the stream accompanies an extensive park blessed with abundant scenic and natural values: sand dunes, eucalyptus groves, picnic areas, and the remains of human activities of the past
* The soft-shell turtle population – Alexander Stream has the largest population of soft-shell turtles in Israel. The soft-shell turtle lives in fresh water, swamps, and shallow streams. In the past, it was very common in Israel's coastal streams, but in recent decades its population has decreased, and efforts are being made to encourage its reproduction. In Alexander Stream National Park, the soft-shell turtles can be viewed from the "Turtle Bridge".
* The route of Alexander Stream – the tributaries of the stream start in the area of Nablus, and the stream flows 32 km to its estuary to the north of Bet Yanay beach. Until a few years ago the stream was very polluted, but after comprehensive cleaning and rehabilitation, today it is a jewel of nature, its clean waters populated by wildlife, and rich vegetation growing along its banks.
* Horvat Samara – in the heart of Alexander Stream National Park is a kurkar hill, atop which stand the remains of a building from the end of the 19th century. It was apparently used as a customs post by the Ottoman authorities, and the vaults characteristic of Turkish architecture can be seen here. As a result of kurkar (coastal limestone) mining in ancient times, caves have formed on the southern slope of the hill, and in winter and spring the area blooms with an abundance of attractive flowers.
* Alexander Stream estuary – the point at which the stream flows into the sea is to the north of Bet Yanay beach. At this point there was a small harbor in the 19th century, used for the watermelon trade. During the British mandate, the harbor was used to land ships carrying illegal immigrants, and in 1948 the Altalena anchored here, bringing weapons for the IZL, but was forced to continue to the shores of Tel Aviv.
* Bet Yanay beach – this is one of the most beautiful and well cared for beaches in the country, attracting thousands of vacationers every year. The beach has lifeguard services, open spaces, shaded areas for the use of the bathers, a toilet and shower block, and a campsite that is separate from the regulated beach.
* Illegal immigration lookout
* Horvat Samara – the remains of a building from the end of the 19th century, on top of a kurkar hill. The hilltop affords a wonderful view of the coastal strip and the sea to the west, and the verdant park to the east.
Alexander Stream was declared as a national park in 1982.
Reasons for declaration
The nature reserve conserves the diverse landscapes of the stream channel, wild beach, sand dunes, and kurkar ridges, and also a unique population of soft-shell turtles, and the characteristic vegetation of a number of habitats.
Alexander Stream flows through the heart of the Sharon region, through Emek Hefer, and joins the sea to the south of Mikhmoret
Two special turtle populations live in Alexander Stream and the area of the beach at which it flows into the sea. The soft-shell turtles (Trionychidae) live in the stream, while on the shore live green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), coming ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Both populations are at risk of extinction, and many efforts are being made to revive them. However, it is not only the turtles that enjoy the qualities of the stream and the surrounding area. A variety of hard-to-spot fish live in the stream, while the coypu (Myocastor coypus) can be seen floating in the water searching for food. Coypu are considered to be an invasive species, causing damage to the banks of the stream and the agricultural fields. There are also other mammals in the area of the park, including mongooses (Herpestes) and small rodents. In the air are water fowl, kingfishers (Alcedinidae), herons and egrets (Ardeidae), as well as songbirds and raptors. The sea shore is characterized mainly by water fowl, and in the sand live reptiles and small mammals.
The most noticeable vegetation along the length of the stream is riverbank vegetation. Growing together along the edges of the stream are common reeds (Phragmites australis), lesser bulrushes (Typha domingensis), and holy brambles (Rubus sanguineus), all typical riverbank plants. Along the length of the stream, and in particular within the Alexander Stream National Park, plants in danger of extinction are being brought back into nature, among them the dock (Rumex rothschildianus), elephant grass (Typha elephantine), and coastal purple iris (Iris atropurpurea).
The dunes and kurkar ridge near the shore are the habitat of unique coastal vegetation. Prominent on the kurkar ridge is the samphire (Crithmum maritimum), while the characteristic vegetation of the dunes includes the lovely sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), beach morning glory (Ipomoea stolonifera), and sea cudweed (Otanthus maritimus).
Many species of plants have spread through the area of the park that are not native to Israel, and so are considered "invasive", including the ambrosia, golden wattle (Acacia saligna), and camphor weed (Heterotheca subaxillaris). Because of the damage caused to the local species by invasive species, the Nature and Parks Authority carries out ongoing work to eliminate them, including cutting them down and uprooting them. The vegetation that is cut down is ground up for reuse as ground cover, and in areas that have been opened up regrowth is monitored and uprooted, and local trees are planted or wild flowers are sowed in order to maintain the continuum of native Israeli vegetation.
Alexander Stream is a flood stream, affected by major precipitation events. In the past, the channel of the stream was too narrow to contain the water flowing through it, which thus overflowed and created large swampy areas.
With the beginning of Jewish settlement in Emek Hefer, the settlers took action to drain the swamps. One of the important steps was to enlarge the channel of the stream, helping to reduce the damage. Years later, when the stream was rehabilitated and cleaned, the channel was made deeper and still wider, to prevent the effects of future floods.
The stream's proximity to the shoreline made the estuary area a key point. In the 19th century, a harbor was in operation here, called in Arabic "Minat Abu Zabura". The quay customs station stood slightly to the east at Horvat Samara, which is currently within the area of the Alexander Stream National Park. From the harbor, watermelons were sent to markets in Lebanon and Egypt, but when the railway line began operating at the end of World War I, these activities came to an end. The place was also in use during the period of the British Mandate – in the 1930s, during the Arab Revolt that broke out in the country, the Jewish Yishuv (settlement) decided to establish an alternative to Jaffa port, from which to export citrus fruit and import fertilizers. The Mandate authorities authorized the plan and the quay was built, but in practice it was intended to help the illegal immigrant ships. Ships carrying illegal immigrants came to the shore, and new immigrants were received on the beach and smuggled on from there.
One of the best-known events was the anchoring of the Altalena in June 1948. The ship was carrying military equipment and weapons for the IZL, but did not have time to unload its cargo, and when tempers ran high there was an exchange of fire between its crew and an IDF force. In the end, the Altalena was forced to sail on to Tel Aviv, where Ben-Gurion gave orders for it to be sunk, and it went down in sight of crowds of citizens.
Despite the important role of the stream in the history of the area, there are very few archaeological finds. At Tel Mikhmoret the remains of an ancient settlement were found, near to a small natural bay. The harbor of Tel Mikhmoret was active more than 3300 years ago, and remains were also found nearby from later periods (apparently of a fortress). The remains of two artificial fishponds were also found here, evidence of marine agriculture in the area.
The coastal area is characterized by kurkar (coastal limestone) ridges and sandy dunes. The kurkar ridges were formed in a lengthy process over millions of years, during which time layers of sand were laid down one on top of another and, together with minerals from the sea, formed an endemic rock. Very few kurkar ridges remain today along Israel's coastline, and in some places struggles are under way to prevent construction and development. The dunes formed by transported sand coming by way of the sea are usually stopped by man-made roads, which prevent their natural continuation eastwards. The dunes, as well as the kurkar ridges, are unique habitats for fauna and flora, and damaging them causes direct harm to the wildlife and plant life.
The drainage basin of the Alexander Stream covers an area of around 550 km². It starts on the western slopes of Samaria, and flows through the heart of the Sharon for 32 km until it reaches the sea. Floods occurred not infrequently in the rainy area of the stream, and the waters rose up and overflowed, causing flooding around the stream and the formation of large swamps. As mentioned, the swamps were drained with the beginning of Jewish settlement in the region, in the 1930s. The stream was enlarged again in the 1960s, and more recently, in the 1990s, it was thoroughly cleaned and cultivated. There are still small springs near the stream, the remains of those swamps, and their water flows through small channels into the stream.
To the beach: Near to the Coast Road (Road 2), about 15 minutes from Netanya. Enter the Yanay intersection and turn to the west. Turn right at the T-junction, and immediately right again.
1. Road no. 2. Enter Yanay intersection and turn west (towards the sea); at the T-junction continue northwards (right) for less than 1 km. A brown sign to "Alexander Stream" marks the left turn to the sea. Follow the dirt road under the bridge in an easterly direction next to the stream.
2. Coming from the Turtle Bridge. Come from Road 4. At Hefer Junction, turn to Kfar Vitkin. After 1 km, enter a roundabout with a sign directing you to the "River Turtle Park". Cross the stream by the bridge, continue straight ahead for a short distance in a northerly direction, and turn west to Samara ruins
On the eve of New Year, the eve of the Day of Atonement, and Passover eve: 8 am – 1 pm
Further details on activities and tours for groups only can be obtained from the Central District Guidance Unit at 08-6220835
There is computerized parking on the beach – collected throughout the day.
Take a ticket on entering the beach, and pay at the payment stations at your convenience before exiting.
Entry between 6 am – 8 am is free of charge.
As of May 2, 2016 and until further notice, the entrance fee for vehicles entering between 7 pm and midnight will be NIS 10 only (people entering before 7 pm or exiting after midnight will pay the full fee).
Weekdays Sun. – Fri.: Private vehicle: NIS 24, minibus: NIS 79, bus: NIS 157
Saturdays and holidays: Private vehicle: NIS 34, minibus: NIS 95, bus: NIS 174
Price for Matmon subscribers:
50% discount for Nature and Parks Authority members
Subscriptions can be purchased at the Nature and Parks Authority green shop (by the beach clinic).
Beach subscription – NIS 380
Beach subscription for Emek Hefer residents: NIS 260
Payment instructions for Matmon subscribers:
Matmon subscribers are requested to go to the entrance barrier, put in their Matmon card in accordance with the illustration, and wait a couple of seconds to receive their entrance ticket with the 50% Matmon discount. Do not press the black button.
Overnight camping will be calculated according to the number of days of parking.
(Permitted length of stay – up to six nights)
Weekdays – NIS 48 per vehicle per night
Friday and eve of holidays - NIS 57 per vehicle per night
Caravan parking is prohibited.
Caravans may not be brought into the campground.
Instructions for entry to the beach / campground: