“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to,” goes the 1994 song by the American band TLC. In Israel, there is no shortage of waterfalls, rivers and lakes to take a break from the summer heat, and you won’t be used to any of them. With the country often closely associated with the desert, visitors are constantly surprised at the abundance of activities, relaxed and adrenalin-filled, for both solo travelers and the entire family. Here, we take a look at some favorite watery pastimes that will add to the vacation you need and deserve.
Go Chase the Waterfalls in North
The biggest waterfall in Israel is the roaring Banias Waterfall, situated in the upper Golan in northern Israel, between the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon. Located in the Banias Nature Reserve, walk the trails, exploring ancient Greek and Roman ruins, before cooling off in the gushing springs, shaded crystal-clear streams and under a thunderous waterfall emptying into a deep pool, which makes this one of the most beautiful – and popular – nature spots in the country.
If you are looking to cool off, look no further than the enormous Yehudiya Nature Reserve, the largest reserve in the Golan, the heart of which is the Yehudiya forest. Among the many cool streams to wade through, there is the iconic Meshushim, a natural gem and one of the Golan’s most unexpected attractions. Formed by flowing streams of molten lava, this large Hexagon Pool is surrounded by a cliff made up of many hexagonal basalt pillars. Take a refreshing dip and soak up the most sublime views of deep canyons and bubbling waterfalls in an area teeming with gazelles and (potentially) wild boar.
Take me to the River
While the Mediterranean Sea offers the chance to surf, paddleboard, jetski and more, there are few experiences that get the pulse racing and makes you feel young at heart than kayaking down the river, past banks of natural greenery, feeling the cool refreshing waters.
Among the best sites are Kfar Blum and HaGoshrim. Widely recognized as one of the original sites for kayaking in Israel, Kfar Blum is a kibbutz in the Hula Valley that has been professionally offering unforgettable kayak trips for more than 30 years. Whether 5 or 65 years old, you will enjoy the ‘standard’ or ‘long’ routes that take you on a mystical river adventure, down the Hatzbani and Banias streams, later merging with the Banias stream to create the River Jordan. If you have any energy left, try the Adventure Park, where the grand finale is a 300 feet long zip-line into the River Jordan. At HaGoshrim, enjoy the sights and sounds of the songbirds and wild animals that call this home as you float down the streams with your friends and family.
Jesus may have walked on water in the Sea of Galilee but at nearby Aqua Kef, you can walk, jump, climb, swim and more – as this floating water park provides a hugely memorable experience. Situated at Ganim Beach in the Sea of Galilee, the exciting first-of-its-kind park attracts families and groups of friends, who can choose between The Children’s Park, The Family Park and The Challenging Park – each one offering an array of water slides, trampolines, bridges, climbing walls and obstacles. Don’t forget to try The Olympic Park, consisting of eight sports fields – with all the games played in the water!
Never be Board in the City
In fact, water sports are everywhere, with the entire Mediterranean Coast offering some of the best surfing spots all year round. Since the first surfboard was brought to Israel
by a Californian doctor in the 1950’s, Israeli has embraced surfing. From April onwards, the sun-kissed beaches right in front of the Dan Tel Aviv, and by the Dolphinarium Beach, near the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv, are packed with locals riding some of the best waves as the sun goes down, while the beaches further north, in Herzliya and Haifa, are also highly recommended, with visitors renting boards or take lessons at many of the surf schools dotted around. While surfing is relatively established, you can also become part of the newish craze sweeping the country – stand up paddleboarding, or SUP. With access to the Med, Red and Dead Seas, there are a number of excellent local clubs to learn from, with the professional EDEN Surf School on Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Beach, and Haifa’s Kahuna Surf Club among the favorites to teach students of all ages and levels how to master the board and enjoy the sea.
If it is the floating experience you are desperate for, there is nothing that tops the Dead Sea. Take a short trip early in the morning from any of the four luxurious Dan Hotels in Jerusalem to savor the lowest place on earth. Take a dip and ease into the healing and reinvigorating waters of the Dead Sea, packed with minerals and high-quality mud to alleviate the most troublesome of ailments and relax your soul. When caked in mud, take that selfie and post to Instagram. A Dead Sea tradition.
While you won’t find any fish in the magical waters of the Dead Sea, the coral reefs around the southern city of Eilat have been among the best sites for diving and snorkeling for many years. Both novice and expert divers and snorkelers can relax at the Dan Eilat and Dan Panorama Eilat before heading out to explore the shimmering crystal blue waters of the Red Sea, this technicolor world described by Dive Magazine as having some of the best diving locations in the world.
Whichever activity you decide to try, there is plenty to whet your appetite in Israel. Just remember to take a towel.