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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in eilat
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in eilat, Bed and Breakfast!
Eilat (אילת, also transliterated Elat) is an oddity in Israel: a tourist town without a hint of history, which is purely Jewish and purely secular. Located at the southern-most tip of the country, within its small "window on the Red Sea", Eilat is first and foremost a resort town these days, devoted to sun, fun, diving, partying and desert-based activities. 200 miles away from the tension often felt in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Eilat is a convenient escape for Israelis on vacation, but also attracts thousands of foreign travellers each year.
Eilat is the southernmost town in Israel, and it covers all of Israel's 7-kilometer coastline on the Red Sea. Originally just a military outpost to prevent neighbors Egypt and Jordan from snapping shut Israel's access to the Red Sea, Eilat's first incarnation was as a port, used for shipping goods like oil and cars from Asia. But in the 1970s people started to realize that the coral reefs of the sea, the sandy beaches of the coast and the guaranteed sunshine of the desert climate would also make a tourist attraction, and the place took off.
Today, the 2-kilometer northern beach strip is boxed solid with opulent hotels with names like Herod's Palace Sheraton and Queen of Sheba Hilton. The Tayelet promenade extending the length of the beach is now complete, making this by far the most attractive part of town in a Disneylandish way. The southern beach, which has the coral reefs, is divided up into nature reserves, public beaches and scuba diving shops. (The navy outpost, a fortress of barbed wire in the middle of the town, is now being gradually removed.) The actual town of Eilat, where its 55,000 permanent inhabitants live, stretches off into the desert to the north and west of the coast.
At the southern tip is the border with Egypt, featuring the Taba Hilton, whose primary attraction is its casino (gambling being illegal in Israel). The Sinai desert starts here. To the east is the Arava border with Jordan and the immediately adjacent town of Aqaba, Jordan's largest port and a burgeoning tourist attraction on its own, especially with the added attraction of nearby Petra.
Eilat's domestic airport is right in the middle of the city. Flights to Tel Aviv are frequent and take only 50 minutes, but expect to pay around 250 shekels for a one-way trip.
Most tourists arrive in Eilat on charter flights via the Ovda International airport, 65 kilometers and nearly an hour's drive out of town.
All buses in Eilat leave from the Central Bus Station on HaTemarim Boulevard, a 10-minute walk east from the city.
Egged express buses drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat hourly, the trip takes around 4 hours and costs around 60 shekels.
There are a couple of ways to drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat. One is via Mitzpe Ramon. Another nice alternative is from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea via Arad, stay a couple of days there or just make a short stop and then continue to Eilat. It is about 5 hours of driving.
The two reasons people come to Eilat are the beaches (which some consider overrated), and the coral reefs, which are currently under some pressure from humanity and pollution. The good beach is in the north, which is owned by the hotels and packed tighter than a sardine can in season. The coral used to be among the world's finest, but excessive traffic -- both boats and the two-legged type -- has killed off over 90% of the reefs - despite the valiant efforts of the nature reserve it will possibly take centuries for them to grow back. Most serious divers head down the Egyptian Sinai coast to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh now to experience the best diving conditions (of course, this only puts pressure on other Red Sea reefs....)
The beachfront is packed with stylish but expensive restaurants catering to tourists with money to burn.
The hillside around the Central Bus Station is home to many cheap but dingy backpacker dives.
Eilat's North Beach is positively packed with luxury hotels, but in season rates can be as high as US$200 per night.