Whenever we’re in Jordan we try to spend at least a few days at one of the beachfront resorts in Aqaba. It’s about a 4 – 4 1/2 drive from Amman via the Desert Highway or a 3 hour drive from the Dead Sea via the Dead Sea Road.
(There are buses and taxis to and from Aqaba leaving from both Amman and the Dead Sea Area. It can actually be a day trip from either place.)
Aqaba is Jordan’s only coastal city and is the largest city on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is rich in history and has been inhabited since 4000 BCE.
It’s stragic location at the junction between Asia and Africa made it a very important part of the trade route between these two continents.
Today it is a well known tourist destination know for it’s warm water and rich marine life.
The Gulf of Aqaba is one of the top diving destinations in the world. Aqaba is also the perfect base from which to explore the wonders that Jordan has to offer in this area, including Petra and Wadi Rum.
Whenever we’re in Aqaba we always stay at the Intercontinental Aqaba Hotel & Resort on King Hussein Street. It is one of the 3 major hotels that I know of in the city that is on the beach, the Movenpick and Kempinski are its neighbors). The Intercontinental is one of my favorite hotels in the world!
The hotel property includes a private beach with oceans views and views of Eilat, Israel which is just across the water. It has great restaurants and lounges, comfortable rooms and suites, several pools, a full service spa, and a kids’ club with activities throughout the day. Of course the service is excellent!
We usually begin our day with the breakfast buffet at the Corniche Restaurant. The abundant buffet has an array of breakfast foods, cereals, fruit, pastries, and a live action station where friendly chefs will gladly fry you some eggs or and omelette. I does get very busy on the weekends and during high season.
The breakfast buffet cost $24 dinar for guests 12+, half price for children 5-11, and free for kids under 5.
The restaurant also has a dinner buffet, the menu changes nightly. We dined there for their Friday Night Barbecue where they served freshly grilled beef, chicken, and lamb kebobs and also had some very tasty shawarma. The price for the dinner buffet is about 40 dinar for adults, half price for kids 5-11, and free for kids under 5.
The Corniche Restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. We love the outdoor seating as it has both pool and sea views.
The grandkids enjoyed the pools and beach. The kids’ pool is located in a shaded area in front of the indoor kids’ club. There’s also an outdoor shaded area with playground equipment. The kids’ club staff have planned activities on the beach and in the pools during the day. They’re very good at keeping the kids entertained. The boys had a great time at the water balloon toss on the beach.
The indoor play area is air conditioned and is well equipped. Activities for younger children are in this area and families are invited to movie nights. It’s a great place to cool off after a hot day on the beach.
We let the kids play here while my daughter and I indulged ourselves with massages at the spa located right next door!
For those looking for some water fun and adventure there’s a water sports kiosk on the hotel’s beach where you can rent jet skis, ride a banana boat or a glass bottom boat, parasail, and water ski or rent some scuba or snorkel gear to explore the underwater reef.
There are many restaurants in the old town just a few blocks from the Intercontinental. You can even walk from the hotel to the heart of the old town.
One of our usual dining spots is the Alibaba Restaurant in the heart of the old town on the corner of Raghadan and Hammamat Al Tunisyya Streets. The location is great for people watching and they serve alcohol.
They serve fresh seafood as well had traditional Arabic food. The food is okay if you order the grilled meats like shish taouk or lamb kabobs. The shrimp fried rice was actually pretty good too.
Prices here are less expensive than at the resorts starting at about 9 dinar for a plate of kabobs with rice, salad, and hummus. Seafood prices are higher depending on what is ordered.
After dinner we like to walk around town for a bit of souvenir shopping. The streets around Alibaba Restaurant are lined with all sorts of shops selling everything from clothing to household goods and beach toys. Prices are very reasonable, and bargaining is expected.
A walk around the old town is never complete without a stop at one of the sweet shops or bakeries. We pick up a kilo or so of freshly baked kunafa (cheese filled semolina pastry) and Awame (honey drenched fried bread balls.)
Of course when we’re in Aqaba we take a day or two to head over to Petra and Wadi Rum for the day!