Eilat's Dolphin Reef – What Every Animal Lover Should Know Before They Visit

This Red Sea beach is the only place in Israel where you can frolic with your flippered friends.

Who doesn’t love dolphins? Seriously. They're cute, smart and, according to new research, are likely to remember you longer than an elephant will (and that's a long time). If you're a dolphin fan and are visiting Eilat, you can get your fix of flippered friends at the southern city's Dolphin Reef, located along the shores of the Red Sea.

The site is home to Cindy, Shy, Dana, Nana, Yampa, Luna, Nikita and Sheba – bottlenose dolphins who go about their daily routines, including hunting, playing and socializing, at the reef. Visitors can watch the dolphins from piers or observation points, and those who want to be in the swim of things can go on a guided dive or splash around with the generally amiable mammals.

The reef's website stresses that contact with people is strictly the dolphins' choice: Staffers don’t use food as an incentive to draw them closer to humans; the animals choose if and when to interact with the people floating around them.

Visitors can choose from different activities, including snorkeling with the dolphins, guided dives and one-on-one introductory dives with a personal instructor. There are some age restrictions: for instance, snorklers must be at least 10 years old. The reef also accommodates customers with disabilities, offering changing rooms, showers, equipment and entry to the water suitable for people with special needs.

For visitors who'd like an extra dash of R&R while on vacation (and are over age 18), the site also houses three "relaxation pools" – a deep seawater pool, a soft rainwater pool and a saltwater pool – that will leave them soothed and less stressed.

A session at the pools lasts two hours and costs NIS 160, but that price includes a towel, cold/hot beverages, light refreshments and all-day entrance to the Dolphin Reef. Sounds like a little piece of heaven on earth.

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 9 A.M.-5 P.M.; Friday, Saturday and holidays 9 A.M.-4:30 P.M.

Entrance fees: Adults NIS 64; children NIS 44; special rates for students, groups and disabled visitors. Note: Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult

For more information or to register for activities, call (08) 630-0111 or visit dolphinreef.co.il