A day at the beach is one of the highlights of summer for children and their parents. With 140 beaches boasting plenty of sand for digging, along with calm surf, warm water temperatures and strong breezes for kite-flying, Israel is perfect for a sunny family day at the shore.
The best beaches for children must be clean, safe and accessible with plenty of restrooms and places to buy food and drinks. Israeli parents also prefer beaches that are free from the dangers of matkot (Israeli beach paddleball) and jellyfish.
Luckily, the last couple of summers have seen purple “meduza” flags alerting visitors to jellyfish close to the beach. Sadly, no such system exists for matkot alerts.
Nevertheless, with the expertise of tour guide Avi Abrams and the Ministry of Tourism, we’ve compiled a list of these sandy gems suitable for the whole family.
Palmahim checks all the boxes. Located 12 miles south of Tel Aviv near Rishon LeZion, it’s close enough to Tel Aviv without any of the heady madness of Tel Aviv beaches.
A gorgeous stretch of beach that is framed by steep cliffs and a national park, Palmahim is one of the only seashores that has remained virtually untouched. The beach has only one lifeguard but there are showers, toilets, sunshades, picnic tables and a first-aid clinic during the summers.
You can even charge your phone in the lockers fitted with a USB port. There’s also a delightful dairy restaurant and plenty of parking. Finally, don’t bother schlepping the kiddie pool with you, because over the centuries the cliff rock has formed dozens of tiny natural pools.
Nestled behind Tel Dor National Park near Zichron Ya’akov, Habonim is another picturesque seashore. With more bays, coves and inlets than any other beach in Israel, it makes for ideal toddler paddling. The sea in those areas is shallow and has almost zero surf. Just don’t venture out too far because there can be undertows and there aren’t any lifeguards. The northern part of the beach has toilets, showers and a snack bar.
There are also two family-friendly nature trails in the area; the first is an hour long and passes through aqueducts and a dam while the second is double the length and runs along the Tninim estuary until it reaches the sea.
More adventurous families can pitch a tent and camp on the beach overnight. Teens can skydive or paraglide from the beach. The nearby Dor Beach boasts a genuine shipwreck just off the shore and a lagoon called the “Blue Cave.”
Conjure up joyful images of children splashing in the surf and the Dead Sea doesn’t exactly strike a chord as an ideal fit. But there is plenty to do without siblings splashing each other with salty water.
A new four-kilometer promenade gives visitors full access to wide, sandy beaches, equipped with loungers, showers, canopies, sports equipment and playgrounds. There are special deals for families to take a Segway tour along the promenade. You can even push a stroller right up to the water’s edge.
The Sea of Galilee – in actual fact a large lake – has some great family-oriented beaches. Whereas they used to attract adolescent Israelis singing tone-deaf karaoke, many of them now prohibit loud music and have become perfect getaway spots.
The kilometer-long Tze’elon Beach is the lake’s largest and boasts glorious shady groves and vegetation and flora unique to the area. There are plenty of lawns, picnic areas, water fountains, parasols, toilets, showers and a power station for charging phones.
The majestic Achziv Beach lies about 5 kilometers north of Nahariya. Offering so much more than sandcastles and ices, this beach is a must for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers. Round up the kids for a scavenger hunt and you’ll discover no end of treasures, from glittering stones to extraordinary shells to the sea anemones, urchins and baby octopi hiding between the rocks.
During the summer months, turtles lay their eggs on the beach. The wild strip of coast is dotted with tiny pools and turquoise lagoons. Achziv’s Banana Beach area has plenty of facilities and green lawns for lazing, picnicking or camping.
This beach attracts a motley assemblage of hippies, families and windsurfers. Only 40 minutes north of Tel Aviv, Michmoret offers ample, inexpensive all-day parking and a restaurant. The dunes at Michmoret turn dramatic shades of orange, pink and red as the sun begins dipping below the horizon. The natural bays mean the sea is calm.
On Saturdays, there are recreational areas set up for children to get creative with arts and crafts. You’ll invariably encounter some sort of competition being held at Michmoret, be it a kite-flying contest or sandcastle building. Forgot your bucket and spade? No problem; the kiosk on the beach sells them along with floaties (water wings) and inflatable rings.
Shiver-me-timbers with Ashdod’s latest attraction, an epic pirate park that opened last year in the city’s northernmost Mei Ami beach. A giant pirate ship that has 35-meter slides and a climbing pyramid, this is a playground with a twist and offers all-day fun both in an out the water.
The beach itself is one of only 21 in the country to boast the international Blue Flag, an eco-label awarded to thousands of beaches worldwide that adhere to strict guidelines pertaining to water quality, safety and environmental awareness.
HaTzuk (Cliff) Beach
A list of best beaches would be remiss if it didn’t include at least one from Israel’s most famous beach city, Tel Aviv. A favorite among locals and tourists, Cliff Beach – commonly known as Hatzuk – is the city’s northernmost stretch of coast that meets Herzliya.
The beach is easily Tel Aviv’s cleanest and best maintained, in part thanks to its now-obsolete entrance fee. Families come to Hatzuk for the green lawns, seaside café, playgrounds and abundance of shady straw shelters. Older kids can partake in beach volleyball or even kitesurfing.