“I want to stand with you on a mountain; I want to bathe with you in the sea” – Savage Garden.
While a load of young backpackers “tick off” the Dead Sea early on, it took me until the age of 33 to finally visit the lowest point on earth. I had a couple of choices to see the Dead Sea as I have been backpacking the Middle East for a few months and was in Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Three countries who have a “spot” on the Dead Sea.
In the end I opted to visit the Dead Sea just once, rather than from all three sides. I’m pretty glad I chose Israel as my country to experience the Dead Sea. It was all worth it!
How to Get to the Dead Sea?
To be honest if you go backpacking in Israel and can’t work out how to get to the Dead Sea then there is something wrong. All the best hostels have adverts, all your fellow backpackers will tell you how to get there as well as sharing their stories. My advice is base yourself in Jerusalem for at least a few nights – I ended up spending almost 6 full days in and around Jerusalem and loved it.
My next bit of advice is stay at the awesome Abraham Hostel. I’ll be writing about this hostel soon – it’s a top place to make new friends, relax and get all the info on the tours you can do. They do a few Dead Sea tours, which also include other things, such as Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and Masada World Heritage Site.
How much does it cost to visit the Dead Sea?
I met a few backpackers who had done it alone and found it tiring and cumbersome to get to a “free beach”, not to mention your time on buses and the waiting around. The Dead Sea isn’t just on the edge of a city so realistically you can’t walk it. Local buses do run from Jerusalem. But get with a tour and you’ll love it. I headed there on a day tour with Tourist Israel. A Masada and Dead Sea day tour starts from 275 Israeli Shekels ($75 US Dollars). 7am – 5pm all day. I did the Masada Sunrise tour which also included En Gedi Nature Reserve which was awesome. You can just choose to do the Dead Sea tour only, which includes the visit, transfer there and back and that costs 150 Israeli Shekels ($40 US Dollars).
What do you need to take to the Dead Sea?
Swimming trunks and towel. Water, sun cream, sun glasses, a camera and some money. That’s what I recommend. I also took a magazine (to pose with) and my well travelled Northern Ireland flag.
What part of the Dead Sea did I visit?
I went to Neve Midbar resort. It’s a resort in the Neve Midbar part of the Negev desert. There are a load of different Dead Sea resorts though.
What facilities do they have there?
Showers, changing rooms, toilets for males and females on the entrance. A few souvenir shops. A beach side bar. Lifeguards. Outdoor showers by the Dead Sea. Parasols and beach chairs to sit on. A restaurant.
You’re pretty much sorted for facilities.
What three things should you do in the Dead Sea?
1. Float in it
2. Immerse yourself in mud (found at the bottom of the sea)
3. Swim in it (even non swimmers can do it!)
Can you REALLY float in the Dead Sea?
Believe it or not YES!! I was a real cynic and non-believer and thought the whole being able to float thing was a hoax. I was convinced there was no way you could float in the Dead Sea. Of course I was proved wrong!The high concentration of salt in these waters allows you to float with ease.
Can you swim to Jordan from Israel across the Dead Sea?
In theory yes, but there are lifeguards watching, and there is a line of rope which you shouldn’t cross. Of course there is no actual border on the sea, but I’d recommend not crossing the border this way. Besides, where’s your passport and backpack?!
Why is it called the Dead Sea?
Because it’s “dead”, there is absolutely no life in it. No animals or even fish live in it. This has its bonuses such as no fishermen to annoy you, no sharks or crocodiles and a pure sea of water, salt and minerals.
What should you not do in the Dead Sea?
Here are a few no-nos:
1. Drink the water
2. Put your eyes in the water (it stings)
3. Go fishing (even the Irish would know this is the height of idiocy)
4. Get your penis out. It’s not a nudist beach. Breasts may be acceptable though I didn’t see any.
5. Leave rubbish
6. Take bottles anywhere near the water
Most of these are written on the sign on the way in:
How long should you spend in the Dead Sea?
For me an hour was enough to get what it was all about, but it’s at your discretion of course. Don’t go before dawn or after dusk.
Make sure you get your floating photos, it’s a great travel memory! A decent place to relax too…