Gay Travel: Tel Aviv, Israel

Image via Passport.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, element of Tel Aviv’s culture is the wild nightlife. While it may sometimes seem that everybody in Tel Aviv is simply waiting for the moon to rise and a chance to party, there’s plenty to see and do during the daylight hours, starting, of course, with the beach. The gay beach, Hilton Beach, is the one outside the Hilton Hotel, and ironically, it is adjacent to the orthodox beach where men and women can only sunbathe on separate days. You’ll find the neighbors no impediment to lots of buff boys in brief Speedos strolling the sand and stopping off at one another’s blankets to talk and make plans for the evening. You’ll also see a surprising number of paddle ball games, known as matkot, on any sunny day at the beach—it is something of a representative city sport.

The need to get out to socialize makes the well-known and not-particularly-lascivious cruising park, Independence Garden (next to the Hilton Hotel), a place where, yes, people meet to trick in the bushes, but also meet to sit and chat on the benches for hours. Like the rest of Tel Aviv, “There is no element of danger like the Rambles [in New York’s Central Park]. It’s a very social place,” says Russell Lord, a Brooklyn-born Tel Aviv resident.

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