As a coastal city it is no surprise that life in Tel Aviv is in many ways centred on the beach. Locals love to spend their free time hanging out by the sea, whether they are strolling along the promenade, going for a run, sun bathing, swimming or enjoying any of the many water sports that are available.
There is close to 200km of Mediterranean coastline in Israel and while Tel Aviv only occupies a portion of that (14km) it is still home to numerous spectacular beaches. So much so that National Geographic once rated Tel Aviv as the ninth best beach city in the world.
In recent times the Banana Beach has become one of the most popular beaches in Tel Aviv. It is located on the southernmost edge near Jaffa and it is a great place to relax on a Friday evening. It has become somewhat of a hippie bohemian hangout and you will find young people gathering at sunset to sing, dance and relax after a hard week. The rest of the time it is a lovely quiet place and the Banana Beach café on the sand screens films and sports events in the evenings for free. Banana Beach is just a 10 minute walk from the Aardvark apartments.
At the other end of the city’s coastline is the Metzitzim Beach. This overlooks the S’de Dov airfield and until recently it was known as the Sheraton Beach. The beach attracts a mixed crowd ranging from the young to the old and families. The water is calm and warm thanks to a manmade lagoon and there is a café-restaurant and playground there.
Slightly further north, almost in Herzliya, is Hof HaZuk North, also known as Mandarin Beach. This is one of the cleanest and best kept beaches in Tel Aviv. There are neat lawns, benches above the beach, excellent facilities for showers and changing. The beach also has some lovely walking paths and for the fitness fanatics an outdoor gym. However, it is one of the few beaches to charge an entrance fee during the daytime in season (April to October). Nonetheless, the fee does mean that it is a truly beautifully looked after beach.
If you like animals then make sure to visit the North Hilton Beach, also known as Hof Haklavim (The Dogs Beach). It is one of the smallest beaches in Tel Aviv but dogs are allowed to run free and it is great fun to watch them having fun in the sand and water. Next to the dog beach is the Gay Beach and visiting there during the Tel Aviv Pride Parade is truly unique experience. The south-most Hilton Beach is known as Surfers Beach which is an excellent surfing destination thanks to a wide breakwater in the middle. North of the breakwater is an area characterised by tricky waves, they are less strong but more interesting, south of the breakwater are the deep waves which are longer and stronger.
These are just a few of Tel Avivs beaches and when you spend your gap year in Tel Aviv you will have plenty of time to explore them all and in a city as varied as Tel Aviv you can be sure that you will find one that offers just what youre looking for.