Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Hof Habonim

Our favourite day out over Passover was the day we drove north to the Hof Habonim Nature Reserve, just south of Haifa. Israel's coastline is generally straight, without many bays or coves. The exception is Habonim Beach, or Hof Habonim, where the eolianite rocks ("kurkar" in Hebrew and Arabic) have created an indented, rugged coastline characterised by circular bays, sandstone ridges (Hof Habonim is one of the last places along the coast of Israel where you can get a view of these sandstone ridges, which are fast disappearing), and soft white sand. The reserve includes a 4.5 km long stretch of coastline, from Tel Dor in the south to Moshav Habonim in the north, and is now one of my favourite Israeli Mediterranean coast beaches.
The reserve has two main routes that are marked in the leaflets given out at the entrance. The beginning point of the route is marked in red. After passing through various places, the path splits into a red and green route. Since we only had one car with us on the day we visited, we had to take the circular route, the green route, which led us back to the car park, while continuing along the red route would have taken us south to Tel Dor. This route is around 4.5 km in length and takes about 4 hours of slow walking. As it happens, our shorter route took us about 2.5 hours, with many stops to collect shells, colourful sea glass and paddle in the shallow waters.
The trail first climbs the rocks overlooking the coast, and goes in and out of little coves. Our first stop was at a cove literally covered in seashells and surrounded by kurkar rock jutting into the sea. We really didn't know what to look at first - the mountains of seashells, the beautiful blue sea, or the unusual kurkar rocky plates, which have been abraded over the years by the waves until they became levelled down and flat. A few of the abrasion plates form "islands" near the shore. The view of the waves endlessly covering and uncovering these rocky plates was mesmerising.
After a short distance we got to an old kurkar quarry, below, which once supplied "kurkar" stone (an amalgamation of sandstone and seashells) to neighbouring villages. The rock was taken out in an ingenious way: dry wooden planks were hammered into the rock, then they used to wet it with water, causing the wood to expand and push the kurkar rock apart. Further along, from the top of the ridge, we saw ruins of a ship that was shipwrecked.
Along the route we saw some beautiful flowers, which were more abundant as we moved inland from the coastline swept by the salty wind. The bright red poppies and the vivid yellow Spring Groundsel reminded us that summer is on its way. Towards the end of the route we stopped by a well and were delighted to see a family of turtles sunbathing on a rock and happily swimming in the murky water.
We had seen everything on our hike that our family enjoys -  the sea, soft white sand, shells, flowers and some wildlife too! Hof Habonim is one of the most unique beaches along the coast of Israel and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful. Hiking along the nature reserve was particularly enjoyable and a wonderful way to spend a Passover holiday day.


VeggieMummy said...

How gorgeous - you live in a beautiful part of the World. Love those turtles too. xx

TexWisGirl said...

love your wildflowers! great fence post photo. turtles always make me smile. :)

using the wood to wet and expand the rock was pretty smart! love the shore scenes. i am about a 6 hour drive to see a shoreline here.

Miss Val's Creations said...

The photos are absolutely stunning! This is definitely a place I would love to walk around. The sounds of the sea must have been wonderful.

Quinn said...

These photographs are so clear and colorful - you had perfect weather for your holiday! I miss the ocean.