Dor HaBonim Beach Nature Reserve

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The nature reserve is a beautiful and picturesque beach, a coastal strip with more bays and inlets than any other in Israel.

 Wild, primeval scenery and unique natural values are intertwined here, and walking trails and campgrounds have been set up for visitors
​Alongside this nature reserve are the Dor Habonim marine nature reserve, and Tel Dor National Park. 

points of interest


Sandy beach and rocky bay for day and overnight stays

·         An enchanting sandy beach and rocky bay for daytime and overnight stays (campground on the main beach, with toilets, beach showers, picnic tables and shade, receptacles for lighting campfires, kiosk, information about marine mammals and the coastal environment; the northern beach complex)

·         Walking trails on the kurkar (calcareous sandstone) ridge, along the rocky inlets of the sea and the abrasion platforms  

·         Tel Dor National Park - the remains of an ancient city and harbor

 

points of interest in detail

·         Day and night campground - the site is on the central beach, and offers visitors a whole range of possibilities for outdoor recreation. There is an information center on marine mammals and the coastal environment, a kiosk, bathing beach, shade canopies, picnic tables, receptacles for lighting bonfires, and, of course, toilets and beach showers.

·         Walking trail - a circular trail along a rocky beach with more inlets than any other in the country. The path is marked in red, and the trail starts in the southern parking lot and turns southward, along the length of the bays. In the area of the "Flower Hill", the trail splits into two. It passes by a number of attractions that are unique to this site, such as the "Blue Cave" - a cave formed over the course of many years by processes of erosion, dissolution and collapse, which acquired its name thanks to its shades of blue, whose beauty attracts many visitors; "Shell Bay"  - an inlet lined with a thick layer of shells that have found their way to shore; and the "Shipwreck" - the remains of a ship that was carrying cement and went aground near to the shore. Evidence of human activity can be found in the chain of ancient wells that were dug here in order to reach the groundwater, which is very close to the surface. The wells provided the inhabitants with drinking water, and were also used for irrigation - alongside them you can see the remains of stone troughs for watering animals. Along the trail there are also the remains of channels and ponds from the fish-breeding industry, as well as a large, ancient kurkar quarry, and the "Cleopatra Cave" - a pool originally carved out by man, which has undergone natural erosion with the help of the waves. The water reaches this pool in an underground cave beneath the rock. According to legend, Cleopatra was entranced by the magical beauty of the pool, and even bathed in it, and in doing so gave it its name. To the east of the kurkar ridge is the "gutter" – a shallow valley in the form of a drainpipe, which drains the rainwater and streams. Because of the topographic and geological conditions of the area, the "gutter" is frequently flooded in the winter, and at the end of winter visitors can enjoy the sun's-eye tulip flowers that stand out in fiery red against the landscape.

·         Tel Dor National Park – Tel Dor has the remains of an ancient city and an ancient harbor, built in this location because of the natural inlets of the shoreline. The mound rises up above the waterline, providing breathtaking views, and containing fascinating and exciting finds within. The Dor port city was founded in Canaanite times (some 3500 years ago). Ships anchored in the natural bays for rest, or found shelter there from storms, and so the need arose for a settlement to provide additional services to those anchoring there. Dor grew into a large, fortified city, as evidenced by the public buildings, private homes, and, of course, large walls whose remains are found in the western part of the tel. The city knew days of prosperity and glory, as well as periods of destruction and poverty, and was only abandoned in the Byzantine period. Remains from the different periods were found in excavations carried out in the tel in recent decades, in which interesting and unique items have been uncovered. Among the finds, for example, are vessels from Egypt, which came from the Egyptian ships that anchored in the harbor, as well as mosaic floors, anchors from several periods, and more. The finds are on display in the Mizgaga museum at nearby Kibbutz Nahsholim, a museum that tells the fascinating story of the city of Dor.

 

Lookout points


  • The lookout point at the top of the kurkar ridge affords an extensive view of the rock and indented shoreline, and a view of the Carmel range to the north and east.
  • The view from Tulip Hill is particularly beautiful in winter, looking out over the sea and the shipwreck.
  • Tel Dor lookout point gives a view of the Dor antiquities, especially the ancient harbor at the foot of the tel. The ruins are beautiful and impressive, and it is worth giving them some time. To the south of the tel lies the stunning lagoon of Nahsholim Beach, while the beautiful coastline extends to the north.
 

Identity card


Hof Dor – Habonim Nature Reserve

Status: the nature reserve was declared in 1980.

Reason for declaration

Preserving the ecosystem that is unique to the Mediterranean shores of Israel. This nature reserve has a variety of habitats: the kurkar ridge, the sandy beach, the rocky beach, the salt marsh, the point of contact between sea and land, the tubular reefs, the erosion platforms, and the shallow water, all teeming with unique fauna and flora, whose conservation is vital to the ecosystem.

Location: Hof Dor – Habonim nature reserve is in the coastal plain, between the Sharon area and the Carmel coast.

 

Dor – Habonim Marine Nature Reserve

Status: the nature reserve was declared in 2000.

Reasons for declaration

·          Conservation of the sandy and rocky habitats of the continental shelf, from the erosion platforms in the east, to a depth of 30 m to the west.

·         Preserving the biodiversity of wildlife and algae in the area of the reserve.

·         The reserve is a reproduction and distribution center for marine animals for adjacent habitats, thus enabling the existence of fish breeding

·         Preserving a natural area for leisure and recreation

·         Increasing environmental awareness through education and explanation

Location:

the Dor Habonim Marine Nature Reserve is in the coastal plain, between the Sharon area and the Carmel coast, to the west of the Hof Dor – Habonim Nature Reserve which is its eastern boundary. The marine reserve covers the area from Tel Dor National Park in the south to the estuary of the Me'arot Stream in the north, and its western border is at a distance of 2 km from the shoreline.

 

Tel Dor National Park

Status: declared national park

Reason for declaration

·         An archaeological tel and unique rocky seashore, sandy inlets and erosion platforms with tubular reefs (Dendropoma, vermetidea).

Geographic location:

Dor National Park is in the coastal plain, to the west of Kibbutz Nahsholim.

 

Conservation activities of the Nature and Parks Authority


  • Arrangement of a recreation complex for the benefit of visitors. The complex includes a day and night campground with toilets, changing rooms, shady areas, and so on, and enforcement of the prohibition against noise and light beyond permitted levels, in order not to disturb the wildlife.
  • Insistence on lighting fires only in designated places and receptacles, and removal of the remains of the charcoal after use.
  • Establishing and operating an information center about marine mammals and the coastal environment
  • Regular maintenance of the hiking trails in the area of the reserve, blocking paths, and arranging bicycle paths.
  • Supervision in the grounds of the coastal reserve, marine reserve, and national park, including enforcing the law prohibiting driving along the seashore.
  • Monitoring, dealing with, and eradicating invasive species, such as camphor weed, Red Sea mussels, and others.
  • Monitoring fauna and flora and conserving the unique habitat of the erosion platforms.
  • Coordinating and responding in cases of local and regional sea pollution.
  • Carrying out research into the coastal environment in the area of the reserves (in cooperation with academic and research institutes such as Haifa University, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, Bar Ilan University and others).
  • Holding explanatory events, and cooperating with environmental organizations to increase awareness of preserving the marine and coastal environment.
 

Wildlife


The meeting point between sea and land is fertile ground for a wealth of creatures. A particularly rich world exists on the Dor – Habonim shore, because both marine and land animals live in the area, and it has unique habitats for plants that attract unique wildlife. These creatures have developed exclusive physiological adaptations, enabling them to exist in conditions of extreme variability: from damp to dry, from facing stormy waves to the calm of the morning. The need to survive has helped these animals adapt in ways that determine the distance from the point of contact between sea and land at which their habitat is found. This has resulted in "zonation" - a kind of array of bands of habitats, one after another, each with its typical species, among them familiar families of creatures.

 

In the marine reserve typical Mediterranean animals live alongside a number of unique species. So, for example, pelagic fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles live here. In the shallow sea, in the areas washed by the waves, and on the erosion platforms there is an abundance of creatures, among them mollusks, a multitude of crustaceans (such as barnacles - Balanus balanoides), sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea), sponges (Porifera), starfish (Asteroidea), as well as gastropods, including Echinolittorina punctate, Echinodermata, Coelenterata, corals such as the red sea anemone (Actinia equina) and snakelocks anemone (Anemonia viridis), and reef fish such as the Belennius, ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo), and even a gathering and reproduction area of groupers (Ephinephelae).  Magilidae (worm snails), resembling an elongated worm, also live in the same habitat. They are unique in that they build their homes in the form of chalky tubes around their elongated body, and live on the erosion platforms - rocky surfaces in the sea at the foot of the kurkar. The habitat is alternately flooded and exposed, and the magdilae play an important role in its formation.

 

The sandy shore has little wildlife by comparison with the rocky shore, and is inhabited by ghost crabs (Ocypodinae), marine mammals, a wide range of invertebrates, and also sea turtles (Chelonioidea), which come ashore to lay their eggs, and different species of mollusks. In Shell Bay the shells of the marine clam (Glycymeris) are common, a species that lives in the silt that covers the seabed. Research has shown that these mollusks lived here thousands of years ago, were preserved buried in the seabed (their natural habitat), and were exposed by sea currents in recent times and thrown up on the shore.

 

On land, there are many species of invertebrates, as well as a few species of mammals, such as Tristram's jird (Meriones tristrami), Anderson's gerbil (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi), sand cats (Felis margarita), foxes (Vulpes) and hares (Lepus), and even bats (Chiroptera), hedgehogs (Erinaceidae), and gazelles (Gazella).

 

In the air overhead fly a variety of birds, whose population changes with the seasons of the year. Water fowl star here, and species such as the curlew (Numenius arquata), the greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), and the oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), as well as herons (Ardeidae) and ducks (Anatidae), are found here in abundance. Songbirds live here too, such as the European stonechat (Saxicoia rubicola), linnet (Carduelis cannabina), and greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), alongside birds of prey (falcons (falco) and others).

 

Flora


The plant life in Hof Dor – Habonim nature reserve  and Hof Dor National Park is formed by the meeting of species from three habitats: the Mediterranean coastal habitat, the Mediterranean woodland margins habitat, and species that have moved northwards from the desert. This unique combination has created a world of singular and rich flora. The difference in the infrastructure (the soil) has produced an interesting mosaic of plant companies, including in the saltmarshes – which are among the few remaining coastal saltmarshes, in which distinctive plants grow. This melting pot has encouraged the development of species that are exclusive to this site alone (endemic species), among them the Israel Whitlow-wort (Paronychia palaestina), dock (Rumex rothschildianus), Jaffa groundsel (Senecio joppensis), and sea pancratium lily (Pancratium maritimum). The plant life here faces complex challenges, and it is therefore important to protect it.

The kurkar ridges are characterized by a configuration of low-growing coastal scrub. The plants of the coastal scrub are resistant to salty sea spray and the strong winds that blow here, and despite the difficulties, there is abundant and full growth of Mediterranean vegetation, coastal vegetation, and even rare plants that are characteristic of saltmarshes. All these are able to grow here because they have developed special properties allowing them to exist in these unique conditions, and have adopted a "lifestyle" that helps them cope with the difficulties of the soil and the proximity to the sea. For example, the leaves of the succulent campion (Silene succulenta) are covered with long, sticky hairs that protect it from the grains of sand that fly in the wind, and from the sea spray. The sea pancratium lily (Pancratium maritimum) covers its leaves with fine hairs that repel water and spray, and in fact prevent scorching. The rainwater trickling through the sand is quickly collected by the Jaffa groundsel (Senecio joppensis) and stored in its fleshy leaves.

 

Like the wildlife, the plants on the kurkar ridge are arranged in bands according to the distance from the waterline and their ability to withstand the effects of sea and wind. The plants that are resistant to wind and sea spray are in the front line, including the sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum), sea lavender (Limonium oleifolium), and littoral bindweed (Cressa cretica). Behind them are the sea couch grass (Elytrigia juncea), wavy-leaf sea lavender (Limonium sinuatum), and silvery bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus creticus), as well as the evening primrose (Oenothera drummondii), beach morning glory (Ipomoea stolonifera), and sea pancratium lily (Pancratium maritimum). Incidentally, at the end of summer and in the fall the sea lilies give off a pleasant and very distinctive fragrance. In the third band are species that need less tough conditions, among them the prickly burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum), shaggy sparrow-wort (Thymelea hirsuta), and Israeli thyme (Coridothymus capitatus). Although this band is further from the sea, the signs of burning caused by the sea water can still be seen. Beyond it is a typical Mediterranean landscape, with mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus), Israeli thyme (Coridothymus capitatus) and African fleabane (Phagnalon rupestre), considered to be sensitive to sea salt. Among them live geophytes (bulbs and tubers) such as the Barbary nut (Gynandriris sisyrinchium), pink butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea), and sun's eye tulip (Tulipa agenensis). The isolated trees that can be seen in the area are apparently the survivors of orchards planted by man.

 

In this area there is a difference in vegetation between the western aspect, which is more exposed to the sea spray, where the plants are lower-growing and more spread out, and the eastern aspect, where the effects of wind and sea are weaker and therefore the plants grow taller and look healthier. Flower Hill is best visited in winter and spring, when the familiar wildflowers run riot here: the rock rose (Cistus), anemone (Anemone coronaria), cyclamen (Cyclamen), buttercup (Ranunculus) and tulip (Tulipa), alongside rare species such as the early spider orchid (Ophrys transhyrcana).

 

In addition to proximity to the sea, the type of soil is very important: sandy soil or rocky soil. In the sandy soil, closer to the sea, one can meet the Sporobolus pungens, a plant that is resistant to salt spray and also to being covered by sand. On the other hand, in the first band of the rocky soil (kurkar—calcareous sandstone) live the shaggy sparrow-wort (Thymelea hirsuta) and prickly burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum), which, as mentioned, have a limited degree of resistance to salt spray but are able to develop well in the kurkar area. The spray makes the vegetation look like flat, prickly cushions - which is not their typical appearance in places where the conditions are better.

 

In pockets of soil between the kurkar rocks are concentrations of distinctive, tiny plants, most of them rare species in danger of extinction, such as the sea pearlwort (Sagina maritima), sea fern grass (Catapodium marinum), Frankenia hirsuta, and hairy catchfly (Silene sedoides). In addition, one can also find the golden samphire (Inula crithmoides), a variety of different algae, shrubby saltbush (Atriplex halimus), dyer's bugloss (Alkanna tinctoria), white broom (Retama raetam), and even Steven's meadow saffron (Colchicum stevenii).

 

The flora in the marine reserve is completely different from that growing on land. Marine plant life is based mainly on a number of divisions of algae, among them: gulf weed (Sargassum), sea lettuce (Ulva Enteromorpha), Hypnea, Padina, and Colpomenia.

The margins of the reserve are characterized by an area of saltmarsh (drainage of salt water), a habitat that is becoming rarer by the day, where trees such as palms and tamarisks and others grow, and on the ground are rare species such as swamp sea lavender (Limonium meyeri) (which appears in the "red book"), sea plantain (Plantago crassifolia), black bog-rush (Schoenus nigricans), Ballota philistaea, and others.

 

 

Geology and geomorphology


The length of the coastal strip of Dor – Habonim nature reserve is 4.5 km, and it is of peerless beauty. This is a section of coast with more bays than any other in our country, as a result of geological processes over many years that have produced this priceless creation. The geological process that has shaped the shoreline as it is today took place over millions of years, and is still taking place. It started with the grains of sand on the shore. The pristine sand lying here has had a voyage of hundreds, or even thousands of kilometers before arriving at this place. The sand was formed in the heart of Africa, where the hard bedrock underwent (and is still undergoing) processes of natural erosion, disintegrating into sharp grains of sand. The sand that reaches the Nile is carried down to the Mediterranean in the strong river currents, and along the way the grains are shaped and polished, their sharp edges smoothed, and tiny, smooth balls are formed. The sea and its currents push the sand northwards and eastwards, and the waves carry it to the shoreline. From the shoreline, the sand moves eastward with the help of the wind regime, and so the grains of sand do not remain on the shore for long, but continue to move, and form dunes. Because of man's intervention in nature, for example by building the Aswan Dam and Nasser Lake in Egypt, and building marinas and breakwaters, the transportation of sand to Israel's shores has slowed down. Hardly any new sand arrives here, and so the sand that remains is very precious, and should not be damaged or mined.

 

In the next stage of the geological process, the kurkar (calcareous sandstone) ridges were formed. The beginnings of every ridge lie in a sand dune that has piled up on the shore, and collected sand and fragments of shell made of chalk. Over the years, the rain dissolves the chalk, which trickles down and, in the deepest strata, forms a deposit where the chalk traps the sand and turns it into chalky sandstone, kurkar. The Israeli coast is made up of long kurkar ridges. After the process of building the kurkar ridges came to an end, the reverse process began - erosion of these rocks with the help of the wind and waves, and it is this that has formed the coastline we see today. The sea dissolves the kurkar rock in a chemical process, while the waves erode it in a mechanical process, and added to this is a biogenic process - breakdown of the kurkar by the creatures living in the rocks. The result is a shoreline with sandy inlets, capes, reefs, beach caves, and wave cascades, giving it its beauty. The effects of the sea can be seen wherever the water touches the kurkar – in the inlets and crevices that the force of the waves has created, and in the sandy bays, the accumulation of shells cast onto the shore, and the interesting composition and shape of the rocks along the shore.

 

Walking along the beach past the sandy bay, you come to a kurkar hill, to the west of which is a strange concentration of rocks that are unlike the familiar kurkar rocks. These are beach rocks, rocks that contain large quantities of shell fragments and grains of sand, that have been compacted into rock by the chalky material (calcium carbonate).

The erosion platforms are made of kurkar, and therefore have a limited distribution. Israel has the largest erosion platforms in the world, and in the Dor – Habonim coastal reserve their entire length can be seen. An erosion platform is, in fact, a kurkar hill protruding above the surface of the water, whose summit has been eroded in a long, slow process. The result is a kind of flat plate known as an "erosion platform". Sometimes the eastern part of the erosion platform is connected to the kurkar ridges, and sometimes it is separated from them. Its center is flat and is affected by the rise and fall of the tide, and a close look at the part that faces the sea (the rim of the platform) reveals narrow, winding burrows created by an interesting creature – the worm snail (Magilidae). The worm snails build homes in the form of chalky tubes around their elongated bodies, and so play an important role in shaping these platforms. In recent years a number of research studies have been carried out along the Israeli coastline, but none of these have found living survivors of worm snails (which are also called Dendropoma petraeum). Since this is the case, it seems that this unique structure, in all its complexity, is in danger of disappearance.

 

Along the shore there are also a number of small seawater pools and areas of salt left behind after evaporation of the water. There are two kinds of pools here: natural pools - caused by processes of dissolution, and man-made pools – the result of excavating rocks for building. It is easy to distinguish between the two types, because the carved out pools have vertical walls, while the natural pools have an amorphous, irregular and undefined shape.

 

Hydrology


Along the Dor – Habonim coastal strip is a hydrological system based on three components: Maharal Stream, winter ponds, and groundwater.

Maharal Stream is a seasonal stream that starts in the south of the Carmel range, moves westward, and drains Maharal Valley and Shir Valley. The stream crosses the central kurkar ridge in a shallow saddle, but is blocked from reaching the sea on the sandy shore, and creates a swamp. It is only at times of flooding that its waters break through into the sea. Some parts of the stream have been regulated, and so the greater part of it does not flood its banks, and, despite the obstruction on the shore, the winter flow carves out changing routes on its way to the sea.

The regular winter ponds that form in the nature reserve are in the gutters, the valleys between the kurkar ridges (mainly between the western ridge and the central ridge), in which the water is trapped. Two of the ponds are particularly striking - the large pond to the south of Maharal Stream, and the small pond to the north of the fishpond (a treated wastewater pond to the south of Moshav Habonim). Other ponds form every year, most of them small. The ponds are actually high groundwater, and their number, area, depth and lifespan depends on the quantity of precipitation. In the past, an attempt was made to drain the large pond, with partial success. Some of the water remained and sustained the pond. Incidentally, the pond is inhabited by many species of waterfowl.

Habonim Nature Reserve lies over the coastal aquifer - an underground groundwater reservoir trapped in an impervious chalk deposit. Between this groundwater and the sea is an area called the "transition zone", which prevents the fresh groundwater becoming saline. However, in some areas near to the shore salty seawater penetrates the groundwater and increases its salinity. The main assumption is that over-pumping has moved the transition zone eastward, although another hypothesis talks of a meeting between the groundwater and ancient salts that were trapped underground. Either way, the water of the western coastal aquifer has become more saline in recent years, and is therefore classified as marginal, and is used by the local inhabitants for agriculture and fishponds.

 

Archaeology


This area was inhabited by seafarers for many years, and they left their mark in a variety of ways. At Tel Dor, for example, archeological remains from many different periods have been found, including buildings, walls, gates, ponds, and more. In the eastern part of the coastal strip it is possible to find wells, dug because the groundwater was high, so that the local residents could also enjoy fresh water. These residents also made use of the natural breakwaters that abound in the area. For example, they carved out kurkar stones for building, leaving behind ancient kurkar quarries (some of them submerged in the sea). Fishing was an important branch of the local economy, and so it is also possible to see ponds along the shore, intended for storing fish (piscines), other industrial facilities intended for the fishing branch, and a water drainage system. Other ponds were used for a completely different purpose - evaporation ponds for producing salt, another industry that was very common along the shores of the Mediterranean. Salt was also produced by the same process in the area of the gutters, and for this purpose facilities were constructed for transferring seawater eastward.

Some installations are submerged in the sea itself, as well as many fascinating sailing vessels from different periods. Many anchors found in the area testify to technological development, and are on display in the Mizgaga Museum in Kibbutz Nahsholim.

 

History​


The history of settlement at Tel Dor and on the shores of Habonim Nature Reserve takes us back thousands of years, to the time between the Bronze (Canaanite) Age and the Arab period. The natural bay attracted ships sailing to the Mediterranean shores, which were forced to anchor in inlets for rest or during storms. As a result, a port city arose here that developed into a very important strategic settlement.

One of the important historical finds made here is actually a relic from the 20th century. Across from Moshav Habonim, the prow of a shipwreck rises above the water, at a distance of some 30 m from the shore and at a depth of 2.5 m. The ship was carrying a cargo of sacks of cement, and sank here 90 years ago. It appears to have come from Turkey or Germany, but its exact identity is not yet clear. In any event, over the years the ship has become an artificial reef, and a wealth of marine flora and fauna has developed around it. It is possible to swim out to the wreck, and dive around it.

How to get here:

Follow the old coast road (Road 4) to Habonim Junction, and turn west towards Moshav Habonim (taking the bridge over the coast road). At the entrance to the moshav, turn right onto a dirt road, and then left at Hashittim Junction as far as the road. At the road, turn right, cross the railway lines with caution, and continue to the dirt road and parking lot by the beach. 

Alternative route:
Drive along the coast road (Road 2). Visitors coming from the south  will turn eastward at Zihron Ya'acov Intersection, and continue to Fureidis Junction (Road 4); those coming from the north will turn at Atlit Intersection and continue to Oren Junction (Road 4), and from there to the entrance to the moshav. 

Length of visit :
1 hour – all day

Opening hours:

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

July – August – 8 am – 7 pm

Best season:
All year round

Contact us

Telephone: 04-8252266

Fax: 04-8341516
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Entrance fee 

Adult - NIS 22, child – NIS 9
Group (over 30): Adult - NIS 19, child – NIS 8
​parking:
private vehicle – NIS 36
Minibus – NIS 120
Bus – NIS 240 
50% discount for Nature and Parks Authority members – payment at the office


Overnight camping

(Camping is only possible during the summer)

Payment for camping will be the daily parking fee for the total number of days stayed 

The price includes a visit to the nature reserve 

Habonim Beach is not a declared bathing beach, and swimming is at the visitor's own responsibility




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    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Dor HaBonim Beach Nature Reserve