Israel is well known for its unique beaches, most of all those of the city of Tel Aviv. Here are some other great beaches all over the country
Israel’s western border stretches along the Mediterranean coast, with 120 miles (196 km) of seashore. None of the beaches are private, yet not all of them are freely or easily accessible – some require entrance fees (the proceeds go to the local municipality), while others are used by factories, the military or port authorities.
One cannot hike the whole length of Israel’s coastline from its most northerly point at Rosh HaNikra to the Gaza Strip border in the south, but you can walk the most beautiful parts. Here are some of the highlights.
From Betzet Beach to Achziv Beach
These are two of the most beautiful sweeps of coastline in northern Israel, just miles from the Lebanese border. You can choose one or the other, or walk the 4 miles (6 km) between them.
Along the way, you’ll come across rocky outcrops, small coves and natural pools of sea water. Hiking this stretch of beach is highly recommended, and you can always stop to dip your toes in a small pool when the surf fills it with water, or just sit on a rock and watch the fishermen.
While you’re here, be sure to visit the Rosh HaNikra grottoes, one of Israel’s most captivating natural phenomena. Right before you enter the grottoes, the parking lot affords the most spectacular panorama in Israel, all the way to the Gulf of Haifa. Rosh HaNikra has a cable car going down to the grottoes, where you can walk a narrow and rather slippery path cut in the white rock, with ‘windows’ and arches offering glimpses of the big blue sea.
A Hike from HaBonim to Dor
Around 18 miles (30 km) south of Haifa is another splendid stretch of coast linking two beautiful beaches. Both are set in gorgeous inlets, not unlike those you’ll find in the Greek Islands. On a hike between the two, you’ll have the waves crashing on one side, and kurkar bluffs (of calcareous sandstone) rising on the other, covered with endemic vegetation. Along the way, you’ll be greeted in the summer by the scent of sea daffodils, and in the fall by the sight of slender Drimia in full bloom. There are also birds and water fowl aplenty, and you’ll definitely want to savor the most beautiful sunsets in Israel and the air of peace and quiet.
Every now and then, stop to pick up shells, splash around in natural pools or take a peek at some of the rock caves. Right before you reach Dor Beach, don’t forget to visit Tel Dor, a fascinating archeological site identified with the Biblical town of Dor. At Dor Beach, there are some offshore sandy islands serving as natural breakers, so the sea is exceptionally calm. At low tide, you can walk almost all the way to the first island, while at high tide you can easily swim there.
Another 30 miles (50 km) to the south, you’ll reach Central Israel, just a skip and a hop north of Tel Aviv. The Sharon area boasts some of the best and well-maintained wide sandy beaches, with lifeguard services, sun loungers and beach umbrellas; but if you’re not one to settle for a tan and dip, you should head to Hof HaSharon Nature Reserve, between the Kibbutzim Gaash and Shefayim.
For some quality food, book a table at Manta Ray Restaurant, towards the southern part of the promenade, not far from Jaffa, where you can sample some excellent seafood (it’s not kosher and certainly not cheap). Early risers can also have breakfast on the restaurant’s alfresco terrace, right by the waterfront at Alma Beach.
At the southern stretch of Mediterranean seashore is Palmachim Beach, one of the last remaining swathes of pristine coast in Israel. It is 5 miles (8 km) long and well worth a hike to enjoy the sand dunes, the flora and the fauna. Just a few years ago, a development plan to build a resort right on the beach was met with a fierce public outcry and opposition from environmentalist groups, thankfully saving this unspoiled stretch of beach.
On a kurkar bluff overlooking the beach, this lovely nature reserve offers three excellent and rather easy walking trails. One of these runs right along the coast, with superb views of the Mediterranean. The reserve is also home to many plant species, including Iris atropurpurea, known to bloom in February. If you keep it quiet, you might encounter one of the deer roaming the area. Entrance is free; allow at least two hour for the visit.
Beach Life in Tel Aviv
Israel’s second largest city hugs the coast along its length, and this is well reflected in Tel Aviv’s character and makeup. Throughout the summer, the beaches are thronged with people, and while a little less crowded at any other time, they are never quite deserted.
Along the waterfront is a beautiful promenade, ideal for walking or cycling. The southbound walk is especially spectacular, with the delightful sight of Old Jaffa looming on the horizon. The promenade is packed with bars, cafes and restaurants, and even if the food leaves something to be desired, nothing beats sitting right on the beach, sipping coffee or chugging a pint, watching people swim and play beach ping pong, a popular Israeli pastime.