The port city of Aqaba in Jordan is where exhilarating diving opportunities meet ancient history. Inhabited since 4000 BC the area is sprinkled with awe-inspiring architectural ruins and historic quarters. And because Aqaba is flanked by the Red Sea, there's a lively beach atmosphere here too. You can explore the coral reefs and unwind on one of the many shores, or wander its winding streets and visit an authentic market.
Stay at an Aqaba hostel that runs snorkelling and diving trips where you can get up close to marine life. A hostel with a rooftop garden gives you the chance to leave the city behind, while one at the beach takes you closer to the heart of the action. Wake up to fresh coffee at a place that has its own café or sun yourself at a hostel with an outdoor pool. Aqaba hostels with free Wi-Fi make posting your sunset photos easy too.
Discover the rustic charm of Aqaba's old town neighbourhood, where the souqs (a long stretch of stalls and traditional souvenir shops) and ancient forts give you a flavour of the city's past. Petra is a 90-minute journey from Aqaba and is a magical sight with pink sandstone cliffs and ruins to see. For adventure try Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, a sandstone and granite canyon where you can go trekking and climbing.
Take advantage of perfect diving sites in Aqaba, where you can spot wrecks including a submerged tank. There are plenty of schools – ideal if it's your first attempt – and the climate is perfect for a dip. Visit Mamluk Castle, a 16th-century building that has more than its fair share of military and religious history. To watch the sunset, head over to Palm Beach where you can sail out on the water with a glass-bottom boat tour and see the abundant marine life.
To get to Aqaba, you can fly into King Hussein International Airport, which is around a 20-minute drive from the centre. The only way to reach the city from the airport is by taxi, which you can find outside the front of the terminal. Buses run in and out of the main terminal to other cities near Jordan. For quick travel around the city, hail a taxi or take a local minibus.