TOUR ISRAEL: A romantic getaway in the Carmel

View from hotel in Carmel region (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI AND ASSAF FINCHUK)
View from hotel in Carmel region
This winter began slowly, but overall, a nice amount of rain has fallen so far, helping flowers to bloom and grass to grow abundantly throughout Israel.
One of the most beautiful areas in the country, where you’ll find endless carpets of flowers is the Carmel region. There are lots of hiking and bicycle trails to choose from and the paths along the sea are among the most wonderful places to hike in the country, especially if you find antiquities interesting.
There are so many great attractions in the Carmel region, that if you have the time I recommend staying overnight and spending a full two days in the area. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, I recommend the Nahsholim Seaside Resort. Though it is often extremely crowded with families in the summer, it is perfect for couples looking for a quiet, romantic vacation in the winter. The hotel sits right on the beach and offers lovely walks along the coast.
The hotel sports massive green lawns, and the new Boutique Wing has rooms that overlook the sea. Rooms on the bottom floor come with a private pool, which can still be used in the winter if you wait until the sun is shining directly on the water, or if you don’t mind the cool temperature (the pools are not heated). The Boutique Wing has 24 junior and deluxe suites that can accommodate up to three people. They include a balcony with a wooden deck and beautiful garden furniture, and the rooms have king size beds, large bathrooms and comfortable sitting areas.
When you stay at Nahsholim, you get the best of both worlds: beautiful, untouched nature where you can go on hikes, plus all the pampering of a gorgeous vacation resort.
Even while you’re walking along within the hotel grounds you can stop and rest in one of the hammocks that are sprinkled around the hotel, and eating breakfast with the sea behind you is a real treat. The hotel is offering special deals for the winter season: boutique room, with breakfast included, and a massage for two in the room for NIS 1,500 per couple per night (until February 28).
Tel: Nahsholim Seaside Resort (04) 639-9533.
Tel Dor
Not far from the hotel, guests will find a number of attractions, such as jeep rides, horseback riding and even paragliding. If you’re looking for a free outing, I recommend taking a walk along the coast, where you’ll find many interesting discoveries, including breathtaking views and ancient artifacts. If you stop at Tel Dor, an open archeological site, you can climb up and look out at the entire bay below you. You can go with a guided tour (booking available through hotel) or on your own. Make sure to ask about the special nighttime guided lantern tours. This is an incredibly unique and fun experience for couples and families (can also be booked at hotel).
Carmel Park
Of course, you can also go hiking in the Carmel Park, which is spread out over more than 8,000 hectares.
There you can find lots of nice places that are perfect for having a picnic, as well as great walking trails, such as Nahal Me’arot, Nahal Kelah, Nahal Galim and Nahal Nadar. If you are an animal lover, I recommend stopping off at the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, where you can see roe deer, eagles, and wild sheep and goats.
Havayat Harochvim
If you’re looking for a more challenging activity, you can drive a little farther on to reach Havayat Harochvim in Beit Oron, where you’ll find horseback riding, Tomcars and mountain bikes.
Tel: Beit Oron 077-230-6340.
Amphorae Winery
Romantic getaways are always much more fun when wine is involved, so I recommend visiting Amphorae Winery. The winery got started in 2000, when Guy Rylov and winemaker Gil Shatzberg began growing grapes and producing wine at the Makura Farm, located in the Western Galilee. A few years later, after their customer list had grown a bit, they moved their operations to a stone building in Kerem Maharal. Then, when the winery had been active for eight years, the Dubov family fell in love with their wine and the place and bought the winery. Since then, the wine has only improved, and in 2016 winemaker Ma’ayan Kushitzki joined their team.
The winery’s main building and visitor center sits in the middle of nature, with a quaint little courtyard in front. The impressive building, originally built for the winery, has lots of personality. Guests are welcome to join guided tours and wine tastings, and if you go down into the cavern, you can see where the wine is being aged.
Basic tour: NIS 100.
Tour with snacks: NIS 130.
Tel: 077-230-6324
Bustan Tom
If you have a little time after your stop at Amphorae Winery, it’s definitely worth your while to visit Bustan Tom, which is also located in the Makura Farm.
Bustan Tom is an experiential learning center that teaches about the connection between people and nature, and about the importance of preserving our environment. The center was named for Tom Farkash, an Israel Air Force pilot who was killed in the Second Lebanon War. The idea behind the project was to create a place that would engage people in ecological activity and thinking.
Visitors can pass through each of the stations, where they’ll learn firsthand about organic wine production, composting, biological pest control, how oil was made in ancient olive presses and how plants are grown in greenhouses.
Directions: Drive on Route 4 toward Kerem Maharal- Ofer.
Tel: 054-643-0605.
Location: The Carmel region Type: Romantic getaway Level of difficulty: Easy Length of trip: Overnight Directions: Drive north from Fureidis Intersection.
Turn left into Kibbutz Nahsholim and Moshav Dor. Drive straight for two kilometers, cross over the train tracks, enter the gate and follow signs for the hotel.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.