Tag Archives: Aqaba

Jordan: Tala Bay and Aqaba

Apollomatkat writes on their website that Aqaba offers fabulous sandy beaches and great snorkelling and diving possibilities for those interested in corals, fish and fascinating sea life. This is true.

welcome to aqaba

The best beaches for snorkeling is found around Tala Bay. If you walk 10 minutes along the beach towards north, you find the most amazing sea life. The area is not far from Aqaba city – just drive 15 minutes south by car. Some like to go for a boat ride, in order to dive far away from the beach, but if you do not fancy that, choose a Tala Bay Resort hotel. The hotels have their own private beaches, where it is quite easy to dive in the Red Sea and snorkel among the fascinating fish.

sea turtle at Japanese Garden Aqaba

You can also enter the water from the public beaches and experience some fabulous snorkelling moments.

Radisson at Tala Bay Jordania_1
We like to order a car from the hotel to pick us up from the airport. We recommend this if you are tired of waiting for the “one last passenger” to show up on the charter bus and then driving to many hotels before your own. You save time and win in comfort utilizing the good car services of the hotels. The prices are not much, if at all, higher than taking the crowded and slow charter bus.

A super nice and friendly chaffeur Mohammed told us about Jordan and Aqaba while driving us to our hotel in a comfortable luxury car with A/C.

jordanian kartta

Tala Bay situates right next to the Red Sea. The area is clean and silent. No traffic noise, like in Aqaba and other cities. The view around you is so spectacular. You are in Jordan and see the magnificent Gulf of Aqaba and the beautiful mountains, but you also see Israel and Egypt and almost Saudi Arabia, which starts just five kilometers south from Tala Bay.

Radisson Tala Bay_Jordan_Saudi Arabia border

tala bay mountains

Red Sea between Jordania and Egypt

Apollomatkat gives Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort hotel 4.5 stars. We chose this hotel. The hotel has 5 stars according to other sources. After spending an awesome week at the hotel, we give it 5 stars.

The hotel is now nominated for the 2014 Hotel Luxury Hotel Award.

World Luxury hotel award contest

The swimming pools are just amazing. This is the biggest one.

Radisson Blu uimaallas oli ihana

The water was cool and refreshing. And the size of the pool allows one to swim and exercise. You can see a funny thing on the left side. The Dugout Bar serves drinks and snacks poolside, allowing guests to fully relax in the sun. Located at the resort’s main pool, the bar conveniently juts out to the pool’s edge allowing guests to swim up and order drinks without ever leaving the water.

ile allasbaarissa

If you like culture and history, fly to Jordan right away. Located two hours drive from Tala Bay, Petra in Jordan is one of the world’s greatest cultural and historical landmarks. Built by the Nabataeans over 2,000 years ago, it attracts thousands of tourists from across the world every year.

Petra Jordan

Described by T.E. Lawrence as “vast, echoing and god-like”, Wadi Rum in Jordan is one of the Middle East’s most impressive natural attractions. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, this imposing rock-scape reaches heights of 1750 metres. Wadi Rum has historical significance to Jordan too as it marks the location of T.E. Lawrence and Prince Faisal Bin Hussein’s headquarters against the Ottomans in World War 1. You can hire 4×4 vehicles to explore the area, together with a driver and a guide. Alternatively, you can choose the old-fashioned option and explore Wadi Rum by camel, staying overnight in a Bedouin tent.

Wadi Jordan

The Arabic language sounds beautiful. We tried to learn the basics before our vacation. The task was not an easy one. In two months we learned words and phrases, but already during the first day in Jordan we noticed that the Arabic language is different in different countries. So we spoke mostly English during our stay in Jordan.

The weather was awesome during our week in Tala Bay. The tempereature was 23-29° C, the sun was shining from a clear sky every day and even the evenings were warm.

Jh uimaaltaassa onnellisena

We also liked the new experience of meeting local people and tourists mixed with international tourists. During our stay we met people from Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Asia, Africa, German and The U.S. but also people from Jordan and other Middle East countries.

Most Muslim women wore at least a scarf. Many had a hijab. Also at the beach. The beach wear could not have been more colorful and diverse. The Europeans uses swimsuits and bikinis, the local people cover the whole body. And it was totally OK, for everyone. This kind of acceptance and harmony is unique.

I exchanged smiles with a few Muslim women and two of them were happy to be photographed. I wish I could speak Arabic and be able to exchange a few words with the locals.

Ihanat musliminaiset

The staff of the hotel were mostly super friendly. The people from Asia and Africa were always smiling and helpful. We talked and laughed and shared some nice moments. Just one or two of the hotel’s (main desk) staff surprised me with being less friendly. One was even a bit rude. I guess nothing can be perfect, but Radisson Tala Bay comes very close.

Even though the area is in the middle of the desert, within the hotel area you can find colourful flowers and palm trees.

JH kukkapuiden alla Tala Bay

Tala Bay Port welcomes the boat owners. The Port was so quiet the morning we visited it, I wondered were everyone was. Maybe it was too early for the shops to be open and for the boats to take tourist out on the sea. The marina is full of nice boats.

If you like water sports, this is the place for you. You can rent a jet ski or diving gear, try parasailing and windsurfing, rent a yacht, try the banana boats or water skiing or just enjoy the speed of a speed boat.

Tala Bay port veneet

Tala Bay has a lot to offer. Even if you do not fancy snorkelling, diving or other water sports, you will love the pool area and the relaxed atmosphere of Radisson Blu Tala Bay. You can visit Petra, Aqaba or the Dead Sea one day, and relax in the sun the next day. A vacation doesn’t get much better than that.

vesiurheilua tala bay_2

Radisson at Tala Bay Jordania_5

Waiting to fly to Jordan

Where is Jordan?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is in The Middle East, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel to the west.

Map of Jordan and the surrounding countries
Where is Aqaba and Tala Bay?

Aqaba is situated in the southern  part of Jordan and is the largest city on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is Jordan’s only coastal city. Tala Bay is a holiday resort 15 minutes south of Aqaba and very close to the border of Saudi Arabia.

Why Jordan?

We have travelled during the summer in countries around the Mediterranean Sea for more than 10 years. During winter time it is a bit cold in Europe, so we decided 5 years ago to visit Africa. We thought Egypt could be something interesting, mysterious and fun.

Egypti kamelimies
We love the sun, warm days on the beach, diving into the sea and photographing fish and corals. It is also wonderful to experience new cultures and countries, meet local people.

Exif_JPEG_422
We have visited Egypt 5 times. We are in love with the Red Sea.

fish in the red sea
In September 2013 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland recommended to not travel to Egypt due to the unstable situation in the country. As a result of this all Finnish travel agencies cancelled all reservations to Egypt until April 2014.

We searched the web for other countries (to which Finnish travel agencies offer flight + hotel packages) around the Red Sea, which we hoped to visit again. We found Jordan and Israel. They both have some coral beaches on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

We compared Israels’ Eilat with Jordan’s Aqaba. Aqaba sounded more exciting and mysterious. Then we found Tala Bay, a sunny vacation resort 15 minutes south from Aqaba. No noise of a hectic town or traffic, great hotels, long beaches and promise of corals and exciting fish … that is all we needed to make our choice. Apollomatkat is the only one in Finland offering vacation packages to Tala Bay (and Jordan for that matter). If you want to go to Eilat you can choose between Aurinkomatkat and Apollomatkat. Both fly with Finnair.

Tala Bay venesatama kuva
The temperature in November in the southern part of Jordan was said to be quite warm. Forecasts promised 23-30° C during the day and 19° C or less in the night. This sounded very good.

Apollomatkat, which we had never before used, handled everything very well from the beginning. The website works well, the customer service is friendly and helpful and the list of hotels in Aqaba was surprisingly long. In Tala Bay you can choose between 3 nice hotels.

We chose Radisson Blu Tala Bay, as the pictures of it on the website of Apollomatkat were great, we were promised corals and fish very close to the beach, the hotel had a private beach and the website of the hotel gave a great overall feeling of the resort.

Radisson Blu Tala Bay web site Radisson at Tala Bay Jordania_6Radisson room pic
The hotel gave us great service already before our trip. We have a wish list regarding the room and the car service. I contacted the hotel, as Apollomatkat, just like all other travel agencies in Finland, cannot confirm if you get a balcony or terrace, if you are on low floor or high floor etc. We got all our wishes fulfilled with the kind help of the executive assistant manager at the hotel. To offer this kind of service is definitely a competitive advantage.

It takes 5 hours to fly from Helsinki to Aqaba. Most tourist take the travel agency’s bus. But as it usually takes a long time to wait for all people to come to the bus, and the bus drives to many hotels before ours, we started to use the hotels’ car service a couple of years ago. One more reason was a sad experience with Finnmatkat (which otherwise works quite well). The bus did not pick us up from our hotel in Egypt some years ago. (The guide did not answer her phones and no one knew what was going on. The hotel finally drove us to the airport. When checking up on this matter, we were told “the phone lines do not always work in Egypt, the bus was late and the guide forgot to inform the hotel and the customers about this.”)

Most hotels offer car service. It is smooth and fast. It does not cost more (or much more) than the bus service.

This was an introduction to my future stories about Jordan. I will write about Tala Bay, the history of Jordan, the corals and the fish in the Red Sea as well as a review of Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort.

Our passion since a few years back is to photograph in the Red Sea. I have hundreds of pictures from the land, the air and the sea. I’ll share the best with you.

Radisson Tala Bay Red Sea Diving picture_2 Ma`a as-salāma!