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  • Talma Gotteiner

Haifa Bay: A Seafaring Expedition Through Time

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Hi there!

In this trip you’ll get to board ships, a sub-marine and even a cable car. You’ll hear tales of bravery and piracy, and once you’ve recovered, you’ll be able to pray for your souls. Come on you land-lubbers, let’s get those sea legs moving! Oh, and take yer young‘uns with you!

Trip Itinerary Options:

  • Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum

  • National Maritime Museum

  • Elijah’s Cave

  • Aerial Cable Car

  • Stella Maris Lighthouse and Carmelite Monastery

Heave Ho! Just another word, before you go. The two museums and Elijah’s cave are at the bottom near the lower aeriel cable car station by Bat Galim beach and are all within walking distance from one another. The Stella Maris Lighthouse and Carmelite Monastery are at the upper station of the aeriel cable car on the Carmel Mountain top. Because the museums open at 10:00, I started at Stella Maris and then continued down, but you can do it the other way round.

Trip Anchors:

The aerial cable car is a must because it is fun and saves driving and parking. There aren’t that many cable cars in Israel so this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. You can leave your car by either of the two cable stations, the lower or upper, and walk the rest of the time.

Cable Car View, Haifa

The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum tells the more recent story of the illegal jewish immigration to Palestine between 1934 to 1948 during the British Mandate’s rule in a way that cannot be told elsewhere. The visit includes boarding the last remaining intact clandestine immigration ship called ‘Af Al Pi Chen’ (meaning ‘nevertheless’ in Hebrew) as well as additional ships, a sub-marine and naval artifacts related to the establishment of Israel’s Navy. The tour is self-guided and includes explanatory films and several hands-on experiences throughout. There is also an exhibition related to the ‘Exodus’ ship. You will come out with a greater understanding of the period and hardships encountered by our not so late or still living parents to great-grandparents’ generation. Since the museum is run by the Israeli Ministry of Defense it is open for free on Independence Day and is relatively cheap year-round, but you need to bring your passport (tourists) or photo ID (locals) with you.

Note: Clandestine immigration in Hebrew is called ‘Haapala’ and in my map, the name of the museum is termed ‘Haapala Museum’ by google maps.

The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, Haifa

This museum takes you back to ancient history and includes everything you can possibly imagine related to seafaring. Here’s a short brainstorm of topics covered:

  • Pirates – come to think of it, where do you think those peg-legged pirates sailed to when getting away from the European coastline?

  • Shipwrecked Cargoes (the Mediterranean is a basin of sunk ships)

  • Ingots

  • Ancient Anchors

  • Compasses, Astrolabs, Octants and Sextants

  • The Great Explorers – Do you recognize the model of the ship in my photo below (the answer is below the photo)?

  • Harpoons

  • Ships in Bottles

  • Rope Knots

  • Scrimshaw

  • Ancient Mosaics from Shikmona, Lod and other findings along the Israeli coastline.

  • Greek Statues

  • Atlases

I enjoyed it tremendously and it’s not scary at all 😊. Together, both museums fill the better half of a day. Additionally, this is one of the six museums in the combination ticket mentioned in my previous post. This time I am presenting the one relevant to this trip.

National Maritime Museum, Haifa

Additional Options

In 1 Kings 19:8 it is mentioned that the Prophet Elijah sheltered in a cave during his escape from the kings of Israel. The lower Elijah’s cave is located on the same street as the National Maritime Museum and you can visit it either before or after. There is another cave within the Stella Maris Monastery and both are considered holy to the Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze. The cave is divided into men and women’s sections and has several blessings and prayer verses posted on the partition for the convenience of the visitors.

Elijah's Cava, Haifa

‘Stella Maris’ in latin means ‘Star of the Sea’ and may refer to the title of the Virgin Mary known in English as ‘Our Lady, Star of the Sea’. The current monastery was built by the Carmelite order in the 19th Century. The Carmelite order was established during the Crusader period in the 12th century by a number of hermits who lived in caves in imitation of the Prophet Elijah. The order spread throughout Europe when Saint Louis or King Louis IX took back a number of hermits with him to France following his first crusade in 1254. The monastery’s main church is built like a cross and is decorated with biblical and new testament motifs such as Elijah rising to heaven, the four evangelists and more. The altar stands above a small cave also associated with the Prophet Elijah. The monastery serves as a center of the Carmelite order till this day.

In addition, just outside the church stands a small pyramid-like monument dedicated to Napoleon’s soldiers who were tended to at the monastery during his 1799 campaign.

Stella Maris Lighthouse and Carmelite Monastery, Haifa


In general, there are two locations for food breaks. There are more restaurants on the upper level that are just next to the upper cable car station and don’t require walking, so you should probably plan to lunch there. The restaurants are named ‘Kalamaris’, ‘Golden Coral’ and ‘Shawatina’ as well as the lovely ‘Santa Maria Café’ within the Stella Maris monastery grounds. All have nice views and are very pleasant.

On the lower level you only have ‘Eataliano’ and 'Shawatina by the Beach' right by the cable station. The others are all near the beach, but require an additional 10-15 minutes of walking: ‘Misadag’, ‘Abu Zeid’, ‘Dolphin’ and ‘Shrimp House’.


The nearest accommodation within 10-15 min walking distance is the ‘Bat Galim Boutique Hotel’. Other relatively nearby hotels are in the German Colony, which I’ve left for a separate post, but for accommodation purposes, I’ll name them ‘Templers’, ‘The Colony Hotel’ and ‘Golden Crown Haifa’. Also, you can always stay at the Mt. Carmel hotels mentioned in my previous post and drive down for this trip.

My timeline

The options above are supposed to fill an active day from morning to night.

This is what it looks like on the map:

Haifa Seafaring Expedition Through Time Trip Map

The model of the ship in my photo of the National Maritime Museum is the ‘Santa Maria’, the largest of the three ships sailed by Christopher Columbus on which he served as captain.

I hope I’ve now given you adequate reason to stay in Haifa for at least one night. There is more to see, but I’ll have to get back to it later since I’m trying to balance my post locations. There’s no option for parley.

What did ye like best?

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! Cheers!


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