A visitor is keeping cool in the Dead Sea // (c) 2011 Thinkstock
Summer is one of the best times of year to visit Israel but, for clients used to milder conditions, Israel's soaring levels of heat and humidity can seem challenging. However, over the course of my visits to Israel, I have found exceptional locations and activities that ensure a cool time - even during the summer heat.
In Israel, spending a day at a water park is a prime summer activity, suitable for all ages. While water rides may sound like the stuff of childhood fantasies, places like Yamit Water Park have figured out a way to make the attraction fun for just about everyone. The park, located in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, offers everything imaginable from toddler pools to Turkish baths. Towering water slides - some of the tallest in the country - provide gripping rides varying in speed and length, accommodating scaredy-cats, thrill seekers and everyone in between. The Black Hole, a popular ride among locals, even features special effects on its inner slide walls. In addition to a children's play area called "Child's World," the park offers a lavish spa for adults, which boasts a diverse collection of Jacuzzis, bathhouses and saunas. While many of the swimming areas are either indoor or covered, there are also open playing fields and sunbathing decks on the property. The park is readily equipped with eateries, pubs, a theater and, of course, trained lifeguards. Yamit has reinvented the idea of a water park, making it a haven for any person trying to beat the heat. www.yamit2000.co.il
Riding the Fresh Water Waves
The Sea of Galilee - also known as the Kinneret, Lake Gennesaret and Lake Tiberius - is the largest body of fresh water in Israel. Luckily for summer travelers, these crisp, cool and tranquil waters are open to the public, as a variety of water activities are offered daily. Lavnun Beach, off the coast, is home to a few rental facilities that carry banana boats, paddleboats and kayaks so travelers can set sail. Large group sailing is also an option - many boating companies in the area provide boat rides at select times throughout the day. Travelers can ride across the sea on small wooden ships made to evoke an earlier time, as the Sea of Galilee has deep roots in Judeo-Christian history. While taking in the surrounding Israeli scenery, travelers can experience the cooling breeze that exists only at sea, as the ship takes speed.
Whether an experienced river rafter or a first time kayaker, travelers need not worry because the Jordan River caters to all. The river's streams cut through a variety of landscapes. Smooth banks, where beautiful mature willows drape their branches out and over the water, create a fairytale-like backdrop, though the river is also known for its wildly exhilarating white-water courses. There are different tributaries at which travelers can access the river, the most popular ones being Dan and also Banias. At these points, visitors can rent rafting devices, take guided river tours, or sprawl out on gigantic inner tubes. Be sure to watch out for the wildlife that occasionally peaks out from the surrounding forest areas - mongooses, wild boars and the like are riverside regulars. The shaded areas of the river are kept cool by the protective flora hanging overhead, while the more exposed parts of the stream are opportunely accompanied by a refreshing light wind. www.goisrael.com
Although the Dead Sea is one of the hottest places in Israel, located over 13,000 feet below sea level, it offers uniquely refreshing ways to cool down. Because of the extremely large concentration of dissolved mineral salts in the water, the sea's density is much higher than that of fresh water, which allows our buoyant bodies to float effortlessly. Aside from leisurely drifting along the coast, travelers can use the Dead Sea shore's mud, which is as cool as it is soothing, to their advantage. The mud's beneficial and medicinal properties have been known for centuries, so travelers can lather it on generously and directly onto their skin. There are also myriad health spas located in the area, many featuring indoor pools filled with the healing water from the sea, which is a great alternative if outside temperatures are soaring.
When it comes to museums, Israel has quite the plentiful variety - over 200! Anything from small galleries displaying ancient artifacts to large modern art museums can be found in most of Israel's major cities. As museums are almost always air conditioned, they provide a great way for clients to get a feel for the country's rich history and culture, while also keeping cool. Museum hopping is a great excursion, especially during the day in between other outdoor activities. Some of the most popular museums include Yad Vashem (a Holocaust museum), the Israel Museum and the Design Museum Holon. http://ilmuseums.com/