The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is an outstanding natural body of water situated between Israel and Jordan at the lowest point on earth, stretching from the Judean Desert through to the Arava Desert and flanked by mountains on both sides. It’s so salty that its salt crystals are often visible on the surface, and anyone going for a swim in the Dead Sea floats pretty much instantly. It’s dubbed the Dead Sea because the salty nature of the water disallows marine life from living here, although it does sustain smaller organisms like algae. (In Hebrew, it’s called “Yam HaMelach” – the Salt Sea, and Biblical references call it several different names, among them the “Sea of the East” and the “Sea of the Arava.”
In 2011, the Dead Sea was a candidate in voting for the new 7 wonders of the world, and it’s waters and environment are known to have many health benefits for the skin.
Getting to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem
At just over an hour away from Jerusalem, the Dead Sea is an easy trip to include when planning your Jerusalem tours. If you’re not on an organized Dead Sea tour, you can individually get to the Dead Sea via direct Egged bus, car rental, or cab. Interestingly, you can track your descent toward this lowest point on earth (422 meters, or 1400 ft. below sea level) with a series of meterage signs on the road.
Find out more about traveling from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
Dead Sea Attractions
The Dead Sea attracts hoards of tourists from Israel and around the world, who travel there to witness it’s natural beauty, relax on its beaches and enjoy the therapeutic waters.
Dead Sea Health Benefits
The waters and environs of the Dead Sea are therapeutic thanks to its heavy salt and mineral content, nearby mineral-rich beach mud, and surrounding air, which are highly cleansing for dermatological, respiratory, or nervous system ailments. And in any case, it’s simply rejuvenating for even the healthiest person. Dead Sea tours, which are often grouped together with Masada tours and include entrance to a Dead Sea Spa are a must for tourists in Israel.
Dead Sea Beaches
Entry to beaches is free or low-cost, and you can often lather yourself with the famous mineral-rich mud right there, too. The public beaches have public bathrooms and changing rooms, and showers on the beach.
You won’t stay in the Dead Sea for long – it’s not for swimming since you float upon entry. Rather, the whole idea is a few minutes of floating, and benefiting from the healing properties of its salt and other minerals.
- You might wish to avoid getting any open sores in the Dead Sea – it’s more than a bit of an ouch. So, shave a couple of days ahead.
- Bring beach sandals to wear in the Dead Sea – its floor is heavily rough.
If you’re up for a treat without the hotel stay, you can book individual spa or massage treatments at most Dead Sea hotels, or go lower budget at the Dead Sea Mineral Beach. (Hint: If you visit the Ahava product factory, the world-famous producer of Dead Sea skin and beauty products, you get a discount at the Dead Sea Mineral Beach.)
Dead Sea Accommodation
The Dead Sea area has the span of choices for accommodation, from Dead Sea hotels to kibbutz guest houses.
Dead Sea Hotels
Hotels on the Dead Sea are such an integral part of many tourists’ experiences that the term “Dead Sea hotels” might as well be one word. Dead Sea hotels are abundant, specifically at the Ein Bokek stretch of four-star and five-star hotels. From world-famous hotels such as Crowne Plaza and Sheraton to local hotels like the Kibbutz Ein Gedi Hotel, the quality might vary but the story is usually the same: Nice accommodation and food, with spa offerings and easy access to the Dead Sea. If you are coming during high season, be sure to book ahead as these hotels can fill up fast.
Guest Houses & Youth Hostels
A lower price but still lovely option, here are guest house and hostel choices around the Dead Sea:
-Ein Gedi Beit Sarah Youth Hostel & Guest House
-Masada Guest House
-Kibbutz Metzuke Dragot
-Shkedi’s Camp Lodge (camping bungalows) in Moshav Neot HaKikar
When planning Dead Sea tours, keep in mind that there are several sites of interest nearby. Here are some highlights.
Masada is the famous mount plateau with the infamous story of a Jewish community that built a fortress that stood in defense against the Roman conquest for three years. You can ascend via hike or hi-tech cable car.
An easily hikeable large, lush nature preserve with water trails and springs.
Termed the “flour caves” for their interior chalk-like substance, trek these with a guide.
The location at which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
Jordan River Baptismal Site
For Christians, the site of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River is meditative and inspirational, and it’s just north of the Dead Sea.
Along any Dead Sea Tour, be sure to be on the lookout for Lot’s Wife – a formation near Masada which reminds us of the Biblical woman who looked back when she wasn’t supposed to, and was punished by being turned into a pillar of salt. On the flip side, certainly a visit to any of these places on your Dead Sea tours will allow you to look back with satisfaction.