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Family trip to Eilat

Victoria, Canada
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Family trip to Eilat

Hello-

We are planning a family trip to Israel this December and hoping to spend 1-2 days in the Arava. We will likely stay at one of the kibbutzim near Eilat.

My questions are:

1. Snorkeling - I've seen some disagreement on Trip Advisor about the quality of snorkeling and the best location. Will we have a better experience if we go on a guided tour, or is the snorkeling at Coral Beach, which seems easily accessible, as good as it gets? My husband went as a child and still remembers how incredible it was, but sadly it sounds as if the Eilat reefs have suffered from global warming. A follow-up question there is: is it warm enough to snorkel in Dec?

2. Our children are 12, 9, and 3. To give them a taste of the Arava, would you recommend Timna Park or Red Canyon? We will likely only have time for one hike, and of course having a toddler in tow limits how far we can reasonably walk.

3. If there's a specific site or tour you'd recommend for a family hoping to be active/see the beauty of the Arava & Red Sea but also limited by young children, I'm all ears.

Thanks for any advice!

-Ilana

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1. Re: Family trip to Eilat

1. I'll leave the snorkeling question for snorkeling experts.

Regarding temperatures, the average max temperature in Eilat in December is 22-23 degrees Celsius. The Red Sea average temperature in December is the same, about 23 degrees.

2. I would prefer Red Canyon, if you're looking for hiking. It's not a long trip, feasibly with children (given the toddler is in tow).

3. You could go to Arava's visitor center, they have active display of the Israeli agriculture technology wonders in the Arava (do reserve a tour in advance).

You could go to the bird watching park north of Eilat (do reserve a tour in advance).

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2. Re: Family trip to Eilat

1. Snorkeling. the best snorkeling is from Lighthouse Beach down to Princess beach (i.e., the South Beach) with the best spots being around those two beaches plus a couple of the ones in between (e.g., opposite Snuba). Coral Beach (the reserve where you pay to enter) is no longer the best snorkeling area.

I didn't know whether you were joking about global warming or not. There's been no change in the annual temperature cycle. The damage to the shallow coral reefs happened quite quickly over a few years during the late 2000s following an illegal expansion of a commercial aquaculture experiment at the northern end of the gulf over several years until the courts finally forced them out, and sewage flows from Taba, Egypt, on a number of occasions.

You would want thin wetsuits to snorkel in December. The water temperature generally starts December at 24C and drops during the month to 22C by the end. So early on it's ok but by the end of the month it's too cold for most people.

Guided snorkeling through a dive center is a good idea, especially since you'll need wetsuits. And especially if you've only allotted a single day or half day, and then the dive center can take care of everything. But insist that they take you to the South Beach and not just a nearby patch of sand. (I can't recommend a dive center here because I'm a part-owner of one and that would be against Tripadvisor rules.) The dive center should also bring along a float for resting although the wetsuits help with floating as well.

2. Timna Park is more than just one simple hike as you can drive from one part to the next, have picnics, etc., and overall I think is a better choice for your family. That said, it would be a shame to miss the Red Canyon but I don't know how you do it with a three-year old since I never tried. You have to climb up a wall studded with iron rungs to get out.

3. I think that if you only have 1-2 days you've hit what I consider the nature highlights - snorkeling and Timna/Red Canyon.

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Victoria, Canada
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3. Re: Family trip to Eilat

Thanks so much for all this detailed information! I wasn't kidding about global warming - I'd heard that in Australia there's been significant coral bleaching due to warmer ocean temperatures, so assumed it was the same issue in Eilat. At any rate- I really appreciate the advice-thank you!

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4. Re: Family trip to Eilat

The Coral Beach Nature Reserve is the safest place to snorkel, extremely easy access to the sea via two long jetties that take you over the coral in to deep water, so the coral and your feet are protected, and you view the corals from the outside looking in. There is a rope and buoys the whole length of the beach to hold on to,we don't have a tide to talk off but the wind can be strong and you drift south. On the beach there are plenty of chairs and shade as well as changing rooms and showers. Yes you pay to go on the beach, around 29 Shekels, but that goes to the upkeep of the reserve but it is included in the Nature Reserve Package as well as Timna Park.

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5. Re: Family trip to Eilat

Bluesman maybe you haven't been in the Coral Beach Nature Reserve since it cost only 29 shekels for entrance but that was a few years ago. Entrance from the jetties into 3-4 meters of water is not really appropriate for small children, or in fact for anyone who's not used to being in the sea, so I don't know what you mean by 'safest'. There's not as much to see along the ropes anymore and the best corals are now the ones too far below the surface. There's no wetsuit rental in the reserve, definitely an issue in December, and of course no guided snorkeling tours. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I guess.

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Switzerland
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6. Re: Family trip to Eilat

For snorkeling with children I second Binyamins opinion: your best choice is Lighthouse Beach. For a calm day on the beach, tanning and snorkeling I would suggest Coral Beach Nature Reserve. I don't think December is the season for the latter.

If you'd like to stick with a diving center, I would normally suggest Shulamit's Eilat Diving Adventures. My friend's kids were snorkeling with Shulamit two years ago and are still absolutely enthusiastic about this afternoon at Lighthouse Beach.

As you also like to hike, you are perhaps interested to contact David Tsvaygenbaum. Originally he is a (very good) diving instructor but works now also as a (licensed) tour guide. I visited with him Timna Park and it was fabulous. I am sure that he can organize with you and for you an unforgettable day and an outstanding hike.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Rev…

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Rev…

https://www.facebook.com/SeaDesertAdventures/

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Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: Family trip to Eilat

Thank you! I saw Shulamit's website but didn't see snorkeling on it- will contact her and David for more info. I really appreciate all this thoughtful advice.

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8. Re: Family trip to Eilat

Main business is diving but I know that she and her staff offer also guided snorkeling tours. As everyone working for Shulamit is also knowledgeable in marine biology you and your children will have double benefit. I am not sure if I should mention this, but actually David worked for Shulamit and I loved diving with him.

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9. Re: Family trip to Eilat

OK so I missed typed and the entrance is 35 Shekels, but I maintain it is the safest place for people, especially kids, to snorkel.

parks.org.il/sites/…default.aspx

Viagiatura, The Lighthouse is popular with locals who want to get a tan and be seen, where as the Nature Reserve is for snorkelers.

Binyamin 8, safe means that kids can hold on to the ropes or inflatables and not get pushed on the corals which can and does happen often at the Lighthouse or any other beach further south when there is a storng wind. I was at the Nature reserve last week and enjoyed the corals and many colored fish.

I don't believe there is any need to pay for a snorkeling trip as it is easy access to the sea and no need for a guide to tell you where to look, it's common sense.

Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Family trip to Eilat

Thank you, Bluesman and apologies for the late reply- we were away for a long weekend and had spotty internet. I really appreciate all the advice. Thank you!