Aqaba is perched on the tip of the Red Sea and has become much easier to get to thanks to various airlines flying right into the International Airport in the city. This post covers all of the best things to do in Aqaba with kids whether you are using Aqaba as a base to explore Jordan or just as part of your adventure in the Kingdom.
Aqaba is the perfect base for a trip to Jordan because of its year-round warm climate, its access to Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan’s desert, its underwater marine life just off shore, and its beach resort options. While some people just stop in for a few hours en route back to Amman or somewhere else in Jordan, I do suggest you spend at least one night in Aqaba to get a feel of what this resort town has to offer!
First I will tell you a few things. Aqaba is a holiday destination for both Jordanians and foreigners. During public holidays, Jordanians flock south on their days off to enjoy some time in Aqaba with their families (especially in the spring and fall – in the summer it is pretty hot!). So keeping that in mind, the city does cater to both locals and foreigners. There are tons of accommodation options for all budgets, as well as restaurants where you can eat for a few dollars or ten times that amount. Overall, Aqaba is a bit more expensive food wise than in Amman, but the plethora of options, wide availability of alcohol and year-round pleasant weather do make up for that little bit extra you may have to pay to eat!
While English is widely spoken all over Jordan (by those who work in hotels and the tourism industry), you will find that Aqaba does not cater to foreigners (although most restaurants are getting better at offering English menus!). If you stay in the larger hotels and beach resorts you will find that those cater more to the English speaking (as well as other European languages) crowds.
With all of that being said, here are the top things to do in Aqaba with kids! I bet a few of them will surprise you!
Top Things to do in Aqaba with Kids
Ayla’s B12 Beach Club
B12 beach club is the newest private beach club in Aqaba. Located in Ayla, just a few minutes by taxi (or car) from downtown Aqaba, this beach club offers calm, clear waters and plenty of activities on the Red Sea. There is volleyball, paddleboarding and a floating obstacle course.
They serve fresh juices as well as meals.
They are building a pool which should be done in 2022.
Whether it is shade or sun, there are plenty of comfortable loungers and things to do to keep kids of all ades busy. If you have little ones, the calm waters and the soft sandy beach is perfect compared to the open ocean you will find along Aqaba’s coast line.
How to Book B12? While there is an app you can use to reserve in advance, typically you can just show up. The only time you want to book is if you are visiting during the Eid holidays as they will fil to capacity early in the morning.
Diving in Aqaba
Diving in the Red Sea is one of the best places in the world for serious divers. If diving is your thing, ensure you give yourself enough time in Aqaba to take the kids out for a dive! There are several dive sites. Some can be accessed by shore and some by boat. There are boats that go out to the reefs daily. Typically they leave before lunch and include lunch on the boat in between dives.
There are also lessons for beginners as well as certification programs in Aqaba. There is a minimum age for diving so check with the operators.
Snorkeling in Aqaba
If you are traveling with younger kids to Aqaba or are not into diving, it is still well worth it to get out onto the water and snorkel. A day on one of the many boats is one of the best things to do in Aqaba with kids. Besides enjoying time on a nice yacht or glass-bottom boat (I suggest you book a nice boat that you can move around with kids – one that offers food etc) the Red Sea offers some of the most beautiful coral you will see anywhere in the world.
Walking the City
The cool evenings and year round warm weather leads to plenty of locals and visitors out for evening walks. Aqaba is a safe city to walk in and often bustling with people, especially on weekends and holiday! But even when it is busy, it is still pretty easy to get a table for dinner, so don’t worry about visiting in the busy periods. Just make sure you book a hotel in advance. Whether you take your kids walking around the shopping area, browsing the restaurants or enjoying time outside walking along the boardwalk parallel to the beach, walking the city is a popular activity in Aqaba with kids, especially in the evening.
With few beachfront hotels, Berenice Beach offers day use of the beach and pools and a shuttle from Aqaba hotels to its location about 15 minutes out of town. With multiple pools, beach access, and lunch options, it gives visitors to Aqaba time to lounge by the pool, snorkel or dive or enjoy a private beach on the Red Sea. When someone asks what to do in Aqaba, this is always a top suggestion.
Golfing in Aqaba with Kids
Yes you can hit a bucket of balls, golf a 9-hole par 3 or play the Par 27 Greg Norman-designed championship course. With over 800,000 square meters of rolling green fairways, both beginner and expert golfers are welcome to enjoy this one-of-a-kind eco-friendly golf course overlooking Aqaba’s captivating mountain landscape. There are some deep bunkers on both courses so do not expect the courses to be easy! Club rentals are available on site.
Visit the Cable Wake Park
Yes, you can wakeboard on the Red Sea! Ayla is home to a cable wake park right at B12 beach club! It says for ages 12 and up but I am not sure how sticky they are on that. If you have a younger child who is an avid wakeboarder I would give it a try!
Glass bottom boat tours
If you want to get out on the water but are not interested in getting in the water to snorkel or dive, there are daily glass bottom boat tours that can give you a glimpse into the marine life of the Red Sea from above.
Visit the Local Beaches
If you want to know what the locals do in Aqaba, check out the public beaches. You will find picnickers, kids playing, women chatting and boat rides, parasailing and banana boat rides (From April to September). South Beach, which is a 10 minute drive from the city is a popular spot. If you do not have a car, you can wander right down to the beach in Aqaba as well.
If you do choose to visit the public beach in town, note that almost all Jordanians will be fully clothed (well women that is). Dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention if you are female. If you visit South Beach or any of the private beach clubs you will see more people in bathing suits. Typically, Jordanian familieswho can afford the beach clubs will go to them, for a more upscale vacation.
Walk Past Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque at Night
Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque is a beacon of Islamic architecture on Aqaba’s waterfront. It features the largest dome among Jordan’s mosques. The mosque was named after Hussein bin Ali who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917. Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali stood against the Ottoman Empire during the course of the First World War.
After dark, the pristine white structure is a beautiful sight to see as you stroll around Aqaba. You can see it from the beach boardwalk if you are walking there with your kids.
Try the Ropes Course at Ayla
Rise is an outdoor adventure course located in Ayla’s Marina Village. Fun and action are guaranteed as Rise offers more than just a classic high ropes course for children, teens, and adults alike. In addition, a variety of climbing elements, miniature golf adventure, zipline, giant swing and slide & trampoline are available for children. The high ropes course gets very hot during the day, I suggest you visit at the end of the day. It is open late (just like almost everything), you can climb until Midnight.
Day Trip to Wadi Rum
A day trip from Aqaba to Wadi Rum is the second most popular day trip for families who have based themselves in Aqaba. The Jordan desert of Wadi Rum is an otherworldly landscape that is perfect for kids of all ages!
as described by T. E. Lawrence, it is “vast, echoic and godlike.” See the stunning landscape from the back of a 4×4 vehicle, sip sweet Bedouin tea by the fire, climb sand dunes for epic views and watch the sunset from the back of a camel. There is plenty to do on a day trip from Aqaba to Wadi Rum and it can be done by renting a car or taking a private tour.
READ MORE: How to Get from Aqaba to Wadi Rum
Check Out these Day Trip Options
Viator: One Day Aqaba to Wadi Rum
This 6 hour private tour hits all of the highlights of a visit to Wadi Rum including a 2 hour Jeep tour, enjoying sweet bedouin tea with locals and the option to add a camel ride before you bid farewell to this beautiful part of the world.
This 8 hour private tour offers a longer 4×4 ride including visiting some of the rock bridges. It also includes lunch at a Bedouin camp. It has great reviews and you are sure to enjoy the desert landscape as you spend an epic day visiting this UNESCO site in Jordan
Get Your Guide: Aqaba to Wadi Rum Tour
Travel by private vehicle to Wadi Rum where you will transfer to a 4×4 Jeep to experience the dramatic landscape of Wadi Rum. This is a quicker day and does not include lunch.
Day Trip to Petra
A day trip to Petra is totally doable and one of the popular things to do when staying in Aqaba. Almost all tourists visiting Jordan come with the intention to also visit Petra. I have an entire post about the best Aqaba to Petra tour options if you want someone else to take all of the planning out of your day trip. You can also read my post about getting from Aqaba to Petra to get more details and plan your day.
But you do not need to take a tour to visit Petra if you want to do it on your own. There are lots of other ways to see Petra. After you decide how you are going to arrange your visit, read this guide to visiting Petra.
One of the popular ways is to rent a car in Aqaba and drive to Petra for the day. It takes about 2 hours to drive to Petra and there is free parking across the street from the visitors center (close to the Petra Moon hotel). Petra opens at 6am so you can get an early start if you pick up your rental car the night before. Expect to pay 25-35 JD for a car for one day (24 hours).
Where to Eat with Kids in Aqaba
Aqaba has a different atmosphere than Amman. It is a vacation town, it is where Jordanians go for vacation and also where tourists stop to snorkel and dive and enjoy the beach town vibe. The restaurants have a less conservative atmosphere than most other towns in Jordan where you will see women openly smoking shisha on patios. In most of the rest of the country, you do not often see women smoking in public.
If you head over to Ayla you will see even less conservative locals and tourists who can be found in summer dresses and crop tops as they walk through the resort town.
Some of the best restaurants in Aqaba can be found here.
A Note on Weather in Aqaba for Families
While Aqaba enjoys a year-round warm climate, it has a winter and summer season. Only some pools are heated. (You will find that if you visit the beach resorts in the winter there is likely only one heated pool) Many beach activities do not take place in the winter months (Like the banana boats and the plethora of boats waiting at the beach for people to take a ride.) The wind can also feel very cold on the beach, so take note if you are visiting between November and March that it may not be as hot as you expect on the northern tip of the Red Sea.
Where to Stay with Kids in Aqaba Jordan
There are hotels in Aqaba for all budgets. Typically when traveling with kids, I suggest somewhere with a pool and there are midrange as well as 5 star properties to tick this box! Before you choose where to stay, there is something to know about how Aqaba is laid out. There is the main city centre, there is Tala Bay (a resort community that is about 15 minutes drive from town and basically just has resorts with beachfront) and there is Ayla which is a city within a city offering restaurants and amenities as well as accommodations. Ayla is just a couple minutes by taxi from downtown Aqaba (or about 30 minutes walk). These three options cover most of the Red Sea coastline of Jordan.
Five Star and Luxury Accommodations for Families
Movenpick Aqaba is a five star resort located right in the heart of Aqaba. It offers beachfront, swimming pools and is right in the middle of the city.
Movenpick Tala Bay is also a five star resort but it is located in nearby Tala Bay. If you want to be out of the city and really feel the resort life, consider booking this, or any of the other beachfront hotels in Tala Bay. With that being said, it is a 15 minute drive into Aqaba from Tala Bay. Most hotels offer car and shuttle service if you are visiting without a car.
Hyatt Ayla is just 2 minutes by taxi from downtown Aqaba. Located in Ayla, a purpose-built community inside Aqaba it offers several pools and a lagoon style beach club to enjoy sandy shores and the red sea.
Cloud 7 Ayla is perfect for families looking for a residence style accommodation. It is right in the marina village of Ayla (just 2 minutes by Taxi from downtown Aqaba) and has full kitchens and living rooms. These condo-style accommodations are perfect for families wanting a little more space and even come with washing machines in the rooms! Just outside the residences at cloud 7 there are restaurants and bars and beautiful views.
Midrange Accommodations for Families in Aqaba
DoubleTree Aqaba is centrally located close to shopping and restaurants.
My Luxury Hotel is a midrange hotel that recently had a brand new renovation. It is centrally located and has a pool.
Jordan Travel Resources for 2022
Travel Insurance for Jordan
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.