One of the first things that’ll put a smile on your face when you arrive in Tel Aviv is the long stretch of sandy beach that runs parallel with the city. Especially those of you coming from colder climes (I’m originally from the UK and I know just how luscious the UK beaches aren’t).
What’s also quite amazing is the proximity of the city to the beach. Just a step away from the hustle and bustle, you can find yourself suddenly sat opposite the Mediterranean, the gentle lull of the waves tempting you in for a dip. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted in, when I should have been, er, elsewhere.
The long stretch that makes up Tel Aviv beach is actually split into a number of beaches, each with its own sites and sounds and smells (usually coming from restaurant kitchens, fortunately), as well as its own crowd. This list is a quick guide to the best of the beaches in Tel Aviv, starting from the north and working our way southwards. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Tzuk Beach (Hof HaTzuk)
This is the only beach in Tel Aviv that isn’t free (though is free if you have a Tel Aviv ID) but is well worth a look, it probably has the best facilities of all the Tel Aviv beaches. It’s probably become my favorite beach, especially with the kids in tow. It also doesn’t have the breakers helping keep the waves calm that most beaches in Tel Aviv have, so can be an excellent spot for some wave surfing when the winds pick up! It’s only drawback; it’s in the northern part of town and is only really reachable by taxi/car. Great beach – 9/10.
Tel Baruch Beach (Hof Tel Baruch)
This Tel Aviv beach is another one a little too north to reach by foot. But it’s wide, sandy, well looked after and with plenty of parking. Originally famous for its rather nasty looking “working girls” (who still pop up now and again amongst the sand dunes, not that I purposefully look for them…) today it’s a nice family-type beach. With plans for extensive building in the pipeline, we’re not sure how long this beach will stay as is…but we’ll give it an 8/10 for now.
Metzitzim (Hof Metzitzim)
A legend of a beach, largely because of the classic Israeli movie from the 70s of the same name. It’s the most northern of the central strip of beaches and is very popular. There is also a beach bar called Metzitzim on the beach, which is also open for some sunset sipping of drinks. Has quite a cool, youngish crowd and can be the place to be during the hot summer months. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this beach, but we should still give it 8/10 because of its popularity, especially with locals.
Religious Beach (Hof haDati’im)
This beach is just to the south of Metzitzim and caters for the religiously observant. Note that because of this, there are separate days designated for men and women. On Saturdays it becomes just another beach, as the religious don’t come to the beach. During the week it might be a good alternative for women looking for a quiet, male-free zone. We’ll give it a 7.5/10.
Hilton Beach (Hof Hilton)
Close to the Hilton Hotel, the Hilton beach is popular with surfers (yes, Tel Aviv has a community of die-hard surfers that come out whatever the weather, just as long as there are some waves) and kayakers. Don’t be surprised to see a few dogs roaming free. And it is also a very gay friendly area, with a “renowned” park/”rendezvous” point nearby. Not a bad beach, but there’s definitely better – we give it 7.5/10.
Gordon-Frishman Beach (Hof Gordon-Frishman)
This strip of beach is named after Gordon and Frishman Streets, which both exit onto the main beach strip. Also nearby are the legendary Gordon pool and marina that border it from the north. This beach caters for a lot of tourists, as the main strip of hotels on HaYarkon Street is metres away. This beach is as central as it gets in Tel Aviv and can be very busy throughout the summer, whatever the day. We say 8.5/10.
This Tel Aviv beach has over the years become one of the best places to have a sunset drink, and you’ll find a good mix of tourists and Israelis here, especially at the Banana Cafe. Tables and chairs are set out across the beach, with atmospheric lights set out around the tables that bring additional charm in the evenings. Great place to watch the sunset, drink in hand, sand between toes…we say 9/10.
Dolphinarium (Drummers) Beach (Hof HaTofim)
Tel Aviv’s worst looking beach, with the worst facilities. But, what it lacks in looks, it certainly makes up for in charm, especially on Friday afternoons. Every Friday, this beach becomes the meeting point for a whole posse of drummers and performance artists, which is fun and interesting to see. The rhythm’s gonna get you! It certainly has a different atmosphere compared to the other beaches, but could definitely be improved with a nice bar or cafe (though you can always sit at the Bluebird Beach bar, right next door, and which has grown into quite a nice little beach area of its own). We say 6/10 for bathing (head to the next door Bluebird beach for more facilities) and catching some sun, but 8/10 for atmosphere.
Alma Beach (Hof Alma)
The southernmost of Tel Aviv beaches, it probably doesn’t get as many Jewish locals as it should. You’ll find plenty of Arabs from Yafo here, grilling their meats on barbeques just above the beach on a wide area of park (Charles Clor Park). It’s a long stretch of beach and reaches Yafo. There are no lifeguards here, so watch out for the currents, and jellyfish. We’ll give it an 8/10.
There are also a number of beaches known by the name of the street that exits onto the main beach strip, such as Bograshov and Trumpeldor, as well as Jerusalem beach (named in honour of Teddy Kolleck, an ex-Jerusalem mayor). I have fond, fond memories of Trumpeldor beach, a strip of beach once out of bounds of the lifeguards and just that little bit “on the edge”. These days it has its own lifeguard station and is part of the establishment…