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Best trips along the Coast

The grottos of Rosh HaNikra, the reef in Shikmona Nature Reserve, the small bays of Dor Beach. Here are a few recommendations for trips in Israel’s magnificent coastal nature reserves
by: Israel Traveler   |   09.01.2012
The cliff of Rosh HaNikra (which could be translated as "Head of the Grotto") is a unique, exciting and exceptionally beautiful Nature Reserve. At the feet of the cliff are situated serrated grottoes and rounded alcoves which were created through the combined activity of geological processes and the effect of the waves and serve like a picture frame for the water of the Mediterranean Sea. The head of the cliff provides a magnificent observation point over the coastal area of the Western Galilee region. It is also possible to take a Cable Car and climb down the steep descent to the grottoes, with the panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea being revealed from the Cable Car windows. The ancient white cliff and the unusual grottoes serve as a resonance box for the sounds of the water and the wind. One can also take a nostalgic ride on the Rosh HaNikra Small Train, which is a tribute to the train that the British activated here during their Mandate in this country; watch the audio-visual presentation provided here which takes one on a virtual tour within the natural wonders of the grottoes; or walk around the beautiful Sea Promenade which offers many seats overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

A somewhat bumpy dirt road that stretches from the center of The Bat Galim neighborhood of Haifa leads to Shikmona, which is considered both a coastal and a marine Nature Reserve. At the Shikmona Nature Reserve, the coastal section spreads over less than 50 dunams, while the marine section spreads over about 1,600 dunams. The Shikmona Nature Reserve was declared a marine nature reserve as well especially because it includes a very special reef which is composed out of countless snails from two main species: the Magilus coral snail and the Vermetus. The Shikmona Nature Reserve is a common habitat in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and it attracts many fish and other marine creatures, including octopuses which find shelter and plenty of food in it. On the shore itself flourish plants such as Lotus Edulis, Cut-Leaf Sea-Lavender, Sea Fennel, a few kinds of Clover and more. The coastline is narrow here and the limestone cliff next to it occasionally borders on the water itself- a magnificent view. In the future this shore will go under development works aimed at maintaining its character and executed with an ecological emphasis. The Shikmona Nature Reserve is located near the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institution. (One can arrive at the Shikmona Nature Reserve through Hubert Humphrey Street).

The small coastal nature reserve of Gador beach, located to the north of Mikhmoret and spreading over more than 400 dunams of wonderful primeval landscape, is not known by many. Along the coast there is a limestone and red loam cliff, parts of which rise up to a height of 30 meters and more. The combination between the red loam and the limestone creates a charming tapestry and lovely shades and in them grow characteristic plants, such as the sea daffodil. The landscape is beautiful and virginal here and it is pleasant for passing a peaceful afternoon. One has to take into account the fact that this shore is not declared and thus entering the water is forbidden as well as erecting tents. However, this is also a great advantage, as the people who come here like the quiet. At the north of the beach there is a nesting ground of sea turtles, and in their hatching season the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority sometimes organizes guided tours of the area.

It seems like the most beautiful it is the less attainable it gets. Why? Because it is in the most beautiful coastal nature reserve in Israel that bathing is prohibited. But the landscape compensates for everything and big time: there is a pleasant and surprising winding walking trail here which includes beautiful lagoons, small pools and tiny bays which will hide you away from the world, if that is your wish. The trail is well-indicated by signs and spreads over three kilometers. It will introduce you to charming locations with names such as "Shells Bay” or the "Blue Cave”, where the seawater flows underneath the giant rocks. Further on in the trail you will meet what has remained of a small cargo ship which hit a barrier and stayed in its place, silent and abandoned in front of the shore. One can stay the night here on the beach in a limited area permitted for camping.

Palmahim Beach, which is on the Southern Coastal Plain of Israel, is an excellent example for a beach that still remains wild. Next to Palmahim Beach are low and beautiful hills of moving sand dunes and the beach itself stretches along 9 kilometers. Part of the Palmahim Beach passes by the kibbutz of Palmahim which has its name (there it is a declared beach), but most of it is a blessed wilderness. High limestone cliffs look over the sea and give one a perfect chance for getting away from everyday worries. Another option is a quiet picnic near the Sorek Stream estuary. Because the wilderness is everywhere here, rich coastal flora thrives on Palmahim Beach and one can even see here some animals, such as wild boars, foxes and jackals, every once in a while. And if you are already here, look in the area of the cliffs for what is called the Dwarves' Cave, a charming half-secret cave.
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