Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
This spot has been added by
Last updated on September 7, 2023
Japanese Garden, north of South Beach, is probably Aqaba’s most well-known site. It is an easy-to-access snorkeling spot. Its reef, sheltered and shallow, lends itself to great beach snorkeling.
Beginners, in particular, will love this spot, as it allows to easily observe the sea life from the surface. Even if the coral there is very damaged, there is a wide diversity of fish to see, many of which are endemic to the Red Sea.
The Japanese Garden is located north of South Beach, near the Aqaba Marine Park visitor center. From the center of Aqaba, take the “South Beach Highway” for about 7.5 miles, then exit just after the Berenice Beach Hotel. Parking is available along the beach.
Two other snorkeling spots are located nearby: walking south along the beach, you will first get to South Beach (about 550 yards walk), then at Seven Sisters (about 3/4 of a mile walk), famous for its immersed tank.
We advise entering the water just to the left of the pontoon. The current goes from north to south (from right to left if you are facing the sea). Entering the water near the pontoon will allow you to follow the drop-off and then get out of the water a little further south.
At the water entrance point, the seabed is made of sand and pebble. Try to enter the water without walking too much, as stonefish and lionfish can be present even at very shallow depths.
Once in the water, follow the pontoon for about 40 yards to reach the reef drop-off. Along the way, you can explore the reef flat, covered with seagrass meadows and some very damaged corals. Klunzinger’s wrasse and sulphur damselfish are very common in these shallow areas.
Unlike other nearby spots, the Japanese Garden drop-off is not very deep, which allows snorkelers to enjoy it from the surface. The reef gradually slopes to a depth of 10-12ft, where it gives way to sandy beds.
Like other reefs in Aqaba, the Japanese Garden suffers from the impact of tourist activities. The shallower parts of the reef (↕2-5ft) are badly damaged, with only a few living corals. It is only from a depth of 6ft, out of reach of people stepping on the coral, that the reef comes back to life.
The drop-off is mainly made of fire coral, massive coral and brain coral, in which some red pencil urchins and Red Sea collector urchins are found. In places, hundreds of sea goldies and damselfish (whitetail dascyllus, sulfur damsel, whitebelly damsel, etc.) gather near the drop-off.
You will see many fish species at this spot, including the Red Sea raccoon butterflyfish and the Eritrean butterflyfish, moray eels, and lizardfish lying on the sand. The Red Sea clownfish is also common at this location, where it can be found between 3-10ft deep near the sea anemones.
On the beach, there is a café and sometimes some food trucks. Between the Japanese Garden and South Beach, on the other side of the road, you will find some hotels and diving centers which are great options to spend the night within walking distance from the reef.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Reef drop off with coral and fish
Free shore access
Immersed tank and reef drop off with coral and fish
Free shore access
Fringing reef with colorful fish
Patch coral reefs with many colorful fish
Narrow fringing reef with large and colorful fish
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