Ten Dead Sea Tips

No Noodle is Necessary When You “Swim” in the Dead Sea

Ten Things to Know Before You Go Bobbing in the Dead Sea

I try to avoid tourist traps when I’m traveling, but there is no way that I was skipping an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea, and truth be told, it is an experience for sure. But there are definitely a few things you should know before taking the plunge:

  1. There is no such thing as swimming in the Dead Sea. When you sit your butt down in the water, it essentially feels as though you’re floating in a pool with a plastic noodle. Only there’s no noodle. Your feet and shoulders rise and bob, and it takes a few seconds of getting used to.
  2. The salt that lines the sea bottom is rough on your feet, and will cut you up severely if you don’t wear water shoes of some kind. (Naturally, I chose to wear the dorkiest ones I could find, and opted to put a picture of myself wearing them on the Internet). Protect your feet and plan accordingly.
  3. Fast Facts: The Dead Sea is actually not a sea at all, but a lake that’s made up of about 30 percent salt. It is the lowest place on earth at 417 feet below sea level. Its properties have been known to cure skin conditions and help with respiration, and its mud is used in spa treatments in the many hotels along the shoreline…
  4. Being wrapped in mud is a very weird sensation. Being wrapped in mud and then wrapped in a blanket and then left in a dark room for 20 minutes feels a bit like being made into a human mud-bun.
  5. Do not shave at least two days before you plan to take a dunk in the Dead Sea, and be prepared if you have any open cuts or sores while you’re swimming, as you will quickly learn the real meaning of putting salt in one’s wound.
  6. Plan ahead and bring a prop for the iconic photo op. I brought along my National Geographic yellow rectangle.
  7. Don’t put your face in the water if you can avoid it. My photo op was marred by the fact that I had just gotten a bit of seawater in my eye.¬†Believe me when I tell you that it burns.
  8. Wear an old bathing suit, as the water often discolors whatever you’re wearing.
  9. Rinse what you’re wearing thoroughly after you’ve gotten out of the water. I waited to rinse my ugly water shoes, and there’s now a persistent layer of grime that I believe may need some industrial-strength cleaning. Perhaps I will sacrifice them to the Dead Sea gods.
  10. Unless you intend to work on a skin condition, I wouldn’t plan on an extended stay in the region. There’s not a lot happening at the Dead Sea itself (this place is kind of dead…) and many of the hotels tend to look a bit on the shabby side, as the harsh conditions there have weathered them. If you do want to stay, be sure to look at all of the options available, from the Kibbutz Ein Gedi, which came highly recommended by my tour guide, Ziv, to camping in the desert, to staying at the youth hostels at nearby Masada and Ein Gedi. The surrounding region is increasingly offering more hiking, bicycling, and other outdoor activities so there’s much more to do than just float (more on those options coming soon).

Read More: King Herod’s spectacular three-level palace-fortress cascading down the north face of Masada was the subject of a recent National Geographic magazine cover story, photo gallery, TV special, and even video game. You can take a 3D tour of it here.

Photo: Janelle Nanos

Comments

  1. eileen
    March 19, 2009, 12:07 pm

    alas my trip must have predated photography, as I have no photo of myself here. Love your iconic triangle. How do you resist putting your face in it like a frame?
    Loved the piece. Keep up the good work!

  2. Gary Arndt
    March 19, 2009, 3:05 pm

    Thanks. I’m going to be there in about 2 weeks. This his handy to know.
    Gary Arndt
    Everything-Everywhere.com

  3. Lola
    March 19, 2009, 7:42 pm

    Looks like so much fun! Still on the ever expanding list of places to experience.

  4. The Travel Tart
    March 19, 2009, 8:10 pm

    I guess salt imports aren’t really an issue here ;). Sounds like a lot of trouble to try and bob around in the Dead Sea, but still looks interesting!

  5. wow gold
    March 20, 2009, 7:25 am

    Wow, that was an awesome trip even though you didn’t swim. The experience is something you can brag about ^_^ Nice place, uh?

  6. Evan
    March 20, 2009, 10:52 am

    Giggle (cause I did) all you want, but please make sure that you do not fart/break wind while in the water.
    A vacuum is created and all the sudden you’ve sucked up a substantial amount of water which is pretty painful.
    Also, pay attention to the “Not Shaving” tip!

  7. IT Blog
    March 20, 2009, 11:00 am

    Wow, that’s one tip I did not personally experience, thank god. But it’s a good one to keep in mind.

  8. phill gold
    March 20, 2009, 1:16 pm

    gsegall said…
    I’ve been to the dead sea many times, and it IS AMAZING!!!
    You walk in, turn around and lay baaaack and you just float…its like your sitting on a char or something.
    But make sure to not shave ANYWHERE, and carefull of cuts, even small ones will get notices when your floating in salt. And even thought your in water, DO NOT dunk!!!
    on a side note, there is a place across form the dead sea called “Ein Gedi”, which is bacially a nature preserve with georgous water falls…IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!! its like 10 min away, and deffenetly worth the trip.
    I am an american but travel alot, and Israel is NOT as dangerous or scary as the media makes it seems.
    Enjoy!!

  9. Terry
    March 20, 2009, 6:18 pm

    The Dead Sea has two coastlines and if you visit Jordan on the eastern side (as I did whilst working there) the sea bottom is fine, no shoes needed.

  10. Jennifer
    April 16, 2010, 8:25 pm

    I never thought about the shaving thing I bet thats got to burn. lol

  11. Florida Car Hire
    September 1, 2010, 5:06 pm

    Fascinating info ! Makes me want to go and experience it ! Thank you so much, I will be using the info at dinner parties ! Make me sound intellegent :-)

  12. Neil
    November 12, 2010, 8:45 am

    Reading this has brought back some great memories of my trip to the Dead Sea.

  13. eric
    November 17, 2010, 5:56 pm

    The Dead Sea is such a special place

  14. Catherine
    January 28, 2011, 6:07 am

    Thanks and interesting 10 points.Chicago movers

  15. James
    February 5, 2011, 10:58 pm

    Yes I most go sometime as I’ve heard that it’s the greatest thing to float on the dead sea. Also see Directory

  16. TonyGarlander
    February 20, 2011, 7:35 pm

    Rinse what you’re wearing thoroughly after you’ve gotten out of the water. I waited to rinse my ugly water shoes, and there’s now a persistent layer of grime that I believe may need some industrial-strength cleaning. Perhaps I will sacrifice them to the Dead Sea gods.
    Backpain Tips

  17. blundell
    malaysia
    July 25, 2011, 10:39 pm

    Dead sea was awesome… unfortunately I didn’t have much time to explore the area since I was on a tight schedule, alas the visit still remain fresh in my mind! I had to have the quick exit from my ‘float’.. accidently splashed water onto my face and I thought I was going blind! that’s how serious it was… so guys be careful. Wish I could return one day and have a longer ‘float’ around the area.. Managed to buy some of the spa products and carted back some of the sea mud(still sitting in a corner in my fridge!) lovely..
    Movenpick Hotel was busy.. staff were friendly.

  18. Jolie
    July 26, 2011, 1:05 am

    Thanks for d tips. ll add to my travel list.

  19. Adriana Rangel
    Dubai, UAE
    July 26, 2011, 4:41 am

    Regarding no. 10 in the list, hotels in the Jordanian side are not shabby at all, much at the contrary. I’ve been twice to the Dead Sea on the Israeli side while leaving in Tel Aviv, and one time in Jordan for work: it’s surely a different experience. The hotel where we have stayed – Kempinski Ishtar – is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in my life.

  20. michal
    dead sea
    July 27, 2011, 2:16 am

    The Dead Sea in up for the New 7 Wonders of nature campaign. Join us if you wish to vote or learn more:
    http://facebook.com/votedeadsea

  21. Roger
    Cambridgeshire
    July 27, 2011, 4:49 am

    I found out the hard way that swimming in the dead sea is not a good idea. On my first visit to the dead sea I drifted a bit further out than I had intended and tried to swim back, not a good idea at all. After trying to swim on my front and getting nowhere fast I turned onto my back and managed to get back to shore. The next time I went I contented myself sunning myself and watching others antics trying to get to grips with the weird sensation of swimming in the dead sea. Having said all that there was one man, who must have been a regular visitor, that managed to manoeuvre himself about quite easily and swam along keeping up with his family walking along the shore.
    http://bit.ly/etPlgR

  22. Sasha
    Cape Town
    July 27, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Excellent tips you have there! I have also been there a few times now and you have hit it all on the head! All in all a wonderful experience and I always try and make a point of going back just to get myself all ‘cleansed’ or something like that cause boy does that sea make your body come out all nice leaving me feel absolutely gorgeous for days after!

  23. Physic Tourism Dead Sea
    Alaska
    July 28, 2011, 1:06 am

    The Dead Sea is among the a lot of crowned jewels of Israel. Providing untouched biblical view, it has turn into a preferred place which attracts thousands of visitors year right after year. Such as a lot of sights in Israel, the Dead Sea is closely linked to traditional as well as biblical figures as well as events. http://bit.ly/gwCXXB

  24. Ian
    Singapore
    April 26, 2012, 4:02 am

    Thanks for the tips Janelle. Does anyone know if there are public showers by the dead sea or in close vicinity? Or do we have to bring bottled water to rinse our swimwear and body?

    Another question, but is it okay to wear a bikini there? Or is that too revealing?

  25. [...] as long as your little tush desires. Oh, and the water does magical things for your skin! Click here for ten dead sea tips. The Dead Sea. Photo courtesy of National [...]

  26. marie
    india
    October 4, 2012, 6:54 am

    thanks Janelle for your tips….these are really helpful….will be visiting later this month…..thanks again!

  27. Thedead
    Someplace
    August 22, 2013, 4:26 am

    You can actually die from drowning in the dead sea because if you face one side it is actually hard to turn around so dont put your face in the water because if you try put your arm in the water to turn around it wont work because it keeps your whole body afloat.

  28. sarah
    United Kingdom
    November 15, 2013, 3:54 am

    More people have drowned (usually by tripping and inhaling the water which damages the lungs) then in the sea of Galilee and red sea combined over some recent years. As you wade out you tend to fall in holes where people have dug out mud. I found the best thing is to walk out to about knee deep or even less, then squat, lie back and float on your back. You can easily move and steer with your arms and it feels great!

    Where we swam, which was quite near the quamran scrolls centre (recommended) you were not permitted to swim, only float. They had pull chain showers outside plus Bedouin style changing rooms for men and women (women together and men together) There was also a restaurant etc.As long as you are careful it is great fun. If you keep your sunglasses on you are less likely to get a splah in the eyes, which would be very painful. Try pushing your legs down it is bizarre!

  29. Alyssa Ast
    February 10, 1:46 pm

    These are great tips! I will be traveling there with http://isram.com/isram/dead-sea-spa-package/ very soon. It’s such a beautiful place. These tips will help me enjoy my vacation even more!