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While it is less famous than South Beach’s southern reefs, First Bay is a classic spot in the Jordanian Red Sea. It is unfortunate that the damaged coral at First Bay are no exception to the overall state of Aqaba’s coastal reefs.

Even though the coral is in bad shape, there are still interesting species can still be seen at shallow depths, such as lionfish, stonefish, moray eels and butterflyfish.

First Bay beach, Aqaba
First Bay Beach. In the distance, the fence marks the recommended entry point.

How to get to the First Bay snorkeling spot

The First Bay snorkeling spot is just north of South Beach. It faces the first beach you will encounter when arriving from downtown Aqaba.

From Aqaba, take the South Beach Highway and exit at the Camel Dive Center and Larain Plaza Hotel, less than a mile after passing the port and the aquarium. Free parking is available next to the beach.

First Bay snorkeling map, Aqaba

Water entrance for snorkeling First Bay

The main current runs from north to south, so we advise you to enter the water north of the beach, just before the fence (see map). You can then snorkel along the reef slope in a southerly direction, slightly drifted with the current, and then get out of the water through the small pass located in front of the SeaStars Watersport.

First Bay snorkeling exploration tips

You can snorkel the entire reef, which measures a hundred yards at its widest point, found in its northern part. The further south you go, the narrower the reef gets.

This spot has a typical Red Sea fringing reef profile, featuring a shallow flat (↕2-3ft) which ends in a small reef drop-off (↕12-24ft).

Stonefish in First Bay, Aqaba
A stonefish noted in First Bay shallows.

Like all reefs in Aqaba Marine Park, the First Bay reef is damaged overall at shallow depths. There are many areas where the coral has disappeared. Even so, pretty clusters of soft coral, massive porous coral and brain coral are still visible in some parts of the flat.

Even in the shallowest areas, keep an eye peeled for a lionfish, a stonefish or a small moray eel, in addition to the abundant Klunzinger’s wrasse.

Healthy coral head in First Bay, Aqaba
Healthy coral is found only in the depths, at the foot of the drop-off.

The reef edge is not in any better condition than the reef flat. There is a majority of dead coral in areas where the depth is less than 10ft. On the other hand, superb coral bommies are still found at the foot of the drop-off, where the seabed regains its multicolored and vibrant aspect.

Even in damaged areas, there is an interesting diversity of fish to see. Damselfish, wrasse and surgeonfish are among the most common, but masked pufferfish, yellow boxfish and butterflyfish are also frequently spotted.

Another impossible-to-miss species at this location is the Red Sea clownfish, which lives in the sea anemones attached to the different “steps” of the reef.

Geometric moray at First Bay, Aqaba
A geometric moray on First Bay’s shallow flat.

Sea conditions and underwater visibility are generally ideal on this spot, as on the entire Jordanian coast.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

An hotel and several small restaurants and food trucks are available next to the beach.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaAqaba Marine Park
  • Maximum depth22ft/7m
  • Water entranceFrom a sand/pebble beach
  • Potential DangersStonefish, lionfish, urchins
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.