Embraced by the arm of Mediterranean Sea, opening the door to the Red Sea, and healing numerous people with the mineral-rich Dead Sea, the nation is defined by a legendary history, as well as “sea”
After nearly 2,000 years’ of exile, Jews returned to their homeland and established the State of Israel in 1948. To most people, Israel is mysterious, hidden behind an extraordinary history. Meanwhile, it is also new and energetic, impressing the whole world with its innovation power and hi-tech industry. However, for those who really step on this land, what lingers in their mind for long is the breathtaking natural beauty featured by “sea”.
Mediterranean Sea outlines the west plain of Israel, breeding charming cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa. In the east of the country, there is the lowest land point in the world – the Dead Sea, which has attracted many people to come since ancient times due to its healing magic. At the northern tip, Eilat invites local and tourists alike to explore the underwater world of the transparent Red Sea.
Situated at the intersection of Asia, Africa and Europe, Israel leans against Lebanon at the north, connects to Syria and Jordan at the east and Egypt at the southwest. Israel features a typical Mediterranean climate, with long, hot and rainless summers and comparatively short, cool and rainy winters.
Old and New Mingle by the Mediterranean
Lying by the Mediterranean’s eastern side, Tel Aviv-Jaffa is the second biggest city of Israel. Obviously indicated by the name, it is in fact a combination of two cities. Jaffa had over 4,000 years’ history while Tel Aviv was just built in 1909 when the Jews found the house prices in Jaffa too high and moved to the area of today’s Tel Aviv. After the establishment of the Israel State, the two areas combined as one city, yet retain the unique characters of each.
The newly-built Tel Aviv is known as the “silicon valley” of this Start-Up Nation, gathering a diversity of promising hi-tech companies. “International” and “Modern” are its key words. It is open. One can tell this from the creative graffiti art and statues that fill the city. It is also classic, which is best revealed by “The White City” – a galaxy of white buildings in Bauhaus style which were firstly built in the 1920s and undertook a renovation later. It is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Today, the dwellers inside are mainly finance companies, creative enterprises, restaurants and cafes. Rothschild Boulevard, one of the first roads built here, is the best place to explore the amazing architectural complex and local life. The tree-lined boulevard features exclusive walking path and cycling path, as well as gardens, cafes and an array of kiosks offering simple outdoor tables. You will meet many people walking dogs, having exercise or enjoying coffee along the way.
From north to south by the Mediterranean seashore at the west of Tel-Aviv are a dozen of quality beaches, extending several miles. Most of the beaches boast impressive cafes and restaurants. Facilities including beach chairs are free at some beaches and chargeable at the others. Consider bringing your own towel and snacks if you want to avoid such expense.
Gordon Beach at the north is popular among tourists and locals for its wide beach, soft sand, a variety of restaurant options, ice cream stores and outdoor gym. Frishman Beach at the middle is very clean with easy traffic access, offering diverse water activities. The water by the shore is shallow, suitable for dabbling and swimming. Moreover, it has very complete first aid facilities. For these reasons above, it is welcomed by families. Alma Beach is located at the southern tip of the long sea shore, marking the beginning of Jaffa. The scenery here is unique. When you face the north, you will see the entire seacoast winding down, outlined by different beaches. Once you turn back, you are immediately calmed by the quietness of the ancient town. More interestingly, it is the only beach in Tel-Aviv that is open to dogs. At the southernmost area, dogs are even permitted to run on the beach unrestrainedly.
Jaffa was built along the mountain. After the booming of Tel-Aviv, Jaffa gradually decreased in importance. Thankfully, the government issued policies to rebuild the ancient town. As a result, people can still see the poetic and historical lanes and houses today. Flowers ornament the door of each villa and lovely cats bathe in the sun. Jaffa Flea Market dwells at the foot of the mountain, offering not only a shopping experience but more, a journey of cultural exploration. Exotic articles from Judaica, Persian tiles, mosaic artwork, to old (and worn out) Indian clothes bring one to the end of the earth. While restaurants and cafes are not a few, Margoza is one that shouldn’t be missed. This family bakery run by a couple is widely known for its signature chouquettes, dried fruit cake and baguette. More dietary experiences will be found in Jaffa Port area. It was once an important strategic port of the Middle East. Today, local fishermen still go out to sea from here for fishing. Transformed from an old hanger, Jaffa Port Market houses a diversity of restaurants serving seafood, Hummus, sausages, and more. Every Friday, there is a “farm produce market” when locals come to buy fresh produce to enjoy during the weekend.
The Blue Healing of Dead Sea
When you see “sea level” sign post, go on driving down the hill. In a little while, you will see the Dead Sea with its impressive cobalt blue water decorated by snow white salt deposit. Forming a shocking contrast to the blue water, the surroundings are towering earthly yellow mountains where no plant could survive because of the too salty soil. It takes 1 hour’s drive from Jerusalem and 2 hours’ drive from Tel-Aviv to reach the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is in fact a big lake lying on the border of Israel and Jordan, with the Judean Mountains at the west bank and the Jordan plateau at the east. It is the lowest land point on earth. Surrounding sites also include Masada and Ein Gedi. The former is a very magnificent relic of the palace fortress of King Herod at a high mesa, overlooking the northern basin of Dead Sea and the latter is a precious oasis amidst the vast desert. At Ein Gedi, you can see waterfalls, fresh water pools, plantations and Nubian ibex, as well as several hotels and spas offering sulfur hot spring bathing.
Due to the exceedingly high salt concentration, no life can survive in the water. However, in the Dead Sea, there are as many as 21 types of mineral elements including magnesium, calcium, bromine, potassium and more. Among them, 12 can only be found in the Dead Sea. It means the water really heals. It is thus known as the oldest natural Spa in the world. The Dead Sea water is especially beneficial to people with skin problems, arthritis and asthma. As early as over 3,000 years ago, the Queen of Sheba already came to experience the magical water. Later, Cleopatra built the first spa by the Dead Sea. Today, numerous people come to float in the water and scoop mud from the sea floor directly and wipe it over the body. Very interestingly, when you come out of the water and stay in the sun for a while, you will find your whole body covered by a film of minerals. Then you will wonder how much minerals the water contains indeed.
There are several things to notice before your Dead Sea trip. Don’t wear jewelry when you are in the water if you don’t want to tarnish them. Don’t pour the Dead Sea water over the head or dive into the water because it really stings when the water comes into your eyes. Remember to take flip-flops because the sands are a high temperature and there are stones on some beach areas. Drink a lot of fresh water since the dry heat will take your body fluid away very quickly.
En Bokek public beach is a popular site along the Dead Sea where free facilities are available including sunshade, dressing area, shower, washroom, promenade and night lighting. A diversity of hotels and resorts are lined by the Dead Sea offering wonderful spa experiences.
The Door to the Red Sea
Located at the southern tip of Israel and the southern end of Negev desert, Eilat opens the door to the Red Sea while leaning against towering wavy mountains. It is known as a “vacation city” and “diving destination”.
It takes 4 hours’ bus drive from Jerusalem to Eilat and 6 hours from Tel Aviv. Eilat boasts 10 kilometers’ of coastline by the blue and clear Red Sea. A beautiful array of beaches are dotted by the shore. One of them is Dolphin Reef, also known as a dolphin habitat. The mild animals live and multiply here and are taken care of by the habitat’s staff. It was built 20 years ago. The original aim was to help dolphins who departed from the group or lingered offshore because of being wounded. But they are not captivated. The habitat opens a passage to the sea. It means the dolphin can swim back to the sea whenever they want. At the Dolphin Reef, tourists can watch dolphins closely and even jump into the water to swim with them under the guidance of a trainer.
On the crowded beach of Dolphin Reef, there is a restaurant and a bar. A little way away, a lush botanical garden leads you to a tranquil world. There are three heated relaxation pools in the garden: a fresh water pool, a sea water pool and a Sulphur pool all with underwater music. Expert therapists are on site to offer unique underwater spa to the guests. Three packages are available for option giving free access to three pools, different duration of spa treatment and access to the beach restaurant.
Eilat can be walked through in one hour. However, in such a small place, there are over 20 diving centers that provide accommodation, classes, food and diving equipment. On-site diving trainers will tell you all you need to know about diving in the Red Sea. First-time divers are recommended to join in the diving centers while experienced divers can directly go to the diving sites themselves. There are dozens of diving sites in Eilat along the Red Sea which boast high visibility of around 30 meters. Large coral reef groups is a highlight for diving here. Several recommended diving sites are: Japanese Gardens which is next to underwater observatory marine park. In this area, you will meet clownfish and sea anemone among many others. Satil Wreck, a site for wreck diving. Satil was a Israeli naval vessel. It sank in 1994 and is now at 24 meters beneath the water. The mast is covered with dense soft coral. Groups of dispar anthias and glass fish are swimming around. Amidst the sea grass and coral thicket, there are quite a few blennioid, goby and snailfish. Home Reef, the ideal site for diving training, also a home to wrasse. When sunlight pierces into the shallow water, it is a really beautiful picture. The best time for diving in Red Sea is from July to October every year when the water temperature is 27-28℃. When winter comes, the water temperature will decrease below 23℃.
Wandering along the sea shore and watching the sun skin down the mountain, it is a moment that seems to last into eternity.
Resorts by The Dead Sea
Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel
Close to the Dead Sea shore, this is the biggest spa resort in the area with contemporary designs and a private beach. Spa facilities include several treatment rooms, sulfur pool, sun deck, sauna and more.
Kibbutz Ein Gedi
It lies at the northern tip of the sea shore on the Ein Gedi beach. Highlights are a pretty environment, botanic garden and authentic food.
Leonardo Club Dead Sea Hotel
The hotel boasts a private beach, a spa and kid’s facilities. Dead Sea Mud Party is held once every two weeks. Couples and family travelers are the main fans.
Oasis Dead Sea Hotel
Located on Ein Boke beach, the hotel features an exotic Moroccan style with Hammam experience. All guest rooms enjoy direct sea views.
Spa Club Dead Sea Hotel
Only open to adults, this hotel offers a wonderful view of Dead Sea and a tranquil environment. Dead Sea Mud treatment is a signature. Guests can also enjoy the Sulphur pool and Finnish sauna.
Krav Maga is a set of fighting techniques developed in Israel in 1930s, firstly for the military forces to enhance their capabilities on the battlefield. It is required part of training in the Israeli national defense forces, military and law-enforcement departments. It is also a required course in the FBI and is extensively taught in military and police departments around the world.
Since the 1960s, the founder of Krav Mega, Imi Lichtenfeld, started to transform the fighting techniques so that they can be better mastered and serve ordinary people. His aim is to develop a new form of Krav Mega that is fit for all groups and is able to help them conduct self-defense when being attacked. This new form is known widely as self-defense Krav Mega.
The first program of self-defense Krav Mega was competed in 1972. Compared with military Krav Mega, the new set of skills enable ordinary people to carry out unarmed defence or defence with daily tools against the use of fist, kick, clubs, knives and guns.
Scientific training of Krav Mega helps trainees to carry out a set of actions instinctively. “Avoid, Prevent, Defeat, Run Away” is a typical mindset for Krav Mega. People of both genders and all ages can learn Krav Mega. Visit https://kravmaga-ikmf.com/ikmf/ to find out more information.