High Adventure in the Promised Land
Israel is most often visited for its notable religious and historic sites, but it has plenty to offer adventure travelers. In addition to seeing archaeological wonders and sacred places, which are sure to jumpstart your adventure, add some other escapades to make your trip even more memorable. In a week, you can go from the Western Wall in Jerusalem to hiking at Masada (see ) to sleeping under the stars in the Negev Desert to floating in the Dead Sea to parasailing in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city.
Ever since the days of King Solomon, Eilat’s location has made it a strategic port. Today, it’s Israel’s most popular resort town and a mecca for watersports. It boasts a warm climate, a tropical sea, and a backdrop of mountains.
To get an overview of the area, start out by parasailing. You’ll put on a seat-like harness with a parachute and climb aboard a small motorboat. After you’re attached to the boat by a tow rope, just sit back and try to relax as the boat speeds through the water and air fills your parachute, lifting you up into the sky. The breeze tickles your arms and legs, your heart pounds, and your stomach drops. Once you’re suspended in the air, feeling weightless, you might notice an Egyptian flag in the distance, or a Jordanian one on the other side of the gulf. After about 5 minutes, just when you’re getting used to your new vantage point and starting to breathe normally again, your guides might try to get your adrenaline pumping again. They’ll lower you down to skim the water and then speed up, raising you higher. After a few rounds, you’re slowly reeled back onto the boat.
Now that you’ve had a bird’s-eye view of southern Israel and its neighboring nations, you might want to take a closer look at Eilat. The Coral Beach Nature Reserve, an underwater marine reserve filled with brightly colored tropical fish, is a popular spot to scuba dive and snorkel. Nearby, another reef is home to a school of dolphins. If you explore the beaches, you’ll find plenty of tour operators offering canoe, paddleboat, and motorboat rentals. You can also try water skiing or go for a banana boat ride. One thing’s for sure: Israel isn’t all history and religion—it’s adventure activity and excitement, too! —JS
Israel Ministry of Tourism, 800 Second Ave., New York ( 212/499-5660; www.goisrael.com).
Tour: Red Sea Sports Club, Bridge House, North Beach ( 972/86-38-2240; www.redseasports.co.il).
When to Go: Sept–May.
Eilat Airport, also known as J. Hozman Airport, or Tel Aviv International Airport followed by a 5-hr. drive.
$$–$$$ Dan Eilat Hotel, Hotel Area, North Beach ( 972-8-636-2222; www.danhotels.com).