Visiting The Dead Sea – Top 10 Tips
Having lived in Israel for several years, I never got tired of the wonders of the Dead Sea. Unlike every other place in the world, this one was actually below sea level, and it was a sea where you couldn’t sink. Yes, the extremely salt nature of Dead Sea (5km of salt straight beneath you!) keeps everything buoyant, and every year, hundreds of tourists flock to the area to experience the marvel first-hand.
My apartment in Jerusalem, on a super crisp clear day, I could actually see the Dead Sea from my back window! I have to tell you that that was an unbelievable site! Just seeing Jordan on clear evenings was one thing, but seeing that far into the distance was truly remarkable.
Oh, and if you’re driving down (be sure to check out my other article on the best ways to get there, the highway was also right below my apartment) and you come to a small gift shop, don’t ride the camel!
But floating on the Dead Sea can be tricky, and I have compiled years of experience to put together tips that ensure you have a memorable experience when visiting Dead Sea.
- Don’t plunge
Perhaps the best place to begin when visiting the Dead Sea is about plunging! I know the temptation is always there, and plunging is probably what you do at seas around the world. But don’t do it here because the Dead Sea is incredibly saline and has 10% more minerals than anywhere in the world, and that hitting your eyes will sting like you can’t imagine!!! My girlfriend (she’s my wife now) had this happen to her the first time we went and I ran back to shore to grab fresh water and a towel. Super painful! And bring eye goggles.
Remember the taste of sea water? Multiply that by about 10 and imagine that taste in your mouth. So no, don’t plunge. Walk till water comes to your chest and then lean back. You will immediately start floating. It may sound scary, but remember, no one can drown at Dead Sea. If you’re afraid to lean completely back, sit down like sitting on a chair, when your butt hits the water, then lean back, your legs will come up.
- Don’t try to swim
The experience to gain here is that you can float without sinking. When visiting the Dead Sea, Don’t try to swim because you don’t want salt water in your ears, eyes, nose or mouth. Believe me when I tell you it stings like you’ve never felt anything like it before. When you lean back and begin to float, your shoulders and feet will bob up and down for a few minutes, and it will take that long to get used to it. Wait it out.
But trust me, once you’re floating there… feeling weightless… it’s an amazing feeling. Easily moves your legs and arms and you’ll be floating (hopefully out not too far) before you know it!
- Don’t shave
Well, at least not in the few days immediately before your Dead Sea adventure. Shaving peels back your skin and any sore spots will feel like hell in the saline water. Also, skip the floating if you have any cuts or open wounds because it will sting painfully when you hit the salt in the water. This is like literally rubbing salt in your wounds, and the pain isn’t momentary.
The first time I went in the water, I had the smallest sore on my lip, the tiniest sore you ever would have seen. I didn’t think anything of it when I went into the water. The water splashed up on my face and after about 3 or 4 seconds, I felt this highly intense burning sensation growing all through my lips and face! I actually was tearing! But, it goes away soon enough, promise! And then my lips actually felt pretty good!
- Wear shoes
All that salt can be very abrasive and the part that gets most affected is usually your feet. My advice is to pick a pair of water shoes even if they look really dorky.
A lot of people visiting the Dead Sea go in barefoot, and then can barely walk when they get out of the water. Do the smart thing and wear those shoes – you’ll thank me later.
Also, wear an old bathing suit – the salt water discolors everything. I had chosen to wear the dorkiest shoes possible (big color blue and green ones, you know, the highly reflective colors you can see from 5 miles away?) and a brand new bathing suit, and by the time I got out of the Dead Sea, my feet were fine but my swimming trunks looked patchy – the colour had been seriously washed off!
And also, if you go during the summer, the outside air can easily reach 100 degrees or warmer. But the rocks, oh my goodness, those rocks can easily be 150 degrees or more! Remember when I mentioned my girlfriend had water in her eyes? Well, when I ran onto shore, which were all rocks, I didn’t have shoes then! When I say I moved so fast to get that towel and water, I was moving!
- Shower off the salt
When visiting the Dead Sea, the beaches all have shower stands so wash off all the salt and minerals as soon as you get out of the water. Else, the water quickly evaporates in the heat of the area leaving behind a LOT of sand and grime that is difficult to get rid of and scrubbing isn’t advisable. Take your time washing away the salt – everyone understands and no one will rush you. Also, let the water run for a bit before you step under it because these showers can get very hot if no one used it right before you.
- Get out fast
Staying in the water for more than 15 minutes is not recommended when visiting the Dead Sea. Any more and certain areas of your body, like your armpits, will begin to sting. Get out fast and take a quick shower. Wash everything, including those shoes or the grime will stick (not a bad idea to soak them too when you get home). Take another shower when you get back to your hotel to really get the salt off you. The beach I went to, the Ein Bokek, had plenty of showers on the beach and I highly recommend using them.
- Use your hands
When you’re visiting the Dead sea, while you are floating, use your hands to navigate if you are beginning to drift away from your group. Think of your hands as rudder, and it becomes really easy. Use your hands to get closer to the shore when it nears the time to get out. It can be difficult to stand back up from floating at some distance from the shore.
One thing you can do is float as close to shore till your backside touches ground, then just sit up and you’re ashore!
- Stay up
The water of Dead Sea has 21 different kinds of minerals that are very soothing for your skin. Plus, the air here is rich in bromine, a natural tranquilizer. The relaxed feeling you are having during your floating can make you very drowsy. If that happens, get out of the water quickly and take a shower. Do not fall asleep when in the water.
But, there are some fantastic shops to visit all up and down route 90, along the Dead Sea, selling the worlds leading cleaning cosmetics.
- Choose the right beach
I know I said no one really drowns at Dead Sea, but why take chances? Pick a beach like Ein Gedi or Ein Bokek that has lifeguards, shower stalls, and cafes. Avoid walking into just any inviting stretch of water.
- Women beware!
My wife is going to kill me if I don’t tell you this. Don’t use any feminine products before going into Dead Sea. They suck up the salty water like a sponge and in places where you don’t want abrasive salt.
When visiting the Dead Sea, make sure to try the floating experience even if you can’t swim because you won’t sink anyway.
The first time my girlfriend went was so much fun because watching her “see” and “experience” such an amazing thing, floating on water was new. Once she got the hang of it, without the water in the eyes, I think we could’ve floated across to Jordan if we wanted too.
Here are the shoes that I wear when visiting the Dead Sea: Men’s Wave Water Shoes Pool Beach Aqua Socks, Yoga , Exercise,11 D(M) US,Black/Black
After learning the bitter hard way about burning my feet on those rocks, these were a real life saver!
And for those asking why it’s called the Dead Sea? The salt content is so high no living things can grow in the water.
Oh, and don’t forget, make sure to visit Masada while you’re there! It’s literally down the block!
Have fun visiting the Dead Sea!