Your Guide to the best surfing in Israel
Israel is an amazing travel destination for so many reasons. It has history, culture, religion, food, nightlife, art, business, and as if that wasn’t enough it is also a top-of-the-line beach destination. In Israel, you find the Mediterranean sea, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea as well as plenty of waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. With all that, easy access to water comes to all imaginable water and beach sports. Everything from matkot (the Israeli version of beach tennis), to scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kite surfing, to SUP and surfing. It´s not for nothing that the Israeli waves draw surfers from all over the world. With 186 miles of white sandy beaches, this country also holds some great surf spots, on top of everything else it has to offer. There are about 35 beaches regularly surfed in Tel Aviv, Nahariya, Herzliya, and Ashdod areas, plus a few secret ones as well. Local surfers are very welcoming and keen to share information about the quality breaks in Israel. As swells arrive and die very quickly in Israel, there is no time to waste. At any sign of a swell surfers will immediately grab their board and head out. Surfers here generally seek quantity of waves rather than the quality of waves and if the lineup is busy, it can of course, like in all other places become a bit chaotic. What makes Israel different from any other surf destination, and the reason why I fell in love with Israel as a surf destination even if there are far better waves to catch around the globe, is the incredible vibe. The vibe is so joyful and welcoming, and you will not notice any competition, rather the opposite. Surfers are always happy to help, host, and share information.
While it might not be a great destination for pro surfers, it is definitely a destination worth visiting for beginners and intermediate surfers.
Your Guide to the best surfing in Israel
Israeli surf history | When to visit | Getting there | Surf schools | Galim Surf Club, Tel Aviv | Super School, Tel Aviv | Surf breaks | Hilton Beach, Tel Aviv | Maravi Beach, Tel Aviv | Dolphinarium Beach, Tel Aviv | Zvulun, Dabush and Marina Beach, Herzliya | Bat Galim, Haifa | Gote Beach, Ashkelon | Arubot Beach and Shonit Beach, Caesaria
Israeli surf history
Surfing was brought to Israel before it was ever a thing in Europe. The surf legend Dorian Paskowitz brought the first surfboard to Tel Aviv in 1956. He was supposed to volunteer for the Israeli army but found the waves in Israel to good to miss out on and decided to skip the army and hit the waves instead. Great choice if you ask me. Leaving Israel, he gave his boards to Topsea “Topsi” Kantsapolsky and Shaul Zinner, who then went on to become the first Israeli surfers known on the international scene. As years passed, Dorian kept sending more boards to Israel helping fellow Israeli surfers to enjoy the waves and Israel then quickly qualified in surfing championships around the world. As you may remember Israel even had a female surfer, Anat Lelior, qualify for the 2020 Olympics. The first Olympic games to ever have surfers compete for those prized medals.
When to visit
Israel is an all-year-round surf destination but to maximize your wave count and get bigger waves you should come during the winter months. Israel is located at the far Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and this location means anything generated in the Mediterranean reaches the Israeli coastline at some point. Though the surf in Israel is mainly windswell, occasional mid-period ground swells light up the breaks.
The waves are higher during the winter due to heavy rainstorms, and that’s also when the real surfing swells show up. During the summer, the water temperature in the Mediterranean can be as high as 29C/68F, while the winter waters cool down to around 14C/57F. Wave height also varies. In the summer the waves reach around three feet on medium surfing days, while mornings consistently offer the best swells, with waves that break long and perfect. During fall and winter, the swells can reach between 6-10 feet, which is the time when the more experienced surfers hit the waves.
Remember that Israel is warm most of the year and especially in July and August. If you´re planning your visit during the summer months, be prepared for high temperatures and humidity of 70-80 %.
Your best option (and in many cases the only option) is to fly into Ben Gurion Airport Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv itself offers great surf and as Israel is a small country, all other beaches are reachable within a few hours.
Israel has a wide range of surf schools that are teaching Israelis, as well as tourists and visitors how to surf. Courses are available from beginner level from one-hour private lessons right through to longer courses. Equipment rental is available across the country.
1. Galim Surf Club, Tel Aviv
Galim Israeli Surf Club is located in Tel Aviv directly in front of the Crown Plaza hotel and it is open year-round. Israel is expensive, and so are the surf schools, but Galim Israeli Surf Club really delivers. The instructors are great surfers and super helpful (and will most likely teach you the basics without payment), the equipment is in great shape and the operating hours very flexible. Galim Surf Club doesn´t only offer lessons and courses but also amazing surf camps, surfing as therapy and probably the cheapest equipment rental in Tel Aviv.
2. Super School, Tel Aviv
Located on the popular Trumpeldor Beach is Super School. The owner and instructor Eden has a lot of knowledge in instructing surfers and really has an eye for details. He´ll see the small things that others won´t and will really help you excel fast. The group classes are small, 3-4 people and of course he also offers private one on one lessons. Despite his thoroughness and detail-oriented way of teaching, he is one of the most relaxed people you´ll meet. On top of that, he is funny and you´ll leave not only with your newfound surf skills but also with plenty of laughs and a smile on your face.
3. Hilton Beach, Tel Aviv
Skill: All levels
Bottom: sharp reef
Hilton Beach, or also known as “mini-California or surfers paradise” is popular amongst the local Israeli surfers. Two jetties protect the waves from incoming currents and Hilton Beach offers one of the best reef breaks in Israel. The reef holds swells ranging from one to seven feet and even if the waves start off weak, they get stronger closer to shore. The reef is a sharp “Lava Rock” reef which is pretty shallow in some sections. The take-off point is small, which means it can get crowded on good days. Longboarders tend to dominate this break as it is a great longboard wave. On a good day with offshore winds, the wave has a nice little hollow section for mini tube rides, yeehaw! The wave breaks both right and left.
While Hilton Beach can get a bit crowded during the summers, the Hilton Bet shore, or “Topsy” is just as great but generally less crowded. Topsy breaks directly north of the Hilton Beach that is similar in makeup to the other Hilton-beach break, but with a slightly different reef that tends to be less crowded. According to local surfers, the break often performs better in small to medium swell conditions.
4. Maravi Beach, Tel Aviv
Skill level: All levels
All the way to the other end of the Tel Aviv beaches you find another great surf spot – Maravi Beach. The name itself means Western Beach but yet it is the city’s southernmost beach. It is situated between Tel Aviv and the Old City of Jaffa. This is the place to surf and chill. There is absolutely no localism to worry about. Short boarders, long borders, and body borders all come to enjoy and no one is competing for the waves. There´s plenty to go around for everyone and a manmade reef where waves break left and right offers awesome breaks.
5. Dolphinarium Beach, Tel Aviv
Skill level: All levels
Located in between Hilton Beach and Maravi Beach is Dolphinarium beach. Dolphinarium has offshore winds from the southeast, meaning that wind swells are more typical than groundswells and there are great waves from the northwest with good surf during all stages of the tide. The conditions are pretty consistent throughout the year, even if the best conditions without a doubt are during wintertime. If you´re looking to rent equipment or chat up some surf schools, this is the place to start. It is also called drummers beach, as freestylers in all art forms gather around the beach to perform, all days and hours of the week. But if you want the real Tel Avivian experience make sure to linger around on a Friday afternoon, pro inside tip for you.
6. Zvulun, Dabush and Marina Beach, Herzliya
Skill level: All levels
Bottom: Sandy bottom
While Tel Aviv is a surfers paradise surrounded by the city life of Tel Aviv, Herzliya is just surfers paradise, or just paradise, if you want. The tempo in Herzliya is slow. But not slow as in a beach bummy kind of way. More in a rich people´s kind of way. But nothing snobby, just chill vibes and amazing waves. Almost every beach in Herzliya offers decent surfing both in winter and summer. As I prefer the early morning surf, my two favorites became Zvulun and Dabush beaches. Zvulun offers longer rides while Dabush offers larger waves.
At Dabush the left waves are better but you’ll find shorter right as well. You can find some shade in a small tube in the shore break if you have the skills and the guts to go for it. The best time to surf this beach would be early in the morning when the wind is still semi offshore (southern wind). During the day, the waves become pretty choppy. Zvulun breaks in the same conditions as Dabush.
Even better than Zvulun and Dabush are the Marina Beach, located between the marina and the first of the three Herzliya breaks. The waves, that work best when there are northern winds, are close to perfect and shouldn’t be missed out on!
7. Bat Galim, Haifa
Skill level: All levels
Bottom: soft reef/rocks
Heading further north along the coast you’ll arrive at Haifa Bay, where the Backdoor and Casino surf spots are located on Bat Galim Beach (Daughter of Waves Beach) on the southern tip of the bay. Backdoor and Casino are considered to be very good breaks, especially in the winter when the storms give strong southwest offshore winds. Backdoor is protected by two jetties and is considered to be Israel’s best reef break, as it is covered with soft moss-like seaweed should you be unlucky and get smashed on the reef. Backdoor also has a hollow right wave, which makes it the best tube riding wave in the country. A little further down is Casino, an open ocean break that lacks jetties but provides a great longboarding wave. At its prime the wave is at least one foot bigger than Backdoor and here you also find a ‘split peak’ meaning that you can ride both lefts and rights.
8. Gote Beach, Ashkelon
Skill level: Suitable for all levels on smaller days, but can get quite hectic on the bigger, stormier days.
Bottom: Sandy bottom
In the south of Israel, in the town of Ashkelon, you have Gote Beach, which is considered the best surf in the south. In Gote there are manmade jetties that shelter the waves, especially in wintertime. The beach is long and remains mostly uncrowded, almost empty compared to the rest of Israel. Ashkelon offers some great surf, with nice beach breaks.
The ideal conditions are northwest swells but handle northern swells better than any other place in Israel. Because of the sheltering jetties it and can handle any wind up to 15kts.
9. Arubot Beach and Shonit Beach, Caesaria
Skill: all levels
With long, open waves that start out flat and become a steep wall as you approach the beach Arubot is hailed as the best place to surf in Caesaria by locals and foreign surfers alike. The break is located near a cluster of wind turbines and to enter just do like surfers do everywhere and ignore the “Do not enter” sign.
As the waves here are best in the winter, it is less crowded during the summer months, yet the surf is great even then.
Right north of Arubot beach and with similar conditions, but less crowded is Shonit Beach, which is a fairly exposed beach and reef break that has unreliable waves. Offshore winds are from the east southeast and there is no shelter here from cross-shore breezes. Waves can be ok even in light onshore winds. Wind swells and groundswells in equal measure and the ideal swell direction is from the west-northwest. The beach break offers both left- and right-hand waves.
Are you stoked on Surfing Israel yet? Which break would you seek out first? Let us know in the comments below.
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