honorary local, either way, it's hard to tell what's tastier, the restaurant's meat or the punters.
  • Rachel (opposite Yotam Plant Nursery). Dairy. Homemade quiches and baked goods. Breakfast served all day includes 2 eggs any style, salad, an assortment of side dishes and spreads, with breads, jam, and choice of hot and cold beverages. Located near the hospital. Tip: very crowded at brunch time; the new "in" place for Eilatis to meet. 


For a Holiday resort, the expected assortment of Pubs and Bars exist on the Promenade and are also densely packed in the main square.
  • Unplugged. A bar is a good option. If you're looking for a place with stuck-up people, barbie doll bartenders, or tough-looking bouncers, look somewhere else, because Unplugged is nothing like it. The drink selection is somewhat limited but still fairly good. The music ranges from American pop to Israeli trance, and they play songs in both Hebrew and English. You have the option of either sitting at the bar, chilling on a big couch, or dancing with the friendly locals. This place is often crowded, even on a Monday night. 
  • While evil isn't heard, seen, or spoken at Three Monkeys Pub live bands and an all-ages dance floor crowd is. Located towards the end of the promenade at the Isrotel "Royal Beach".
  • Bears pub is a central fixture in the main square. With a laid-back feel and hookahs, available Bears lends itself to chatting to the soundtrack of Israeli tunes.

Shopping in Eilat, Israel

As an incentive for both businesses and travelers to come here there is no value-added tax in Eilat. Therefore many duty-free shops line the boardwalk culminating in duty free shopping centres. Top brands can be found, and it is joked that the first thing an Israeli does before leaving Eilat is to fill up their petrol tank to the brim.
  • Mall HaYam, Palmach 1. A mall located on the promenade and beach-line, closest to the airport.
  • Ice Mall Eilat, Kaufman Street. Eilat's newest mall, with an ice rink and many international brands. 
  • Big center Eilat, HaSatat 20. Eilat's outlet mall.

Safety in Eilat, Israel

Eilat is relatively close to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which has become a terrorist hotbed. There have also been terrorist incidents in Eilat. To prevent terrorist infiltrations, Israel has built a steel barrier backed by cameras, radar and motion detectors on the Israel-Egypt border.

Language spoken in Eilat, Israel

Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Hebrew is most commonly spoken. 20% of the population are Israeli-Arabs who speak Arabic as well.

English is the most popular foreign language. Israelis study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in Israel. Older people are generally unable to converse in proper English and some knowledge of Hebrew will come in handy. All street and road signs (and many others) have English names, as well as the Hebrew and Arabic names.

Massive immigration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s brought a large number of immigrants who speak Russian. Other commonly encountered languages in Israel, reflecting the diverse origins of Israelis, include Romanian, French, German, Polish and Spanish. Some of the older members of the population and some of the ultra-orthodox population speak Yiddish, an Eastern-European Germanic Jewish language – you might get by sort-of if you speak German.


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