Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve is a gem of freshwater springs by the Dead Sea with recreational picnic and swimming options. Home to endemic & rich wildlife, some parts are restricted.
Dor Habonim Reserve on a Stormy Morning
Driving south from Haifa I felt the wind pushing my little Seat Ibiza like a child’s toy. A sand storm was raging across the central and northern parts of the country. I love watching rough seas and immersing in wild nature, so made a detour to one of my favorite beaches, Dor Habonim Nature Reerves,.
The reserve is reached through a tumbly dirt road, replete with potholes and rocks. Less than a dozen cars were parked in the windy parking lot. Due to Covid regulations it was now mandatory to pre-register, which I hastily did, but nobody checked.
A guy with an Israel Nature and Parks Authority shirt told me he allowed people to fish counter to regulations: “They need it for their living.”
He pointed out the trailhead for me, and I was on my own with the elements.
Dor Habonim Reserve - Beach Flora
Welcoming me into the reserve were dandelions and other flowers tenaciously growing right out of the white sand.
Israel is famed for developing unique agricultural techniques of raising crops directly on sand dunes. Gush Katif, the area formerly held by Israel, and then conceded to the Gaza Strip polity, developed sand agriculture into an art.
For parts of the path the sand was so soft I took off my sandals. This was a magical walk, facing the wind gusts on the forlorn coastal terrain.
Dor Habonim Reserve - The Seashell Beach
As I reached the top of a small hill, a marvellous hidden sea enclave, aptly called the “Sheashell Beach”, revealed itself. For a minute I thought I was back in Ireland, with the cliffs and the pristine wild beaches.
A sign asked visitors not to pick the shells, but the ground was strewn with innumerable numbers of them… I sat down on a small ledge and meditated on the beauty, the tranquility and the wildness of it all just a few kilometers from the congested Coastal Highway (see title picture above).
Left: A sign warning of strong currents.
Dor Habonim Reserve - Kurkar and Seashells
The cliffs along the trail are kurkar, a beachrock typical in Israel, forming much of the coastal landscape. Kurkar is highly erodable as can be seen in the picture on the left. The picture on the right shows the extraordinary aggregation of seashells in that quiet inlet.
Left: highly eroded kurkar. Right: a bed of seashells.
I continued along the beach to the famed tidal pools. Alas, once again I was frustrated to see that the eastern Medditeranean is losing its invertebrate biological diversity. No sea anemones swaying with the waves, crabs rushing under a rock, or even barncles. Calcified purple seaweed grew on the rocks and were washed on to the shore.
I asked a lone fisherman how was the catch. He said: No problem, plenty. Later a noisy roup of Arab fishermen arrived at the site with fish rods and buckets.
The drive back home was tortuous, as drives through Israel Central have become with the ever-crowding vehicle scene, but this short windy interlude by a magical sea helped me survive it.
Dor Habonim Reserve is highly visited during the spring when the sand dunes bloom with lilies of the Sharon and other flowers, but this off-season off-beat visit carried its own rewards..