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 from each other.

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, lovely corals, and colorful underwater life, is truly one of the world’s best snorkeling regions.

However, the number of snorkeling spots in this area can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Of the 7.5 miles of Israeli coast edged by the Red Sea, less than a mile is 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, which is protected by a marine reserve. Groupers, parrotfish, emperors, and octopus are common around its vibrant drop-off. There is a fee to explore Coral Beach, 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, don’t miss Migdalor Beach. While its’ shallow reef is not really spectacular, it gives you the chance to observe large and inquisitive wrasse and parrotfish just a few steps from the beach. Less than half a mile south of Migdalor Beach, The Caves shallow dive site is another must-visit location for snorkeling enthusiasts.

A few hundred yards 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 frequently pop up. The pillars of the pipeline crossing the beach are also great environments to explore, as lots of fish, including lionfish and burrfish, like to gather around the pillars.

New Open Beach, near the Coral Beach resort area, is also worth a visit. Its sandy bottoms are visited by bluespotted ribbontail rays and two-stick stingfish.

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.

Besides these locations, you’ll also find decent snorkeling at Dekel Beach, which hosts sporadic small coral patches. You can also try 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 9 miles 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 located just south of the beach.

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, on days with calm seas you will have the opportunity of 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.

Snorkeler observing lionfish
The lionfish is easy to spot in Red Sea shore waters. Here, in Princess 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 eagle rays or green sea turtles are exceptional.

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, just mostly sandy beds, rocky areas and Posidonia meadows. The fish are less colorful, and there is a lesser number of species.

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 two-stick-stingfish Israel
Close encounter with a two-stick stingfish in New Open Beach sandy beds.

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 drops and the wind can be strong between December and February.

The water temperature never falls 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 high temperatures reaching 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 takes place mainly 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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