Things to Know Before Visiting the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is below sea level and 9.6 times saltier than the ocean
The Dead Sea is below sea level and 9.6 times saltier than the ocean | © Dan Yeger / PhotoStock-Israel / Alamy Stock Photo

The Dead Sea is a must-visit on any trip to Israel – despite the fact that, in truth, it’s not a sea. It’s actually a lake, and a really, really salty one at that. Before you start packing, sit down and read this list.

Did you know? You can now travel with Culture Trip and enjoy a private boat cruise on the Dead Sea as part of our specially curated seven-day Israel adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Fun facts

At 430m (1,412ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, which is pretty cool. It’s also the deepest hypersaline lake in the world at 304m (997ft) and 9.6 times saltier than the ocean.

The Dead Sea is much saltier than the ocean

The Dead Sea contains a concoction of minerals that have been scientifically verified to carry healing properties. The potassium acts as a moisturiser and helps your body recover after strenuous exercise; combined with the bromide in the water, it helps to relieve muscle and joint tensions. The concentration of sodium boosts your immune system, the calcium chlorides strengthen your bones and nails, and the magnesium has anti-ageing qualities.

The mud will leave your skin silky smooth

Obligatory for any visit to the Dead Sea is slathering yourself in the natural supply of mud. From face to toe, covering yourself in it will leave your skin feeling revitalised and more smooth than any spa treatment.

Take photos before relaxing

Even if you have a GoPro or a waterproof camera, the super-high salt concentration will leave a film over the lens that will make it temporarily unusable. Thus, to ensure your obligatory floating-in-the-Dead-Sea-with-a-newspaper photo, get snapping before your camera gets wet.

Make sure you take your holiday snaps before you float in the water

It’s drying up

The Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate, with the surface level dropping more than a metre a year. The main reason for this is the decline of the River Jordan, with which the Dead Sea connects. So, pack your things and visit the Dead Sea before it changes irrevocably.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered nearby

The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Hebrew scrolls discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin boy in the Judean Desert. Found in the Qumran Caves and, later, in numerous other locations in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, these ancient manuscripts have been called the great archaeological find of the 20th century. They hold huge religious significance, containing fragments from almost every book of the Old Testament. Recently, they were digitally uploaded for everyone to see.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were first found in the caves at Qumran

You can spoil yourself in nearby spas

If your R&R needs aren’t satisfied by the Dead Sea itself, then worry not; there are several spas in the area where you can pamper yourself. The Le Meridien Hotel Spa, for example, is among the most popular due to some amazing amenities, which include a sea-water pool, heated mineral pools and full spa facilities with a sauna, massage and jacuzzi.

It’s a short distance from other gorgeous Israeli sights

In one day, you can float in the Dead Sea, climb the Masada and hike the Ein Gedi, a stunning nature reserve full of natural springs and botanical gardens. All of this is approximately an hour away by car from Jerusalem.

You can visit the sink holes in Ein Gedi after you’ve finished at the Dead Sea

Wear an old bathing suit

The high salt concentration in the Dead Sea can discolour your bathing suit, so don’t go wearing the expensive bikini you just received for your birthday.

Do not shave before entering the water

Due to the high level of salt, any cuts or sensitive areas will sting like crazy in the water. So, lay down the razors a day before visiting and enjoy this experience in comfort. For any pre-existing cuts or wounds, wrap them in waterproof bandages. You can thank us later.

Feeling inspired? Join our specially curated week-long trip to Israel, which includes a guided visit to the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

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