The Shores of Tel Aviv

Everyone is welcome along the Mediterranean shore. Tel Aviv is a city dancing with diversity, and it has some of the cleanest and most accessible beaches in the world. Read more below from, Seizing the Day in Tel Aviv.

A couple of hours later, eager to see what other strange bedfellows I’ll find huddled on the edges of the water, I conduct an informal census: I walk the two miles or so of beach from the Orthodox section all the way down to Jaffa, the old Arab port of Tel Aviv. Just south of the gay section I find a stretch of sand-and-sun worshipers that I instantly dub the Ambiguous Male Friendship beach; just south of that I find the I Hate What I’m Wearing beach. I walk farther, and proceed to find concentrations of, variously, surfers, young families, volleyball players, Ethiopians, hippie drummers and irritable girlfriends.

I’d earlier been told by the illustrator and author Maira Kalman, who was born in Tel Aviv and still has an apartment there, that I’d find “old men in their underpants” on the beach in front of the Dan Hotel (“Old men in their underpants: what can be wrong with that?” she’d said with some excitement). So, in front of the Dan, I search for boudoir chic; I find only one such exhibitor, but many examples of dermal creping.

Down toward the southernmost part of the beach near Jaffa, the population turns increasingly Arab, and I see more and more head wraps on the women. On the beach’s edge, I sit on a park bench and fall into conversation with a warm, bearded 54-year-old gentleman who tells me he’s an imam and a muezzin. We discuss the auspiciousness of the date — the day before, on Independence Day, Isreal had celebrated its 60th anniversary with a semi-terrifying dazzle of air force maneuvers over the water — and the man tells me: “Peace is good for us all. Jews, Christians, Muslims. …”

Just then a young beachgoer zooms by us on his Vespa, his surfboard ingeniously strapped onto the side of the motorbike, so I add, “… and surfers.”

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