5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids

        Guest post by Darya Short

 

Its strategic location on the Bay of Aqaba has since ancient times afforded the Israeli city of Eilat, the capacity to serve as a port to the likes of King Solomon, the trading Nabateans, the Romans and even the Crusaders.
Now, with picturesque scenery of the Red Sea shore, the Jordanian mountains overlooking Aqaba in the East and Egypt’s Sinai in the west; the city is a world-famous, sought-after travel destination.

It has an international airport and is famous for being a holiday resort for locals and foreigners alike with the bonus of being a Goods and Services tax-free city.
There are the regular ‘touristy’ things to do like lying on the beach, visiting the malls with cheaper shopping, exploring natural sites like the reef or the Timna mines or mingle with the locals along the boardwalk with its flea market. atmosphere .

Since there are so many experiences to choose from for special needs and autism families; parents should make sure they bookmark these outstanding attractions to try during their family visit.

 

5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids water collage

Photo credit D Short

Glass-Bottomed Boat

The concept of a boat with a glass underside works well in Eilat because of the treasure trove that the Red Sea offers, under the rippling aquamarine waters which is the renowned coral reef, of course!
The Coral stretches for just over a mile and is one of the most northern reefs in the world. It is teeming with life and from the boat one gets the best view of the scenery above the water level and the fantasy world below.

There are quite a few companies who offer the glass-bottomed boat service so whether you choose Israel Yam, Jules Verne, Galaxy or one of the others, your child will have guaranteed a memorable experience.

The boat leaves the marina and heads south following the northern section of the coral reef. The Jordanian border is to the left, and the Egyptian border lies to the south. The captain steers the ship parallel to the coast for close on an hour before turning the vessel around for the return journey.
The boat ride is a very relaxing; taking about 2 hours in total while the captain of the ship explains the views both above and below the water line.

Autism Travel Tips

  • It is important to call to make a reservation for the boat of choice in advance. You can also go to make a booking at the Marina.
  • Some of the lines offer light refreshments; all of them provide water.
  • There are snacks and drinks available to purchase, but it is advisable to take your own if you have a tight budget or on a particular diet like GFCF.
  • Even when it is sweltering on land, there is nearly always a cool breeze on the water, so take something to cover your shoulders if you are sensitive to the changes in temperature.
  • Make sure to follow the captain’s safety instructions for seating and when to go down to the glass bottom of the boat for viewing.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids glass bottom

Photo credit D Short

Snorkeling the Coral Reef

After the boat ride, for those who want to get a closer look at the corals without committing to a full scuba dive, there is the option of snorkeling.
At the Coral Beach National Park, visitors can rent snorkeling equipment or bring their own. Strong swimmers can go snorkeling off the pier and float along with the current while taking in the amazing sights.
For younger swimmers, there are shallow pools for paddling and snorkeling too.

Autism Travel Tips

  • This location is one of the National Parks of Israel and has a gift shop where one can buy snacks, drinks and ice creams.
  • If one is planning on spending the day there, it is advisable to take your picnic lunch.
  • There are shaded areas, but it is still necessary to protect your child from the sun.
  • It is noteworthy to mention the public showers and toilets get cleaned daily.
  • It is critical to adhere to the instructions of the lifeguard as well as the rules of the Park as the coral reef is a protected Nature Reservation.
  • Parents need to prepare the kids and explain that the coral can’t be touched or removed from the beach.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids fish

Photo credit D Short

Botanical Gardens

Close to the northern entrance of Eilat, travelers will find the Botanical Gardens that have become more well-known and popular in recent years offering an alternative to those vacationers who want a break from the beach scene and shopping.
It is quite a surprise to find such a large variety of plants that are not indigenous to the desert growing so well in that region.
The Gardens are set up almost like an adventure trail, so visitors can follow a path that winds up, down and around through various created sections of foliage and vegetation representing different climates of the earth.
It is well set out, educational and interactive.
There is even a rainforest section that provides cooling mist on the hot days and a little pond and waterfall. There are monkey bars and slides that children can climb on and into, and it can be like an adventure through the various regions of the world.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Plan to spend about 2 hours at the Gardens.
  • There are a lot of shadings but do make sure you have protection from the sun.
  • Visitors are not allowed to bring food into the Gardens, but there is a tea-room that sells simple refreshments.

 

 

5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids gardens

Photo credit D Short

Fireball

Eilat is a vibrant city that caters to holidaymakers from all over the world.There are activities night and day, and it is impossible to be bored. At night, the atmosphere is enhanced with the addition of bright, iridescent lights and one feature with the backdrop of the Bay stands out.
It is the Fireball – a bungee-based ride that shoots people into the air while being strapped to a seat in a safety cage.
The operator buckles the rider in and activates a tension mechanism that stretches the bungee cords. When the tension trigger is released, the pen goes hurtling up at a tremendous speed, attached to the cables. After being catapulted almost vertically, the cage bounces and flips a few times before it returns gently back to earth, all accompanied by special effects.

Autism Travel Tips

  • This ride appeals to those who love an adrenaline rush.
  • It is not for anyone who is easily frightened or has heart complaints.
  • The ride is open day and night.
  • If you see it open and operating, you can go and wait in line. There is no need to reserve a place.
  • The cage has two seats so one can share the ride with a friend or family member you can scream and have fun together.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids fireball

Photo credit D Short

 

Day Trip to Timna

For an entirely different experience, visitors should try the Timna Park.
Located about 20 minutes’ to the north of Eilat by car into the desert,  it is quite a fascinating place. The color of the sand and mountains as well as the uniquely bizarre land formations give it an other-worldly feel adding to the rich history.
Timna features the world’s first copper mines, and the Park authority does an excellent job for both children and adults bringing the past to life through a  multimedia presentation that explains the history of the copper industry in the region.
Visitors can opt to take an in-depth explanation and a walk-in tour of a scale model of the ancient Tabernacle that the Israelites carried around in the wilderness.Other visiting options include driving around the park and stopping at the various attractions, climbing or hiking on well-marked trails. Timna is also a favorite place to go camping, offering night tours that are good to take advantage of especially when it is scorching hot during the months of July to September.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Even though the Park is in the desert, there is a restaurant on the property as well as clean toilet facilities and a gift store that sells out of the ordinary mementos and souvenirs.
  • Even though paths are well marked for safety, climbing is done at your risk.
  • All the archaeological and geological attractions are interactive, and one of the favorite activities is to fill little bottles with colored mineral sands to take home as a souvenir.
  • The multi-media presentation is at very specific times, as are the other activities so make sure that you schedule your visit accordingly.
  • The Park office opens at 8 am and closes at 4 pm  Sunday through Thursday and between 8 am and 3 pm on a Friday and in the hot summer months.
  • Once visitors to the Park are in the gates, they can leave when they choose.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids timna

Photo credit D Short

Darya  Short lives in Israel, with her husband and their two teenage children, one of whom has Sensory Integration challenges.As a family, they try to see as much of the Israeli countryside as possible, visiting National Parks, museums and other historical and archeological sites.

Top Family Friendly Sites to Explore in Israel

The country of Israel, though barely a speck marked on world maps is a land that appeals to tourists of all religions, all countries and  all walks of life. Whether you like wildlife, history, archeology, geography or culture; you are guaranteed a unique sensory experience.
So, for those who have never visited as well as those busy planning their next trip; here is our top ten family friendly items to scratch off your bucket list.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel cesarea
Caesarea 

Located halfway between the coastal metropolises of Haifa and Tel Aviv, this Mediterranean city has a long history.
It predates the renovations by Herod the Great, and it is considered one of his masterpieces. Herod named his great work after the Emperor Caesar Augustus 63 years before the first millennium CE.
In the National Park, you can see remarkable ruins of what was once an elaborate port city comprising luxury dwellings with mosaic floors, store rooms, communal baths, open squares that were marketplaces, foundations of an undersea harbor, and an amphitheater which is still used today for open-air concerts. A pleasant tactile experience is being able to climb on all the ruins, stand in various parts of what was a palace and look out at the azure seas, visualizing what it was like over 2000 years ago.
Children of all ages like climbing the horses and chariot sculpture in the Hippodrome while imagining themselves racing in the Roman times. Our son got a kick out of discovering the ancient public toilets where you sat in a long row and could chat with others while doing your business.

 

Akko

For intrigue, mystery and adventure, this UNESCO  world heritage site on the Mediterranean coast, just north of Haifa must not be missed. With a fascinating history dating back to the Phoenicians and including the Israelite, Greek, Roman, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and even the Knights Templars occupations, there has been continuous habitation in this port city since the Bronze  Age.
You can imagine that with so many different types of cultures dwelling there from age to age, the archeology is fascinating. It is all preserved so well!
To do this city justice, make use of the Visitors Center. They will no doubt you all about the perfectly preserved Turkish bathhouse, the Templar Fortress built in the 1300’s and extensive tunnels that you can explore that even go under the sea!
If you or your child is claustrophobic or scared of the dark like ours, skip the tunnels and explore the colorful market in the Old City where you can take in all the sights, sounds, and aromas instead. Our son loved the hummus and shish kebab stands as well as the different sweets offered at the various stalls.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel tel aviv

Nazareth Arab market

Situated about 15 miles from the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth is home to many archeological, historical and religious sites, so there is no shortage of tourists, archeology students, and pilgrims throughout the year.
With a population of over 50,000, it is a thriving hub with lots to offer. Our favorite spot is the Arab market that has more or less stayed the same for many decades.

The atmosphere is friendly, and overall it provides a more pleasant experience than the markets in the Old City of Jerusalem as it is smaller and more contained
With winding alleyways, stone paving and arches, aromatic fragrances, brilliant colors, visual and the auditory hustle and bustle; this old-world open-air market feel like a journey back in time.
It is a good way to introduce your children to a new culture.
Voted by our son with autism as the best outdoor market he has seen, it offers a plethora of spices, fruit, olives, vegetables, clothing, and souvenirs that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Rosh Hanikra

At the northwestern most point of Israel, sharing a border with Lebanon, there is an amazing geological phenomenon that reminds people of the UK’s Cliffs of Dover.

At the Rosh Hanikra nature reserve, one can get a ride down the cliffs in the shortest but steepest cable car in the world to explore the grottos, caves and tunnels in the chalk rock, and enjoy the swirling, splashing, turquoise Mediterranean up close.
Geared towards visitors from all over the world, one can now watch a short documentary, enjoy the benefit of a tour guide and even eat at the restaurant overlooking the azure waters.
There is a souvenir shop and various activities like bike rides and hiking trails making this a worthwhile and affordable destination for children and adults alike!

The ground inside the caves is pretty slippery so make sure you bring a pair of closed well fitting shoes for your kid to walk in especially if he or she have motor coordination difficulties.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel beach

Masada

From the introductory movie to visiting the museum, to exploring the palaces and cisterns, Masada being one of the top tourist destinations in Israel is not to be missed.
Taken from the Hebrew word meaning “mountain fortress”; this iconic, flat-topped geographical feature near the Dead Sea, really lives up to its name.

There are many myths and legends associated with Masada but what is known for a fact is that the palaces, cisterns, storehouses, bathhouses and many other archeological finds were constructed under Herod the Great. The very well preserved ruins and mosaics have been reconstructed in places, and many more discoveries have been made in recent years.
Children and adults can enjoy the magnificent view of the Judean Desert as they hike up via the Snake Path or catch a ride in the cable car like we did. If you are visiting in summer, make sure you bring hats, sunscreen, water bottles and own fans if your child is temperature sensitive.

 

Dead Sea

Israel has some unique features and extraordinary phenomenon-the Dead Sea being one of them.
Named the Salt Sea since antiquity, it is a remarkable marine body known best for the ability to make swimmers buoyant. Adults and Children find that a lot of fun!
The water seems syrupy and viscous from the extremely high salt content but be aware that any small cut or nick in the skin will sting a lot (our son found that out the hard way!)
If your child is adventurous and wants to try something new – there is special mineral mud on the banks that vacationers like to smear all over their skin. When it is dry, you wash it off in the Sea or the showers on the rocky beach.
After you ‘swim’ in the sea you can check out the souvenir stores where they sell beauty and health treatments made from the various Dead Sea products.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel jerusalem

Haifa – Baha’i Gardens

Another treasure on the UNESCO World Heritage list not to miss is this extraordinarily beautiful, sculpted, terraced botanical display – Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors every year coming to see the geometric designs and exquisite attention to detail in organic form, it is a holy place for pilgrims to the Baha’i religion as well as a preservation site for nature and historical features.
The Gardens are on a slope in the middle of Haifa, and the panoramic views are spectacular. There are 19 terraces with stairs leading to the gold dome shrine at the very top. Our son loved gawking at the exquisite gardens and counting them while looking at the Galilean Hills in the north and the Mediterranean Sea in the Haifa Bay.

 

Eilat

At the southernmost tip of the country, touching the Gulf of Aqaba, is the holiday resort city of Eilat; a vibrant place with so much to offer, especially for children. It is famous for its stunning corals and sea life which you can see on a glass-bottomed boat or with a snorkel and goggles.
There is a dolphin reef, an underwater observatory including a submarine ride and special feeding times for various sea creatures(which both our kids loved!)
Moving away from the water there is a promenade, families can explore with cycle trails, dozens of stalls selling their wares and even street artists that can sketch your portrait on the spot.
The city also offers camel and jeep rides through the mountains, an IMAX theater, a Biblical theme park, a few malls and retail parks and multiple options for accommodation from Youth Hostels to Boutique hotels.

If you wish to venture outside the city for short day trips, I recommend the bird watching and ringing station ( Israel is on a bird migration route of birds on their way to and from Africa and Europe) and Timna Park where you will find the oldest copper mines in the world.

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel views

Jerusalem

There is so much to see, do and experience in this very ancient city that trying to describe it in a few sentences doesn’t do it justice.
Whether you and your children are interested in history, archeology, architecture, culture, arts, science or gastronomy, Jerusalem is the place to go. It features museums, mosques, mausoleums and markets; botanicals gardens, churches, synagogues, forests and even a zoo, so if your touring time is limited, you will have to plan carefully!
This city is important to many various religions, so there are throngs of visitors throughout the year from all over the world to the holy sites for feasts and festivals.
If this is your first time going; make sure you put the Israel Museum, of to the Old City’s  Western Wall and  Church of Holy Sepulchre as well as the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem on your top spots to see.

Tel Aviv-Yafo

This vast metropolis on the Mediterranean coast has a reputation for being the city that never sleeps.
It has sun, sea and surf with white, sandy beaches but it doesn’t stop there. As the business capital of Israel, it is very tourist friendly with museums, restaurants and entertainment available across the spectrum for young and old.
Tel Aviv is famous for its Bauhaus style buildings which gained it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003,s o you should take a leisurely stroll in the ‘white city’ district and admire the architecture.
The city offers great spots to explore with kids like the Old Railroad Station (Hatachana ),t he Joshua Gardens, the Old Port and, of course, the bustling Carmel Market.
Not to be missed is the town of Jaffa with its ancient history and active flea market .

Top Ten Family Friendly sites to explore in Israel pool

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