One of the most unique experiences that you can only have on a trip to Jordan, Israel or the Palestinian Territories, is a dip in the Dead Sea. In order to make this moment as memorable as possible, I have put together a list of important Dead Sea tips to ensure that your visit is as memorable as possible.
Many people have even written articles about how they actually did not like the experience at all. With this guide, you are likely to avoid the mistakes that many first-time visitors make.
I have been very fortunate to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience several times. I have been on a guided tour which took us to a private beach club and I have rented a car and stayed at a hotel on the Dead Sea several times.
Visiting the Dead Sea is a once in a lifetime experience for most, so I want to make sure you know what to expect when you visit the lowest place on Earth! So many people have made mistakes when visiting this natural phenomenon, and I want to make sure that you are not one of them!
Dead Sea Tips
Dead Sea Facts
The Dead Sea is the Lowest Point on Earth
The Dead Sea lies at the lowest point on Earth, 434 meters below sea level. Due to increased environmental issues nearby, namely an increase in demand for water for farming and consumption by an ever increasing population in this water-poor region, the Dead Sea is getting lower and lower each year.
The air at the Dead Sea is rich in oxygen which protects the skin from harmful UV rays. Although the temperature is hotter than higher elevations in the area, those enjoying the sun are protected from its harmful, cancer-causing rays. Do not skip the sunscreen however, it is possible to get burned while in the sun at the Dead Sea.
How is “Sea Level” measured?
Have you ever wondered how sea level is measured? It is one of those things that everyone knows of, but likely does not know how it is actually calculated. Sea level is based on the Mediterranean Sea.
The Dead Sea is Vanishing at an Alarming Rate
Environmental impacts in the region mean that the Dead Sea is dropping one Meter every single year! At this rate, this experience will not be around forever.
The receding water is mostly due to the added pressure put on the Jordan River and neighbouring streams for a water source for Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Some estimates state that it will be dried up in 30 years without some type of intervention. It used to be 57 kilometres in length and it is currently around 47 kilometres and its shores are shrinking every year.
There are calls and plans for bringing water from the Red Sea in order to save this unique and natural place. However, there are no active projects to do this.
The Dead Sea Healing Properties
The Dead Sea offers more than just a salty dip. The water is rich in salt and minerals that are great for your skin. These minerals bring people from all over the world who are suffering from various types of skin diseases.
Bathing in the mineral-rich Dead Sea water can be beneficial for your skin in numerous ways, including: reduced roughness, detoxification, and improved circulation. It is also known to help with conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, and arthritis.
There are medical facilities along the Dead Sea that offer treatments for these skin conditions.
Instead of thinking of your visit to the Dead Sea as a beach vacation, think of it more as a spa vacation, and enjoy the minerals and mud.
The air has a higher oxygen concentration in this area.
Essential Dead Sea Tips You DO NOT Want to Skip Over
#1 This is not your Typical Beach Vacation
The Dead Sea is not actually a sea at all. It is actually a lake. (Feel free to research the difference between a sea and a lake if you like, you might, like me, learn something new). While resorts line the beaches, do not expect much of a sandy shoreline. The shores consist of mud, pebbles and sharp crystallized salt.
While you will find beach chairs and umbrellas, it is not at all like any other beach in the world.
Do not expect to see kids playing on shore or plan to spend the day at the actual beach. The Dead Sea can actually be an extreme experience and is even uncomfortable for some.
Wading into the water actually feels like getting into an oily or smily bath. The saline rich water density makes it feel this way.
#2 Dead Sea Tip: Bring your Camera, but take photos before you get wet!
The salt on the dead sea sticks to everything! Take some pics before you get into the water or before your hands are covered in mud! Also if you have a gopro, the salt will almost instantly stick to it when you take photos so keep dunking it into the water in between shots! Also some of the best instagram places in Jordan are at the Dead Sea, take some time to get some great photos if that is your thing!
#3 Bring a Bathing Suit and Hop In
Whether you swim or not, the salinity of the Dead Sea makes your body effortlessly float. The high concentration of minerals makes the water’s density higher than that of the human body. That’s why you can float easily in the water.
You can float in just a foot of water if you like, but it is better to go out a bit deeper! It is actually a lot of fun to try and put your feet on the bottom of the Dead Sea.
Do not skip out on getting in! That’s the best part of a visit to the Dead Sea!
#4 Dead Sea Tip: Do not Splash!
There is not much that is as painful as getting the water into your eyes. Be careful when you sit yourself down into the water and avoid getting it into your eyes and mouth.
Do not even consider dunking your head under water. You will be in for a big surprise. There is actually signs that say no swimming to avoid splashing and getting the water into your eyes.
#5 Dead Sea Tip: Salt is Sharp!
As mentioned above, the Dead Sea does not have a sandy shoreline. It consists of pebbles and sharp crystallized salt. In the wetter months when there is more run off from the mountains, there can also be sticks and other debris on the shore. When it does rain in Jordan, the water flows downward, and what is lower than the Dead Sea? Well, nothing.
If you struggle to walk on gravel beaches, I suggest you bring a pair of sandals or water shoes. Part of the process of getting into the water is sometimes stepping on the uncomfortably sharp salt crystals. Rubber flip-flops are perfect and throw them back to shore once you are comfortably floating! Leave your nice sandals at the hotel.
#6 Tip for an Enjoyable Dead Sea Float: Don’t shave your legs beforehand!
Avoid shaving for at least a day before your visit. Otherwise you will end up having your skin stinging, BADLY! Try to visualize using hand sanitizer when you have a small cut on your hand. Times that by your entire body and that is what it feels like with the mineral rich, salty water on freshly shaved legs!
#7 Ever Heard of “Putting Salt on a Wound”
If you have ever heard the phrase, “putting salt on a wound,” you will experience the pain if you have any recent cuts.
If you have any cuts that are not fully healed, consider liquid bandaid and spray it over any cutsto protect them from the salt.
My son fell the morning before our visit and even with liquid bandaid, he was very uncomfortable and said it stung a lot! He will forever refer to the Dead Sea as the “Stinging Sea!”
#8 Do not Linger too Long in the Dead Sea
This once-in-a-lifetime experience will be over before you know it. 10-15 minutes is recommended for floating in the Dead Sea before you may begin to feel uncomfortable! But your Dead Sea visit does not have to end there, shower off and head up to the pool!
Make sure you hydrate well after your dip as well! In the summer months I suggest you bring a water bottle or two down to the beach with you, as it is extremely hot and the salty water makes you want a cool drink even more!
#9 Tip for the Dead Sea: Enjoy the Mud
If you are not hypersensitive, enjoy the mud before you float! Avoid the eye area and I suggest you do not put it above your eyes because when you wash it off in the water, that stinging salt water will drip into your eyes (YES, been there, done that!)
The Dead Sea with Kids
Some kids are a lot more sensitive than adults and that can result in a bad Dead Sea experience. My son fell the morning before our visit and had some good road rash. Despite spraying it with liquid bandaids, he came out in tears before getting knee deep. On a second visit, he said it was uncomfortable as soon as he got in.
My younger son, who was three our first visit, enjoyed it, but had a tough time keeping his mouth closed and not splashing, especially while trying to balance and float.
Make sure you have a bottle of fresh water to wash out their eyes and mouth. While my older son did not like getting in the water, he enjoyed collecting chunks of salt and examining the crazy formations that it makes.
After our “float” we went back to the hotel pool for the afternoon and they had their fun!
Overall, my suggestion is to manage your expectations when it comes to your little ones and it may not be the same experience for them as it is for you.
Dead Sea Dangers: Sinkholes
While I have mentioned all of the things to enjoy your salty dip, I have not mentioned the surrounding region. There is a road along the Dead Sea on the Jordan side and many places to pull off the highway.
While it may seem ideal to climb down to the water, beware of sink holes that are created when fresh water dissolves underground salt deposits.
What to Pack for the Dead Sea
Depending whether you are staying at one of the local Dead Sea hotels or if you are visiting on a day trip, have these items handy. If you are coming in for just a few hours on a tour, bring them in a plastic bag or a beach bag and leave the rest of your suitcase and day bag items in the vehicle with your driver
Towel : Hotel guests will likely be given a towel with a towel card, but if you are a day visitor, you will have to pay a deposit for one. If you are not a guest, bring your own towel (if you have one).
Bathing Suit : This one is pretty obvious : )
Cover Up : While bikinis are acceptable at the Dead Sea and around the pool, bring something to cover up while you walk down to the water (as in some places it is a few hundred meters due to its rapid receding.
Water : Bring a water bottle in case you get the salt water into your eyes. Also it is quite a bit hotter at the Dead Sea so stay hydrated while you float
Aqua Shoes or Sandals : The salt crystals feel like shards of glass as you make your way into the water, do yourself a favour and bring sandals or aqua shoes.
Liquid Bandaids : You will want to use liquid bandaidson any cuts or scraps (make sure they are dry before applying it or it will sting). We carry it in our first aid kid now. Grab yourself one on Amazon before you go!
Get my entire Jordan Packing List PDF.
The Best Time to Visit the Dead Sea
The best time to visit the Dead Sea is typically spring and fall, however it does receive visitors all year round. Spring and Fall offer the most comfortable temperatures. In the summer months it can be an excess of 40 degrees Celsius. In December and January it can be too cold to take a dip except for those who are adventurous.
Note that Spring is typically the wet season and flash floods occur in the Jordan Valley. The water has no where to go but down the mountain and the many rivers bring debris down into the Dead Sea. While the beaches are cleaned up by the resorts and beach clubs, if there has been rain before your visit, you may find branches (and garbage … ugh) on the sea shore.
How to Get to the Dead Sea
I have a series of transportation posts on getting to the Dead Sea from major cities in Jordan.
Where to Stay at the Dead Sea
Choosing somewhere to stay at the Dead Sea is important as it is not the kind of place where you park at the side of the road and wade into the water. Beach access is limited and decent amenities make the experience much better!
The Dead Sea feels very oily and a fresh shower afterwards is needed!
Being right on the beach also means you can take a dip whenever you want and then enjoy the pools with a view. While your stay at the actual seashore will be short, having a beachfront hotel means you can visit when you want, rather than taking a shuttle.
Read my Dead Sea Hotels Guide
Things to do Nearby the Dead Sea
There are a few things to do nearby the Dead Sea that deserve some time.
One of them is The Wadi Mujib Water Canyon Trail. This hike takes you a kilometre upstream to the a waterfall and is perfect for the adventure traveller. Read more about Wadi Mujib
Ma’in Hot Springs Resort is an oasis offering an outdoor pool and a spa situated directly under a hot spring waterfall. It is about 15 minutes from the Wadi Mujib adventure center. It offers 5 star amenities and an experience you can have no where else in Jordan.
WANT TO BOOK MA’IN HOT SPRINGS? CLICK HERE TO SEE PRICES AND AVAILABILITY.
Dead Sea Frequently Asked Questions
The Dead Sea is in the Middle East. It lies between Israel and Palestine to the East and Jordan to the West.
The Dead Sea is called “dead” because its high salinity prevents fish and aquatic plants from living in it.
The high concentration of minerals makes the water’s density higher than that of the human body. That’s why you can float easily in the water.
It is around 300m at its deepest point.
No there are no fish or aquatic plants. They cannot survive the high salt concentration in the water.
Yes. It is full of tiny microbes. But that is it.
Tips for visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan. Read the following posts when planning your trip to the Dead Sea.
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