Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Israel Part 2: Coastal Playground


Much to my pleasure and surprise, Israel is a coastal playground. Here are just a few activities that I either did our saw happening during the week I was there.

Surfing - On the first day of my arrival, I arrived at the Daniel hotel (on the beach) and upon opening the curtains in my room was greeted with 2-4 foot waves peeling in consistently. I immediately dropped my bags and went down to the beach. Again to my surprise I found a surf shop with some great, friendly guys, who spoke English, rented me a board and wetsuit (not that you need one because the water is in the high sixties) and a rash guard. It cost me about $150 to have the board at my disposal. I did get some funny looks at the hotel from visitors, but the Israelis knew exactly what I was doing at 6AM. In addition to board surfing, kite surfing is also popular as is diving and free diving. You can book these activities all within a 5 minute walk from the Daniel Hotel at the diving and surfing club.

Sea Kayaking - Our CTO, Ori who is a paddler, took me for a great tour of his home waters in Northern Israel. I was amazed at the clarity of the water. We paddled past ruins that are 4000 years old, navigated sea caves in bouncy seas, explored a ship wreck and capped it off with a wonderful breakfast with his parents in the kibbutz where Ori grew up. Additionally, every morning from my hotel window, a kayak club would launch for their morning paddle. The Med is ideal here again as the gentle wind waves make for a sea kayakers paradise. Surf the waves on the inside or glide just past the sand bars for great fun and a solid workout. You can find some great kayak posts and videos on Steve's blog. You can get a sense of how the surf is in the Med and how much fun it can be on a kayak.

Fishing - I did see a lot of guys surf casting with conventional gear as well as some of the longest guideless poles I have ever seen. Unfortunately I didn't see much action. I did see a needlefish stuck in a net while kayaking with Ori, but that's about it. It appears that the Med is in dire need of cross border conservation that looks at the Med as a complete ecosystem. Letting the Nile deliver its intended nourishment would be a great start followed by bipartisan adherence to rebuilding the baitfish and pelagic fish stocks.

Yachting - In the marina down the street there was everything from small runabouts to sailing yachts for charter to 120' yachts. This is a huge marina, not some enclave with some floating docks. Boating is serious in Israel and again the Med is ideal here for all types of boaters.

Even though this was a business trip, and we got a lot done - meaning I spent mostly all of my time working, being so close to the coast was a real treat. The water is warm, the people are friendly and helpful to first time visitors and if you can squeeze a few hours in, there are a variety of fun marine activties to please anyone.

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