It truly was a strangely magnificent feeling the first time I ran into the salty waters of the Dead Sea. My mind expected to dive in, swim underwater and resurface much deeper; not balance on top of the water like an inflatable beach ball.
The Dead Sea
is the lowest spot on the face of the earth, 400 metres below sea level to be exact but it’s also a natural health spa. Somewhere in my photo collection is a picture of me lying on top of the water in Jordan, reading a book and smoking a cigarette. That pretty much sums up an experience in the world’s lowest and highest salt content sea. It was also one of the world’s first health resorts dating back to Herod the Great!
So why is it called the Dead Sea? Its salinity prevents the any forms of life existing in the lake with the quantity of water that evaporates from it, being greater than that which flows into it. So much so that its days could be numbered after it was discovered the sea’s water level is dropping by an average of one metre every year.
Being a lover of travel in the Middle East I have floated in the salty waters of the Jordanian Dead Sea about 3 times (using the Movenpick Resort & Spa as my base), and on the Israeli side twice just outside of Eilat. It’s like no other experience on earth and highly entertaining unless of course you have any cuts or scratches. Yes you’ll know you have any small abrasion as soon as you jump in when the salt pierces below the skin.
The only sensation I can liken a swim in the Dead Sea to is a modern day floatation tank. It is essentially an electronic cocoon you enter, lie down on top of high content salty water so you’re floating, soft music is pumped up from underneath the water and you relax in the dark, clearing all thoughts.
My top tip is make sure you swim somewhere where there are showers readily available, typically hotels which line the shores of the Dead Sea own a private section of the beach and as long as you eat there or pay an admission charge you can use their facilities. As the salt dries, your skin will be covered in heavy white crystals and you’ll itch like you’ve spent a night naked in the Amazon Rainforest. Oh and do not get it in your eyes…you’ve been warned!
Underfoot and lining the salty shores is a dense, high viscosity mud which the locals claim offers skin preserving qualities. With heaped hands you can follow the crowds by scooping out fistfuls and smearing it all over your body before drying in the sun. I’m not sure about looking younger but my skin and hair was soft beyond words. You will find Dead Sea products all over Jordan and Israel carefully packaged and sold at extortionate prices so when you have the chance, cover yourself with as much as possible at no charge.
A day at the Dead Sea is a wonderful experience, just good old fashioned wholesome fun. It turns us all into big kids and there are no spectators as no one can resist the chance to essentially ‘walk on water’ like a certain religious icon is claimed to have done.
One thing for certain is you won’t need any salt on your dinner that evening!