Make a Splash
Dive into Yoni Cohen’s list highlighting eight of the best swimming pools in Israel. There’s something for everyone looking to cool off from the summer heat
Summer in Israel is more than hot – it’s broiling out there. Instead of hiding away inside with the air conditioning – embrace the August heat and cool off in one of Israel's various outdoor pools.
Take your pick from relaxing in the middle of a desert oasis, sipping on cocktails in an infinity pool atop a luxury boutique hotel or swimming some serious laps in an Olympic-size pool by the Mediterranean. It’s high time to take a fun dip and cool off. Slip on a bathing suit, slather on the sunscreen and dive right into our list of eight of the very best outdoor pools that Israel has to offer.
For serious swimmers: Gordon Pool
Somewhat of an institution in Tel Aviv, Gordon Pool is an Olympic-size swimming pool located on the boardwalk right by the marina with a seascape in the background. If you like the atmosphere, but want a clean and organized place to do some serious swimming, this is the perfect place to strap on your goggles and join the locals as they breaststroke their way through the day. Dating back to 1956, this legendary pool underwent thorough renovations a few years ago and the facility now includes pools for children and toddlers as well as a modern wooden deck with sun beds, chairs and large parasols for when you want to rest a little or soak up the sun.
For those looking to indulge: Neve Midbar
Although it may seem like a mirage, the Neve Midbar resort in the middle of the Negev desert is 100% real, although dreamy, and it’s the ideal place to get pampered. This luxurious thermal bath and spa complex is vast but it’s the wonderful outdoor pool set within a luscious green lawn replete with pergolas for shade, chairs and sunbathing lounge beds that’s where you’ll want to be on scorching summer days. With desert temperatures regularly exceeding 40 °C (104 °F) degrees, being outside all day long might test even the most avid sun worshippers, so take a break in one of four uniquely-designed thermo-mineral indoor pools, which are comfortably air-conditioned.
For adventure seekers: Shefayim Water Park
Swimming pools are almost always refreshing but when you add 22 water slides, two tubing routes and a splendid wave pool, things get even more exciting. Shefayim Water Park is one of Israel’s biggest and most popular water parks and the Olympic-size pool hosts a whole range of fun water-related activities for the family. It can get pretty busy during summer months but it’s definitely worth a trip if you like your watery fun with a twist – and a few turns along the way. Kids will absolutely love the Caribbean World section with its wading pools, sprinklers, a giant water faucet, mini slides and fantastic 140 water fountains.
For chic urbanites: Infinity pool, Norman Hotel
Recently named the world’s best boutique hotel by Jetsetter magazine, the stunning Norman Tel Aviv is the epitome of urban chic. Perched upon the roof of this classy establishment is a sundeck complete with a stunning infinity swimming pool that blends seamlessly into the White City skyline. If you are seriously into swimming, this might not be the pool for you, as it’s not the biggest around.
If, however, you are into sipping cocktails while surrounded by beautiful people on one of the hottest roof tops Tel Aviv has to offer, get yourself to the Norman ASAP. It’s not the kind of place where they just let anyone splash around, so you’ll probably have to book yourself a room in order to enjoy the pool – but it’s totally worth it.
For history lovers: David Citadel Hotel
The swimming pool at the plush 5-star David Citadel Hotel is so close to Jerusalem’s Old City that it’s almost possible to climb up on the iconic stone walls and jump right into the water. Well, maybe it’s not that close, but you get the idea. The impressive outdoor pool enjoys unspoiled views, perfect for watching the ever-changing play of light over the Old City. Admission for a day at the pool for non-guests is on the pricier side but with plenty of room for lounging, a toddler pool and a tasty pool grill, it’s easy to spend a whole day there soaking up the historic atmosphere to make it all worth it.
For the kids: Mesilat Zion
If anyone’s going to appreciate a day out at a fun pool it’s the kids. Mesillat Zion on the way to Jerusalem has it all – jumping castles, play areas, a gymboree, foosball, air hockey, electric car track, hammocks, and a half-Olympic size pool, of course. There’s also a shaded toddler pool and the place is surrounded by grassy areas with plenty of trees for shade. If the kids get bored entertaining themselves, there are also special organized activities to keep them busy.
For nature lovers: The Secret Pool
If you like your swimming pools with a beautiful view, The Secret Pool is perfect for you. Set at the end of a dirt track among acres of olive groves in the mountains of the Galilee, this is the place to go if you want to get away from it all while making a cool splash. The pool itself is not that big and the facilities aren’t the most modern, but at this hidden treasure it’s all about the impressive view. If all the splashing around in the water tires you out, pitch a spot on the grassy area surrounding the pool and appreciate the stunning natural mountain scenery.
Next to Kibbutz Moran, off Route 85 (050-5214978) NIS 30 for adults and less for children up to age 10
For everything: Nachshonit Water Park
Nachshonit Water Park offers such a range of activities that it's a challenge to do everything in one day. Covering over 100 acres, the water park has been a popular ground for Israeli summer fun for generations. Head straight for the water slides, various adult and kiddie pools, bumper cars, go-karting, picnic areas, pony rides, henna tattoos, tours of the Kibbutz’s barn and even a family-fun performance for all ages to enjoy. With access to free parking, an on-site restaurant and situated just a short distance away from major cities, Nachshonit Water Park is a sure-fire way to get the whole family together to enjoy a little relief from the sweltering sun.
Kibbutz Nachshonim. NIS 45-59, free entry for children under age 2. 03-9386444. See: Nachshonit