Israel, a gateway between the Red Sea and Mediterranean’s underwater worlds

The best snorkeling spots in the country are located near Eilat, in the Gulf of Aqaba. The Red Sea, with its calm, warm and gin-clear waters, its corals and its colorful underwater life, is indeed one of the world’s best snorkeling regions.

Here, however, snorkeling spots can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Of the 7.5 miles of Israeli coast edged by the Red Sea, only 1200m are bordered by a coral reef itself. Elsewhere, the seabed is mostly sandy, with scattered coral patches.

Coral reef in Eilat, Israel
Coral Beach, bordered by a coral reef, is certainly Israel’s most visited snorkeling spot.

Coral Beach is the best known and most snorkeled location in the area. Here, the beach is bordered by a coral reef, protected by a marine reserve. You’ll nevertheless have to pay a fee to explore the reef, and the snorkeling area is restricted.

A few hundred meters from the border with Egypt, Princess Beach is also a good option. Snorkelers can spot many fish around the piers and patch reefs that edges the beach.

Apart from these two spots, you’ll also find decent snorkeling at Migdalor Beach, Mosh Beach, as well as in front of the U Coral Beach Club (formerly Club Med).

Coral patch and reef fish in Princess Beach
In Princess Beach, snorkelers can discover small coral patches, hosting a wide diversity of colorful reef fish.

On the Mediterranean coast of Israel, there are several snorkeling spots north of Tel Aviv, between Netanya and Haifa. The best known is the Caesarea National Park, which offers an absolutely unique experience. Located on the outskirts of the ancient city of Caesarea, you can discover underwater the archaeological remains of King Herod’s harbor.

About fifteen kilometers further north, HaBonim Beach is also a good option. Other small wild coves, also fine for snorkeling, are found just south of the beach.

Located about 3mi from the border with Lebanon, near Nahariya, Achziv is another prime spot – perhaps the best on this part of the coast. With its beaches and rocky areas protected by a marine reserve, it is an ideal place to discover the Mediterranean marine life.

Caesarea, Israel
The underwater archaeological site of Caesarea, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast.

The Mediterranean and the Red Sea are two completely different marine ecosystems, with distinct environments and species.

It is undoubtedly in the Red Sea that underwater life is the richest and most spectacular. Its warm waters have allowed the development of coral reefs, home to colorful fish, many of them endemic to the region.

When snorkeling the Red Sea coast of Israel, you’ll easily spot the regal angelfish, several species of butterflyfish and wrasse, lionfish, as well as the very photogenic Red Sea clownfish in its anemone. Encounters with rays or green sea turtles are occasional.

Red sea anemonefish in Israel
The Red Sea clownfish, endemic to this part of the world, is a common sight in the Eilat region (here, photographed in Princess Beach).

On the Mediterranean side, there is no coral, but mostly sandy beds, rocky areas and Posidonia meadows. The fish are less colorful, and the number of species is less important.

During your snorkeling on this side of the country, you will certainly come across two-banded seabream, ornate wrasse, painted comber, and sometimes small moray eels, sole, or stingrays.

When to go snorkeling in Israel?

In Israel, the climate varies widely depending on the region, especially between the north and south of the country.

In the Eilat region, the climate is arid, with hot air and almost no rainfalls. You can snorkel there all year round, although the temperatures drop and the wind can be strong between December and February. The water temperature never drops below 70°F/21°C, and can reach almost 86°F/30°C in midsummer. However, it is often recommended to avoid this period (June to August), as the heat can be stifling, with maximal temperatures approaching 104°F/40°C during the day.

On the Mediterranean coast, the climate remains mild, but winters are more marked, with an average temperature of 57°F/14°C between December and February, and water around 61°F/16°C. On this side of the country, snorkeling is therefore mainly practiced in summer. From July to September, the weather is warm and sunny, and the sea temperature rises to around 81-82°F/27-28°C.

On the Red Sea coast (Eilat)
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Cool and windy
Warm and sunny
Hot and sunny

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