Shalom! Welcome to Eilat, Israel. Eilat is Israel’s southern most city and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the Red Sea and surrounded by beautiful red mountains and desert. It is a very short drive from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Our trip to Eilat began with a four-hour drive by private car from the Egyptian dive resort of Sharm El Sheikh near Mount Sinai. We drove northeast through the mountainous desert of the Sinai peninsula until we entered Israel through the Taba border crossing. It was February (off-season for the resort) and we were able to get a spectacular online deal at the Hilton Queen of Sheba Hotel in Eilat. Considered the premier hotel on the Red Sea, the Hilton offered amazing panoramic views. The pool area and lobby were amazing. There is an adjacent shopping mall attached to the rear of the property. Our favorite amenity was the two-story Yakimono Japanese rooftop restaurant and skybar. We were not expecting to find one of the best Sushi Bars on the planet in the middle east, but there it was! This happening spot was the place to be seen on the Israeli waterfront.
Eilat offers plenty of watersports and recreation. Its most popular attraction is scuba diving in the Red Sea (nearby Ras Mohammad reef is considered one of the best spots on earth).
We only had four days in Eilat and we had already taken a smashing diving trip in Egypt, so we tapped the concierge for ideas. We booked a day trip to Jordan to see one of the new 8 wonders of the world: The rose red city of Petra (filming site of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – I’ll touch on that in another article). Another day we booked a ride on a yellow submarine to explore the Israeli coastline. This was actually our first real submarine ride (can’t count amusement parks) and we really enjoyed the underwater spectacle of wildlife from the comfort of an air conditioned sub. There was also a brilliant underwater observatory and aquarium near the dive zone that displayed a dizzying array of aquatic rarities.
On our final day we signed up for shooting lessons and range time at the Red Sea Sports Club. This was very exciting because of the large selection of weapons available from which to choose.
There were no permits or paperwork required to get started. An ex-Israelli Commando was our instructor that day. We chose two weapons we wanted to fire. Cass opted for a Colt 9 mm pistol. I chose an Uzi submachine gun. I really wanted to try this because you don’t have an opportunity to legally experiment with that type of firepower in the states. At Red Sea sports you pay by the round. We ordered 100 rounds for each weapon. The facility is underground and complete with noise-resistant walls and bullet-proof glass. Unfortunately, cameras are not permitted in the actual range, but they did take some pics of us in the weapons room. We shot at paper torso targets at about 25 metres. About halfway through, Cass and I switched weapons so we could try them both. They let us keep the target paper and take it home with us as a souvenir. The instructor really seemed to like us and gave us complimentary “Instructor” T-shirts. He said it was very rare to find a “gentile” (non-Jewish) American & Brit in that neighborhood.
We really enjoyed Eilat. Unlike the rest of the country, there was no “historical” significance to this part of Israel. It was just pure good fun and adventure. The weather is sunny and warm, the people speak English (and Hebrew) and it is extremely clean and safe. The landcape is absolutely breathtaking. Kol Tuv! (Be well in Hebrew)
– The Rox