Visit Israel Where You Can Swim In Three Different Seas

Visit Israel Where You Can Swim In Three Different Seas

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鉁★笍Visit Israel Where You Can Swim In Three Different Seas

#Visit #Israel #Swim #Seas


Visit Israel Where You Can Swim In Three Different Seas

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Sun and sea can play havoc on a girl’s hair. Fortunately, taking a dip in the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest stretches of water in the world, has its advantages.

With a salinity 10 times that of the Atlantic it’s easy to float sitting up, keeping my hair dry. I’m just miffed that I’ve left my paperback on the lounger.

Mind you, it’s not only the chance to avoid holiday hair that draws visitors to this, the lowest point on earth. Located in Israel’s Judaean desert, the Dead Sea is the world’s oldest natural spa thanks to its mineral-rich waters and inky, therapeutic mud.

There’s something else too – an absolute stillness that prevails over this geographical anomaly. For as I bob along, there are no crashing waves, tangly bits of moss or skittering fish. Only a bather’s occasional yelp – because salt water is murder on cut skin.

Telaviv city Israel
Telaviv city Israel. Pic: Shutterstock

Visit Israel now and you’ll find the country in flux. Yet, ironically, weekly demonstrations against prime minister Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary and weaken the country’s supreme court have become something of a tourist attraction. Not least in Tel Aviv, where visitors stand on balmy Saturday nights to watch the sea of Israeli flags flooding the streets as the people chant, sing and unite in protest.

‘It’s carnival like, so much camaraderie – just people demonstrating for their votes. It’s one big “social”, which is what Israelis love,’ my sister-in-law, Fiona, who visited recently explains. ‘That’s why the tourists love to go and watch too.’

And given that Tel Aviv is one of the world’s priciest cities, it’s free entertainment.

Coral reefs and water plants in the Red Sea, colorful and full of different colors a.e
Coral reefs and water plants in the Red Sea. Pic: Getty Images

Meanwhile, the falafel stands, restaurants and bars are bustling with little care for the mass demonstrations filling the streets.

But, then again, it’s the fiery Israeli character – known as sabra – that also energises this tiny country. The nickname refers to the sabra cactus fruit, spiky on the outside but sweet on the inside.

It shows itself as soon as we step into our cab after flying into Tel Aviv. We have, fortunately, not arrived on a Saturday night when, thanks to the demos, it’s impossible to drive anywhere. In between some hair-raising moves – motorists here work on the principle of ‘don’t mirror or signal before manoeuvre’ – our driver gives us a potted history of the current situation, which ends with him describing the PM as a ‘lunatic’.

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem beach, Friday night party
Tel Aviv, Jerusalem beach, Friday night party. Pic: Getty Images

Yet Israel is also a place where the welcome is palpable. Its people are inquisitive, direct and just utterly thrilled you want to visit.

‘You’re from Manchester – as in Manchester United?’ wonders Avi, one especially charming waiter. ‘It’s just a place of football and rain, no? So much better to be here.’

We’re here to enjoy trips to three diverse bodies of water – what Israelis often refer to as ‘The ‘Med, the Dead and the Red’. It refers to the country’s Mediterranean coastline, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea at the southern tip.

Underwater corals along empty beach on popular resort of Eilat on Red Sea in Israel
Underwater corals along empty beach on popular resort of Eilat on Red Sea in Israel. Pic: Getty Images

Thanks to the country’s diminutive size – around 470km from tip to toe – visiting each ‘sea’ is easily done in one road trip.

We begin our watery odyssey on the Med, which takes up most of Israel’s western border. We base ourselves in Tel Aviv, at the Kempinski hotel, which looks out over an expansive seaside promenade.

We hire bikes as there are dedicated cycle lanes – though watch out, the Israelis cycle and use escooters like they drive. But we also walk its length to the ancient port city of Jaffa, which bookends the prom.

On another day we take a 50- minute drive to the ancient coastal city of Caesarea. It was here in between 22 and 10 BC that King Herod built a no-expense spared city, the remains of which are scattered by the water.

Caesarea Maritima is an Israeli National Park in the Sharon plain
Caesarea Maritima is an Israeli National Park in the Sharon plain. Pic: Getty Images

From Tel Aviv, we recruit a guide, Avraham from the Tours By Locals platform, so we can make use of the two-and-a-half-hour drive to our next watery stop, the Dead Sea.

Along the way we take in sites such as Qumran in the Judaean desert where, amongst the limestone cliffs, a set of writings from 3rd Century BC – known as the Dead Sea Scrolls – were uncovered here in a set of caves.

A tip for visitors to the Dead Sea. It’s vital to stay somewhere with good food as there aren’t many places to eat. Fortunately our hotel, The Nevo, comes up trumps.

Salt crystals on surface of Dead Sea, Israel
Salt crystals on surface of Dead Sea, Israel. Pic: Getty Images

There’s also not much by way of diversions here. ‘What’s to do? You have weather, beautiful water, spa treatments. Why drive yourself mad?’ Israelis are world class at asking rhetorical questions.

One morning, we take a 20-minute drive to the base of Masada, King Herod’s desolate cliff-top fortress. Eager climbers can crest the ‘snake path’ which rises 450m to the summit. We opt for a cable car to the top to walk the sprawling ruins.

Our final destination is the Red Sea and the resort of Eilat, reached after another dramatic two-and-ahalf-hour drive through the jagged mountains and dusty landscape of the Judaean desert.

The Red, the Dead and the Med royal beach hotel israel
Royal Beach Hotel Israel. Pic: Supplied

The resort itself is a classic flyand-flop sort of place. Our hotel, the luxury Royal Beach, looks out over the shoreline arched by the majestic Edom Mountains beyond.

There’s tons to do if you have the energy, from snorkelling to kayaking. But, feeling lethargic, we limit our water activities to taking a tour on a glass-bottomed boat.

Israel may be a country of personalities and hot-headed politics. But its three seas area chance to relax and enjoy the natural world’s most exquisite riches. As the locals would say: ‘And why not?’

WHERE TO STAY The Royal Beach (+972 8-636-8888, isrotel.com/isrotel-hotels/eilat/ royal-beach) is a luxury hotel with private beach, spa and fine dining restaurant. Prices for a double room, with breakfast, from 鈧283 per night.

The David Kempinski (+972 3-776- 8888, kempinski.com/en/the-davidkempinski-tel-aviv) is a five star hotel in the centre of the Tel Aviv Promenade. Prices start from 鈧616 per night for double room with breakfast.

The Nevo (tel: +972 8-668-9666, isrotel.com/isrotel-hotels/dead-sea/ isrotel-dead-sea/) is on the shores of the Dead Sea and every room has a balcony and sea view. The spa offers Dead Sea spa treatments and there’s also a rooftop solarium. Prices from 鈧261 per night for double room with breakfast.

Bespoke tours between the three seas can be arranged through Tours By Locals, toursbylocals.com/Israel-Tours. SWISS (swiss.com) flies to Tel Aviv from Dublin.


Visit Israel Where You Can Swim In Three Different Seas

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