In the space of just over 12 hours I left the city of Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean in Israel, caught the bus to Eilat in the south by the Red Sea, crossed the border into Jordan on foot, caught a taxi to Aqaba and then boarded a ferry to Egypt. This convoluted way of getting back to Egypt was all to avoid getting any evidence of visiting Israel in my passport. (You can read more about that here).

I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed the friendly people of Jordan, until I crossed the border back into the country, even if it was only for a few hours. Israel was a nice place to visit but the population as a whole was far more reserved and ‘westernised’ in my opinion. I think we should all take a leaf out of the hospitality book of the Jordanians. The kindness and generosity they show complete strangers is quite amazing, something that I had noticed but I guess not fully appreciated when I was there previously. I bought my ticket for the ferry and wandered into the town centre with all my luggage to find somewhere hang out while I waited. As my ferry to Egypt wasn’t leaving until 11pm I was invited to hang out in one of the dive shops (Aqaba Anchors Diving – really great people!) until late in the evening, far past the time they closed. I sat there and chatted with the staff, had dinner bought for me (they completely refused to let me pay) and was then given a lift to the ferry terminal that was way out of town. My new Jordanian friend even spoke to the staff at the terminal to make sure that someone was going to keep an eye on me.

I was one of two tourists and one of five women who boarded the AB Maritime ferry along with hunderds of locals to cross the Red Seas’ Gulf of Aqaba from Aqaba in Jordan to Nuweiba in Egypt. The ferry left at 11pm and arrived in the port of Nuweiba in the South Sinai at 1:30am. Myself, the other traveller and a man from Saudi Arabia who needed visas were escorted through the huge dark ferry terminal by an immigration officer who held onto my passport the entire time. I had to sign a bit of paper in this room, paying for the visa in that room and show my passport to some half asleep immigration officer in a small booth in the middle of a huge ferry terminal hall. It was all quite confusing, but in the end I had my visa and was escorted to the bus stop. I could have taken a taxi to Dahab, but as the bus was leaving at 6:30am, I decided to wait out the few hours in a small coffee shop by the bus stop. After a couple of hours of waiting I was offered a lift to Dahab by a passer-by. The man seemed friendly enough until he tried to touch my hair. Twice. I basically told him to f-off, maintained my bag as a ‘barrier’ and refused to talk to him for the rest of the hour drive.

Due to the occasional times of unrest in Egypt, and particularly in the North Sinai, the South Sinai has high security levels and multiple checkpoints along the main roads (you can read more about how they keep the South Sinai safe in my post about the Sinai Trail). At each checkpoint I had my passport ready to show the police, but after looking at me they often just waved us through, apparently a pale redheaded female is a very low security threat. At one checkpoint the officer held his hand through the window and I went to hand him my passport which he pushed aside, all he wanted was a cigarette from the driver.

I arrived in Dahab at 5:30am and eventually found the place where I was staying, Marine Garden. As there was nobody around at that time and I was tired as anything, I curled up in my sleeping bag on a mattress in the outdoor common area and fell asleep to the sound of waves rolling up onto the beach.

The nitty gritty:

  • You can read all about how I crossed the Jordan/Israel border on foot without any passport evidence here.
  • There are a few ferries that cross the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan to Egypt, run by AB Maritime:
    • The ‘slow ferry’ goes from Aqaba to Nuweiba and carries passengers and trucks, and the ‘fast ferry’ goes form Aqaba to Taba and is more of a passenger tourist ferry.
    • Best to check the website as the times can change and during quiet seasons some ferries don’t run if they don’t have enough passengers.
    • The ferry I took left Aqaba at 11pm and arrived in Nuweiba at 1:30am, and this time was the only option.
      • Cost $75USD (can also be paid in JD, where I bought mine they had an eftpos machine but it wasn’t working, so make sure to have cash on you)
      • Tickets are NOT bought at the port, they are bought at a few offices around Aqaba (most taxi drivers know where they are) and can usually be purchased on the day of departure, but if you can get it a day or so early that would be a good idea, especially during busy times e.g. the holidays of Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and before and after Hajj (the main yearly pilgrimage to Mecca).
      • Make sure to get to the ferry terminal by about 9pm.
    • You can also take the ferry to Taba (a quicker trip and they run at more reasonable times but from what I understand you can only buy a return ticket and at the Taba port you can only get a ‘Sinai Only’ visa. I didn’t take this route though so I am not sure of the details)
    • Here is a good tripadvisor post about the ferries.
  • The ferry terminal is about 6km from Aqaba city centre, a taxi should cost about 4-5JD.
  • The exit tax from Jordan of 10JD must be paid in cash at the ferry terminal.
  • Getting to Dahab:
    • From Jordan – Ferry to Nuweiba or Taba and getting a taxi, bus or a lift from there (your accommodation in Dahab may be able to arrange a transfer for you, otherwise a taxi is somewhere between 300-500LE from Nuweiba depending on how hard you bargain). Dahab is about 1hr south of Nuweiba, and 2 hours south of Taba.
    • From Israel – Cross the Israel/Egypt border from Eilat to Taba and get a taxi, bus or a lift form there.
    • Bus from Cairo/Luxor.
    • Fly to Sharm el Sheikh, and get a bus, taxi or lift from there to Dahab (about 1 hr north of Sharm, your accommodation in Dahab may be able to organise a transfer for you).
  • Visas:
    • There are two types of Visas that you can get on arrival in the South Sinai (depending on which point of entry you use):
      • A 14 day free visa that allows you to visit the South Sinai only. (If you are traveling further into Egypt, eg Cairo, you need to get a full visa)
        • You can get this 14 day visa at both the Taba and Nuweiba ports (and at Sharm el Sheikh airport).
      • A 30 day visa for $25USD that allows you to access all of Egypt. (Have USD in cash on you!). You can also get this at the Egyptian Consulate in Aqaba.
        • You can only get this from the Nuweiba port (and at Sharm el Sheikh airport)
        • I believe you can upgrade a 14 day free South Sinai Only visa to a full visa in Sharm el Sheikh.
      • As always, double check the visa situation before you arrive, as it can change.


Check out my other posts from Jordan here:


Check out my other posts from Egypt here: