nuweiba to aqaba by boat

Written on 2010.09


  • Location: Nuweiba, Egypt -> Aqaba, Jordan
  • Transportation: Ferry
  • Point: Take the ferry from Egypt to Jordan and bypass going through Israel

The are a couple of routes going from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt to Jordan
1. Ferry – Nuweiba, Egypt -> Aqaba, Jordan
2. Bus & Taxi – Taba, Egypt -> Eilat, Israel -> Aqaba, Jordan

① is an expensive ferry, with lots of waiting. However, the ferry is infamous for its late departures and arrivals. For what should be a several hour journey can take upwards of 12 on a bad day.

② means going through Israel. After you add in all the exit and entry taxes, this route is slightly cheaper. Going through Taba and Eilat is usually the faster way to go as well.

Well, it looks like ② would be the preferred option, why go with ①?

For those looking to continue on to Syria, Lebanon, or other countries in the Middle East getting an Israeli stamp in your passport means you’ll be denied entry to those countries. As we had plans to go to Syria, we took the boat.

Previously, traveling from Jordan into Syria with an Israeli stamp in your passport wasn’t a problem, but the situation has changed. Even for those that just make the quick pass through Taba and Eilat you could be out.

So here’s how you can go about catching the ferry to Jordan.

Ferry Information

There are 2 options – a slow boat and a speed boat. From a tourist’s perspective, the prices are relatively the same. $60 USD for the slow boat and $10 more for the speed boat. However, those 10 extra dollars knock (theoretically) 4.5 hours off of your travel time.

Speed boat details

  • Cost: Ferry $70 USD + Exit Tax $10 USD (or 50 EGP) = $80 USD / person
  • Duration: 15 hours (2010.09)
  • Ferry ride duration: 1.5 hours

Regarding the fees, you will be asked to pay for the ferry in US dollars. (Even the locals come with US dollars in their pockets.) But, we met people who were able to pay the entire fee in EGP.

In or case, we paid the ferry ticket in USD and the exit tax in EGP. That worked fine.

In Nuweiba you’ll be hard pressed to find an ATM. If you are coming from Dahab or farther afield, make sure to take out your money there. When you arrive in Jordan you’ll find money exchange places at the ferry terminal assuming everything is open. Make sure to prepare money for the ferry ticket, taxi ride in Jordan, and a little extra cash just in case.

Immigration Procedures

Generally: buy the ferry ticket -> go through exit procedures -> go through entry procedures

  1. Arrive in Nuweiba
  2. From the bus station, walk about 200m towards the ferry terminal.
  3. You cannot buy your ticket at the terminal, so instead look for the ticket office or ask a local
  4. Walk about 150m from the terminal entrance to the ticket office and buy your ticket in USD. You’ll need to hand over your passport here for them to do some official things. Be prepared to wait 15 to 30 minutes. Warning, this is just related to your ticket and has nothing to do with official immigration procedures.
  5. Go to the ferry terminal
  6. Pass through a gate and enter the building on your right
  7. Inside the building head towards the waiting area. You’ll pass through immigration. You can literally pass through immigration here if no one is looking, but stop. Make sure to get your stamps!
  8. Wait in the waiting area for a really long period of time (possibly). It’s more like a warehouse than a waiting room.
  9. Buy things like water here as it will be cheaper than on the boat as well as in Jordan
  10. You’ll be taken by bus from the waiting room to the ferry. Since several buses and ferries depart from here, make sure you’ve got the right one.
  11. Board the ferry
  12. On the ferry, go to the immigration window (you can wait for the line to die down a bit first). For some nationalities you’ll need to pay, for others fill out a form, and for others just get a stamp in your passport. Depends on if you need a visa or not. For those that need a visa, your passport will be collected at this point and given back to you after you’ve gone through immigration on the Jordanian side.
  13. Should be about 1.5 hours from when you boarded the ferry to when you arrive in Aqaba.

Transit Before And After The Ferry

Egypt: Dahab -> Nuweiba

  • Transportation: Bus
  • Cost: 11 EGP
  • Duration: About 1 hour

There are buses from Dahab to Nuweiba. 1 to 2 a day. Best to ask your hotel staff for the latest information. When we caught the bus it left at 10:30 in the morning in September 2010.

Since the bus takes 30 minutes to 1 hour, best to take a bus that gives you plenty of time to catch the 15:00 ferry. Would recommend the 10:30 bus.

The bus stop in Nuweiba is about 200m away from the actual ferry terminal. See above.

Jordan: Aqaba -> Wadi Musa (Petra)

  • Transportation: Bus or Taxi
  • Cost: Bus 3 JOD, Taxi 20-40 JOD
  • Duration: About 2 hours

When you arrive in Aqaba you have several typical tourist options. 1) spend the night in Aqaba (overpriced), 2) find a tour company to get Lawrence of Arabia game on in Wadi Rum, 3) head straight for Petra.

Since Aqaba is a resort town for Jordan, we gave it a skip. We also had plans on going to Namibia later in our trip so Wadi Rum wasn’t so appealing for us. Your call.

In one day you can make the run from Dahab to Wadi Musa.

For those who want to make this run, you can take a bus or a taxi to Madi Musa. You’ll arrive in Aqaba around 17:30, so the normally scenic drive will be in darkness. If you’d like to see the sand dunes then spend a night in Aqaba. We hit Ramadan so by the time we got out of the ferry terminal the last bus hard already left. Our only option was a taxi. Seeing as how the taxi guys were all waiting to mob us just outside of the terminal, it wasn’t hard to find a guy to drive us. Getting the price we wanted, however, was very difficult.

The going rate for a taxi ride from Aqaba to Wadi Musa was 40 JOD. For a 2 hour ride.

Fortunately, we found a taxi driver who was heading home and was willing for us to just pay the price of gas. We got a ride for 20 JOD and split it with one other person.

If you are lucky and can get the bus, do it. At 2 JOD, it’s a much better deal. Determining whether or not there will be a bus is always a challenge in Jordan. “No bus” was a very common phase that we heard.

Happy trails!

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