​Akhziv National Park

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Blue bays and rocky crevices, sandstone  ridges and rare plants, sea turtle nesting sites, the remains of the biblical town of Akhziv, and the sea-pool bathing beach -

​all these await you at Akhziv Beach. The beach is 5 km long, and reaches the Ladder Ridge that descends straight to the sea.   

Main points of interest

  • Lagoons and sea pools – at the Akhziv bathing beach and national park there are sea pools that are a wonderful combination of natural phenomenon and the work of man. There are two sea pools on the beach: a shallow pool, and a deep-water pool.
  • Picnic areas and outdoor recreation areas –Akhziv National Park has extensive picnic and camping areas for the use of visitors (around 25 dunams), as well as a regulated bathing beach.
  •  The ancient fishing village – the ruins of the center of an ancient fishing village, built of local stone.
    ·         The former Club Med holiday village – in the south of the park is a sandy bathing beach and enchanting lagoon.
    ·         Rosh Hanikra Beach Nature Reserve – a declared nature reserve. The nature reserve covers an area of 230 dunams, and is 2300 m long and 100 m wide, from the shore to the railway line. Betset Beach, an authorized bathing beach, segments the nature reserve.
  • Rosh Hanikra National Park - the park includes the western part of the Ladder Ridge, from the seashore to an elevation of 130 m above sea level. Within the area of the national park are the famous crevices of Rosh Hanikra, and underwater caves produced by the waves striking the limestone cliffs - a unique natural phenomenon in Israel. The Rosh Hanikra site is in the national park, and offers a cable car descending to the crevices, an audiovisual display in the railway tunnel, and a tourist train travelling between Rosh Hanikra and Akhziv National Park.  
  • Day and overnight camping - within the Akhziv National Park is a parking lot that serves as a starting point for touring the area, and an overnight camp site.

Observation points


  • Rocky beach and sea bays and lagoons - the waves lash at the sandstone ridge fronting Akhziv Beach, wearing it away, and creating little bays and the abrasion platforms that preserve unique marine life habitats in Israel.  
  • Akhziv Beach islands - to the west of the Akhziv shore, the islands of Nahlieli, Shahaf and Akhziv can be seen - which are actually the tops of a sunken sandstone ridge. On Nahli'Feli Island, seagulls and terns nest. The islands are part of the Rosh Hanikra Islands Nature Reserve.
  • Rosh Hanikra Marine Reserve - a marine nature reserve, 5 km long, and extending 2 km westwards from the shoreline. The diversity of habitats in the nature reserve includes the islands of Tkhelet, Shahaf and Nahli'eli, the abrasion platforms (sandstone ridges sculpted by the waves into flat platforms), an underwater cliff at a depth of 25 m, inlets and open sea. Species of mollusks live here, as well as sea anemones, sea urchins, octopuses and starfish, fish, and even dolphins. The nature reserve is recommended for sport diving enthusiasts, and a number of diving sites are available through the diving clubs in the area.

 

Rosh Hanikra - the Ladder Ridge can be seen from everywhere on the coast, a ridge that marks the border between Israel and Lebanon. The Rosh Hanikra Cliff, at the western end of the ridge, plummets steeply straight into the sea.

​Identity card

Status:

Akhziv National Park covers an area of 450 dunams. The site was declared as a national park in 1968.

Reasons for declaration

  • Protecting the marine and coastal system, with features unique to Israel and the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Conserving the characteristic coastal and sandstone vegetation, including rare species.
  • Protecting the population of fish species and other marine creatures.
  • On the islands - preserving the nesting site of the seagull (Larus) and the yellow legged gull (Larus michahellis), and the sheltered stopover site of the winter population of great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo).
  • On the sandy beaches - protecting the egg laying site of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).
  • Conserving the antiquities of Tel Akhziv.
  • Allocating areas for leisure and recreation.

Geographic location


Akhziv National Park is on the Mediterranean shore, some 5 km north of Nahariya. Entry is from Road 4, taking the first left turn after Kibutz Gesher Haziv, between the markers for kilometer 245 and kilometer 246.

Activities of the Nature and Parks ​Authority

  • Preparing Akhziv National Park for visitors – Akhziv National Park has been made ready to receive visitors. Preparations have included, among other things, building a parking area, planting a shady grove, setting up picnic tables and barbecues, building washrooms and toilets, and arranging a declared beach with shade areas and a kiosk.
  • Preserving the ruins of the ancient fishing village - conservation of the central path in the area of the village.
  • Conservation of historic buildings - conserving the Crusader buildings near the beach.
  • Reinforcing the green sea turtle and loggerhead total populations - Nature and Parks Authority inspectors remove eggs from sea turtle nests to a fenced-off nesting farm on Betset Beach, in order to protect them from damage by hikers and wildlife. The baby sea turtles hatching on the farm are released into the sea.
  • Clearing out invasive species - dealing with the blue-leafed wattle trees (Acacia saligna) and camphor weed (Heterotheca subaxillaris) growing in the reserve "at the expense" of the natural vegetation.
  • Returning the sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum) to the southern part of the site.
  • Blocking vehicle traffic - prohibiting vehicle traffic on the beach, to prevent wildlife and vegetation being trampled, and harm to the nature reserve and visitors.
  • Enforcing fishing laws in the reserve - preventing fishing by illegal methods and limiting rod fishing, so as not to endanger the sensitive marine world.  

Wildlife


Living on the Ladder Ridge cliff are groups of rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). In the past, monk seals (Monachus) were seen in the crevices - a creature that is in danger of extinction in the Mediterranean. Because of the proximity of the ridge to the sea, Mediterranean scrub grows on it – the carob or locust tree (Ceratonia silique) and mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) - although the plants are misshapen and lying flat, because of the salt spray from the sea. This is the only place in Israel where the tizra tree (Rhus pentaphylla) grows.

In summer, on the sandy shores of the nature reserve, the female loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) lay their eggs. These turtles are giant reptiles, which may reach over 100 kg in weight. In the past thousands of female sea turtles were seen on Israel's shores, but cruel hunting, the collection of eggs for eating, and destruction of the nesting sites have devastated their numbers. The sea turtles have also been affected by fishing, and by swallowing plastic bags floating in the sea.

There are also mammals living on the sandy shores, including the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and rodents such as Tristram's jird (Meriones tristrami) and the great Egyptian gerbil (Gerbillus pyramidum). Common birds here are seagulls (Larus) and various Charadriiformes, feeding on creatures right on the seashore itself. The tufted ghost crab (Ocypode cursor) scuttles about in the dunes near to the sea.

On the abrasion platforms, the flat "tables" flooded by the sea, a unique form of life exists. On the abrasion platforms are sea snails (Dendropoma petraeum) that live in colonies, building reefs in the part of the platform that faces the sea. Among the stones lying on the shallow seabed are mollusks (Mollusca), sea anemones (Actiniaria), sea urchins (Echinoidea), octopuses (Octopoda), and starfish (Asteroidea), and the shellfish bore niches in the rocks with the acids that they excrete.

In the inlets, there are a large variety of fish species. In one small, shallow inlet close to the crevices 40 species of fish were found, an abundance unlike any other along our Mediterranean coast. Living in the crevices in complete darkness are species of corals, including corals that exist only here. Outside the crevices are more common species of coral.

In the deep water sea mammals can occasionally be seen, most of them cetaceans. The most common of these are the common dolphin (Delphinus), recognizable by the black stripe that runs from the nose towards the eyes and brow, reaching 2.60 m in length, the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), which is around 2.10 m in length and has many patches, grey on the darker part of its body and white on the lighter part of its body, and the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops), known for the pods living some 6 km off the shore, between Ras El-Baida in Lebanon and Acre.

On Rosh Hanikra Island sea gulls nest, while the islands of Akhziv and Segavion serve as a resting place for cormorants.

Flora


Vegetation on the seashore is affected by the salt spray carried by the wind, and only plants that are resistant to salt spray can survive here. Many of the coastal plants flower in the summer evenings, when there is a regular and stable wind regime allowing insects to visit and pollinate the flowers. Because of the proximity to the shore, within the nature reserve there are recumbent ecotypes of scallop-leaved mullein (Verbascum sinuatum) and evening primrose (Oenothera drummondii), and a dwarf ecotype of viscous globe thistle (Echinops viscosus). These ecotypes have an advantage over the typical appearance in dealing with the wind that carries the sea spray.

In the sandstone rocks facing the sea, the most noticeable plants are the sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum), a fleshy plant of the umbel family, flowering in yellow, and the sea lavender (Limonium), a delicate plant with purple flowers that grows in Israel only at Akhziv Beach. Growing in the dunes near the sea are beach morning glory (Ipomoea stolonifera) - a plant with long, recumbent rope-like stems, shiny green leaves, and large, yellow flowers; silvery birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus creticus) - a tiny shrub with hairy leaves and yellow papilionaceous flowers; sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum) - with large, white flowers that appear in August and fill the evening air with their intoxicating scent; and Israeli thyme (Coridothymus capitatus) - small shrubs with abundant purple flowers and very fragrant leaves. The thyme prefers the sandstone rocks a little further from the sea. Also growing within the area affected by the spray is the cut-leaf sea lavender (Limonium sinuatum), and rare species such as African morning glory (Ipomoea), sea-fern grass (Catapodium marinum), and white henbane (Hyoscyamus albus).

In the dunes that are further from the effect of the salt spray are shrubs such as the white broom (Retama raetam) - a large bush with spiky green branches, leafless almost throughout the year, with white flowers in February, and the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) - a characteristic Mediterranean bush that has "spilled over" from the hills and acclimatized to the sandy shore.

The rare oleaster (Russian olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia), which may be a refugee from cultivation, grows on Akhziv Beach, as well as the Akhziv biarum (Biarum).

On Nachlieli Island, which is very exposed to salty winds, plants resistant to the salt have been found, such as the Egyptian fig marigold (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum), coastal sea blite (Suaeda splendens), littoral bindweed (Cressa cretica), and prickly saltwort (Salsola kali).

Algae species are also common on the abrasion platforms. Mekong weed (Cladophora) is a green algae, very slippery, usually found on the upper surface  of the abrasion platforms, and in spring, large quantities of a red algae called spatoglossum are discharged onto the beach.

History


Settlement began during the Canaanite period (the 18th century BCE), and its great importance was due to the fact that it was a port and waystation along the "sea route" that followed the length of the coast.

In the Bible, Akhziv is a Canaanite town that was not captured by the tribe of Asher, evidence of its strength: "Asher drove not out the inhabitants of Acco, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib" (Judges 1:31). During the period of the kings of Israel, the area was controlled by the Phoenicians. They developed the port of Akhziv, which was an important base for their maritime commercial voyages. The Phoenicians refined the glass industry, and created woven fabrics colored purple with a dye produced from the Mediterranean sea snail.

Assyrian sources state that Sennacherib conquered the town on his third expedition to Phoenicia and the land of Israel (701 BCE). Stone tombstones from this period have been found at Akhziv, bearing names such as Zekhermelekh and Eved Shemesh.

During the period of the Mishna the place was called Kziv or Gziv, and according to the sources, there was a synagogue here. The inhabitants engaged in agriculture, fishing, shipping, and an economic branch unique to coastal towns – the production of azure and purple dyes from sea snails. These colors were of great financial value in ancient times.

During the Crusader period the town was called Casale Umberti, after the knight Hubert of Pacy, who was granted possession by the Crusader king Baldwin I (1104 CE). The Mameluke sultan Baibars apparently captured Akhziv in 1271, and thereafter there was a small village here called Az-Zib, a name that preserves the name of the ancient settlement. It appears that at this time, the inhabitants went over to using a port in the bay to the south of the tel, known in Arabic by the name Minat az-Zib (Akhziv Port). Most of the ruins that are visible today are the remains of the ancient village and the Crusader fortress that were here.

The Yad LeYad Memorial to the Fourteen


During the period of the British mandate, there were two bridges over the Kziv Stream, near the village of Az-Zib. On the "Night of the Bridges", the night between June 16 and June 17, 1946, a Palmah unit set out to blow up the road and railway bridges in order to sabotage the movement of the British Army. The British discovered the fighting force before it reached its target, and therefore there was an assault under fire. During the assault Yehiam Weitz, the commander of the operation, and another 13 fighters were killed. Afterwards the wounded were taken to Kibbutz Matzuva, while the others dispersed before the British began searching for them. Shortly afterwards it became necessary to move the wounded from the kibbutz as well, for fear that they would be caught, and they were transferred to Hanita, where they hid in the Ladder Cave.

The memorial to the fourteen fallen resistance fighters is to the north of Kziv Stream and east of Road 4 (between the markers for kilometer 245 and kilometer 246), within Akhziv National Park, but outside the fences. There is no fee for visiting the memorial.

Archaeology


The middle Canaanite period settlement took advantage of the natural fortifications of the site: the sea  bounds the tel to the west, a natural bay provides its southern border, and the Kziv Stream lies to the north. To the east, the town's inhabitants dug a moat connecting the stream with the bay. Freshwater springs were found in the moat.

The first settlers deepened the Kziv Stream channel and made it into an anchorage. In order to prevent the anchorage becoming blocked with sediment from the stream, they dammed the channel upstream and diverted the Kziv Stream estuary northwards. The stream flows into the sea through an artificial breach carved through the sandstone ridge to the north of the settlement, and the new channel became part of the fortifications of the site.

In excavations carried out in the center of the tel in 1963-1964, under M. Prausnitz, public buildings from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were found. The excavations found a Bet-El type stele depicting a temple façade with a goddess figure in the center. In the north-eastern area of the mound parts of the Canaanite II period fortifications were found (18th century BCE).

In 1941 - 1984 some cemeteries were excavated around Akhziv, producing many finds - figurines and tombstones, storage jars and vessels imported from neighboring countries. Among the finds were also pottery vessels in red slip burnished on the potter's wheel in a special way that has been called "Akhziv ware". In the cemetery to the north of the tel, on the northern bank of Kziv Stream, a ritual center dating to the Iron Age (7th – 6th century BCE) has been found, in which there is a standing stone that apparently served as a huge tombstone which later fell. Cauldrons were also found containing burnt bones, apparently indicating the burning of bodies. This custom ended in the 4th century BCE.

Close to the seashore graves were found that were built and carved in rock. In this area an altar, table, incense vessels and pottery vessels used for the cult of the dead were found. Here too, animal bones and human bones were found "passed through fire", alongside the property of the dead. In later excavations, graves from the Middle Bronze Age II were found in a graveyard to the south of the site.

The many areas of quarrying seen around the site, some of them in the sea rock and even on the islands, are for the most part quarries producing stones for building. Ponds were also dug out for breeding fish, and storing fish caught at sea. In the shallow ponds, seawater was evaporated in order to produce salt, or for breeding the sea snails from which the purple dye was produced.

Geology and geomorphology


The Akhziv shore is made up of a number of low, parallel sandstone ridges that run the entire length of the shore. The sandstone ridges were formed by the petrification of coastal dunes that rose up from the sea. The mortar is chalk, originating in animal shells and fragments, dissolved by the rain and then reformed. It is sometimes also possible to find red loam soil in the sandstone ridges. This soil is formed when the dunes are poor in chalk, and do not contain chalky material to bind them into sandstone rock.

The ridges are broken by the channels of the Kziv, Betset and Sha'al streams, and small, sandy bays formed in the stream estuaries. The westernmost ridge is beneath the sea, about a kilometer off the coast, and it marks an ancient coastline flooded some 5000 years ago.

The Rosh Hanikra and Akhziv islands are the peaks of the underwater ridge, rising from the water. Kziv Stream flows into the sea to the north of the Akhziv Holiday Village, and creates an underwater canyon in the ridge, unique along the Israeli coast.

The shoreline itself is characterized by a sandstone cliff that runs down to the sea, and erosion of the sandstone creates picturesque little bays.

At Akhziv Beach three streams flow into the sea: Betset Stream, which drains the northern part of Western Galilee; Kziv Stream, the largest stream in Western Galilee, draining the Meron Hills bloc; and Sha'al Stream, , a relatively small stream with a carved out estuary to the south of Tel Akhziv.

The many inlets of Akhziv Beach are a rare phenomenon on the Israeli coast line, where most of the beaches are covered with sand carried in by the sea.

How to get here:

3 km north of Yesod Hama'ala junction (Road 90: Rosh Pina - Kiryat Shemona), turn east.

Length of tour: 1 – 1½ hours

 

Best season: All year round, each season has its own special features.

 

Don't miss: "Ophoria" - multisensory experience

 

Other attractions:

  • Visitor service center
  • Picnic grounds
  •  Access for visitors in wheelchairs

Opening hours

Entry to the nature reserve until one hour before closing time

Sunday to Thursday and Saturday – 8 am – 5 pm
Friday and the eve of holidays – 8 am – 4 pm

 On the eve of New Year, the eve of the Day of Atonement and Passover eve: 8 am – 1 pm

Contact us

Telephone:  04- 6937069
Fax:  04-6959602 at the till


04-6860114 for Ophoria reservations
 

Entrance fee

Adult - NIS 35, child -NIS 21,

Group (over 30): Adult NIS 30, child NIS 18 

The price includes entry to the Ophoria visitor center

Binoculars are available for hire

dogs

 Dogs may not be brought into the reserve!


    Content under construction, the information apears soon.

    ​accessibility content ​​on this site​

    • Beach is rocky and indented with lagoons and sea - waves beating fiercely gravel ridge waterfront Achziv, bite into it and form small bays and its surrounding tables serve Israel's unique habitat marine fauna.
    • Achziv west coast islands Achziv shore islands seem wagtail, seagull and Achziv, but leaders are not submerged limestone ridge. Wagtail nest on the island of seagulls and terns sea. The islands are included in the area of the nature reserve islands of Rosh Hanikra.
    •  Rosh Hanikra Sea Reserve - marine reserve about five kilometers in length and breadth, from the coastline to the west, about two kilometers. A variety of habitats in the reserve are islands blue, gull and wagtail, its surrounding tables (sandstone ridge sea waves leveled flat tables), an underwater cliff at a depth of 25 m, sea bays open. Life here mollusk, sea anemones, sea urchins, octopus and starfish, fish and even dolphins. The reserve is recommended for recreational diving enthusiasts, and it can dive several sites through the dive area.
    • ​ Rosh Hanikra - from anywhere on the coast seem to range scale, range marks the border between Israel and Lebanon. Ridge / Rosh Hanikra, on the western edge of the ridge, steep drops straight into the sea.​



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