The coastal plain (Hebrew: מישור החוף) is a flat region in Israel that runs along the Mediterranean coast. It stretches approximately from Caesarea (at the foot of the Carmel Range) in the north to the Gaza Strip in the south. It is the main economic center of country, including the Tel Aviv metropolis as well as a number of smaller cities.
Historically, the coastal plain was an agricultural region. The northern half of the coastal plain, known as the Sharon, was known for its citrus orchards which exported the famous "Jaffa orange". The southern half, south of Jaffa, mostly consisted of sparsely populated sandy areas. Starting in the early 1900s, the coastal plain was the main destination of Jewish immigrants and refugees who came by boat. Over time this led Tel Aviv to become Israel's most economically important city, while the southern coastal plain became an intensely used agricultural area dotted with many villages, kibbutzim, and moshavim. Nowadays, the fields and orchards of the coastal plain are still present, but they have become economically insignificant compared to the commerce and industry of the Tel Aviv region.
Geographically, in much of the Sharon region, the beaches are lined with cliffs, and agricultural settlements begin immediately above these cliff. There are a number of permanent streams winding through the Sharon region. In the south, there are usually large sand dunes along the coast, with agriculture several kilometers inland. The south is drier, and all the streams are intermittent, flowing only after winter rains.
The main tourist destination in this region is the city of Tel Aviv, but the region also contains other sites of interest, including beaches, nature reserves, and archaeological sites.
|Northern coastal plain
the region extends along the Mediterranean Sea shoreline for 40 km, from the Carmel Range to Rosh Haniqra on the Israeli border with Lebanon, and inland across the coastal plain for 6 km until it reaches the hills of the Upper Galilee. It is a relatively isolated and tranquil region of great natural beauty, great opportunities for outdoor fun and full of historical and cultural interest.
|The Sharon plain
the region extends along the Mediterranean Sea shoreline for 50 km, from the Carmel Range in the north to the Israeli Southern Coastal region in the south, and inland for circa 16-18 km until it reaches the West Bank. In the recent decades the urbanization of the Sharon plain region has intensified as the Gush Dan metropolitan continues to grow northward into the Sharon plain. The Sharon plain also consists of many natural beaches with sand dunes, limestone cliffs, and several streams. The region also has various archaeological sites, including Caesarea.
|Southern Coastal Plain
The Israeli South Coast (Hebrew: מישור החוף הדרומי), extends along the Mediterranean Sea shoreline for 60 km, and is bound by the Sharon plain in the north, the Shfela region in the east, and the Negev region and the Gaza Strip in the south. Most of the Gush Dan metropolitan area is located within this region of the country. Nowadays the population in the Gush Dan metropolitan area consists of about 1.8 million residents. Unlike the rest of the coastal regions of Israel, the region contains a significantly larger desert area and is the climate in this region tends to be more hot and dry.
From north to south, the Coastal Plain can be roughly divided into three groups of cities:
The Sharon plain
The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is often referred to as Gush Dan, because the Biblical tribe of Dan lived here.
Southern Coastal Plain
- Nahal Taninim
- Turtle Bridge - you can see meter-long African softshell turtles in the water under this bridge, located across the train tracks from Kfar Vitkin. Any season is good to visit except winter - turtles are less active then. It is forbidden to feed them, and they can bite, so don't get too close.
- Park Ariel Sharon (Hiriya) - a large park that is being developed on the southeast outskirts of Tel Aviv. It contains the massive "Hiriya" garbage dump, which is being redeveloped as a nature and recreation site. Currently, you can visit the top of the 80m-high garbage mound, which is quite pleasant and has a stunning view of the Tel Aviv skyline. The site is open 9am-3:30pm, 7 days a week (it's closed for a few holidays) with free admission. Park your car at the site entrance and wait for a shuttle to take you up (the last shuttle leaves around 3pm). You can also walk up on foot, if you can deal with the smell of a garbage reprocessing facility which still operates (due to the prevailing winds, there are no smells on top of the mound). The site entrance is on the route 4 freeway south of the interchange with route 461 ("Mesubim junction"). From Mesubim junction, drive south and there will be a turnoff on your right. Unfortunately there is no public transportation access to the site. You could take a bus to Mesubim junction and walk from there in a ditch next to the freeway (700m distance), which is unpleasant but safe enough (the freeway has a guardrail). In winter, parts of this path get muddy and you are unlikely to be clean when you get out of it. So better to try to get a taxi or hitchhike from Mesubim junction,
- Palmachim Beach
Most cities in the coastal plain are served by train lines connecting to Tel Aviv. However, the train stations are often inconveniently located on the outskirts of cities.
There are many bus lines coming from or going through major cities in the Sharon plain region (especially going through Hadera, Netanya and Herzliya) from many places outside the Sharon plain region. There are also express buss lines to various major cities in the Sharon plain region whom head out from Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tiberias.
Highways 2, 4, and 6 cross the coastal plain region from north to south. Highway 6, the Trans-Israel Highway, is a toll road. Highways 2 and 6 are motorways.
Almost all of the Sharon, as well as the cities south of Tel Aviv, have publicly accessible beaches. But as usual, don't swim without a lifeguard. The swimming season is usually between June and September, and lifeguards are only available during this season.