Let’s hit the beach!

Israel is home to a multitude of fantastic beaches. Here are five of my favorites.

Alma beach between Tel Aviv and Jaffa attracts an eclectic crowd of locals and tourists (photo credit: HADAR YAHAV)
Alma beach between Tel Aviv and Jaffa attracts an eclectic crowd of locals and tourists
(photo credit: HADAR YAHAV)
The burning sun and heavy humidity can be a deterrent for some people who generally love to hike, but not in hot summer weather. As a result, many choose to spend the day at the beach in the cool seawater instead.
Although most people have a favorite beach they go to all the time, others love the adventure of packing their cars to the gills and setting out in search of the perfect beach.
So which beaches are the best? Here are my favorite five.
Achziv Beach
The Achziv National Park and Beach charming nature reserve is no exception. The charming nature reserve has succeeded in naturally blending an authentic beach where lifeguards watch over swimmers with a breathtaking archeological site. The sand is remininscent of the pristine beaches found in Sinai.
Even from far away you can see the beautiful blue water, and as you enter deeper and deeper, the more hues of blue you will discover. If you search you will discover natural coves and small lagoons, where couples escape in search of quiet spots secluded from the busy world.
The parking area is well-organized and just after the entrance you will find bathrooms, showers and a busy snack bar. All along the beach are shaded spots where you can lay your towels, but most people bring their own tents and umbrellas – along with everything else they might need for sleeping under the stars.
If you plan on sleeping at Achziv over the weekend, it’s best to set up your tent a bit further down the beach where it is a little quieter.
To reach Achziv Beach, drive north on Road 2 towards Nahariya and Rosh Hanikra. There is an entrance fee.
Dor-Habonim Beach
Another gorgeous beach that’s even more popular since it’s closer to the Center is Dor-Habonim Beach. This beach is also located within a nature reserve and split into two separate sites: Habonim Beach on the north side, and Dor Beach on the south.
Both beaches are home to countless nooks and crannies, coves and caves, and small islands you can swim out to in search of treasures and animals. The hills next to the beach are made of yellow limestone, behind which another beach is hiding that can be only be reached by walking along a narrow dirt trail.
There is an organized parking area, as well as showers near the entrance. But in my opinion, the isolated beaches are the real attraction, since you feel like you’re on an island in the middle of nowhere, far from the noise and hustle and bustle of the regular, more crowded beaches.
In addition to lazing on the beach and swimming in the water, Dor-Habonim also offers trails (both circular and linear) that twist through the nature reserve. One of them leads hikers to the Blue Grotto, where you can see the blue seawater through a crack in the gravel.
To reach Dor-Habonim Beach, drive north on Road 4, turn left at Fureidis Junction, and then take another left at the sign for the beach. There is an entrance fee.
Alma Beach
On a long, narrow strip of land that connects Tel Aviv to Jaffa, near Charles Clore Park, lies the beautiful Alma Beach. Just below the popular seafood restaurant Manta Ray, the beach attracts an eclectic crowd: old-timers from Tel Aviv, French tourists and hipsters. An endless stream of couples stroll along the new boardwalk just above it.
Just below the sidewalk on the sand you’ll find cover from the sun, but if you walk a bit southward, you will find a less crowded, quiet area that is perfect for visitors looking to relax.
There’s no lifeguard at Alma, so most of the people hanging out in the water are young people and surfers. Matkot (paddle ball) players, of course, are abundant. Because of its proximity to Jaffa, Arab children often appear on the sand, selling traditional Arab foods. Since there is no snack bar at the beach, it’s best to come prepared with your own food and drink.
To get to Alma Beach, drive south on Tel Aviv’s Herbert Samuel Street. Entrance is free.
Palmachim Beach
A few kilometers south of Tel Aviv, between Rishon Lezion and Ashdod, lies one of the most naturally beautiful beaches in all of Israel.
Palmachim Beach, named after the kibbutz it borders, is part of a nature reserve that stretches over 22 hectares (55 acres). A variety of animals such as tortoises, as well as unique plants can be found there. In its southern section lie the remains of an ancient port city. In contrast with other reserves, Palmachim Beach is highly regulated and easily accessible.
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and get information about the site at the visitor’s center. In addition to lounging on the beach or frolicking in the water, you can also go for a walk along the dirt path that winds between the sand dunes reaching all the way to the Sorek River.
To reach Palmachim Beach, drive along road 4311 that leaves from Rishon Lezion. There is an entrance fee.
Nitzanim Beach
About 50 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, between Ashdod and Ashkelon, lies Nitzanim Beach, known mainly for its impressive sand dunes. The gigantic dunes spread over an enormous area, and even come close to the water in a few spots. Adults and children can therefore enjoy a double attraction: swimming and sand surfing.
Popularly known as Banana Beach, the lovely and well-maintained Nitzanim is perfect for people looking to get away from the Center’s more crowded beaches. Wooden pergolas offer great protection from the harsh sun, and there is also a restaurant on location.
And anyone who’s looking for a great place to go camping will be happy to know there’s an entire area that was set up expressly for people who want to sleep there overnight in tents.
To reach Nitzanim Beach, drive to Eshkolot Intersection on Road 4 and follow the signs to the beach. There is an entrance fee.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.