10 Facts and Travel Tips to Know Before You Swim in the Dead Sea

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!

Floating in the Dead Sea

Float, sit, read while on the water – a beautifully strange experience

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!

Dense Dead Sea

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.

Floating in the Dead Sea

Salt in the air, salt in my hair, salt everywhere

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!

Floating in Dead Sea

Having fun while covered in Dead Sea mud

Travel tip: Hoard on these Dead Sea items, as they are much more expensive elsewhere!

10 Facts and Travel Tips to Know Before You Swim in the Dead Sea was last modified: February 14th, 2016 by Acrosscities

21 Comments:

  1. Ahhh talaga… lake pala sya. Nice read. Parang andun dn ako. Hehehehe 😊

  2. 9. You can access it either from the Israel side, or the Jordan side.

    – Where did you access it?

    Ang kulit ng pic mo na magnified yung bottom mo. Haha.

  3. Always wanted to visit there, just to check it off my list of places. I would imagine the salt bed would really do a number on your feet if you stood on it too long.

    • Yeah I suppose so. Good thing is there are some parts which are sandy/muddy as well once you go deeper – but it also becomes scarier then!

  4. It looks like such an amazing place! How hot can the temperature be in summertime? It seems there’s no one else there, or it really so desert?

    • Summer temperature can go as high as 39 deg C/102 deg F – and then no rain to add to the water.
      There were quite a few people on the other side of the beach, but I think tourism has been affected by the issues in neighboring countries/territories (Israel, Palestine, Syria etc). But we never felt unsafe in Jordan – sad that it has to suffer with what’s happening around it.

  5. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru

    I’ve heard some of these tips before, particularly how painful it can be on raw or newer skin. Did you think the mud mask/bath was a healthful or beneficial treatment?

    • My skin did feel very supple after the 15-minute mud mask. And I hoarded on Dead Sea soaps and then bought some lotion too – they both work really well.

  6. Nice post! Interesting points, especially that animals and plants don’t survive in it! I had heard about not shaving before, so that is a very handy tip!

  7. I’ve always wanted to go to this region and the Dead Sea is a big reason why!! Although, I think I’d have to wear my vibrams. If it stings that much on freshly shaved skin, I can only imagine what it would do to my weary feat!

  8. I never considered that there is a danger of drown in the dead sea! That’s indeed very good to know. How was the mud mask? Did you feel a difference to your skin afterwards?

  9. I’ve always thought it would be fun to float in the Dead Sea! I had no idea that the bottom is all salt like that, but I suppose it makes sense! And I didn’t know that it wasn’t technically a sea either, very interesting!

  10. The most important learning is to make sure not to shave before getting in, that is certainly something to remember – becuase you will not forget it if you go in having done that, i speak from experience!

  11. This is the second post about the Dead Sea I stumbled upon this week! It really looks like a lot of fun and adventure. I hope to make it one day. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I had no idea you could actually drown- somehow like most people I assumed that it is not possible. Thanks for letting us know otherwise!

  13. Hey 😉
    Which beach was it and how much did the entry cost? (We are planning to go there soon and don’t have that much money as students^^)

    • Hi. We went to Amman Beach. Entry costs 20JOD. There are lockers as well (but only for day bags, not luggage-sized ones) for 5JOD. The mud costs 3JOD.

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