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?
Looks like so much fun! I didn’t realize that the mud has such amazing benefits. Really enjoyed your video at the end too! You guys are so cute 🙂
Great video! The Dead Sea looks like so much fun! I must say, my expectation of that area of the world definitely didn’t include bikinis and speedos, but I guess the Dead Sea is touristy enough that people didn’t have to be covered. 🙂
It looks pretty cool. I’m planning on visiting Israel sometimes soon, and this is certainly something I want to see. And have that cool picture of me reading a book while floating on water. Reading is one of my passions, so it will be an epic picture for me! 🙂
This is probably the coolest thing. I can’t wait to do this one day! I’m so jealous… and I mean that. I don’t just throw those words around!
Great advice too… I had a sort of similar experience at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland this summer… though not with the eyeballs – in this case, don’t get the water in your hair!!! It will turn it crispy like hay from all the minerals. My skin felt great after a day of soaking too, so I know what you mean. I wish I could do this sort of thing every day.
I know what you mean! Wouldn’t it be nice to have either the Dead Sea or the Blue Lagoon just a short drive away? 😉 P.S. I loved your Iceland photos – I can’t wait to soak in that lagoon one day too!
Mystery solved! Sea and Mud! that’s what I need these days 🙂
I have not been to the dead sea but I certainly want to! looks like a great day out! I have heard of the amazing benefits of the mud where the dead sea is, but I guess its one of those things I will just have to do to believe (I believe it, I just wanna do it) great video!
Love the photo of the floating magazine reader! that tip I will be certainly doing!
I was a little bit skeptical about whether the mud really ‘works’ or not, but my skin felt so much softer afterwards! I’m a believah. 😉
Nice little article and good photos. I visited the Dead Sea some twenty years ago and had a similarly great experience.
I think the ‘sea’ has shrunk and the water level dropped somewhat since then.
Yes, our tour guide was explaining that the Dead Sea is actually shrinking because they are draining some of the water into special pools in order to use the salt to produce skincare products.
Hahah – the dude with the magazine! Awesome!! This looks like a lovely way to spend a day.
I know! I wish I’d brought a book along too! 😉
Hahaha that looks awesome!
And I can imagine your frustration at trying to document things with the video without getting any mud near your camera. If it was me and my partner we would have just been like, “MUD!” and slathered each other up – only to realise we couldn’t take any photos or videos of the experience coz our hands would now be dirty. lol
It reminds me a fun Brazilian tradition, where, around Carnival, locals celebrate by covering themselves in mud. We did it in 2009: http://correresmidestino.com/bloco-da-lama-mud-people/.
It was super messy and super fun!
Who needs to go to the spa when you can just go to Israel! This looks rather pleasant, I would be all up for plastering myself in mud! People pay big bucks for that.
I always wanted to try that out. Sometimes the most touristy things are also the most fun things to do!
i’ve always wanted to go…i must soon
I’ve done the Jordan side of the dead sea, and it was a pretty unique experience. There seems to be a whole lot more people on the Israel side. Agree with the not getting any water in your eyes bit, it stings!
I’m looking forward to doing the same thing from the Jordanian side in a couple of weeks. I doubt it’ll be any different, but it’ll be fun to do it all over again. 🙂
Love the willing nature you have – floating the day away would be amazing.
Cool post! I’ve heard of people trying out floating in the Dead Sea before, but I didn’t know about the mud part. It looks super fun!
What a cool experience! Great tips too, thanks for sharing 🙂
That’s awesome. This is the best way to spend your holiday. The dude with magazine is really enjoying.
“I still feel like Wolverine.”
Hahah love it.
I haven’t been to the Dead Sea but would love to go. It looks like you can get the same treatment that you’d pay $100 to have done in a spa.
I’ve been once, many years ago, on the Palestinian side. Fun, isn’t it?
I’ve always wanted to do this, it looks like so much fun! My skin is super sensitive, though, so I worry about salt water irritation. Hopefully the mud will help!
I would love to float in the Dead Sea one day!:) How long were you able to stay in the water?? With that amount of salt it must burn your skin for sure..even without having any cuts or wounds.
Great photos! I would love to travel to the dead sea- what an awesome experience. Thanks for sharing!
We just visited 2 weeks ago, covered myself head to toe!