How to Get from Aqaba, Jordan to Nuweiba, Egypt: Ferry Vs Overland

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When we first arranged our visit to Jordan we planned to end our trip in Aqaba, on the Red Sea in the south of the country and travel on to Egypt by ferry. The ferry to Nuweiba on Egypt’s Red Sea coast seemed like a good option as it was only supposed to take a few hours. When we arrived in Aqaba and tried to book a ticket though, things turned out not to be as simple as they seemed.

This is a very practical post—we wanted to share our experience in detail to help you make the decision on how to travel from Jordan to Egypt.

Ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba

We went to the AB Maritime office (near Humman supermarket) in Aqaba two days before we planned to leave, but we were told that they wouldn’t know if the 6pm fast boat (1 hour crossing) was running until the morning of departure, but the slow boat (2-3 hours) goes every day at midnight or 1am.

Hmm, we didn’t like this vagueness and leaving at midnight wasn’t appealing. We went back to our hotel and did some research and found many horror stories about the ferry crossing. The slow boat in particular is pretty much guaranteed to be delayed and even if the crossing is only 3 hours it can actually take 12 hours because of delays at either end—in the middle of the night this wouldn’t be fun. At $60/75 (slow/fast ferry) it wasn’t cheap either.

We began to look into alternatives.

Overland Via Israel

We could go overland via the thin sliver of Israel that divides Jordan from Egypt but we didn’t like this option for two reasons:

1) An Israeli passport stamp would prevent us from being able to visit countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan.

2) You can’t get a full Egyptian visa at the Taba border, only a 14 day free Sinai pass that wouldn’t be long enough for us or enable us to travel outside of the Sinai to Cairo or anywhere else.

Tourist Boat

We heard that a tourist boat run by Meenagate was a reliable, if expensive option for $100. But when we went to their office opposite the Kempinski Hotel they said the boat to Taba, Egypt was only available for return journeys, and really set up more for tour groups than independent travellers.

Getting an Egyptian Visa in Aqaba

We were running out of options but overland was looking more appealing than the unreliable ferry, so we decided to go to the Egyptian consulate to see if it was possible to get a visa in advance.

The Egyptian Consulate is located in the Third District of Aqaba and is a short taxi ride from the centre. We didn’t have an address and after the first taxi driver drove aimlessly with no idea where we were talking about we got our hotel to call a taxi and explain it for us. We paid 3 JOD but were probably overcharged.

We arrived at the consulate at 11am and it was almost empty, so we were hopeful it wouldn’t take too long. We were told to take a seat and then it took them 30 minutes to bring us the form, and another 30 minutes for them to collect it from us, along with two passport photos and the 12 JOD fee. We then waited 2 hours 15 minutes to get the visa. We had no idea why it took so long, but they gave back everyone’s passports just after 2pm, so maybe it’s a set collection time. In total it took us 3 hours 15 minutes to get the 3 month single entry visa that is valid for 6 months.

The consulate is open from 9am to 3pm Sunday-Thursday and is closed on Fridays and Saturdays. They actually have a Facebook page but it’s in Arabic. Make sure you take two passport photos, your passport, the 12 JOD fee and a book for the wait.

Now that we had an Egyptian visa we decided to forget the ferry and travel overland. We had no definite plans to visit countries that don’t allow you to enter if you’ve been to Israel, so we decided to worry about that later. We planned to try asking Israeli immigration to stamp a piece of paper rather than our passport, although that would still leave us with the telltale exit stamp from Jordan and entrance stamp to Egypt.

Getting From Aqaba to Israel

We took a taxi from Aqaba to the Wadi Araba border with Israel for 8 JOD—it’s only a ten minute ride. The Jordan exit tax is 10 JOD.

The border was empty and the process was quick, except the Israelis checked our bags very carefully and swabbed mine.

We weren’t questioned by Israeli immigration as we heard could happen and when we asked they stamped a separate piece of paper (they have a small form for this purpose) instead of our passport without questions.

After immigration there’s a place to change money. We changed US $22 for 71.50 shekels, and got a taxi just outside. The taxi driver used the meter and the journey to the Egyptian border took 20 minutes and cost 76.50 shekels, so we gave him an extra 3 JOD to make up the amount. I think he would have accepted payment in dollars or Jordanian dinar so we probably didn’t need to change money.

A cheaper option would be to get a taxi to Eilat and then a #15 bus to the border which runs once an hour. This could cost around 40 shekels for the taxi and 7.20 each for the bus. For us it wasn’t worth the saving, and the taxi was quick and easy.

Note that Israel and Egypt are one hour behind Jordan time.

Getting From Israel to Egypt

At the Israel/Egypt border at Taba things were slower as we were caught behind a tour group.

Leaving Israel we had to pay 103 shekels exit tax (yes, despite only being in the country for 20 minutes!), which we paid by credit card, but there’s also the option of changing money. Immigration asked why we had stamped the separate sheet instead of our passport but they accepted it without comment when we said we might be going to Lebanon.

It’s a few minutes walk to the Egyptian side, and trolleys are available if you have lots of luggage.

On the Egyptian side you need to scan your bags and fill in an immigration form before going through the immigration desk, which was easy. There’s an ATM just before the immigration desk which you’ll want to use as there didn’t seem to be much in Taba.

Getting From Taba to Nuweiba

Taxis wait outside. This is the trickiest bit of the journey as you need to bargain hard. They tried to charge us 500 EGP for the whole minivan but we got him down to 200 EGP for the trip to Nuweiba. As buses only run a few times a day you are at their mercy and the drivers seem to work together, not in competition. As there were only two tour groups at the border we had no one to share a taxi with.

After a few hundred meters you stop at a checkpoint and pay 75 EGP entry tax for the Sinai.

The taxi took about 40 minutes down the coast to Nuweiba. You could also continue to Dahab.

Nuweiba, Egypt

Nuweiba, Egypt

Door to door the whole trip took us 2 hours 30 minutes and was easy and stress free, so we are definitely glad we went overland rather than risking a long and nightmarish ferry experience.

Cost of Travelling Overland from Jordan to Egypt

  • 12 JOD ($16.90) each Egyptian visa (it would have been free on arrival by boat)
  • 8 JOD ($11.26) taxi from Aqaba to border
  • 10 JOD ($14.07) each Jordan exit tax
  • 76.50 ILS ($20.50) taxi from Israel to Egypt border
  • 103 ILS ($27.60) each Israel exit tax
  • 200 EGP ($31.42) taxi Taba to Nuweiba
  • 75 EGP ($11.80) each Sinai entry tax

Total spent US $203.92 or $101.96 each.

The cost of travelling by ferry would only have been slightly less once you take into account taxis at both ends and the Jordan exit tax and Sinai entry tax you’d still have to pay, but could have potentially taken six times longer, been much more uncomfortable, and involved travelling in the middle of the night. We’re glad we went with the overland option.

Note: AB Maritime does have a website but the ferry schedule listed there has no basis in reality.

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28 Comments (2 pingbacks)

  1. This was a random search but I have to comment. On my way to Jordan in 2005, I waited hours and hours in the Neweiba port where I bought my slow ferry ticket. I had arrived on a bus from Cairo but had travelled by bus from Farafa Oasis town first, both are 12 hour journeys and I had waited for 6 hours in Cairo after being dropped in Giza, not the city centre. Lucky I knew there was a tube station there from a failed visit to the pyramids, (visited them again when I returned from Syria and was successful). I also knew where the hidden and almost impossible to find bus station was in Cairo (not far from the train station, so we could walk from the tube). I had caught the bus with a young Swedish, Nigerian man, Paul, who was going to Sharm-al-shiek, so had company. When I finally got to the port I teamed up with two Arabic people, not travelling together and suddenly the fast ferry arrived and on we all hopped. Anna showed me where to hand in my passport and the captain on her request took us on deck, which was forbidden at the time(for what ever reason). Once we sat down it was lovely and comfortable and fast. When we got off, we waited for ages to get our passports back, as the officials called out everyones’ names individually. By then we had missed the last bus to Amman but my two companions persuaded me to pay most of a taxi fare which was about £8 English money, since it is a very long way, this was a bargain and when we got there they deposited me in a hotel in Wihdat, Amman. Anna was off to Mosul in Iraq by road and Ahmed off to Tadmore in Syria. Quite an adventure for me but gruelling for all of us (no idea what has happened to them through these wars though).
    My return 3 months later, for my plane, was long and I did buy the ticket at the port and did catch the slow ferry but the wait was the only pitfall. it was comfortable and I took my passport to the middle of the ferry and was delighted when I got a visa stamp there and then cos I was able to get the last bus to Cairo where I arrived at 3 oclock in the morning. I discovered that some of the non-Arab travellers hadn’t got their visas and one young woman nearly missed the bus. I had hated Egypt the first time but felt really comfortable when arrived back, as I had been away from Britain for 5 months, so I guess I was native by then. Syria was my favourite, I loved it there and I am heart broken cos of the war. The shared taxi ride between Amman and Damascus was a dream, comfortable and so very cheap, did it a few times cos I returned the following year to Syria. Abdali taxi rank in Jordan is so quiet and Barampke less so but right near the cheap hotels. Unfortunately just before the war all the bus routes were moved out of the centre of Damascus in an attempt by the government to capitalise but Britain still invaded with their friends from the gulf.


  2. Hi Erin,

    I admire travellers like you that do it themselves, I like to think that if I were a tad younger, and after comparing your experience with mine in October 2010 definitely would take that responsibility on myself.

    My husband and I booked a trip via a Travel Manager who booked with a Sydney based travel Company ERC. We are not in the prime of our lives. 3 weeks driving around Egypt, finishing in Dahab, ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba and 2 weeks driving through Jordan into Syria. It was arranged that we would have an ERC guide and driver in Egypt and then picked up by another company’s English speaking driver into Syria and then another through Syria.

    We had a shocker of a trip through Egypt, bad accommodation, missing a good portion of the itinerary because it was impossible to do, guide deserting us twice and then later replaced with another ‘tour leader’ who could barely speak English and got us lost several times over the 2,500kms we drove with them in Egypt….

    Anyway, we made it to the Ferry at Nuweiba that was to leave at 9, then 10.30, then 12.30 and ended leaving at 2.30. We didn’t check the details of things because ERC were supposed to be a reputable company, that’s why we paid them good money. We were told that the trip would take 45-90 minutes and we had time for our afternoon’s itinerary in Aqaba. We were left at the edge of the docklands in Nuweiba and pointed the way to Immigration, we got ourselves through this (dragging our luggage over train tracks and up gutters) and into a huge shed that was the Ferry Terminal Building I think. We saw no other Travellers like ourselves only one lonely Japanese backpacker with a large red backpack that I could spot occasionally through the throng of Itinerant men with their belongings in brattice sacks, two Arab women and 3 children and a few dozen Arabs in white garb. We loaded onto filthy busses that had 8 seats, all occupied by Arabs in white garb, and balanced with our luggage, trying not to fall onto one of the Itinerants. We dragged our luggage up the long, narrow gangplank into the Ferry where we had our Passports confiscated and motioned to put our luggage under some stairs which we then went up 5 flights of stairs which is where ERC told us we had to go. We’d find a snack bar that sold Mars Bars and wouldn’t be able to buy meals. This place was at the top of the 5 flights of stairs, we took a table and were ogled at by Arabs with ropes around their heads. We played cards and as I hadn’t used a toilet since 9 this morning and it was now after 2.30 went to use the toilet that was outside on the Itinerant covered deck. As I went to go outside the 2 Arab women were coming back in and waved me back into the cabin, really threateningly! Stupid me didn’t realise that I could have been seriously assaulted out there!

    I then started to panic when 7.30 arrived, pitch dark and we still hadn’t reached the end of our supposed 90 minute tops Ferry trip to Aqaba. I phoned the Cairo Manager of ERC and asked if we were on the correct Ferry, to which he said “Jan****, you’re in Jordanian waters now” and hung up! I then phoned (service kept dropping out) an emergency number in Syria and through them communicated via text to the Jordanian Company who said would pick us up. It had been 12 hours since I’d use a toilet and went over a barricade into an area that had a locked internal toilet and then a sailor stopped me, he could speak enough English and took us to the next deck to the toilet and then to the 18 other Travellers, including the Japanese backpacker who were in the Cafeteria that ERC told us didn’t exist!

    We got into port at 11.30pm, were corralled under a street light to wait for a bus to Immigration (8 of the Argentinean Travellers were taken straight through) the Jordanian Travel Company picked us up and got us through Immigration and into a hotel in Aqaba and we were ordering a meal at 12.30am. They said that they went to the Airport that morning to pick us up and couldn’t find us? The itinerary they had for us was totally different to the one that we’d been given by ERC.

    I’m trying desperately to do something about this Company and have taken him to CTTT where he misrepresented himself via a phone Tribunal that he’d arranged with the Registrar, called us racist and that we were so horrid to our guides that they wouldn’t have anything to do with us and threatened in writing and verbally that he intended to issue us with his legal fees.

    We obtained a recording of the Mediation and I have 2 stat decs that declare that this guy has a strong Egyptian accent and the guy posing to be him was a slick talking legally speaking fellow who made mince meat of us so that we’d withdraw, which we did. I’ve tried all other ways to make this guy responsible for something and cannot.

    I can only take him to the Tribunal again, which I intend to. I only have until 21/9 to do so. I was talking to an Aussie couple in Jordan who said that they enquired about the Ferry but that Tourists had been stopped using it in March 2010 and so they’d gone via Taba. I need to prove that this sot put our lives in jeopardy so any information or advice would be put to worthy use, please……Jan****.


    • I’m so sorry you had such an awful experience. I don’t really have any information that can help I’m afraid. We’d heard the horror stories about the ferry so we avoided it but I know some travellers who don’t mind roughing it do still take it. Good luck with your case.


  3. Thanks for the useful info. I am not sure if it was running when you guys were in Jordan, but now there are small ferries that run daily between Taba and Aqaba – much more efficient time-wise and cost-wise.


  4. An excellent, informative post per usual! Reading these first hand experiences of less conventional border crossings is always really helpful, so thanks for being so thorough! Not sure we’ll be heading to Egypt any time soon (though will be interested to hear your thoughts on it!), but it’s nice to have this information, nonetheless!


    • It was such a pain to figure out the best way to get there that we thought sharing our experience could help others. We didn’t see much of Egypt at all, so we can’t really advise. We didn’t love Dahab as much as most people seem to, but then we’ve been spoilt by amazing beaches around the world.


  5. Loved reading this post and reliving my own Aqaba – Dahab transit adventure from my RTW trip in 2006. I decided to do the ferry, but had heard the same stories you did about its unreliability. Everyone I’d encountered said to take the fast boat, hands down. I had a much smoother time at the Consulate getting my visa, but the day I decided to leave I checked out and cabbed to the ferry terminal to discover despite all information to the contrary that the fast boat wouldn’t leave that day. I stayed in Aqaba two more days, stuck between Sabbaths in Jordan and Israel, and finally caught the boat on the third day. The process of leaving was a little sketchy – luckily I knew about the departure tax, otherwise I would have thought for sure I was being shaken down by the port workers. The room where I paid was a small shanty hidden under a staircase, illuminated by a single bulb and populated by a pretty shady group of characters who leered at me with little smirks on their faces. There was nothing “official” looking about it, and these were certainly not the same gracious and engaging Jordanians I had enjoyed everywhere else I traveled in the Kingdom.

    The boat left surprisingly on schedule but as we approached Nuweiba we stopped somewhere off shore and stayed there for about 3 hours bobbing in the Red Sea. I played Uno with a family from Las Vegas who was on foreign post with the US State Dept, and there was never any indication of why we were stopped or when we’d leave. When we finally docked, the scene in Nuweiba was hysterical. Total chaos! Everyone was herded off the boat into a wide open area that was hardly secure. Jordanians and Egyptians were directed one way while the rest of us weren’t directed anywhere – except loudly and violently away from the mob scene of locals queuing up for…something. It was unclear where they were going. We wandered aimlessly as old men shouted at us and pointed in various directions. Somehow we wandered into a decrepit barn-like building humming with huge fans and the shouts of Arabic where we showed our visas and were unceremoniously ushered into Egypt…where the taxi drivers scrambled like mad for our business. I joined up with a small group of traveling university students who were studying abroad in Cairo and negotiated an aggressive rate to Dahab. When I finally made it to Dahab, it was worth all the hassle – pure heaven! Until three days later when bombs exploded in the marketplace, killing 20 and injuring 300 in an attack from the Sinai Liberation group. Needless to say, it’s an experience I’ll never forget, start to finish! Glad I did it all for sure, but I’m not likely to return to that part of the world for a while. Hope your stay in the Sinai and beyond is a bit calmer. In the end, I loved Egypt. I had some really incredible and mind-shifting conversations with Egyptians – a lot of them political. It was wonderful to hear their perspective and even more wonderful that they craved genuine debate and discussion. Really thrilling!

    I don’t recall how I stumbled upon you guys, but love the posts and stories, and you’re kind of my personal heroes for living the way you are. Bravo, and keep going!


  6. I’m flying to Egypt in a few hours, and your post already tells me to be sceptical of certain things they may say. I applied for my tourist visa in the embassy in Brasilia. Took them a week, and despite me insisting on what it said on various websites, they would only give me several months in the country if I took a *multiple* entry 30-day visa. And mine was WAY more expensive than yours! :P

    Anyway, got it and can’t wait to arrive there! Unlike you, I’m starting in chaotic Cairo, and THEN making my way to more peaceful areas :)


  7. I actually went the opposite direction I.e. Egypt to Jordan. I figured I’ll start in Cairo and go down South along the Nile and then east to Dahab and into Aqaba and then north in Jordan via wadi rum, Petra into Amman. But this route that looked nice on paper ran into problems once I wanted to get to Aqaba from Dahab via Nuweiba. Horror stories of the ferry took that out of picture right away. Meenagate were nice to quickly respond to my email and let me know that it has to be a 7 day return ticket, by law. And then I won’t be able to fly out of Amman to Cairo for flight home as I planned. And other horror stories of Israeli border crossing, where they treat everyone suspect, wasn’t appealing either, so I wasn’t keen on a land border crossing either. In the end, when I weighed together the money cost, time cost & energy cost of it all – I just took a flight from Sharm to Amman. And did a Jordan north-south and back north by road.


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