Underwater Observatory Marine Park guide will start with basics (map, tickets, coupons, feeding timetable), and then we will tour the park. Let’s begin!
Underwater Observatory Marine Park is probably the most well-known attraction in Eilat. Here is background information from the official website:
Eilat is blessed with the most amazing and unique coral reef in the world, with an underwater marine observatory situated in the heart of the reef. The park offers its visitors a rare opportunity to enter the natural and abundant marine kingdom of the Red Sea – an unforgettable experience for both young and old.
The park has a spectacular display (over 800 species) of fish, coral, sharks, mollusks, stingrays, turtles, and many other animals from the Gulf of Eilat. And, the most impressive place of all – the Underwater Marine Observatory, the only one of its kind in the world! The observatory is a tower situated in the middle of the sea, without any fences or cages, offering a rare view of the Red Sea, with its bright colors, tones, and the marine life in the Gulf of Eilat. The tower is comprised of two display halls. These halls are submerged at a depth of 12 meters under the sea, offering visitors a natural view of the coral reef’s spectacular beauty through huge plate glass windows.
Note: all quotes, unless stated otherwise, were taken from the official site.
Last time we visited the Underwater Observatory Marine Park was around five years ago, and since then the shark aquarium was significantly improved. Moreover, my daughter (who was a toddler at that time) did not remember anything from our previous visit. Thus we decided to revisit this attraction.
Underwater Observatory Marine Park is located at Coral beach in Eilat. You will see it on the left while driving on road #90 towards Taba border crossing (Israel – Egypt).
Map of the area:
How To Get There
You can drive there and park for free outside. You can also take bus #15 from Eilat city center. Here is a link to Moovit where you can update your starting point and get updated directions. And the last option would be to take a taxi from Eilat.
The park is open daily from 09.00 till 16.00.
There are several ticket combos. The regular ticket allows to see most of the park, but it can be upgraded in two ways. The first upgrade includes entrance to the Oceanarium show. And the second upgrade option is sailing at the glass-bottom boat, the Coral 2000.
You can buy tickets on site, or on the official website. They offer a small discount when purchasing on the website.
|Ticket type||Regular Price||Website Price|
|Child – regular entrance||79 NIS||75 NIS|
|Child – regular + Oceanarium||89 NIS||80 NIS|
|Child – regular + Oceanarium + Coral 2000||123 NIS||110 NIS|
|Adult – regular entrance||99 NIS||94 NIS|
|Adult – regular + Oceanarium||109 NIS||98 NIS|
|Adult – regular + Oceanarium + Coral 2000||149 NIS||134 NIS|
- You have to purchase tickets for 3-year-old (and above) children.
- Coral 2000 is not sailing on Sundays. Also, if you are ordering tickets with the Coral 2000 sail, then you need to call 08-6364219 beforehand and verify there is a sail.
- Oceanarium can be closed for private events. You can see exact dates when ordering tickets on the official site.
- Opening hours and ticket prices were updated in May 2019. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.
Tickets to Coral World are quite expensive. Thus, many people are searching for coupons, and I did the same. I have searched different sites, including various credit card clubs and have not found any coupons. The only discount I saw was around 10% off if you buy at the official website. After a while, I saw discounted tickets at htzone.co.il and grabbed them. I purchased the regular entrance plus the Oceanarium show. I did not take the Coral 2000 option since we already prebooked another sail. Check out Eilat post for additional details.
When I rechecked for coupons, then I also found that teachers association currently offers coupons.
Note: you can click on the image above to enlarge it.
I wanted to get to 11 o’clock shark feeding. We arrived at the entry fifteen minutes before. But, the lines were long (though it was December, i.e., off-season) and barely moving. Since I had pre-ordered tickets, I needed only to print them, but there are no self-service stands, and we had to wait.
Note: you can click on the image above to enlarge it.
Here are the activity times from the photo:
- Shark and fish feeding with a diver in the shark pool: 11:00 and 14:30
- Feeding the marine animals in the rare fish aquarium: 11:30
- Feeding fish in the Red Sea aquarium: 12:00
- Turtle and sting ray feeding: 12:30
- Pearl opening show: 13:00
- Feeding in the Amazon hut: 13:30
- Young turtle feeding: 15:00
Keep in mind that feeding times can change, thus if you are interested in a particular activity, recheck the official site.
Since I was interested in the upgraded sharks’ world, we started there.
It has been 40 years since the opening of the Underwater Observatory Marine Park in Eilat, and a new attraction has just been opened, following an investment of 26 million shekels: Shark World – the biggest shark pool of its kind in the Middle East, covering an area of 1000m2. It offers a rare opportunity and an exceptional experience to have the Red Sea sharks at your fingertips and get the feel of what it’s like to meet them.
The water pumped into the pool undergoes a complicated process as it is drawn up from a depth of 40 meters. The 575 square meters pool is 6 meters high, contains three million liters of water and is located right at the center of the complex.
My daughter is checking out the fish.
There are explanations in Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Russian.
Sharks world has a glass corridor with fish around you. It seems very cool in promotional photographs, but here is how it looks in reality.
Here is the clearest shot (with the fewer people) I was able to get. So, if you want to make a similar photograph, come either at the opening or towards the closure of the marine park.
At the second part of Sharks World, there were digital and regular stands with explanations. We skipped some of them since it was packed. And here are some fascinating truths about sharks. The fact that sharks have no bones to break makes them sturdy and resistant to other predators and rough ocean storms.
Sharks have many hidden talents:
The sad truth about shark attacks:
Red Sea Reef
Since we had time till our Oceanarium show, we headed to the Red Sea Reef hall (number 2 on the map).
We made it just in time for the 12 o’clock fish feeding. But first, since it was Hanukkah, the diver lit “candles.”
Then the diver fed vegetarian fish and omnivorous ones.
The Oceanarium is a huge simulator. In a spacious, air-conditioned hall containing 140 seats, a film is screened on three huge high-quality HD screens, and the visitor takes part in a journey through the depths of the Sea.
The visitors sit on sophisticated platforms that move in every direction following the movement of the film.
The Oceanarium movie lasted for 30 minutes and told the story of scientists who research and protect sharks. The film was in Hebrew. It is a regular movie (not 3D), and the platform you are sitting on is moving by the film. The movements are not swift and suitable for all (these are not roller coasters). Nonetheless, there are also several non-moving platforms.
We enjoyed the show and continued with our visit.
The Underwater Observatory
Our next stop was the Underwater Observatory.
The tower of Underwater Observatory is 23 meters high. And six meters below the sea level there are two observation halls. We headed to the underwater observation rooms.
From the underwater halls, we climbed to the top of the tower.
View of the Underwater Observatory Marine Park from the top.
There are the spiral stairs inside the tower. I think there is a lift, but it goes only to the underwater observation halls.
Amazon And Rare Fish Aquarium
From the Underwater Observatory, we continued to the Amazon (#10 on the map) and Rare Fish Aquarium (#9 on the diagram).
You can find unique and beautiful leaving creature there.
Can you see the “stone fish”? It took me some time before I noticed it 🙂
We returned to the shark pool for the 14:30 feeding.
Inside the aquarium, there was a diver and an instructor outside. She gave brief explanations about sharks in Hebrew, English, and Russian.
Sharks in nature do not eat every day. But here, they are fed twice a day. Therefore, each time the divers give them small amounts of food. And since sharks are not hungry, they do not hunt and eat other fish. But if one the fish in the aquarium gets sick, sharks will attack it.
Following the 14:30 shark feeding we headed to the 15:00 turtle feeding.
The guide told us a little about these turtles. The turtles were wounded and could not be returned to the sea. As it turns out, the turtle’s favorite treat is jellyfish. Plastic bags in the water looks like jellyfish. Many turtles try to eat the bags and either die or get injured. Thus, the guide asked us never to leave plastic bags on the beaches and if you see some, then pick them up and throw them away.
Afterward, the turtles ate some fish, and it was time to end our visit.
Though we sailed on another glass bottom boat, I wanted to bring some info about Coral 2000 so that you will have the full picture.
Coral 2000 is deep, glass-bottom boat. Guests sit in the bottom portion and look through private windows into the depths of the Sea to the Coral Reef.
The Coral has 48 windows situated 1.5 meters under sea level so that it is possible to look to the sides of the boat and not just down, as is customary with glass-bottom boats – this way you can enjoy a vast field of vision.
The boat has 45 seats and sails along the coral reserve and the Japanese Gardens. The boat departs from the Coral Pier located on the bridge leading to the Observation Tower. The journey lasts for 20 minutes.
How Much Time A Visit To Underwater Observatory Marine Park Takes?
The actual duration depends on the age of your kids (if you are coming with children), your interests, activities you participate in, and the ticket type that you purchase. Some people after an hour will have enough, while others will spend there the whole day. But if we want some statistics, then according to Google: “people typically spend up to 2.5 hours here”.
As to our visit, we spent four and a half hours at Underwater Observatory Marine Park and loved it.
Underwater Observatory Marine Park is not a very large site, but there are plenty of things to see. And with an average rating of 4.5 on TripAdvisor, it seems that most people enjoy their visit.
The only downside is the entry fee. But the bottom line is: if you love aquariums, then I suggest visiting it. And since they make renovations in the park, we usually return every five years.
Have you ever been to Underwater Observatory Marine Park? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Here are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Sea Of Galilee.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.
And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.