Written by wanderluster on 07 Apr, 2002
Although the hydrofoil whisks you across the Red Sea from Sinai to Jordan in 50 minutes, plan on several hours total travel time. We left our hotel in Nuweiba at 1:00 pm and arrived at our Aqaba hotel at 6:45 pm. Why?…Read More
Although the hydrofoil whisks you across the Red Sea from Sinai to Jordan in 50 minutes, plan on several hours total travel time. We left our hotel in Nuweiba at 1:00 pm and arrived at our Aqaba hotel at 6:45 pm. Why? Because a long wait is required at both ends.
In the Nuweiba port, we waited a very long two hours for what I thought was a delayed departure (being harassed the entire time by an guide who guilted us into forking over a substantially larger tip than we'd paid him in the Sinai desert and lectured us about Egyptian propaganda). But I learned that passengers must be present with tickets in hand two hours prior to departure time. This is required for both the ferry and hydrofoil (fast boat).
The ferry terminal in Nuweiba was filthy and crowded with mostly locals. There were a series of confusing lines we were led through for customs, immigration and check-in procedures. Our guide advanced us to the beginning of each long line "because we were tourists." It made me highly uncomfortable cutting in front of staring strangers, and I don't think we gained anything by it, as the wait in the terminal was lengthy anyway. We stood on the concrete loading dock with our guide for over an hour and a half.
A one way fare on the regular ferry costs $35 US and takes three hours or longer, while the hydrofoil costs $45 US and spits you across the sea in less than an hour. Considering the long wait time at either end, ten bucks is nothing to shave off a couple hours. Tickets for the hydrofoil have to be purchased at either the Arab Bridge Maritime Company Office near the port, or from one of the ticket agents along the waterfront.
The hydrofoil provided a smooth ride by skimming across the water. We sat in unassigned seats toward the back of the enclosed vehicle, after tossing our luggage into a storage bin. Sodas and snacks were available for purchase. Other than women brazenly spraying strong perfume into the air or removing nail polish, it was an enjoyable ride looking out the windows at the Red Sea and distant shores of Saudi Arabia.
Once we reached the Jordanian port in Aqaba, we claimed our luggage which was simply thrown onto the ground, and carried it into the terminal following the crowd. There an official collected passports from all passengers and left to process them. We sat in the lounge area like everyone else, and waited an hour before they called our name. Finally, we were able to leave the port. Exiting, we walked through a gated fence where Arab officials gruffly blocked our path. It was a rather rude, unsettling entry into the otherwise friendly and hospitable country of Jordan. A mob of black taxis were waiting for business outside the fence, and it was easy to grab a ride into town for JD 5.
Written by DrMaximus on 07 Jun, 2002
There are two crossings available – on the fast craft (65 minutes) and on the slow ferry (up to 200 minutes). The former costs USD15 while the latter about USD10. The departure point is NOT at the Aqaba Port but at the Passenger terminal…Read More
There are two crossings available – on the fast craft (65 minutes) and on the slow ferry (up to 200 minutes). The former costs USD15 while the latter about USD10. The departure point is NOT at the Aqaba Port but at the Passenger terminal further south. There are local buses that go down south as far as the Passenger Terminal and the Royal Diving Centre, but I would recommend taking a taxi (JD1,500). The taxi ride from downtown takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
The fast craft leaves Aqaba at between midday and 1pm. You should arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the departure to secure tickets. The Terminal does have huge signs indicating where to purchase your fasts craft tickets from, but through experience I know that they often go unnoticed! The booth is on the second floor of the Terminal and you can pay in either USD or JD. When you purchase your ticket, they will issue you a receipt. With that receipt, you must proceed to one of the four bank booths directly opposite, to pay the fare in cash. There are at least four bank branches, so take your pick – the fare remains the same whichever you choose! Make sure they initial on your receipt for payment received. Then, you will see a table where pink immigration forms are available. Fill out one of these and join the line to clear customs. I joined one of the three long lines, but before long, seeing that I was a fairly ‘exotic looking’ tourist, one of the police guys came and motioned me to go to the head of the queue. The rest in line, mostly of Middle Eastern origin, were visually unhappy, but I am not about to complain! With the receipt paid, and customs cleared, turn back to the ticket booth and exchange all these documents for your boat ticket. You will be told to leave the building and wait at an open-air shed along with numerous other locals. A bus, which probably should have been scrapped a decade ago, will arrive about 30 minutes prior to departure to ferry passengers to the embarkation point. Just squeeze your way up the buses… they get impossibly crowded and we all know that queues do not work in this region. The buses will return to ferry more passengers. If possible, do not leave your luggage with the loaders. Bring them along with you as you board the craft, and leave them by the side. They are safer this way, and far more convenient.
Snacks are available on board, as is a foreign exchange booth offering terrible rates. Wait till you get to Nuweiba where there are several booths around the bus terminal providing better rates. Be sure to use the bathroom on the fast craft before disembarking because the facilities at Nuweiba port are revolting. Immigration clearance and customs inspection at Nuweiba is also absurd, so expect long lines. Leave your civility behind. Try to be first off board and first in line. For further information, proceed to the Egypt journal.
Another touristy thing to do along the beach, you can catch one of these boat rides in the evening when the view is supposedly most spectacular and romantic (although it does not get any romantic at all out at sea). The "hour long" ride takes…Read More
Another touristy thing to do along the beach, you can catch one of these boat rides in the evening when the view is supposedly most spectacular and romantic (although it does not get any romantic at all out at sea). The "hour long" ride takes you over various coral fields and your captain will be more than happy to remove a wooden plank from under your feet to reveal a fibre glass boat bottom. How interesting… duh. Mine also took us to view a sunken war galleon and a lighthouse. Double wow. One difficulty you are destined to meet: "You not know that one hour in sea here is 45 minutes?" No, of course I don’t. Be firm and refuse to pay the full fare previously agreed on if they throw you this scam – pay 75%. With hindsight, we realised that they were very clever entrepreneurs, never once telling us that the ride was 60 minutes, but always "an hour long". Also, do not pay more than JD10,000 for all three people for a 60 minutes ride. If possible, disembark from the boat before paying or showing your displeasure at having been cheated of 15 minutes. If you have indicated that the ride is 15 minutes short and that you will not pay the full sum, they might offer to take you out again for 15 minutes. Do not ever accept this offer. A little thinking will tell you why.
The best location for these boats is 200m north along the beach from the Movenpick Hotel. You will see many locals holding on to towels and beach mats, follow them down the narrow path (flanked by tall wooden planks) which is adjacent to the main road. It at first does not seem like a probable road which leads to any beach at all, but deceptively is. At the end of this road by the beach is a café where the owners will haunt you to buy drinks or get on a boat. Avoid the first, and haggle for the second. Be reminded that this is the only stretch of beach which is free for the public. All other hotel-owned stretches charge from JD2,000 for use of their private (cleaner and quieter) beaches.
For travellers heading on to Egypt from Jordan, it is very advisable to obtain visas from Aqaba instead of upon docking at Nuweiba, which is a very filthy and disorganised port of entry into Egypt. The new Egyptian Embassy is located within walking distance from…Read More
For travellers heading on to Egypt from Jordan, it is very advisable to obtain visas from Aqaba instead of upon docking at Nuweiba, which is a very filthy and disorganised port of entry into Egypt. The new Egyptian Embassy is located within walking distance from Hahmammat Street, about 20 minutes north of the city by foot. The exact location is difficult to describe in words, but is clearly marked out on updated city maps and guidebooks.
In the morning between 9am and noon is the best time to be at the consular services, as I was told. My visa application was processed and approved immediately as there was nobody else at all on that morning. Tourism was at one of its lowest levels in years due to the regional conflict. The fee is JD12,000 and one passport photo is required. Note that if you are only going to spend time in the Sinai Peninsula, you do not need a visa to enter Egypt. But in any case, it’s worth the tiny effort to obtain a visa in case you change your mind – it’s in any case a wonderful souvenir! I was extra friendly to the immigration officer and he ended up giving me a cool visa with two beautiful Egyptian stamps on it. "Special for you only!" he said, with a proud glee on his face.