By: Ronit Svirsky
The Western Galilee coastline is one of the most beautiful coasts in Israel. From soft, golden, sandy seashores it turns into a rocky cove which waves crash upon with might and splatter to each and every direction. In the early morning you can see fishermen with their rods and hooks in the water waiting for fish. As the sun settles high in the sky bathers arrive to sit under sunshades and let the warmth caress their body. Towards sunset, embraced couples stroll along the water line, until the final rays are swallowed by the waves.
At the foot of the Elephant Legs
Rosh Hanikra shore combines soft, golden sand with rocks that rise from the water. You can stroll barefoot for hours among fishermen and water birds, take the train along the shore to Rosh Hanikra, or find quiet corners of solitude looking at the sunset, sitting on rocks immersing your feet in cool water. The beach is indented with lagoons; the cliffs are dotted with spectacular caves and rocky crevices. The impressive Elephant legs of Rosh Hanikra site are used as a dramatic setting, and in the background you can spot the Dabur navy ships watching over the border. Families can spread a blanket, stick a sunshade in the soft sand and have a picnic.
Betzet Beach is located south of Rosh Hanikra. It is a sandy beach with small islands in front of it which it connects Achziv Beach and Rosh Hanikra. The Islands facing it are called Shahaf, Nahlieli and Tchelet and they are a part of the Rosh Hanikra Natur Reserve so you may observe them only from afar. South to them there is a sandy shore that combines sand and rocks, and it is a favorable location for the fishermen of the north. From early morning they stand facing the waves casting fish baits. The shoreline continues till it reaches the Achziv Beach National Park, where you can find an antiquities museum.
Achziv beach has not yet suffered the full blow of urbanization. It has rare geological phenomena, lagoons, rocky crevices and spectacular caves. A picnic on the shore allows you to gaze upon the sea waves, along the indented shoreline, and to observe the Mastic tree and the Carobs, which the wind molded to a miniature size, as well as watch the bloom of the Wavyleaf sea-lavender. You can also see Rock Pigeons and Swifts nesting in the crevices. Near the water there are Sternas and water birds collecting food from a puddle. A walk on the seashore in Achziv Beach will leave your foot prints in the wet sand. You can also visit the crusader fortress and the ruined iron tracks that connected Beirut and Tel Aviv.
Nearby there are also the Achziv National Park, Nahal Hanita Reserve, Hanita museum, Keshet cave and Goren Park.
For a minute there, it seems we have arrived to one of Sinai's beaches with the bungalows, palms and golden sand. Banana Beach shore has its tranquil desert charm despite being near the northern border. A wall-less café, couches made for sprawling, wild-west style drinks bar and a blue sea background that stretches uninterrupted to the far horizon.
Young people and families with youngsters find in this beach the replacement of an unlimited vacation. The children are free to run around on the water edge, the adults sit comfortably in the café, and the bungalows make a cheap solution for a long summer vacation. There are bungalows fitted for families, or couples, camping sites and tents you can mount by yourself. Each bungalow has a small sitting corner in the front, suitable for family meals. Communal toilets and showers, refrigerators, barbeque sections and amusement devices. A night in the tents costs 50NIS per person, a couple's bungalow costs 300-400 NIS, family bungalow 500-600 NIS, day camping is 30 NIS per person. Tel. 04-9827788
The boardwalk of Nahariya stretches along a long shore, that parts of it are rocky and others sandy. You can walk along it from Shavei Zion to Banana Beach or take the Cities Train that operates mid-week from 17.00 to 22.00. A unique attraction that has developed in Nahariya, are romantic trips in an open horse carriage driven by a driver with a tie.
Rosh Hanikra Kayaks
The romantic shore and impressive crevice rocks of Rosh Hanikra site are an opportunity for some sea activity. For this purpose Rosh Hanikra Kayaks was created. The Sea Center was established in 1969 by a peddler as complementary education center for the kids of the Kibbutzim in the area. Along the years the center has become a tourism attraction in the different sailing fields, beach tours, snorkeling and group activities. Nowadays the institute is managed by Udi Edelman, a biologist with Masters Degree in Sea Science who is also a certified sailing coach.
Along side him, stands Ayala Leshar Harel, certified Kayaks instructor and extreme sports guide. When the sea is calm and the waves caress the sand, the sailing becomes a magical trip on the way to the grottos. To those who love action, it is recommended to arrive on days the waves break upon the shore. When you row in front of big waves, you need to be prepared for a physical effort and lovingly accept the splashing waves all around you. A couple, who is seeking a moment of quiet romance, will find it in a cruise to the foot of the Elephant Legs in Rosh Hanikra. You enter the grottos with the boats, in between rocks that had been dug in by the water over millions of years creating vaulted ceilings and depressions in the white chalk. Before going on the cruise you receive instructions and explanations about the sea and the manner of the rowing, and later you go on an hour and a half cruise.
The rowing is suitable for ages 10 to 70 and it takes place between April and November when the sea conditions allow it. For up to 3 rowers the price is 250NIS. From the forth rower up, it is 75 NIS per person. Tel. 052-3798610
Sea Track was established by Danny Birnbaum in an old Arab house near Achziv Beach 35 years ago. It was the first scuba diving club in the North and it evolved into Jeep tracks, Tornado boats' sailing and herbs and spices workshops. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of cruising in a Tornado boat. All the explanations become foam, wave, and clouds as the skipper pushes the accelerator. Everything starts very calm. You climb on the boat, wrapped with yellow lifeguard vests, the sea is blue, the landscape is spectacular and the boat sails peacefully across the waves. The moment the roar of the engine starts your stomach sticks to your tonsils and does not show itself again until you arrive back to shore. Most of the time, the boat is hovering, as it incessantly lands on the waves that pass underneath it with a kind of rhythmic blows. The truth is, it takes several minutes to get used to the idea, and at that point you start looking around you as the shoreline reveals itself in all its glory. You watch Achziv Beach, the gulfs, the rocks and you can see the Lebanon border. You reach to the edge of the islands Shahaf, Nahlieli and Tchelet and you observe the water birds nesting on its rocks. From there you carry on towards the Elephant Legs of the Rosh Pina site and enter in between the grottos. The boat is silent, the massive rocks are scattered along the Rosh and only the sound of the waves shattering on the cliffs breaks the silence. The cruise takes about half an hour. 70NIS per person, up to 10 people in a boat, only when arranged in advance. Tel. 04-9823671