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Swimming in the Dead Sea should be on everyone’s bucket list!
I had the chance to tick it off while visiting Jordan this Spring, and the experience lived up to the hype.
The effortless sensation of floating is unlike anything else I’ve experienced! Visiting the Dead Sea is a must while in Jordan or Israel.
The Dead Sea guide has everything you need to know about visiting in Jordan or Israel, including the best places to go swimming, where to stay nearby, and tips for making the most of your experience.
What Is The Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is actually a saltwater lake n the Jordan Rift Valley. The lake’s surface lies 1,412 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point on earth.
But what makes it even more unique is that it has the world’s highest salt concentration of any body of water.
While the world’s oceans have an average salinity of 4%, the Dead Sea has almost 35% – that’s almost 9x Saltier!
This high salt concentration means no animals or plant life can survive here, hence why it’s named the Dead Sea.
This high salt concentration also changes the lake’s density, making Dead Sea swimming nearly impossible. Instead, you’ll float on the water without any effort.
It’s one of the craziest sensations I’ve ever experienced; you can’t push any part of your body down. It’s a struggle even to try and swim, so just lie back and relax.
The Dead Sea is also known to have therapeutic properties due to the high amount of minerals like potassium and magnesium. It was one of the world’s first natural spas!
The reduced UV and higher oxygen concentration (about 15% more) also have specific health benefits. You’re guaranteed to leave feeling happier than you came!
The proper way to experience the healing properties of the Dead Sea is by first swimming in the ocean for about 15 minutes, coming out and covering yourself in the natural mud (available at the resorts), and waiting for it to dry (about 15 minutes).
After that you go back into the lake to take the mud off, which is easier done with some assistance. Afterward, rinse off with fresh water at one of the outdoor showers.
The high mineral content acts as a natural moisturizer so your skin will be super soft afterward, and your hair will shine!
If you love the feeling, you can buy Dead Sea products in many shops throughout Jordan to take home with you or as gifts.
Visiting The Dead Sea in Jordan
The views of the Dead Sea are spectacular from Jordan, making it one of the best places to visit in the country.
However, it’s not that easy to find accessible spots to swim in the Dead Sea that aren’t owned by private hotels.
Thankfully, many hotels and resorts offer day passes that include showers, muds, and use of their amenities without paying the full price to stay there.
I highly recommend paying for a day pass at one of the hotels, as not being able to shower in fresh water after sounds awful. Your skin will be covered in dry salt, plus you can use their amenities!
They provide towels, mud, and outdoor/indoor showering stations. They also have outdoor heated swimming pools and hot tubs, which are lovely to relax in afterward as you can only be in the ocean for so long.
Dead Sea Hotels in Jordan
I don’t think spending a night by the Dead Sea is necessary if you have limited time in Jordan, as you only need a few hours to experience it. But if you have extra time and want to relax for a night, this is a good place for it.
There are also some nice hiking trails and hot springs nearby the Dead Sea if you visit for longer than a day.
Here are some recommendations for hotels by the Dead Sea in Jordan:
If you’re craving a bit of luxury, the 5-star Kempinski Hotel may be for you. Just a one-minute walk to the beach, this gorgeous hotel offers rooms set among palm trees and olive groves, with balconies overlooking the sea.
They have nine freshwater pools on-site, private beach access with mud stations, several restaurants, cocktail bars, a state of the start fitness center, yoga classes, and a spa with Tha massages and hammam sessions.
The: Holiday Inn is an excellent mid-range option. It’s on the edge of the Dead Sea, with a private beach area including mud and outdoor showers.
I didn’t stay here overnight but got to use the facilities as part of the day pass, which were excellent.
The hotel facilities are expansive, including a lush garden, several heated outdoor pools, sun loungers, and a hot tub. There’s also a health club, three restaurants and bars, a beach bar, and some cute cats wandering around.
Amman to the Dead Sea | Day Trips
If you want to save money or just don’t have the time to stay overnight, the Dead Sea can easily be done as a day trip from Amman, the capital of Jordan.
The easiest way to visit the Dead Sea is by renting a car and driving here. It takes less than an hour to drive from Amman (60 km). The roads along the coastline are beautiful, and you can continue on to Petra on the same day.
If you’re visiting Jordan on a budget, you can also take the public JETT buses from Amman. Alternatively, there are several day tours from Amman that will take you to the Dead Sea.
This private tour includes pick-up from your hotel and ample free time to ‘swim’ in the water.
There’s also the option to upgrade to a hotel so that you can enjoy their facilities, including outdoor swimming pools, showers, and a spa offering Dead Sea mud treatments. Highly recommend!
Visiting the Dead Sea In Israel
The Dead Sea isn’t just accessible from Jordan; you can also visit it in Israel (which you can see from the Jordan side). I haven’t visited Israel yet, so I’ve asked Veronika of Travel Geekery to share her experience there.
Where to go Swimming in the Dead Sea in Israel
Would you rather visit the Dead Sea in Israel? You can do so in the Ein Bokek area on a public beach or through a resort. Kalia Beach is a lesser-known location in the North where you can access a public beach for a fee.
It’s illegal to get close to the Dead Sea anywhere other than the marked places because there’s the danger of sinkholes, especially in the North. There used to be an option to swim at Ein Gedi, but that area closed down because of the sinkholes.
Unlike the Jordan side, here the beaches are mostly sandy. Still, it’s advisable to bring water shoes in case there are sharp salt crystals.
I went to the Dead Sea in the Premier Dead Sea Spa Resort, which is also a famous brand of Dead Sea products. However, It appears that it recently closed down.
For a day fee, these resorts provide chairs and loungers, showers, mud for treatment, changing facilities and often a café or a restaurant.
Typically, the area to swim is cordoned off with buoys so that you don’t float away. There’s also at least one lifeguard on watch to assist swimmers who may have gotten salt water in their eyes.
Otherwise, the floating experience is as awesome as on the Jordan side. You ‘sit’ on the water, get halfway submerged, and enjoy the unique feeling of floating.
It’s recommended to just peacefully float rather than swim since the incredibly salty water could get into your eyes while you’d try to flap away. Swimming per se is actually not possible.
After getting out of the water, cover yourself with the mud that will be prepared for you. Let it dry, and then shower it off well. Your skin will be as smooth as ever!
I don’t have personal experience with going to a public beach. Ixf you go to a public beach at Ein Bokek, you can still enjoy a Dead Sea experience and take a shower – you’ll have to pay for things like sun chairs, parking, and such. Also, there may be no free mud to use.
Many tour companies offer trips to the Dead Sea, often combined with the UNESCO-listed Masada Fortress.
While the Dead Sea is a lot of fun by itself, I highly recommend you check out Masada too. It’s a unique historical site on top of a mountain, which you can ride access via a cable car up or hike up a steep path.
While you could stay at one of the hotels mentioned above, you can also enjoy the Dead Sea on a day trip from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
If you want to visit from Tel Aviv, this full-day tour takes you to the Dead Sea and Masada, including a ride up the cable car.
Tips for Visiting
Due to the high salt concentration, it’s essential not to let any water get in your eyes, mouth, ears, or nose. It really burns, so be sure to rinse off with fresh water immediately if you do get it in your eyes.
It also means you will feel that burn if you have any minor cuts, abrasions, or recently shaved. Try not to shave the few days before visiting the Dead Sea; your body will thank you. If you have any cuts or scrapes, wrap them heavily in a waterproof bandage before getting in the water.
If you’re visiting a resort, it’s OK to wear a bikini. However, avoid wearing any light colors as the mud can stain clothes. If you’re going to a public beach, you may want to wear more conservative clothing to avoid unwanted attention.
Don’t stay in the water for more than 20 minutes in one go.
Don’t jump around or splash anyone in the water – a few drops in the eye can ruin the experience!
Best Time To Visit The Dead Sea
During the peak tourist season in summer, temperatures can be pretty hot (30 to 40 degrees) and the beaches are packed. While in the winter, temperatures can be too cold to swim.
The best time to go swimming in the Dead Sea is during Spring, from April to May, and Fall, when the weather is not too hot.
We visited the Dead Sea at the end of March, and the weather was colder than average, but I found it pleasant once I got in the water.
I hope this Dead Sea guide could help you plan an amazing visit! Whether you visit from Jordan or Israel, it’s sure to be a highlight of your time there.