Take A Dip: Pools to cool you down on a hot summer day

A number of natural pools and water hikes await around Israel.

The paths of Ein Tina continue to please year after year (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The paths of Ein Tina continue to please year after year
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
At the peak of August’s sweltering heat, long hikes are simply out of the question. The sun’s blazing rays begin to shine early in the morning, meaning even those who consider themselves early birds would not dream of going out for a long walk. However, summer also means school is out and kids need to get outside, so hiking enthusiasts take to searching for water hikes.
So here are a few recommendations for pools that will cool you down on a hot summer’s day.
Nahal Ayun
The lovely Ayun River hike is known mainly for one of its waterfalls, the Tanur (“Oven”) waterfall, but this magical nature reserve holds several pools.
The waterfall pool is, in my eyes, an actual pool, especially as it is easily accessible on hot days, or when you just feel like going on a hike that is short and sweet.
The path to the pool is simple; all you need to do is exit the nature reserve’s southern parking lot and head on over to the waterfall – and same goes for the way back.
However, the pool entrance via the “easy route” prohibits visitors from going into the water, so, it is highly recommended to buckle down and take the long route, in order to enjoy all the wonders that the Ayun River reserve has to offer. But don’t worry, even the long route is relatively short, and you will get to take in the beautiful sights along the way, including local flora and three additional waterfalls. If you decide to take the full route, you will have to start the hike through the reserve’s northern parking lot and walk two kilometers.
If you drove there, the hike will end after you complete the two kilometers. If not, you will have to walk back or catch a ride back with some of the other visitors.
At the beginning of the route, you will notice the safari monument honoring soldiers who died in 1985 on their way back home from Lebanon. After you come across the monument, continue south down the river and you will see the ruins of the Ayun bridge straight away. Down the path, you will come across one of the most beautiful parts of the route, the Ayun waterfall.
The waterfall is about nine meters high, and although you cannot enjoy its pool, the view is stunning.
Then the path goes south toward the Tahana (“Mill”) waterfall, which is twice as high as the Ayun waterfall. Then continue to the next two waterfalls: the Eshed waterfalls. These are composed of an upper and lower waterfall; together they create a staircase- shaped flow. This would be the perfect time to take a dip and cool down, just before continuing to the Tanur waterfall. You will need to take a winding path down to the waterfall, a path that begins at a cemetery for the first settlers of Metulla. Once you reach the bottom of this path, the amazing Tanur waterfall pool awaits you.
Directions: Take route 90 towards Metulla. Just before entering Metulla, there is a sign that reads “Oven Waterfall Parking Lot” – skip this exit, and continue into Metulla towards the Ayun River parking lot.
Ein Tina No matter how many hikes I do up north, I always end up returning to Ein Tina.
The Ein Tina spring is located in the Hula Valley, and its waters seems to flow out of rocky terrain in an impressive stream toward a eucalyptus meadow. The waterfall flows into a pleasant and shaded pool. The most notable part of Ein Tina is the flowing waterfall, which can be reached by climbing the basalt rocks. At the top of the slippery climb, a surprising, and some say disappointing, sight awaits you – for the water flows out of a giant pipe. Beside the pipe, there is a spot where you can bathe overlooking the breathtaking view of the Golan Heights.
The way to Ein Tina is very easy, and begins at the parking lot, through a dirt road that leads to the eucalyptus meadow. The wet part of the hike begins at the meadow. You must enter the pool and begin to cross it. Continue on the marked path, against the spring’s stream. At this point, the water is relatively shallow, and slowly but surely, you will make your way into a more challenging and slippery part of the path – you will even have to climb the basalt rocks to reach the waterfall. The path essentially goes through the waterfall’s flowing water. The water is slightly cold, the flow is relatively strong and the rocks are slippery, but it is worth it. You can come down from the waterfall the same way you went up – i.e., climbing the basalt rocks, or via a dry side route.
Directions: Take a right on Mahanayim Junction toward Route 91. Continue to Gadot Junction and then turn onto Route 918 until you see a dirt road, which you take until you reach the parking lot.
The hidden pool of the Dan River
The Dan River Nature Reserve is one of the most visited in the north of Israel, and rightly so. It is beautiful, well-organized and very visitor-friendly for families.
But outside the nature reserve, there are several charming hidden spots that only a select few experienced hikers are familiar with.
Outside the reserve, the flow of the river is powerful, so bathing in these parts tends to be a bit dangerous – but in other parts of the river there are quasi-pools that were created organically. Having picnics beside them is highly recommended, and so is swimming in them if you don’t mind icy cold water.
If you continue, you will reach one of the most visited pools in the river, the “hidden” pool. Getting there is easy and takes mere minutes. All you need to do is drive into Kibbutz Dan and follow the signs towards the fish pools. The signs lead to a gate at the back of the kibbutz. Once you pass it, you turn left onto a dirt road. After a short drive, the road takes a sharp left turn through entangled shrubs. Continue until you see a series of fields. Turn right onto a wide path before the fields. At the end of the path, there is a red rock with the number 3 on it; that is where you can park.
Then walk towards a red rock with the number 5 on it, and take a right there. After several steps, you will notice a narrow path with lots of shrubs. Take that path and pass a small pool. After that, you will see the hidden pool.
Before you go into the water, check to see how strong the flow of the water is, because the water can be very deep and the flow can be dangerously strong.
Near the hidden pool, there is another pool – the Laguna Pool. This is a large pool about two minutes away. If you want to get to it you must go back to the path and take a left until you encounter another small cranny. The Laguna Pool is very impressive, has multiple rest spots, and is suitable for families with small children.
Directions: Pass Kiryat Shmona and then turn right onto Route 99.
Ein Orha
For those of us who are feeling lazy, and cannot bring ourselves to walk for even five minutes, the Johader pool in the Ein Orha spring is highly recommended.
This is an accessible pool with clean, clear water all year round. The pool is made of basalt rock, and is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees that protect visitors from the blazing sun. Nestled under the trees in the comfortable shade, families can enjoy picnics, relax in the addictive serenity of the Golan, and swim for hours. The pool is suitable for adults and children, and even children who have not mastered swimming, because the pool’s ledges are easy to hold onto.
Directions: Take Route 98 south. Turn right near the monument toward a dirt road – continue to the parking lot near the pool.
The white waterfalls of Beit She’an
The Beit She’an valley attracts many visitors, largely due to its “Spring Park,” which holds many pools that are all family friendly, and a water-filled path that is 400 meters long. But if you are not up to walking around and swimming with swarms of people, there is a highly recommended lovely spot tucked away not far from there. The spot is called the “white waterfalls,” and it is near Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv.
In comparison to the waterfalls of the north of Israel that flow with an abundance of water, these are relatively small, and that is why they can feel crowded if there are many visitors (which rarely occurs). The white waterfalls pour into a natural pool surrounded by trees. This spot is usually occupied by locals who take good care of it and keep it nice and clean. You should do the same.
Directions: If you are coming from Route 90 north, take a right at Ein Hanatziv Junction. About 200 meters later, take a dirt road and drive carefully on it until you reach a point where your car will not be able to pass. Then start walking until you reach an area with little to no shrubbery and walk until you see the waterfall.