All winter long, the most important part of the news report for Israelis is not the dollar-shekel exchange rate or the level of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange index, but rather the water level in Lake Kineret, which often reflects the national spirit. The Kineret, or Sea of Galilee, is Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir, and is also the country’s largest and most important source and reservoir of drinking water. For this and other reasons, the Kineret has become an important national symbol and is also a first class tourism center.
The beaches that surround the entire lake are similar but different. The width of the beaches varies in keeping with the local geography, creating different landscapes in every location. Above the eastern and western shores, for example, rise the Galilee mountains and the foothills of the Golan, while to the north there is the Beit Tsida valley, a wide area with plentiful water that drains from the Jordan River and the Golan streams, and to the south is the Jordan estuary, which flows south toward the desert regions.
For this reason, some of the Kineret’s beaches have soft sand, while others are rocky; some beaches are narrow while others are very wide. Either way, the beaches are fun and offer many tourist attractions for every age group. Most of the beaches allow nature-loving visitors to sleep in camping areas on the sand, and there are also hostels, guest houses and beachfront hotels. Most of the beaches also offer various types of water sports and water activities, such as boating in inflatable rubber dinghies, canoes, etc.; children can enjoy the giant slides at the water parks (Luna Gal, Tsemakh or Gai Beach). There are plenty of restaurants and grocery stores along the way, and most of all one can enjoy the calm and tranquility.
The beaches surrounding the Kineret are also a perfect starting point for wonderful nature tours of the area. Some of the most popular and beautiful nature sites are the Jordan Park, the Beit Tsida Nature Reserve, Khamat Gader, Naharayim. There is also the lower Golan Heights region, which borders on the Kineret and is full of swift flowing streams, historic sites and nature reserves.
The Kineret played an important role in the early years of Christianity and has now become a pilgrimage site for many Christians. According to Christian tradition, Jesus lived, preached and performed miracles in the Kineret and the surrounding region. It was here that he walked on the water and the miracle of the loaves and the fishes happened in nearby Kfar Nakhum (Capernaum). There are many Christian holy sites around the Kineret, including the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, Kfar Nakhum, Kursi, "Yardenit" Baptismal Site, and the wooden boat discovered in the lake and now on display at Kibbutz Ginosar. Other nearby historic sites include Migdal, Tel Hadar, Ubeidiya (Israel’s most important prehistoric site), Beit Tsida, Kibbutz Dganya Alef, Moshavat Kineret and the city of Tiberias.