If you’re visiting Israel anytime between May and October, don’t miss out on going to the beach! Bathing in the warm, clear water of the Mediterranean can easily become the highlight of your visit – and an experience you’re likely to repeat again during your visit.
Safety Tips for Swimming in the Israels Beaches
Whatever you think about its length, the Israeli coast is diverse and offers visitors a multitude of experiences. You can go kayaking, diving with sharks (in season) or in ancient Roman underwater archeological sites.
Some beaches have intricate cave systems while others offer a unique chance of observing sea turtles hatching and running off into the water.
The best way to visit the beach is much simpler. Just come for a few hours, or maybe a day, rent (or bring) a beach chair and a beach parasol and enjoy the sunshine and feel the water.
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During summertime, the water is pleasantly warm. It’s above 29 degrees Celsius (that’s around 85 degrees in Fahrenheit) between July and September which means you’ll enjoy a super pleasant swim. No need to get used to the water temperature – it’s as warm as the air around you!
Born and bred in the coastal town of Netanya, I spent countless memorable days enjoying and playing in the golden sand and the clear blue waters.
I always advise travelers from other countries to spend at least half a day at the beach while they’re visiting Israel. As with most travel experiences, it’s best to be prepared so that you can always be safe while having fun.
6 Beach Tips For Enjoying Israel's Mediterranean Coastline
1. Bathe only in designated swimming beaches
Yes, you can access the water in most areas along the coast but that doesn’t mean you should. The Mediterranean may be warm and seem inviting but looks can be deceiving. Even when the waves are low. Undercurrents can easily drag you away from the shore and may be hard to notice in advance.
Designated beaches usually have some form of rock barrier set up to create safer bathing conditions.
More importantly, they have lifeguards on duty. Lifeguards survey the beach for undercurrents and direct visitors away from danger zones. They also keep an eye on everyone and are there, ready to jump in and rescue bathers who seem to be in distress.
If there’s no lifeguard on duty – stay out of the water. That’s a simple rule that can save your life.
Each city and town along the coastline operates its own designated beaches. Tel Aviv has 13 of them and if you stay in the city, you’ll have a great choice of beaches – all of them with lifeguards on duty during summertime.
2. Know the flag system
When you go to a designated beach, check the lifeguard tower and look for the flag at the top. The flag color system in Israel may be different from the one used in your own country so it’s worth knowing them.
- White flag – All’s well! Get into the water and have fun!
- Red flag – The sea is not safe today but you can still have a swim. Best to stay in the shallow water and keep an eye out for high waves and undercurrents. Also, be prepared to hear the lifeguard shouting on the speakers from time to time.
- Black flag – It’s not safe to swim and you should stay out of the water.
A new flag has been added in recent years. If you see a purple flag in addition to the white/red/black one, it means there are jellyfish in the water. More on those in a bit.
3. Keep an eye on children – at all times
The Mediterranean is often so calm you might think it’s okay to let younger children go in the shallow water without close supervision. You’d be wrong.
Never let kids get into the water on their own. A child can drown even in shallow water and while we don’t have sneak waves in the Mediterranean, undercurrents can and will carry children away from your direct line of vision from the beach.
4. Be sun smart
You can easily get sunburnt just about anywhere in Israel during the summer months so it’s a good idea to use sunscreen on a daily basis during your visit.
Heading out to the beach? The sand and the water can easily reflect the sun’s rays so you should take extra care to avoid the dangerous ultraviolet radiation. This is true for everyone but if you’re fair skinned, it’s even more important for you to be sun smart. The same goes for babies and toddlers. They are much more likely to get sunburnt and when it happens to them – it can be dangerous.
Here’s how –
- Get to the beach early and leave by 10AM and/or arrive after 4PM and stick around until sundown. You’ll avoid the worst of the exposure this way.
- Stay in the shade. Rent a beach parasol/umbrella and try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Dress up. Wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt and generally cover yourself up when out of the water. Use good-quality sunglasses and a wide hat to protect your face.
- Apply sunscreen to every body part that isn’t protected by clothing. Choose a water-resistant one with SPF 30 or higher. Don’t forget to re-apply as indicated on the package.
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5. Stay hydrated
Even on a hot day, there’s usually a pleasant onshore breeze that keeps you relatively cool. The sun and salty water still take their toll though, so make sure to drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.
Designated beaches always have cafes and kiosks where you can buy a cold refreshing drink but they can be expensive so it’s best to bring your own.
6. Watch out for jellyfish in season
Four decades ago, jellyfish were a rare sight along the coast of Israel but that’s changed. In the 1980’s swarms of light blue jellyfish of the type Rhopilema Nomadica (Nomad Jellyfish) invaded the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Experts think they probably came from the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal.
These jellyfish are nasty creatures. While their sting is not lethal, it can be very painful. Unfortunately, they also release transparent stinging cells from their tentacles that can float in the water. That means you could get stung even if you keep your distance from the actual creatures.
We now actually have “jellyfish status reports” in Israel so you can be prepared. Here’s a link to a page in English with the weekly forecast. In addition to that, the lifeguards also monitor the water for jellyfish swarms and fly a purple flag if there’s one in the area.
If you get stung by a jellyfish don’t try to wash the area with fresh water. That can make excess sting cells explode and exacerbate the situation. Ask the lifeguard for help and they should be able to direct you to the nearest first aid station as may be necessary.
Don’t let the risks deter you. Go out and enjoy the wonderful Mediterranean Sea! Just remember to apply these safety guidelines and you’ll be able to add another fun experience to your stay in Israel!