Now’s your chance to experience an authentic Israeli summer by exploring Israel’s off-the-beaten-track water trails and natural springs
If you’re planning to exploring Israel this summer, you’re not alone! Israelis across the country are already enjoying their hofesh gadol or summer break, and traveling across the country in search of the best natural springs to get a reprieve from the hot summer temps. Whether you are ready to boldly make a splash in the water or simply take a relaxing dip, here are the places you need to visit to swim like a sabra.
While the beaches of Tel Aviv are world-renowned, Israel has many miles of coastline less frequented by tourists which offer the same incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. Not too far from Tel Aviv, Hof Dor or Dor Beach is one of those places every Israeli remembers from their childhood summer vacations.
The Dor HaBonim Beach Nature Reserve has more bays and inlets than any other beach in Israel, giving Dor Beach its exquisite coastline of shallow bright blue waters. Israelis spend days, sometimes weeks, at Dor Beach, living on its shores, often setting up a “Zula”, the Israeli slang for a hang-out campsite. Find a quiet spot on the beach, or join an organized Zula that offers full accommodations – a bed, beach gear, and food, for that relaxing beach vacation. Or, just take a dip in the crystal clear waters.
For the more adventurous Israeli, a visit to Nahal HaKibbutzim, a hiking trail through the natural springs of the Spring Valley Park, located in Israel’s Beit Shean valley, is a must. The trail includes walks through shallow waters, and man-made water slides, towards a deep river. At that point, hiking turns into swimming, and you must swim across the river to reach the hike’s end.
For non-swimmers, or families with young kids, there is a dry trail option with bridges and places to dip your feet in shallow waters to cool off. Plus there’s a great picnic area nearby to enjoy a mangal, or bbq, for dinner with your fellow trail trekkers!
Ein Lavan to Ein Hania
Right on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s city center are two swimming holes just a short distance from one another, Ein Lavan and Ein Hania, where locals, especially children, like to spend their summer days. It’s a small hike to Ein Lavan from Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo. The reward for the hike, however, is a large pool of cold freshwater which awaits hikers to jump in and cool off.
A well-marked trail from Ein Lavan, dotted with fig and pomegranate trees, reaches the entrance of Ein Hania. A small fee grants you entrance, where you are instantly met with ancient building sites dating back to the First Temple, Roman, and Byzantine eras. You can take a swim in Ein Hania’s largest body of water, or continue to explore through the ancient water channels to reach its hidden pools.
Eilat’s Vanishing Lake
Eilat is a highly visited city with beaches, hotels, and many sea activities. But do yourself a favor and take a day away from the crowds to visit the Negev’s (South of Israel) Agam Hane’elam or “Vanishing Lake”, created The Ga’aton Lake is a lake that was created by the run-off of water from abandoned copper mines.
Its location is still less known to the public, but Waze can bring you to “Ain Yaqoub Quarry”, which is the closest you can get to the lake by car. Follow the dusty pathway that seems restricted (and there are some signs indicating it is) for about 15 minutes. Soon you will be met by other adventure seekers swimming in the lake’s glistening turquoise waters.
The Jordan River
From groups of yeshiva boys BBQing and swinging from ropes into the water, to Arab families gathering together in nature to join in Iftar after their daily fast, the Jordan River serves as a place to meet with friends and family, especially during the summer.
Night on the banks of the Jordan River is usually accompanied by a medura or bonfire, followed by camping out under the stars. The next morning, enjoy a swim in the cool river water or bring a tube to enjoy a lazy river ride. You can rent kayaks and rafts in the area, or access the river rapids for a more adventurous activity.
Israel has many sites besides the Mediterranean Sea to swim and cool off during Israel’s hot summer days. Join locals and Israelis in exploring and experiencing swimming around the country.