When it gets hot and sticky, everyone seems to run straight for one of the only cool places: the beach.The seashore is a great place to enjoy nature in the summer, since the pleasant sea breeze keeps temperatures low even when just a few meters inland it’s boiling.Some Israeli beaches have been granted the special status of “official nature reserve,” due to their unique topography, geological formations and interesting animals and fish. To protect them from fisherman and visitors, reserve officials are on site to ensure these marine areas are protected. One feature that all the marine reserves have in common (excluding Rosh Hanikra) is that they extend inland only up to 2 km.Some of Israel’s most exceptional marine nature reserves include Coral Beach in Eilat, Rosh Hanikra, Yam Galim, Dor-Habonim, Achziv, Apollonia and Palmahim. Each has its own unique character, and all of them are full year-round.Below, I’ve described four of the best beaches to visit in the upcoming hot summer days.Coral Beach Nature Reserve, Eilat Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Israel. Located at the southern tip of Eilat, Coral Beach was declared a marine reserve in 1964 and contains a large number of coral reefs; these reefs are home to a variety of fish and other marine life, such as crabs and other invertebrates.The reserve’s small wading pools are perfect for kids, along with bridges from which you can look out at the reefs and fish that live around them; snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts can also use these bridges as a starting point for their adventures. But even if you prefer just getting your feet wet, there’s still a pretty good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of a sea turtle, sea urchin or even a seahorse in the shallow wading areas thick with seaweed.The reserve is open all year long, but now that the weather has turned warm, it’s more enjoyable to spend time in the cold water.Facilities available in the reserve: Organized parking area, store, showers, bathrooms, beach chairs and sun canopies.Location: Eilat-Taba Road.Price of entry: NIS 21 for children; NIS 35 for adults.
Eilat's Coral Beach Nature Reserve has stunning reefs and an abundance of marine and fish life.(Photo Credit: NATIONAL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)Ashkelon National ParkIf you love visiting archeological sites, Ashkelon National Park is the place for you. The reserve includes a hill covering the ancient Canaanite town, remains of the world’s earliest arch and of course, a lovely beach that is home to a diverse assortment of sea animals and plants. The delightful beach is open all year long and in addition to lounging, there are also a number of trails adjacent to the water. The reserve is well-known for the sea turtles that live there, which were designated an endangered species many years ago. In addition, a few types of birds have made the Ashkelon Reserve a routine resting area along their migration path.During the summer months, people come in droves to enjoy the cool sea water and soft sand, and on weekends some even stay overnight.Facilities available in the reserve: Overnight sleeping (on weekends), lawns, BBQs, picnic tables and water taps.Location: If you’re coming from Ashkelon Intersection, drive along Ben-Gurion Boulevard and turn left onto Ben-Amar Street.Price of entry: NIS 15 for children; NIS 29 for adults.
The beach on the coast of Ashkelon. \(Photo Credit: NATIONAL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)Beit YanaiBeit Yanai is one of the busiest and most popular beaches in the country – and for good reason. Part of the Alexander River Reserve, it includes impressive sand dunes, breathtaking limestone ridges and unique flora and fauna.If you walk along the reserve’s marked trails and climb down in a northerly direction, you’ll be able to see the remnants of an old pier, watch sea turtles nesting and end up at the mouth of the river. During the summer, the most popular outing begins with watching the turtles frolicking in the river, then walking along the path that ends at the beach, where you can wade in the water.If you don’t feel like taking a hike, just hanging out at the amazing beach makes for a wonderful outing.Facilities available in the reserve: Camping area, restaurant, picnic tables with shade canopies, bathrooms, showers and lifeguard services.Location: If you’re coming from Beit Yanai Intersection, take the Coastal Highway.Price of entry: Parking only – NIS 24 to NIS 34 per car.Rosh HanikraRosh Hanikra is the largest marine reserve in Israel. One of the nice things about it is that there is more than one entry point: You can access Rosh Hanikra from Betzet Beach, as well as from Achziv Beach.I recommend using the latter – that way you get to enjoy two lovely beaches; you can go by foot or car from one to another very easily. There’s also a cluster of small islands, namely Nahlieli and Shahaf. Because there is a high cliff that prevents people from getting too close to the islands, many marine animals live on these islands that we don’t normally see so close to the shore or in such shallow water.Despite the area’s ecological richness, Rosh Hanikra is not an ideal place to go swimming. On the other hand, it’s one of the nicest beaches to walk along and enjoy birdwatching.Facilities available in the reserve: None.Location: Between Achziv Beach and Nahariya.Price of entry: Free.Translated by Hannah Hochner.