We spent 2 days relaxing by the Dead Sea to celebrate Ash’s birthday during our recent 10 day Jordan trip and it was one of the highlights of our trip (which is saying something considering Jordan is one of our favourite countries on our trip to date!).
If you’ve always wanted to visit the Dead Sea but have no idea what you need to do to prepare for your visit, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! To save you the trouble, we made a lot of mistakes during our trip, and now we’re here to share our top 15 Dead Sea tips so you can have an amazing (and painfree) trip.
What is the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is actually a lake shared between Israel and Jordan and is the lowest place on the surface of the earth, at 430m below sea level (ironic, given its name).
The Jordan River is the only source of freshwater into the Dead Sea, causing its high salt content (which is why you float in the Dead Sea), as water is evaporated faster than its replaced. The Dead Sea is nearly 10 times saltier than the ocean (about 34% salinity)… and its even saltier than Dan after the 2019 Australian election – don’t ask!
Embarrassingly, Dan and I had a full conversation about whether fish, plants or anything would survive in the Dead Sea, before deciding that probably not… since it’s called the Dead sea (though it’s actually a lake…).
In fact, while no fish or ‘higher organisms’ could survive in the Dead Sea, there are some microscopic algae, bacteria and fungi that have adapted to survive there (and that’s all I’ll say on that!).
Should You Visit the Dead Sea from Israel or Jordan?
We travelled in both Israel and Jordan, but only managed to visit the Dead Sea from Jordan due to cost (Israel is super expensive people!). Everyone we spoke to who visited in Israel said it was awesome, but as we didn’t visit both we can’t compare them or tell you which is better.
In saying that, if you want the full experience and plan to stay at a Dead Sea resort (and you should; see below), we recommend you visit from Jordan as the resorts are more affordable.
Tips for Visiting the Dead Sea
1. Float in the Dead Sea
Obviously, you’re probably here to float in the Dead Sea. Even people who can’t float to save their lives (you know who you are) will be able to enjoy this floating experience… you literally can’t sink! It’s like you are sitting on a pool noodle, only you’re not.
We were standing upright in deep water (over our heads) and the top third of our bodies were still out of the water… it’s insane! It’s incredibly difficult to try and touch the bottom once your feet leave the ground, which means you can lay back and relax without needing to tread water.
2. Cover Any Cuts
Due to high salinity, any open cuts will sting like nobody’s business. If you’re unlucky enough to have cuts when you visit the Dead Sea, cover them with a waterproof dressing (found at a pharmacy) if possible, or if you’re really desperate, cover it with nail polish to stop water getting into the open wound (cant medically sanction this one, but it does work if you’re in a jam)!
3. Avoid Shaving for at Least 2 Days Before Your Visit
When you shave it opens pores, exfoliates and often cause tiny cuts to your skin, which when exposed to the ultra salty Dead Sea will STING!
If you forgot to shave prior to your visit, oops! But honestly, you’re better off being hairy (I may have been this person). We did see someone who made the mistake of shaving before visiting the Dead Sea during our stay (luckily it wasn’t me!) and it looked pretty unpleasant.
The same goes for waxing, threading, epilating… whatever. Give it a few days for your skin to recover before visiting the Dead Sea (or just be hairy and save it until afterwards, no-one will care).
4. DON’T Drink the Water… Just Don’t
Yes, it’s tempting and funny, but it’s not delicious and will make you super thirsty (hello dehydration).
Dan is a big salt fan, so naturally decided it would be a good idea to lick the water, and got a little more than he bargained for… I don’t even have words (boys!). I did get a great photo before the saltiness became too much for even him though!
5. Avoid Getting Water in your Eyes
If the saltiness is going to sting cuts, you can imagine how bad it would be in your poor eyes. (Dan doesn’t need to imagine, he was one of these unlucky people and had to run to the showers to wash his eyes out).
To avoid this be sure to float on your back rather than on your stomach, as this will help protect your face and eyes, and try not to splash around too much, your fellow swimmers will thank you! Sunglasses may provide a little protection from splashing, but they’re not foolproof.
6. Shower After Swimming in the Dead Sea
The second you exit the water your skin will start feeling super dry. Head straight to the outdoor showers near the beach to wash off all that salt (and also to rinse out your swimwear).
Make sure to regularly apply sunscreen, especially when finished ‘mudding-up’ as this will remove it all, and ensure you moisturise after you visit the Dead Sea to help recover from the sun and salt.
7. Avoid Wearing White or Light-coloured Swimwear
One of the best experiences of the Dead Sea is coating yourself, and your travel companions, in the mineral-rich mud found along the shore. Unfortunately, mud plus white bikini doesn’t equal good things.
Try to wear dark or older swimwear, or at least something not expensive so you’re not devastated if it gets discoloured. You don’t want to miss out on this fun and hilarious part of floating in the Dead Sea.
Note: if you have no other choice, make sure to rinse out your bathing suit straight away, and try to wash it the same day before any staining or discolouration occurs.
8. Protect Your Feet
Most of the public beach areas have very rocky and sharp entry points, often with sharp salt rocks, bring water shoes to protect your feet or wear flip flops (thongs for us Aussies) in a pinch.
The exception to this is the Dead Sea resorts, where they generally clear the beach entry for easy access by guests (another reason to stay at a Dead Sea resort!).
9. Don’t Stay in too Long
It’s not recommended to swim or float in the Dead Sea longer than about 10-20 mins due to the high salt content (you don’t want to get dehydrated!).
To make the most of your time and not make yourself sick, hop out, wash off and have a blast reapplying mud to yourself and fellow travellers for 15 minutes or so between floats.
10. Take Photo Props
If you want to take the quintessential Instagram photo of you floating while reading a book or newspaper, bring your own to be safe.
We didn’t take anything, assuming we would be able to get something (ie a newspaper) from our resort, but whenever we requested one from reception we were given various other items, like tissues, and toilet paper (oops, haha).
We decided to forego the ‘reading in the Dead Sea’ photo, as we didn’t want to destroy our kindles!
11. Take Photos First
Have your camera or phone ready to go when your first arrive at the Dead Sea. Take those gorgeous pre-mud pics, then get muddy! Ensure you’ve organised for someone to take your photo before your hands get covered in mud (or use a GoPro) to save your phone or camera from getting covered in mud.
If you’re at a resort area, see if the lifeguard will take some photos of you floating (or ask another tourist), they are very friendly and helpful and are super used to taking photos.
12. Avoid Getting your GoPro Salty
Try to avoid getting your waterproof camera wet in the Dead Sea. The saltiness will make the lens blurry and ruin your photos. If you do take your GoPro into the water, make sure you rinse it well afterwards to prevent any damage to your camera.
13. Don’t Wear Jewellery in the Water
Silver and lower quality gold will tarnish due to the high mineral content of the Dead Sea! Your high-quality gold (24k) should be ok, but why risk it?
Plus, with the high salt content and floatiness, if you lost your jewellery in the water you’d likely never find it again!
14. Treat Yourself and Stay in a Resort on the Dead Sea
You may only be here once, so be sure to make the most of it. A resort allows you to access all amenities plus free mud (which goes for over $30 for a small jar back home).
We spent a few days at the Holiday Inn Resort on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea for Ashlea’s birthday and it was absolutely wonderful! We even managed to get upgraded to a sea view room!
The beach access was nice and there was unlimited free mud. Plus there were about 5 swimming pools where you could cool off and give yourself a rest from all the salt.
15. Visit Before it Disappears (well, evaporates…)
Sadly the Dead Sea is evaporating, due to Jordan river being dammed upstream, limiting new water coming into the Sea. Since the 1970’s the surface area of the Dead Sea has decreased by nearly 40%, and this is evident in certain places.
Fortunately, Israel and Jordan have enacted a plan to try to save the Dead Sea, so hopefully this natural marvel sticks around for generations to come!
Moral of the story, visit the Dead Sea before its gone forever!
Planning a trip to Jordan or Israel? Check out our other posts to see why we love this region!
- The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Jordan – Everything You Need to Know!
- ISRAEL – A One Week Itinerary
- 10 Awesome Tips for Visiting Petra
- Canyoning the incredible Wadi Mujib
- Wadi Rum
- The Jordan Pass – Is It Worth It For YOU?
We hope these tips will help you to not make the same mistakes we did while visiting the Dead Sea! Please share, comment and Pin It to spread the salty tips 😉