The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), awarded the coveted Blue Flag for environmental excellence to 21 Tel Aviv beaches.
(Israel Ministry of Tourism)
Israeli beaches officially opened this month with lifeguards back on duty through October, as Israelis and tourists alike flock to the white sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast. USA TODAY recently named Tel Aviv as the world’s best beach party destination in a new list created by Matador Travel Network. The list ranks Tel Aviv ahead of travel destinations including Cape Town, Los Angeles and Barcelona.
In addition, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), awarded the coveted Blue Flag for environmental excellence to 21 Tel Aviv beaches and two marinas – double the number that was awarded in 2013. The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3850 beaches and marinas in 48 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. In Israel, the winning beaches are selected on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education, through local NGO EcoOcean.
The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with Water Quality, Environmental Education and Information, Environmental Management, and Safety and Other Services.
Tel Aviv beaches (Copyright: Israel Ministry of Tourism)
The 21 chosen beaches include Hukuk Beach on Lake Kinneret; Dado in Haifa; Chanz, Onot, Amfy, Herzl, Sironit North, Sironit South, Lagoon-Argaman and Poleg beaches in Netanya; Metzizim and Jerusalem beaches in Tel Aviv; HaKachol Beach in Rishon Lezion; Mei Ami, Oranim, Lido, Kshatot, Yod Alef, Riveria and the separate swimming beaches in Ashdod; and Hash’hafim Beach in Eilat. The Herzeliya and Tel Aviv marinas were also awarded the Blue Flag.
Over 8.5 million beach goers – tourists and locals – enjoy the 13 beaches along Tel Aviv-Yafo’s 8.7 mile stretch of coastline. Four beaches are accessible to people with disabilities: Tzuk, Northern Tzuk, Metzizim and Hilton (all in the northern part of the city). The beaches are equipped with lounge chairs, restaurants, outdoor gyms, children’s playgrounds, beach library, free WiFi, changing rooms, showers and toilets. The promenade buzzes with life, as walkers, joggers, cyclists and those just out for a stroll take in the sea breeze, the local entertainment and the views. Dozens of restaurants, cafes, and ice cream parlors line the beach and promenade, while pubs, discos and jazz clubs blossom after dark. Lifeguard services are available from May-October and tourist police officers patrol the area.
Each beach has its own character. On Friday afternoons at the Dolphinarium beach is home to an improvised drumming festival and capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts/dance/music combination. Gordon beach is renowned for beach volleyball. The religiously observant will find gender-specific swimming at Hof Hadatiyim (Nordau Beach), just south of the Tel Aviv port. Women and girls bathe Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday while men and boys are allowed in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Members of both genders are allowed on Saturday. The gay-lesbian community tends to gravitate to the stretch near the Hilton, which has earned the unofficial title as the city’s most gay-friendly beach.
At almost every beach, you will find people playing matkot, the Israeli version racquetball, with a more competitive game played on the promenade under the Herod’s Hotel. This is also the place to catch Israeli folk-dancing on Saturdays.
The narrow strip of sand near the Marina is less crowded and more peaceful than the other beaches; at the yacht basin, you can rent windsurfers, surfboards, sailboats, motorboats and diving equipment. Surfing is popular at Hilton Beach, where a special light system was recently installed to allow for night surfing. Kite Surfing is popular at Aviv Beach.