Beit Yannai beach yields serenity on winter weekdays

On a winter weekday, the Beit Yannai beach looks like a set for a contemplative Fellini film.

The sea pounds the rocks, wind whips up flurries of sand and the wooden posts of what was once a pier stand out against the waves.

Legend has it the pier was used before the establishment of the state to land illegal immigrants who came in defiance of the British Mandatory restrictions.

But Dudi Shani, director of the national park that contains the beach, says the story is untrue.

Two restaurants seem to be made of scrap wood; one is closed, the other almost empty. An elderly man, buffeted by the wind, walks along the shore.

But according to Shani, the serenity of this scene is strictly a weekday affair. On Fridays around noon, hundreds of young people begin gathering at Beit Yannai and transform the beach resort into a weekend happening.

They come from Hadera to the north and Netanya to the south, and as far away as Haifa.

It is then that the two restaurants set out tables on the sand and do a roaring trade. Though they have other items on the menu, both are said to specialize in a bread-like Yemenite specialty made of layered crisp dough.

The beach sits apart from the residential part of the village, so the weekend gatherings are only a minor annoyance for locals.

To get to Beit Yannai, take the Beit Yannai-Michmoret turnoff on the coastal road, about nearly four miles north of Netanya.

For those who seek true peace and quiet, however, there is an almost undiscovered stretch of coastline at the Hof Hasharon National Park, a mile or more south, where you can walk along the limestone cliffs overlooking the sea, and the wild terrain seems untouched. The National Parks Authority has gone to considerable effort to restore the original plant life to the area.

The developed part of the park may be reached by entering Kibbutz Shefayim from the coastal highway. Follow the signs to the riding stables, and when you reach them continue on the dirt road to the park, a fenced-in stretch along the coast.

For easy entrance to the park, continue driving along the fence until you reach the northern gate. This is usually locked to keep out vehicles, but beside it is an entrance for those on foot.