Beaches-Tel Aviv’s seashore is within walking distance of Dizengoff Square. A promenade runs the entire length of the beach. Most beaches have free showers and facilities for changing. Dolphinarium Beach north to the Chinky (Drums) Beach near Mograbi Square attracts a younger crowd, and on Friday afternoons, as the Sabbath approaches, drumming circles develop. The cleanest beaches, with the best swimming, are behind the Dan and Sheraton hotels (Frishman–Gordon sts.) northward to the Hilton hotel. The Hilton Beach is especially gay friendly, but also hosts a mix of families and surfers. Farther north, the Nordau Beach is reserved for religious Jews, with visitors segregated by sex according to alternate days of the week, starting with women on Sundays.
Warning: Swimming at Israel’s Mediterranean beaches can be dangerous. The problem is riptides and whirlpools that even a strong swimmer can’t fight. It’s safe, however, to swim at beaches where guards are stationed. Pay attention to the safety symbols along the beaches in the form of small flags. Black flags mean absolutely no swimming in the area, red warns you to be especially cautious, and white indicates that the water’s fine. Tel Aviv’s city beaches are protected in many places by a system of breakwaters and are the safest in the area.
Boats-Small motorboats, pedal boats, and rowboats can be rented by the hour daily from 9am to 6pm on the lake at Yarkon Park, near Yehoshua Gardens (tel. 03/642-0541) at the northern end of the city. Motorboats are NIS 100 per half-hour; pedal and rowboats are NIS 65 per full hour. Danit Tours (tel. 052/340-0128) does party and group boat tours from the Tel Aviv Marina. Call for information and see if you can join a group ride into the sea.
Cycling-Tel Aviv is relatively flat and, in that respect, more bicycle-friendly than the mountainous cities of Jerusalem and Haifa. Drivers, however, are NOT bicycle-friendly (though new bicycle lanes should make the activity far safer than it used to be). The Tel Aviv Municipality has recently set up a public network of Green Rental Bikes with computerized pick up and return stations at strategic locations throughout the city, similar to those in many European cities. You pay by credit card, and tourists are able to participate.
Tip: The Green Rental Bikes are designed to promote short 30-minute rental periods to encourage Tel Avivians to get from place to place without using cars or buses. Rental rates are reasonable for the first 20 minutes, but become increasingly steep the longer you keep the bike. Worse yet, readers report problems getting the computerized rental machines to unlock or return your bike. Meanwhile, the rental rate keeps ticking away and your credit card gets billed while you fight with the machine. Maps with pick up and drop off stations can be picked up at City Hall.
For longer periods of leisurely biking, you would do better to rent a bike from one of the offices listed or, if you’re a guest at one of the Atlas Hotels, reserve one of their free on-loan bikes. Serious cyclers should check ahead with the Israeli Cycling Federation, 6 Shitrit St., Tel Aviv (tel. 03/649-0459; www.ofanaim.org.il). For bike rentals, try Shuli and Mike’s Bikes, 280 Dizengoff St. (tel. 03/544-2292), and O-Fun, 245 Dizengoff St. (tel. 03/544-2292); rates run approximately NIS 40 per day from the time you rent until the day’s closing time for the shop.
Jogging-The long beachfront promenade, running several miles from the northern end of Jaffa to the Hilton hotel, provides an excellent stretch for urban jogging, without the inconvenience of cross streets and traffic lights. It’s busy, which adds an element of safety, and you can stop for a dip in the sea or cool off at the public drinking fountains and showers that dot the beaches at various intervals.
Water Sports-Tel Aviv Beach, midway between Mograbi Square and Jaffa, is designated for surfboarding, kayaking, wind-sailing, and kite-boarding. Contact Surf Point (tel. 03/517-0099; www.surf-point.co.il) for equipment rental and lessons. Surfboard rental starts at NIS 120; the website is mostly in Hebrew.
If your hotel has no pool and you just want to swim a few laps or on the days when Tel Aviv’s waters become a soup of stinging jellyfish in July and August, check out the newly rebuilt outdoor Gordon Pool, 14, Perry Eliezar St. tel. 03/762-3300 (off Ha-Yarkon St, between the Tel Aviv Marina and the Carlton Hotel). Admission is NIS 65. Summer Hours: Sun 6:30am-10pm; Mon-Thurs 6am-9:30pm; Friday 6am-7pm. Phone for Saturday hours.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.