Eilat is Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. Home to 46,600 people, the city is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava. The city is adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf. Eilat's arid desert climate and low humidity is moderated by proximity to a warm sea. The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism. In the 1970s tourism became increasingly important to the city's economy as other industries shut down or were drastically reduced. Today tourism is the city's major source of income, although Eilat became a free trade zone in 1985.
Skin and Scuba diving, with equipment for hire on or near all major beaches. Scuba diving equipment rental and compressed air are available from diving clubs and schools all year round. Eilat is located in the Gulf of Aqaba, one of the most popular diving destinations in the World. The coral reefs along Eilat's coast remain relatively pristine and the area is recognized as one of the prime diving locations in the world. About 250,000 dives are performed annually in Eilat's 11 km (6.84 mi) coastline, and diving represents 10% of the tourism income of this area. In addition, given the proximity of many of these reefs to the shore, non-divers can encounter the Red Sea's reefs with relative ease. Water conditions for SCUBA divers are good all year round, with water temperatures around 21–25 C°, with little or no currents and clear waters with an average of 20–30 meters visibility.
Eilat offers a wide range of accommodations, from hostels and luxury hotels to Bedouin hospitality. In recent years Eilat has been the target of millitants from Egypt and Gaza causing a reduced tourist inflow to the region. Attractions include:
- Birdwatching and ringing station: Eilat is located on the main migration route between Africa and Europe. International Birding & Research Center in Eilat.
- Camel tours.
- Coral Beach Nature Reserve, an underwater marine reserve of tropical marine flora and fauna.
- Coral World Underwater Observatory – Located at the southern tip of Coral Beach, the observatory has aquaria, a museum, simulation rides, and shark, turtle and stingray tanks.
- Dolphin Reef – A marine biology and research station where visitors can swim and interact with dolphins.
- Freefall parachuting.
- Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, established in the 1960s to conserve endangered species, including Biblical animals, from this and similar regions. The reserve has a Visitors Center, care and treatment enclosures, and large open area where desert animals are acclimated before re-introduction into the wild. Hai-Bar efforts have successfully re-introduced the Asian Wild Ass, or Onager, into the Negev. The Hai-Bar Nature Reserve and animal re-introduction program were described in Bill Clark's book "High Hills and Wild Goats: Life Among the Animals of the Hai-Bar Wildlife Refuge". The book also describes life in Eilat and the surrounding area.
- IMAX, Three dimensional graphics films
- Kings City, a biblical theme park located in the hotel area next to the Stella Maris Lagoon.
- Marina with some 250 yacht berths.
- Timna Valley Park – the oldest copper mines in the world. Egyptian temple of Hathor, King Solomon's Pillars sandstone formation, ancient pit mines and rock art.
- "What's Up" the Observatory in Eilat, a portable Astronomical Observatory with programs in the desert and on the promenade.
- Ice Park, Park of ice and snow, not an exact opening date.