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

Both the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts of Israel can be snorkeled, but their underwater environments (and sea life watching opportunities) are totally different.

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

The best snorkeling spots on the Red Sea coast of Israel

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

Here, however, the number of 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. Elsewhere, the seabed is mostly sandy, with scattered coral patches.

Coral Beach coral reef
Coral Beach, bordered by the world’s northernmost coral reef, is without doubt Israel’s most visited snorkeling location.

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. Groupers, parrotfish, emperors, and octopus are common around its vibrant drop-off. You’ll nevertheless have to pay a fee to explore it, and the snorkeling area is restricted to the outer edge of the reef.

Snorkeler surrounded by fish at Migdalor Beach.
At Migdalor Beach, the fish are really inquisitive and like to swim close to the snorkelers.

A bit further south, you shouldn’t miss Migdalor Beach: if its shallow reef is not really spectacular, it nevertheless allows observing large and inquisitive wrasse and parrotfish, a few steps only from the beach. Just 600m south of Migdalor Beach, The Caves shallow dive site is another must-visit location for snorkeling enthusiasts.

A few hundred meters from the Egyptian border, Princess Beach is also a great option. Snorkelers can spot lots of fish around the piers and patch reefs that edge the beach, including lionfish, parrots and schools of sergeants.

Fish near Princess Beach pontoon
Large parrotfish near Princess Beach pontoon.

Ever dreamed about swimming with dolphins in the wild? Head to EAPC Beach at sunrise, where the bottlenose dolphin from neighboring Dolphin Reef use to pop out. The pillars of the pipeline crossing the beach are also great environments to explore, as lots of fish, including lionfish and burrfish, use to gather around them.

Bottlenose dolphin at EAPC Beach, Eilat
Encounter with a bottlenose dolphin at EAPC Beach.

If you like atypical underwater sceneries, the Underwater Restaurant is another must-visit location. This abandoned structure, which seems straight out of a science fiction movie, is called home by lots of colorful fish.

Apart from these spots, you’ll also find decent snorkeling at Dekel Beach, which hosts sporadic small coral patches, as well as in front of the Bar Beach and the U Coral Beach Club (formerly Club Med).

The best snorkeling spots on the Mediterranean coast of Israel

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, it hides the underwater archaeological remains of King Herod’s harbor.

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

About fifteen kilometers further north, Neve Yam rock pools and HaBonim Beach creeks are also good options. Other small, wild coves, also fine for snorkeling when the sea is calm, are found just south of the beach.

Located about 3 miles 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 Mediterranean marine life.

Nudibranch in Bat Yam, Tel Aviv
A nudibranch from Goniobranchus annulatus species in Bat Yam pool.

The closest snorkeling location to Tel Aviv is probably Bat Yam, where a shallow rocky pool is found in front of HaSela Beach. In Herzliya and along Tel Aviv seafront, days with calm seas may allow exploring the surroundings of the breakwaters.

What will I see while snorkeling in Israel?

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

A lionfish in Dekel Beach. This species is very common in Eilat shore waters.
The lionfish is easy to spot in Red Sea shore waters. Here, in Dekel Beach shallows.

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 emperor and 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.

Emperor angelfish in Migdalor Beach
The emperor angelfish, one of the world’s most iconic fish species, at Migdalor Beach reef.

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 significant.

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

Snorkeler taking picture of a fish at Coral Beach.
Snorkeler taking picture of a fish at Coral Beach.

What is the best time of the year 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 rainfall. 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.

Migdalor Beach coral reef.
Migdalor Beach coral reef, on the Red Sea coast of Israel.

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 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.

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