The Tel Aviv coastal strip is 14 kilometers long, stretching from Herzliya to Bat Yam and composed of 13 official beaches. At every such beach you will find changing rooms and bathrooms, a lifeguard, a rescue station, chairs and sunbeds for rent, pergolas, special chairs for the disabled that allow them to float on the water, and play areas where you can borrow backgammon, checkers, toy pails and shovels free of charge. In addition, beach libraries operate at the Jerusalem, Gordon, Metzizim and Hatzuk beaches.
The lifeguards' work hours vary throughout the season:
Until May 31: 7:15 A.M. - 4:45 P.M.
June: 7:15 A.M. - 5:45 P.M.
July 1-August 31: 7:15 A.M. – 6:45 P.M.
September 1-October 19: 7:15 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.
Don't get ripped off
For the convenience of the swimmers, the Tel Aviv Municipality publishes a price list for basic items (when they're bought at the snack bar, and not served directly to the chairs) and beach services. Beach businesses are obligated to stick to this list:
- Bottle of mineral water: 7 shekels
- Popsicle: 5 shekels
- Pita/sandwich with humus/salads: 12 shekels
- Coffee: 5 shekels
- Soft pretzel: 5 shekels
- Business meal: 60 shekels
- French fries: 25 shekels
- Watermelon: 30 shekels
- Israeli beer: 21 shekels
The municipality has also reduced the costs of renting beach facilities for Tel Aviv residents, so that DigiTel card carriers can enjoy significantly lower prices: a beach umbrella or chair will cost 2 shekels for those with a DigiTel card (6 shekels for non-residents), and a sunbed will cost 4 shekels for DigiTel holders (12 for non-residents). Every rental is limited to five items of any type. The price of a locker on the beaches has also been reduced, to 5 shekels (one-time locking, for up to 24 hours).
Hatzuk (Cliff) Beach is less family-oriented, and is considered the most yuppie beach in the city. Hatzuk attracts young high-tech beachgoers who leave their shiny jeeps outside and come to see and be seen. Although it's the only beach that charges an entrance fee (free entrance for Tel Aviv residents), you can console yourself with the free adjacent parking lot, or with the fact that fee is used for the benefit of the sun worshippers: The sand is white and clean, the lawns are large and well-kept and the shade pavilions and palm trees are plenty. The beach has two lifeguard stations, two snack bars, chairs and sunbeds for rent, and even sports facilities and playgrounds.
Where to eat: Meever Lakaze, a subsidiary of Tel Aviv's famed Turkiz restaurant, is on the northern part of the beach. You can find all the classic foods here: beer, French fries, Greek salad, toast and other light snacks.
Tel Baruch Beach
An impressive natural sandstone ridge constitutes the northern boundary of Tel Baruch Beach, and a picturesque sunken ship marks its southern boundary. The dunes that separate the waterline from the strip of hotels and the highways keep tourists away, which means it is frequented mainly by locals. The parking lot (free for residents of Tel Aviv) is packed on weekends, mainly with four-wheel-drive vehicles that come to cruise the dunes. The promenade built on the beach leads to the Yarkon Bridge and the Tel Aviv Port. Dogs can run free in the southern part of the beach. There's a volleyball court that's lit up at night, and a water sports section suitable for surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaks. In addition, there are two lifeguard stations, lawns, a caf and a playground.
Where to eat: A Greek restaurant, Greco, is a short drive or a longer walk away. The beach has barbecue areas with lighting, tables and places to dispose of charcoal.
Metzitzim Beach was extensively renovated a few years ago and is equipped with new showers (which replaced the ones from the legendary 1970s Israeli film "Peeping Toms"), playgrounds, sports facilities, chairs and sunbeds. Parking lots are located near the beach, but it's also easily accessible by public transportation, for those who want to avoid traffic and the cost of parking.
You probably won't find a place to park you towel during peak hours, thanks to families who want to get away from the bustle of the central beaches. Still, you can often feast your eyes on celebs who come here regularly.
Where to eat: The Metzitzim Beach restaurant is open every day from 7 A.M. until the last customer leaves, and offers a sophisticated menu that's full of surprises.
Nordau Beach (sex-segregated swimming)
Between the dog beach and the celebrity beach is the beach for religious people who want to take a dip in modest clothing and away from the opposite sex. The beach is designated for women on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for men on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But several hours before the beginning of Shabbat the beach empties out, and then mixed swimming is allowed and the time comes for young couples.
The beach has sports facilities and playgrounds. Barbecues, bonfires, parties, dogs and water sports are not allowed here.
Hilton Beach, named after the adjacent hotel, is divided into three parts: A dog beach in the north, which has inevitably become a center for singles. North of the breakwater is an unofficial gay beach, which was inspired by its Greek counterpart, Super Paradise Beach, on the island of Mykonos. South of the breakwater is the surfers' beach, which serves as a training area for Israeli surfers. A surfing club offers equipment and lessons for beginners, and special lighting for nighttime surfing. The southern part of the beach is designated for water sports– wave surfing, windsurfing and kayaking. Hilton Beach offers full access for the disabled.
Where to eat: Falafel Shlomo on Nordau Boulevard owes its popularity to people returning from the beach.
South of Atarim Square begins the most famous beach in Tel Aviv: strips of sand, breakwaters and innumerable beach umbrellas whose colors vary according to the logos of the sponsors. Gordon is one of the widest beaches in the city. Every summer it becomes a mecca for local tourists, thanks to a large number of restaurants, diving clubs and volleyball courts.
Folk dancing happens here every Saturday at 8 P.M., and Pilates classes are offered on Sundays and Wednesdays 7-7:45 P.M. A paid parking lot is adjacent to the beach.
Where to eat: Gordo Caf offers a reprieve from the bustle of the city opposite the waves, combined with a selection of food and drinks, for those who seek fine dining.
Frishman Beach has become known as the "French beach" in recent years, and French really is the main language here thanks to its tourist-friendly location. The nearby highway, the hotels and the masses of people turn it into a relatively noisy and very urban beach, which some people will enjoy, and others less so.
Cafs that come up to the waterline, shaded by beach umbrellas, offer a culinary experience along with swimming. Parking lots and public transportation are abound.
Where to eat: On the way home, stop for a sip of arak at Caf Mersand on the corner of Ben Yehuda Street. The Austro-Hungarian caf, which is over 50 years old, attracts regulars as well as famous Tel Avivians.
Bograshov Beach is located in the center of the promenade. Like at the neighboring Frishman Beach, here too the shaded cafes reach up to the waterline, and at night they illuminate the beach with candlelight and flashlights. The adjacent London Park, which offers a view of the sea, is part of the paved promenade that was built in the early 1940s in tribute to the British for withstanding the Nazi bombings.
This beach was given its somewhat paradoxical name in the 1980s by then-Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat as a gift to his Jerusalem counterpart Teddy Kollek, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the reunification of the capital. The beach is located near the Opera House, which has a large and convenient parking lot. Lovers of paddleball are also aware of the advantages of the beach, and come here en masse. Their presence turns the other sun worshippers into stationary targets for errant balls. Part of the beach, south of the swimming area (Geula Beach), is allocated for kitesurfing.
Where to eat: On the way home stop for a beer and French fries at the famous Mike's Place. It provides a nice opportunity to chat with the waitresses in English and to listen to local music.
Aviv Beach is also known as Chinky Beach, Banana Beach, Dolphinarium Beach and Drums Beach. This seems to be the beach most frequently visited by people from India, Thailand and South America. On Friday afternoon dozens of groups gather on the breakwater and celebrate with music and dance.
Here you'll find a surfing club and a police station, as well as water sports south of the swimming area. Motor sports are forbidden. Two convenient and accessible paid parking lots are located near the beach. The Carmelit bus station also provides an efficient solution for those who want to come via public transportation. Despite the character of the beach, barbecues and bonfires are prohibited, as are parties and dogs.
Where to eat: On the way home stop for lunch at the Hakovshim Bistro for a light meal.
Charles Clore Beach (Alma Beach)
Charles Clore Beach, which is better known as Alma Beach or the Western Beach, is the last in the sequence of Tel Aviv beaches. It begins to the left of the abandoned Dolphinarium and ends in Jaffa. This is a beach with huge lawns, where the smells of barbeque mingle with the sea breeze (although barbeques are banned from the beach itself).
This is one of the city's "in" beaches. Dogs can run free in its southern part. International stars who come to Israel and stay at the nearby hotels stop by occasionally (legend has it that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have walked on these lawns). On the way home you can stop at the Etzel Museum to get a shot of nationalism, but it might be more fun to simply walk down the relatively new promenade that eventually leads to the Jaffa Port.
Where to eat: It's worth pampering yourself at the Manta Ray restaurant, which specializes in seafood.
Givat Aliya Beach (Ajami Beach)
The southernmost beach in Tel Aviv is also the least organized, but it compensates by being unique and virgin to some extent, and with a breathtaking view. Horse-riding on the waterfront is a regular sunset ritual here. In the small bay, jeep owners try to cruise the dunes, and when things are slow you can observe crabs and mollusks in the sand.
The coastline is covered with amazing round and colorful pebbles. It's almost never crowded, but you should be aware that there's no breakwater and therefore swimming is dangerous. The beach has tables for chess and backgammon, and you can borrow a game kit free of charge.
Where to eat: Hummus and kebab eateries scattered in the area, the most popular of which is Hazaken Vehayam (The Old Man and the Sea). This restaurant and its neighbors offer huge meals at affordable prices at any time of day (and with quite a long line on Saturday).