The Dead Sea, Israel

Visiting the Dead Sea: Jordan or Israel?

The Dead Sea is a fascinating, alluring, and endlessly captivating place. Located 431 metres (1414 feet) below sea level, its cobalt-blue waters are the lowest point on Earth. But that’s not the only thing that makes this place stand out from the crowd – it’s also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Ten times saltier than average ocean water, its buoyancy means that you’ll always float on its surface if you go for a dip. The waters are also rich with minerals, and the area has long been known for its healing properties.

Travel to: The Dead Sea

Facts about the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea might be a bit of a misnomer, but all the hype surrounding it is real. While it’s really more of a lake, it’s true that its hypersaline waters make it impossible to sustain marine life, and that floating in its waters will definitely be one of the most unforgettable feelings you’ll ever experience. You’ll see stunning, colourful sunsets, rare animals at nearby oases, and there’s no shortage of great photo opportunities – where else in the world can you float effortlessly reading a book, or with a cocktail in hand? A visit to the Dead Sea also means maximum relaxation at the resorts near its shores, which harvest the mud directly from the waters daily. There’s no better place to pamper yourself with all the good stuff the Dead Sea has to offer than right next to the source. And you’ll want to make sure you visit soon – without many waterways that lead to it, the Sea has been shrinking under the hot sun, its shoreline travelling deeper and deeper inland.

While the Dead Sea is not the only salt lake in the world, it’s a special place to visit. The area surrounding it has huge religious and historic significance. With Israel to its west and Jordan to the east, these are both popular destinations for those who wish to take a salty dip in the Dead Sea. Read on to find out more about these two destinations!  

Where should you visit the Dead Sea?

Visiting the Dead Sea in Israel

  • Closest airport: Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv
  • Public beaches: Kalia, Ein Gedi
  • Nearby attractions: Archaeological sites, Masada National Park, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

Only a couple hours’ drive away from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, venturing to the Dead Sea is the perfect day trip if you’re visiting Israel. The Israeli side of the Dead Sea is well-equipped for locals who need a break from their daily lives as well as first-time visitors, with showers and lifeguard services, snack bars and beach chairs, and drinking fountains and barbecue areas. There are even campsites available for overnight stays!

The Dead Sea, Israel
The colours of the Dead Sea in Israel sure aren’t dead! | © Dave Herring/Unsplash

There are both public and private beaches on this side of the shore. Ein Bokek is one of the most popular ones, and it’s right next to the resort beaches, which means gorgeous views are guaranteed. Others include Neve Midbar, which is popular with the younger locals, and Kalia, which boasts an abundant supply of natural black mud and the lowest bar in the world. There are lots of nearby attractions as well, such as the Qumaran Caves and the Einot Tsukim nature reserve.

A man floating in the dead sea, israel
Float with ease on the Dead Sea | © Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

If you’re wondering between Israel and Jordan to visit the Dead Sea, some other things you can do around there might sway your decision. On the Israeli side, you have the opportunity to hike the famous Masada, a massive stone fortress on the top of a tall mesa that overlooks the Dead Sea. The area is a UNESCO-recognized place of cultural significance – a Judean stronghold that withstood siege and challenges those who dare attempt to reach its heights. For a hike with more verdure, go to Ein Gedi National Reserve for your fill of waterfalls, oases, and lush greenery. The beach in the area is unfortunately closed until further notice due to sinkholes that have emerged in recent years, but a visit to this flourishing oasis is the perfect complement to a journey to the Dead Sea.

Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan

  • Closest airport: Queen Alia International Airport 
  • Public beaches: Amman Beach
  • Nearby attractions: Mujib Biosphere Reserve, the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex Lookout, the Sprig of John the Baptist

Jordan is a welcoming haven full of rich cultural history that has faced ups and downs in popularity for tourists in recent years, but its timeless beauty is unmistakeable and not to be missed. The Jordanian side of the Dead Sea is a glimpse of the more luxurious, with some of the best hotels and spa resorts in the world lining its shores. The Jordanian side is less accessible to people who aren’t staying at these resorts, one of your only options being Amman Beach, which you’d still need to pay for. If you’re planning to visit the Dead Sea from the Jordanian side, treat yourself to the whole package – spa treatments at these resorts will be worth it, making you feel pampered and refreshed, and your skin silky smooth from the mud that they harvest right from the source. The Dead Sea’s shores are an hour away from Amman, which makes it possible to visit the less resort-dominated parts of Jordan and get a true taste of Jordanian hospitality and local flavour. Driving along the Dead Sea Highway will lead you to the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex, a recently-instated lookout, museum, and restaurant complex that overlooks the Dead Sea. You’ll be shocked to learn that it’s at sea level because of the immense height. And any trip to Jordan is not complete without a trip to Petra, the ancient, awe-inspiring crown jewel of any Jordanian itinerary. The ancient city is worth taking a day or two to explore, and the impressive façade of its Treasury looms over its visitors with magnificent elegance.

Palmtrees and a boardwalk on the dead sea in jordan
Glistening seawater in Jordan | © Adamina/Flickr

Tips for visiting the Dead Sea

  1. Whichever side of the Dead Sea you choose to visit, there are things you should remember that will help you make the most of your visit.
  2. When wading in the Dead Sea, take caution not to try swimming or floating on your belly. Getting any of the water at all in your eyes will sting uncomfortably, and you don’t want to accidentally drink the water because you’ll get dehydrated very quickly.
  3. Though you might have the urge to float the afternoon away, staying in the water too long might mean that sensitive areas will feel the effects of the salt.
  4. As well, even though the low-lying water reduces the effect of the sun’s harmful UV rays, it doesn’t mean you won’t get sunburnt, only that it takes longer.
  5. Avoid shaving before you go, and prevent getting fresh cuts on your feet from jagged salt deposits and rocks by making sure you bring footwear for walking on the beach.
  6. Take care to protect your devices and your jewellery from the salty water, as they might tarnish or ruin them.
  7. If you wear a bathing suit that you don’t mind getting dirty, you’ll be able to slather yourself with the mineral-rich mud without worry that your bathing suit will become discoloured from the salt and mud.

Floating in the waters of the Dead Sea is going to be an experience you won’t soon forget, and you’ll want to make the most of it!

Karak Castle, Jordan
Karak Castle, near the Dead Sea in Jordan | © Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

Which side will you visit the Dead Sea from?

Melanie is a Toronto-based writer and editor who loves experiencing new things in new places. In between adventures, you can find her with her nose in a book, re-watching episodes of Friends, or on the lookout for her next favourite brunch spot.

Vancouver, British Columbia
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