After a night in the desert in Wadi Rum we turned our wheels towards the resort city of Aqaba and the sea breeze of the Red Sea.
Aqaba, borders the Red Sea and is the only coastal city in Jordan. Being in such close proximity to Egypt and Israel it acts as the go to hot spot for Jordanian holidays. Its location has also helped Aqaba achieve notoriety as a special economic zone where many items benefit from little to no tax. Qais Bader of Jordan Select Tours, our driver for the week, pulled in to the Radisson Blue Tala Bay resort. It was obvious by the strict once over that they gave the car that security in this area was stricter than in the central Jordanian areas.
We explored the resort, giving the kids a chance to taste a delicious lemon mint smoothie before meeting the nanny who would be watching the boys for the next few hours while Mommy and Daddy went Scuba Diving in the famous Red Sea.
Maria, the nanny jumped right into the action with the kids getting them ready for some excitement at the hotel’s kids club while Christina and I went to the lobby for our transfer to Sinbad’s Dive Club.
Scuba Diving in the Red Sea
When we arrived at Sinbad’s Dive Club, we were told that since it had been almost 2 years since our last dive, we would need to complete a short refresher course that included a pool dive before we would be allowed to slip into the Red Sea. Kate, our Hungarian dive instructor was fantastic and helped us get acclimated to our gear before bringing us down to the pier for our shore dive.
Aqaba is home to an extensive marine reserve that lines much of the shore on the Tala Bayside of Aqaba. Because of this, you will find that many resorts have rocky shores rather than soft sand. The reserve has 25 dive spots, most of which are accessible as shore dives.
We walked down a short flight of stairs from the pier into the water and it was like stepping into a bathtub. The surface temperature was a warm 29°C and it cooled only to 27ºC at our deepest depth of 60 ft. As we descended the splashes of the locals jumping off the pier into the clear waters grew muffled and we began our descent down the sandy bottom to the Rainbow Reef.
We quickly encountered large spotted puffer fish, clown fish, and lionfish all while pods of small silver fish sparkled in the sunlight above us. The reef’s huge, colorful corals surrounded us and gave me ample chance to finally try our new Olympus TG-4 out in its natural habitat. The camera’s onboard depth and navigation information proved useful as I worked to find just the right settings to capture the scenery.
After about an hour, we surfaced reluctantly after a 5 meter safety stop and carried our equipment back to the Dive Centre before heading back to the Radisson Blu to swap adventure stories with the kids. C and D came running out of the room with their faces sporting giant smiles and painted with red spider webs. We showed them pictures of the eels and clownfish before heading down for some relaxing family time by the pool.
Radisson Blu Tala Bay
The pools at the Radisson Blu all seemed to be fairly deep and outside of the area around the hot tubs, there were few areas where the kids could play without Mommy and Daddy helping them out. In fact, most areas needed Daddy specifically as the water was neck-deep for Christina in most of the pools as well.
Although the water was deep, it was an excellent temperature and we found lots of nooks and crannies to explore in the water from the bridges to the waterfalls between the pools and more.
As the sun went down, we wandered down for a stroll along the rocky beach before heading to a fantastic buffet dinner at the Aziab restaurant. The next day would bring us to the lowest point of the surface of the Earth, and we needed to be prepared.
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