Besides loving all that Aqaba has to offer, we mainly stayed extra time awaiting the Tuesday boat tour to Pharaoh’s Island, Egypt. The island lies in the Red Sea just 250m off the eastern Egyptian coast. The small island consists of a fortified castle built by the Crusaders during the 1100’s in order to defend their trade route across the Red Sea.
A lovely boat ride (Sindbad Travel) with 25 other travelers took us from Aqaba through the Red Sea. We passed by Eilat, Israel before reaching the Egyptian coastline. After about one hour we arrived to Pharaoh’s Island. The castle view became increasingly impressive as our boat pulled closer to the tiny island. The transparent waters are among the most picturesque we’ve ever seen. The entire island is surrounded by stunning coral reefs that can be seen above the water.
We explored the castle remains inside and out. The climb to the top of the castle’s highest walls offered some of the most breathtaking views of the turquoise waters, coral reefs and the Egyptian coastline. On the far end of the island we found the most beautiful lagoon that was used as a natural swimming pool for those staying in the castle. The sea water feeds into the lagoon through a small entryway.
The anticipation of snorkeling definitely escalated after seeing the coral reefs and fish from our boat. Once we were below the waters, the vibrancy of sea life was among the most spectacular we’ve encountered. Beautifully colored fish, coral and fauna surrounded us as we floated just below the surface. We could have snorkeled for hours if not for the dozens of jellyfish. At one point, Christie was looking down at the sea floor and was startled by a large purple jellyfish almost touching her goggles. She let out a loud scream and the snorkeling ended shortly after. She may have been having flashbacks to the jellyfish days at the Jersey shore.
Tons of huge purple jellyfish appeared to be surrounding us as we swam back to the boat. It was like a game of frogger in the sea. Christie felt a little stinging but it subsided after a few minutes. Once safely aboard, we were able to admire the beauty of these curious creatures. According to Wikipedia, “Jellyfish have roamed the seas for at least 500 million years, and possibly 700 million years or more, making them the oldest multi-organ animal.” Now that’s some interesting trivia!
After a delicious barbeque lunch, the boat started to make its way back to Aqaba. We chatted with our new friends from the Netherlands comparing living costs, healthcare and quality of life between the U.S. and Holland. Holland wins in healthcare like most other countries. And, we are happy to avoid their extremely high sales, income and weird auto taxes. Our Pharaoh’s Island trip was well worth the long wait and as a plus we had the opportunity to fully explore the great town of Aqaba.
See our Photo Album:
Pharaoh’s Island, Egypt