Floating at the lowest point on earth… and drinking at the lowest bar in the world… definitely bucket lists moments.
Taking a tour is never my usual style but when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time, I found it brilliant. Many tours are half days including Dead Sea, My first trip I teamed it with Jerusalem and did Kalia Beach and second trip doubled up with Masada and went to Ein Bokek beach. Half a day here is enough. The 2 beaches are very different experiences but there are few commonalities to be aware of:
• Don’t shave for a day or so before you get to the Dead Sea – the minerals in the water will make every scratch sting.
• Do not wear jewellery in the sea – almost everything except 24-carat gold will instantly tarnish (though it can be cleaned).
• If you are wanting a bikini insta shot then don’t wear your favourite one as they can discolour and I would opt for a swim suit as getting and out is not an elegant experience!
• Phones – now you can’t go all this way and lock it away with no evidence of your fabulous floating though many do. I did not. I planned ahead and brought a waterproof case for it. (Not for bringing in to the water but for it being safe on the beach)
• Once in do not splash or dunk your head – if water gets in your eyes, they will sting! This isn’t time for actually swimming in the sea. It’s all about floating and boy do you float! It’s quite quite incredible.
• Weather – as we went in winter & spring I was surprised at warm it was – we were told in the summer you can’t get burnt as it so low into the ground! If you come in summer or even in winter its recommended drinking lots of fresh water – the Dead Sea’s dry heat (up to 47°C) can quickly suck you dry of precious bodily fluid
Side note – It was striking how when we left the lush green mountains and drove further and further down into the desert, the temperature increased and the land became more baron – yet only an hour or so away.
This is the more commercial day trip equipped beach. (The other more beautiful is Ein Bokek – see below) where there are some spa resorts but it’s further south and hard to have done in a half a day trip group tour). The first thing that struck me was how I felt I walked into a resort – cafe, shops and …. changing rooms! Be prepared- this is not a serene enjoyable experience. It’s a big communal room (there were cubicles for those that were more modest) but that’s not all you need to know when visiting.
Here are some more top tips to not only survive but enjoy this once in a lifetime experience:
• If you are coming straight from your hotel then I would wear your swimmers under your clothes to make the changing room a quick experience
• There are lockers with codes on so you can safely leave not just your clothes but your jewellery too. And they are free.
• Sea Shoes – I had planned to ignore the advise I read up on and walk down bare foot – it’s a 5 mins walk, on a pathway then the beach. I didn’t need to bring anything flip flops. Oh but I did! The walk is full of salt rocks and even getting into the water you may need them. Luckily there is an overpriced tourist shop to sell some!
• Towels – you can hire them from the shop or buy or just bring your own (and a plastic bag for it to get back to your hotel in)
• After the obstacle course of the salt floor and as you enter the water – be careful as is it’s ridiculously slippy. The floor of the sea is wet mud – this is no elegant entrance
• There are also 28 minerals in the water so whilst this is amazing for your body it can also be a lot for your body – so they advise 30 minutes.
• As I mentioned the bottom of the sea bed is the famous black mud we all know from face masks. Note this is not the same! This is pure and magical and if you have sensitive skin test it! There are lots of pics of people covered head to toe in it which you are encouraged to do – literally scoop it off the floor of the sea, come out of the water and apply! (There is a trick where you can buy / bring a magnet and once it’s dry then the magnet will lift the mud off leaving all the amazing properties. I did not get this far. I put a little bit on my cheeks to start. Within a few minutes they were stinging… obviously can’t wash it off in the sea so headed for the outdoor showers. So am glad I didn’t do my whole face! I also found my legs nipped a little in the water. No idea why other than I have sensitive skin
• After you have floated there’s outdoor showers to remove the salt or you can head straight to the changing rooms.
• Then is the ‘The lowest bar in the world!’ I am all about rooftops and views but this place was a bucket list moment too! Two for the price of one! Dipping and drinking! And naturally when I saw a Dead Sea margarita on the menu, well I couldn’t not! (It was the saltiest margarita I’ve ever had!)
Overall It’s a bit of a cattle experience. Showers, changing rooms, lockers – doesn’t feel a luxury experience at all! BUT once done and made way to the beach then it’s worth it…. float away!
Now this was the lux version – in the south basin of the Dead Sea. I’m glad it was my second time or I would not have appreciated Kalia as much! This was a resort though you can go DIY for free. We opted for a half day spa at Milos – a weirdly Greek inspired hotel. We were given a robe, towel, locker and mud. Unlike Kalia there isnt mud on the sea bed here but you can still enjoy the benefits of its minerals with a packet bought. This stuff did not sting me! 🙂
The changing facilities were not so lux – 2 showers off 2 toilets. Very strange! But most people are staying the night so have their own rooms but still… There was an indoor salt float tank for those who wnat to practice the art of floating but you don’t need to – head straight out to the beach!
As it was March it was super quiet and we had the beach to ourselves. A very different experience from my first time. Not so hard to get those pics! They also have a bar at the resort so you can grab a cocktail or bubbles to attempt to float with. It is harder than it looks! Whilst you are contenting with the slippery mud you are dealing with the sharp salt on the sea bed so sea shoes are a must. I took sliders and they slid off! Still I finally managed it!
An incredible experience especially as they say the Dead Sea is disappearing a meter a year so one day it may not exist.
Oh and if you go to this resort there’s a pool and bar so more R&R after the floating!