Actress Noa Tishby: Go skinny-dipping in Israel

I recently interviewed Ms. Tishby for our monthly magazine, TRIBE, on her favorite things to do in Israel. And as you’ll see, she has some fine ideas. Here are a few travel tips from a holy land native who knows how to have fun Israeli style…

Noa Tishby might be one of Israel’s best exports. The multihyphenate model-actress-producer has lived in Los Angeles for nearly a decade, bringing Hollywood gems like the HBO series “In Treatment” from Israel to the United States, where her career is on fire. But when we talked to her about Israel, she assured us there’s no place like home. Here are Tishby’s not-to-be-missed Holy Land hot spots.

Scarf down some hummus at Abu Hassan in Jaffa

“This is, seriously, the best hummus in the world. It might ruin your hummus experience forever. I always joke that this is like the place where coexistence lives. It’s been owned by an Arab family for generations and it is the best hummus you will ever eat in your life. It’s a hole in the wall: You go in there, sit and eat, and then they kick you out. They only serve hummus, lemonade, pita bread and these amazing fresh raw onion chips. It’s always packed; it opens at like 8 in the morning and closes at noon or whenever they run out of hummus. It’s by far the best on the planet. Locals only. It’s literally Israelis and Arabs — you will never see tourists there. It couldn’t be more authentic. It’s the real deal.”

Skinny-dip in the Mediterranean

“In America, we’re used to big, cold, icy, shark-infested water, but when you grew up by the Mediterranean — in the summer the water is about 75 degrees — the sea is something a lot more welcoming and beautiful. Growing up in Israel, those were my summers: You hang out at the beach by day and build bonfires at night with your high school boyfriend. I was able to re-create that with a group of 40 of my friends from abroad [who came to Israel] for my wedding, and we were partying on the beach, and someone said, ‘Let’s go skinny dipping!’ We all started running toward the water thinking, ‘Who’s gonna get naked first?’ Cut to: my friends taking off their clothes, jumping in the water buck-naked at 2:30 in the morning. That was a moment well missed by Israeli paparazzi. I did it again this year, right after Rosh Hashanah dinner: Me and my girlfriend went to the beach at midnight and jumped in the water — but this time we were wearing a bra and underwear.”

Escape to Bayit Bagalilin the Galilee

“This is a boutique hotel in the Galilee and it’s gorgeous. It’s completely remote, the food is   divine; it’s all local, all organic. …There’s a great vibe about it, and it has the most incredible, breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee. I like to go there to escape. I work so hard in Tel Aviv and I have such a huge family and so many friends, so every time I go to Israel it’s so hectic. If I’m able to run away for a little bit, this is where I go. I love it; it’s this blend of modern resort with something from ancient times.”

Eat, work or hang at Orna and Ella in Tel Aviv

“There will not be a time in which I go to Israel and not go to Orna and Ella. It is a cafe on Shenkin Street and it’s been around for about 15 years. The owners make everything in-house, literally, from olive oil to mayonnaise to bread … everything. The quality of the food is extraordinary; it’s healthy, it’s delicious. I’ll go there and then I’ll schedule my appointments from 10 a.m. every hour and a half, and I’ll just sit there and people will come; for a day I’ll use it as my Tel Aviv office. They’re very picky on food; they only have freshly squeezed juices and homemade desserts and they never used to have soy milk. They said, ‘We only do whole fats,’ so I used to bring my own soy milk and put it on the counter and say, ‘I’ll be here all day; make me my soy latte.’ They carry soy milk now.”

Throw a Bedouin hafla — dance party — in the desert

“The Bedouin mentality of hospitality is renowned. They’re very, very, very good hosts. And the food is fantastic. We did this as a prewedding event in a tent underneath Masada. You have to organize it in advance, and they’ll put together a big dinner for you — you can have a big group — and do camel rides. There’s beautiful music, and you can sit and eat everything from lamb to rice to baklava. It’s not something I do every time I go to Israel, but it’s something special.”

Refresh yourself at Ein Gedi

“There’s a beautiful oasis here, right by Masada. It’s a proper, biblical oasis. You walk through the desert, through a bunch of dirt roads and find yourself in like a lake with a waterfall, and it’s divine.”

Visit the tunnels at the Kotel

“This is absolutely stunning. When I last went they had just started excavating and it’s breathtaking to wander underneath the [Western] Wall and see the Old City of Jerusalem like it was. It gives me such a sense of connectedness to my roots, knowing there have been Jews in Jerusalem for so many thousands of years. It’s inspiring.”