In the 1930s and 1940s, during the British Mandate period, Jewish immigration to Israel was severely restricted by the Mandate authorities, and thousands of Jewish refugees in Europe had to resort to "illegal" immigration ("Ha'apala" in Hebrew) to Israel: The Hagana and Etzel ("Irgun") underground movements organized the sea journeys on an assortment of hired ships and vessels from European ports to the shores of Israel.
The ship "Welus" was the first such ship, and it reached the shore of Bet Yannay in July 1934, with 350 illegal immigrants on board. They were brought ashore without being discovered by the British soldiers. The Bet Yannay shore was selected for this mission due to its remoteness from main roads and towns (the nearby Tel-Aviv - Haifa highway had not been constructed then, of course). Many other ships followed in the years to come.
An observation point was erected on the cliff overlooking Bet Yannay beach, with a stone bench and a memorial sign, listing the names of the ships, the dates of arrival and the number of immigrants on board. Sit on the bench, look at the wide blue sea and try to imagine the immigrant ship stealthily coming as near to the shore as it could on a dark moonless night, and brave fishermen taking the immigrants in their boats from the ship to the shore, where the Hagana members were waiting for them with open arms, hurrying to clear the beach and get to a safe refuge in the nearby kibbutzim.
Immediately north of Bet Yannay lies one of my favorite Mediterranean beaches in Israel, a long stretch of white sand.
The central segment is developed with all the beach services you need, including a pleasant, relaxed beach restaurant. If you wander a short distance north, further away from the crowds, you can enjoy more quiet and privacy (unless you come here on Saturday in the summer months, when there is no such thing as privacy or quiet).
The remains of a pier go back to 1938, the British Mandate period in Israel; the pier was allegedly built to help unload fertlizer for the nearby citrus orchards, but actually served to unload "illegal" immigrants from Nazi Europe far away from the watchful eyes of the British soldiers.
If you want to enjoy a nice beach walk, continue south of the main beach along the water line, underneath the eolianite cliffs on which the houses of Bet Yannay village are built.
There is ample parking in the parking lot near the beach (for a fee). Don't try to look for free parking on one of the streets in the village: you are bound to get a fine and your car may be towed away.