“The Sea is nothing but a library of all the tears in history” – Lemony Snicket
Science may disagree with the above statement, but I thought it was a rather cute quote. The Dead Sea (that is actually a lake) is fed only by the Jordan River, and as there are no outlets the salts build up over time as the water evaporates, leaving behind this buoyantly fun body of water that has water so dense you can almost sit on it’s surface.
Visiting the lowest point on earth (430m below sea level) had been on my bucket list for some time. The Dead Sea certainly didn’t disappoint. It was so much fun! And I managed to combine my visit with an incredibly beautiful Thai Full Moon Meditation Festival, which made for a very unique experience.
I arrived at the Dead Sea just as the sun was setting, and what followed was a beautiful couple of hours of stretching and meditation by candlelight as the full moon rose over the mountains. Then we lit the floating and sky lanterns, setting them free into the dark sea and sky, sending off any worries or problems we may have had.
I stayed the night at the hotel and in the morning was able to swim in the sea! Well, float is probably a more accurate description. The Dead Sea is so saturated with salts (31.5% – almost 10x that of the ocean) that you just float half out of the water without any effort whatsoever. You can float on your back, on your stomach, read a book and bob around. I couldn’t stop giggling for the first ten minutes, it was such a funny feeling. The water is so salty that salt crystals lie washed up on the beach and even on the sea floor underwater. The water almost feels a bit oily and you can see a delicate swirling pattern as you move through it.
Make sure to visit the Dead Sea before it dies completely as it has been receding at an alarming rate.
The nitty gritty:
- How to get there:
- The Dead Sea is about an hour from Amman by car. The eastern shore of the Dead Sea is the Jordanian side and the western shore the Israeli/Palestinian side (don’t get me started on the politics behind this dispute).
- When I was in Jordan there was no public bus route to the Dead Sea (but there had been at some point in time). You can take a bus to a closer town e.g. Madame and then get a taxi or hitchhike from there.
- A private taxi, tour or hire car (the roads are well signposted) was the only way to get there directly from Amman. You could also hire a driver for the day and see some other sights in the same day (e.g. Bethany beyond the Jordan, Mt Nebo – approx 100JD for the car for the day). If all you do is swim in the sea, you only need 1-2 hours there.
- I was lucky to have the transport included for the Thai Festival, at least on the way there. On the way back my friend and I hitchhiked back to Amman with a really nice Jordanian man who bough us lunch and drove us all the way back into downtown Amman.
- Where to swim:
- Most people go to one of the resorts and pay a ‘day fee’ to use their facilities and their beach access to the Dead Sea. This can range from 30JD upwards and some places include a buffet lunch.
- There are some sections of ‘public beach’ that you can access for free if you go with a driver or your own car. But I would make sure to bring fresh water to rinse off in because you will want to get all that salt off before you drive onwards.
- Staying at the Dead Sea:
- There are basically no cheap option to stay here. All the options are resorts on the waterfront and their prices and packages vary from just accommodation, to included meals and spa treatments. You may be able to pick up a cheaper deal online on those last minute websites, but for the budget traveler most just do a day trip.
- It would be a long walk between resorts so I wouldn’t recommend you do the ‘walk around to find a good deal’ thing here.
- I managed to get a very discounted room at the Grand East Hotel because I was there as part of the Thai Festival. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay there. This hotel was really nice and their section of the beach was sandy, compared to others that have a rocky beach.
- Time of year:
- I went in November and it was hot! About 10 degrees celsius warmer than Amman both during the day and at night. I could imagine that during summer the heat would be unbearable.
- Don’t get the water in your eyes!
- Don’t shave any body parts within 24 hours of swimming in the sea, it will sting! The same goes for any recent cuts!
- The meditation event was organised by Meditation Jordan, check out their Facebook page for any other events they may be organising.
Check out my other blog posts on Jordan here: