The Jordanian port city has a mix of adventure, culture and friendly faces that sees Edward Robertson arriving as an outsider but soon feeling like a local
My favourite thing about diving is the moment you drop below the water’s surface, and find yourself in an alien environment.
The marine world itself is different enough but even the way you move and breathe constantly reaffirms the fact that you are the outsider.
Here in Aqaba, Jordan, on the shore of the Red Sea, I dip below the surface into that unfamiliar world and discover some of the best diving on the planet, both natural and created by design.
The Red Sea has a strong reputation for the quality of its marine life. Around 270 species can be found in Aqaba’s 20-plus dive sites, which include deliberately sunk wrecks designed to provide divers with new attractions and corals, and fish with new habitats.
The most impressive of these is a Hercules C-130 aircraft that looms out of the distance as you swim up to explore it. The fact that it is submerged in only 15 metres of water means it is also accessible to less-experienced divers.
My dive guide, Arab Divers’ operations manager Obada Maaita, says: “The fact that so much of the diving is so close to the shore means you can do a lot of different sites quite quickly, while the amount of variation we have means there is always something new to see.”