Her Majesty and family have long taken breaks from work life in Amman by heading to the Red Sea. Dani Shapiro learns how the royals relax.

Courtesy of The Royal Hashemite Court My Favorite Place
| Credit: Courtesy of The Royal Hashemite Court

Aqaba has been a much-loved holiday destination of ours for more than 15 years. It's one of Jordan's treasures. I find that water brings such serenity and peace. And I love the sunsets—the way they light up the rusty red mountains that surround our ancient port city is very dramatic and atmospheric. No two days in Aqaba are ever the same. My favorite times are early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the sun bathes the city in a smoldering flush which draws attention to its character—its history, geography, and geology. Aqaba is our weekend and school-holiday escape from the hustle and bustle of Amman. This is where we're able to wind down and hang out as a family.

I'm never happier than when I'm jogging on the beach there, building sand castles with my children, and watching the little ones try to beat the waves as they run in and out of the water. There's something for each of us in Aqaba. The Red Sea is a haven for scuba enthusiasts, and my husband is one of them. My eldest son snorkels and surfs with his friends; my daughters swim and play games on the beach; and baby Hashem loves playing in the sand. But most of all, we love spending time at the beach together—just talking, listening to music, and barbecuing.

Where to Stay

InterContinental Aqaba

A 255-room Mediterranean-style hotel with a full-service spa.

Where to Eat

Ali Baba Restaurant

Locals and visitors alike dine here for fresh seafood.

What to Do

Dive or snorkel in the Red Sea, and if you're quiet and patient you may encounter one of the largest colonies of garden eels in the region. SeaStar Water Sports Diving Centre; 962-3/201-8335.

Where to Shop

All of Aqaba is a tax-free zone. Look for silver jewelry and glassware by bedouin craftspeople at Aqaba Souk, downtown, or hit one of the city's five shopping malls. For more information on Aqaba, go to visitjordan.com.