What happens when you take two beautiful beaches, one ancient settlement and one archaeological museum and put them all together? You get a fabulous family day trip, that’s what
You’ve been to the ancient ruins in Caesarea. You’ve tasted wine and roamed the parks in Zikhron Yaakov. If you’re worried that that’s all the coastal region has to offer, relax. We’ve got you covered with a family-friendly coastal day trip that has everything: beaches, history and archeology.
Bring your bathing suits, comfortable shoes and a packed lunch, and be prepared for a full day of discovery in one of Israel’s most beautiful coastal reserves.
Dor Beach: islands, birds and an ancient port
We will start off at the southern end of Dor Habonim Nature Reserve. Take route 4 to Nahsholim junction, and head west on route 7011. You will pass over route 2, driving through agricultural lands, and should arrive at the Dor Holiday Village within five minutes.
The beach itself is a delightful place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean. In summer, you must pay to enter, but it is well worth it. Bathing is happily permitted, and dogs are welcome. Make sure to adhere to the opening hours – it is, after all, a nature reserve.
Looking out into the horizon, your eyes will be drawn to the four small islands peering out of the water. Three of these sandstone peaks can be reached by expert swimmers (although this is highly discouraged); the fourth, Hofmi, is off limits for human visitors, so as not to disturb the local inhabitants: aquatic birds that had made it their home.
On the shore, an abandoned building from the Ottoman era attests to the history of the area. This is one of the only remaining structures from the old Arab village, Tantura, which was abandoned following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Entry is prohibited, but the view from outside is captivating.
Some 500 meters north lies Tel Dor, an ancient settlement, the history of which dates to the Middle Bronze Age. For centuries, Tel Dor has played a crucial role as a port for goods coming into and leaving the country. In fact, it was one of the very few natural harbors in the Levant. The shallow water and nature of the rock makes it a perfect habitat for various types of algae, sea slugs, crabs and small fish.
The Mizgaga Museum: archaeology and glass
You can now take a short break from the beach and pop over to the Mizgaga Museum, a museum of archaeology and glass. The museum is housed in a stone building dating back to 1891, a structure originally built by Baron Edmund De Rothschild and used as a wine bottle factory. Today, it is home to the multitude of archaeological artifacts that were uncovered during the digs in Tel Dor. The underwater experience is not to be missed – a room designed to emulate the ocean floor. Also on display are contemporary works by art students.
Habonim Beach: rocks, inlets and caves
After the Mizgaga, head back to the beach and continue following the coastline. Two marked trails pass through the nature reserve. The red trail leads from Kibbutz Nahsholim, near Dor Beach, to Habonim Beach; the green trail is a scenic, circular route.
Along the way to Habonim Beach you will encounter a rich tapestry of rock formations, inlets and naturally formed caves. The most famous of these caves is the Blue Cave, so named for the majestic blue hues of the water seen from within its hollow walls. The nearby seashell inlet is another lovely location to visit, but please refrain from collecting the shells.
Keen-eyed observers will be able to identify the remains of a sunken cargo ship, not too far out in the sea. At the end of the trail you will reach the lovely sheltered beach where you can spend many happy hours bathing, sun tanning and walking around the beautiful area.