One of the highlights of my time in Israel was the chance to visit the Dead Sea. Sure, getting muddy and floating in the salty waters is something that people have been doing for hundreds if not thousands of years, but I wanted to put things to the test – would I sink or would I float? After all, I had been on a food tour for the past 4 days where I was being offered generous platefuls of Middle Eastern food before I had even had the chance to digest the previous meal!
Our outing that day began with a drive to Masada where we visited an ancient fortification atop the plateau, however, the only thing I had on my mind were the blue waters calling me down below. After a very hot morning in the desert, you can bet I was ready for a little soak in this rather unique spot.
So what makes the Dead Sea so special?
For starters, the Dead Sea is located 423 meters below sea level, which means it has the lowest land elevation in the world. This translates to a very long drive downhill and an extremely salty lake at the end of it all.
The vast majority of seawater has a salinity of between 3.1% and 3.8%, but here in the Dead Sea that number rises to a whopping 33.7%! This is because the quantity of water that evaporates from the Dead Sea is greater than that which flows into it, giving it one of the highest concentrations of salt in the world.
That makes the Dead Sea almost ten times saltier than the ocean, and lucky for us weak swimmers, that means we float like corks!
As for its name, the Dead Sea is called that because no life can survive in it. This isn’t the place to go snorkeling or diving; not that you’d want to get your face underwater to begin with. But while the fish may be long gone, travellers in search of health benefits are flocking to the shores.
My first order of business once I reached the Dead Sea was getting dirty! After tying my hair back, I found the buckets of mud, reached in to scoop a handful of the black goo, and began smearing it all over my body. I was never one of those kids who enjoyed getting dirty or playing in puddles after the rain, so I tell you, this was very uncharacteristic for me. But when in Israel…
If you’re still not convinced about getting all dirty, wait until you hear the benefits of it! The minerals in the Dead Sea are believed to cure or help alleviate the symptoms of skin problems such as psoriasis and rheumatic diseases like arthritis. While I don’t have any health problems like those, I have to admit that my skin felt so much better undergoing a little mud treatment. After rinsing off (with fresh water) my face felt baby smooth.
While I only visited the Dead Sea for the day, it is possible to plan an entire holiday out here. This region has become a bit of tourism hot spot with many hotels and guesthouses popping up near the water’s shores. However, if you are short for time, you can opt for a day trip to one of the spas. I went to Mineral Beach, and while you do have to pay to go in, it’s worth it for the experience.
Now here are a few tips for your visit to the Dead Sea:
- Do not, I repeat, do not get any water in your eyes. Regular sea water burns enough and this is ten times worse.
- Do not shave for a couple of days before your visit. If you do, it will burn.
- Wear an old bathing suit as the mud and salt water combination can be a bit rough on the fabric.
- Bring some reading material if you want a cool photo like the one above with the guy floating as he reads a magazine.
- Consider wearing water shoes or flip flops in the water; some of the rocks and crystallized salt can be a little harsh on the feet.
- Don’t forget to lather yourself with handfuls of thick, black mud.
Now here is a short little video of the outing:
Have you ever been to the Dead Sea?