Eilat is a place to come to swim, sun, and tan – if you have lots of money to throw around. The once-upon-a-time, excellent beaches have become somewhat degraded with use and abuse – and many have been hijacked by the big seafront hotels. Away from the hotel area much of the rest of the town is unbelievably squalid.
The formerly attractive seafront is filled by casual traders operating from shanty-like premises – great if you enjoy buying tat at inflated prices. You can sit on a camel, snorkel etc, but this is better and cheaper across the south-western border in Egypt. For a cultural holiday you need to go north to Jerusalem or Acre.
At night there are quite a few things going on in Eilat. The nightlife is lively and there are many discos and bars where you can meet fellow travellers. Keep a tight hold on your belongings as pilfering is a way of life here.
Eilat is surrounded by a geomorphologically stunning nature reserve and daily tours into the Eilat mountains are readily available. Short jeep tours are a rip-off, only visiting the rubbish-strewn outskirts of the town, but hiking tours are a must. Take a bus or taxi in the direction of Ovda and walk one of the trails back to town – all downhill! The views are spectacular.
Below the waterline there’s plenty to see too, although much of the world’s most northerly coral reef has been lost in the all-pervading marine pollution and you will see more plastic bags than Lionfish these days. Much better sealife is found in the Sinia, by crossing into Egypt at Taba and going south to Sharm el Sheikh.
Eilat had a great deal to offer nature lovers some years ago because of its picturesque location and spectacular bird migration. The better bet now is to go north in the Arava valley to kibbutz Lotan or other centre for birdwatching.
Between May and September the whole area can experience temperatures of 35 degrees or more.