First up on our Jordan itinerary was the Dead Sea. It was cold when we arrived in Amman (6 degrees celsius in the second week of December at 9 am) and I was thinking how cold the waters of the Dead Sea can get but heck, I was determined to do it anyway. I did not come all the way here to skip it! Because…how many times in your life will you be at the Dead Sea?
(The temperature at the Dead Sea area is significantly higher than in Amman since it is a lower elevation – in fact, it’s more than 400 meters below sea level.)
HOW TO GET THERE
There are several taxis waiting outside the airport, just look out for the marked ones. The taxi fares seem to vary and a little search on Google could get you answers (sorry can’t tell because we did not use it). From Amman airport to the Dead Sea (at least to our hotel, the Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea) was around 50 minutes.
A travel & tours agency based in Amman, Amani Tours provided transfers for our entire Jordan trip on a van with a very able guide.
WHY IS IT CALLED “DEAD SEA”?
The Dead Sea is actually not a “sea” at all, it’s a hypersaline lake that is truly one of Earth’s unique places. A hypersaline lake is a landlocked body of water that contains significant concentrations of sodium chloride or other mineral salts, with saline levels surpassing that of ocean water.
The Dead Sea is indeed a very scary name for a lake. It is called so because nothing lives in it. There are no sea weeds or plants, no fish either. (No sharks!)
LOWEST POINT ON EARTH
The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO
SWIM FLOAT IN THE DEAD SEA?
Truly such a unique experience. It really is hard to imagine that you can literally just lay on your back or stomach and have the water hold you up so easily.
It’s a strangely unnerving experience that can’t help but make you smile. The water is so buoyant I feel it’s “kicking” me up. It’s even difficult to put your foot down! The water called the “dead” sea has life of its own! You can’t sink. It’s an absolute blast for non-swimmers to be able to float so effortlessly. People can, however, get into serious trouble when going face first into the water, so lifeguards are on duty.
“Floating” in the Dead Sea was actually a bit DIFFICULT for me because I was scared of the water getting into my eyes (I’ve read painful stories about it!).
Thankfully, our wonderful tour guide got into the water with us to help me because I flopped around, cannot maintain my sense of balance (so lame, I know) so she was there to straighten me out. I did not stay long in the water – it was a bit windy so there were mild waves that I feel if no one gets hold of me, I’d land on the opposite side of the sea, in another country!
I don’t know with other bathers in the Dead Sea but I wasn’t really floating effortlessly, especially when holding a magazine to get that trademark floating-in-the-dead-sea picture or propping my neck so I don’t lie completely. Elevating my neck was tiring but a great ab exercise.
DEAD SEA WITH KIDS?
If you have small kids – under 7 or 8, I would reconsider the Dead Sea as the the mineral content may be too caustic for them. My daughter was 2 weeks shy of her 13th birthday when we went but she felt the burning sensation after 10 minutes. She enjoyed it nevertheless, especially how her skin felt afterwards.
Also, some small kids really freak out when they bob up in the water and their feet don’t touch, and then they flail. Flailing is REALLY bad in the Dead Sea. Even if you try to grasp your child firmly to secure him/her, you will likely lose your balance as you get in, with or without a child in your arms. I think holding a child would make things worse for both of you.
That said, this is one of the reasons why I didn’t bring my five year old son during this trip.
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO STAY TO ENJOY THE DEAD SEA?
The concept of the word “enjoy” varies for each person. For me, a day trip is enough although if we had more days to spend in Jordan, I may consider staying for a night to enjoy the hotel’s facilities* and soak just one more time.
The spa facilities at the Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea were really enjoyable and even just standing near the shore, looking out to the sea, breathing the very clean and therapeutic air was so relaxing. It calms the mind as it sort of detaches you from the real world. As if time stops. If I stayed longer, that’s what I would do, sit there and just do a thousand deep breaths.
IS THE DEAD SEA WORTH IT?
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth that is not underwater. Add to that, it has the saltiest water. Healing benefits – your skin will feel so soft even days later! That mysterious feeling of super buoyancy. Many people get bored but I would still say it is worth it. The place isn’t far from Amman airport and you can drop by on your way to Petra.
It is also important to note that the Dead Sea is actually dying with water levels declining by 1 meter every year and possibly more in the future so it won’t be long before it’s gone. I think that Dead Sea is still really worth a visit. It’s one in the world.