1. Firstly, there won’t actually be a lot of swimming involved.
You could try, sure, until you realize – eh, this isn’t how swimming should be! And so you go back to floating, which actually is how floating should be – effortless!
2. It’s a myth that being able to float in the Dead Sea means you’re not going to drown.
On the contrary, it’s because it’s so easy to float, and so hard to put your feet down once you’re floating, that drowning becomes a real risk. If you’re a weak swimmer, stay on your back for your own good. (Although I still had a hard time getting back on my feet even if I just floated on my back!) And it’s not just the fact that the water is so dense. There’s also its being hypersaline, which when swallowed, could destroy the electrolyte balance of the body, or even poison it.
It may be impossible to sink, but very possible indeed to drown. In fact, every year people get rescued from drowning in the Dead Sea; a few don’t make it. Don’t be part of that statistic.
3. Ever heard of the idiom “rubbing salt to your wounds”? Yeah, the one who coined that probably took a dip in the Dead Sea after shaving.
So follow this rule: no shaving a few days before going to the Dead Sea. Also, be careful not to let the water get to your eyes. It stings! Don’t believe me? Go ask my mom.
Travel tip: Sunglasses could help.
4. The Dead Sea is not actually a sea.
Neither is the Sea of Galilee to its north. They are both lakes. Don’t ask me how they decide on naming these things.
5. The Dead Sea has the lowest land elevation on Earth.
And it is that fact which makes its salt concentration so high: around 30 to 40% depending on the depth. See, because it is the lowest point on Earth, the water from the higher rivers that feed into it doesn’t have anywhere else to drain into, getting trapped in the Dead Sea. And because it is in a desert region where it gets so hot you wouldn’t believe the amount of evaporation that happens (and with little to no rains to temper it!), the water disappears, leaving behind it mineral salts to the point of saturation.
6. Which brings us to the reason why we float: the Dead Sea water is so dense.
High salt concentration makes the water 8 to 10 times more dense than the regular oceans, making it difficult for us to displace water – hence most of our body remains over the water when we float. It’s quite a strange sensation actually. The moment you try to float, with your body attempting to push water down, it’s like the water gets mad and tries to push you back up! I’m not kidding, there’s a bounc-y sensation as you lie on your back!
How dense is the Dead Sea? Just look at the extreme refraction under water! To think a gopro is supposed to shoot wide-angle.
7. The sea (lake) floor is a salt bed – like a lot of rock salt that coalesced into bigger rocks.
We survived on our bare feet, but it didn’t make going in and out of the water such a fun idea.
Travel tip: Your water shoes would be extremely useful here.
8. The Dead Sea makes aquatic organisms… dead.
So no risk of being attacked by sharks (if that was ever a consideration), but also no fish nor aquatic plants. The only known organisms to survive here, especially when it rains and the salinity is reduced, are bacteria and microbial fungi.
More on Jordan: Sleeping in a Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum
9. You can access it either from the Israel side, or the Jordan side.
They say there are more accommodation options on the Israel side, but the more luxurious resorts are on the Jordan side. Either way, the floating experience should be no different.
Travel tip: If doing it on the Israel side, you could combine this with a trip to Masada (and even Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found – if going by own/rented car). If from Jordan, this is doable with the Jordan River Baptismal site and Madaba, which is how we did it. If doing on a daytrip, there are resorts with lockers and restaurants. Note that lockers are only good for day bags and not big luggage.
10. The Dead Sea has been known for its health (and beauty) benefits, even back in the days of King David!
Yes, the very same King David of the Bible. There’s also Herod the Great, the Roman Emperor Vespasian, King Solomon, even Marc Anthony and the famous Cleopatra! Join their ranks, cover yourself in Dead Sea mud and feel your skin reborn!
Travel tip: Hoard on these Dead Sea items, as they are much more expensive elsewhere!