Do’s and don’ts when at the Dead Sea

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Or rather,

HOW TO MAKE YOUR DEAD SEA EXPERIENCE MEMORABLE (AND PAINLESS!)

1. Take a day pass in one of the hotels on the shores of the Dead Sea

If you don’t have much time, your best bet is to take a day pass at any of the hotels in the Dead Sea area. Since you would only float, rinse and shower, take a day pass as the public beach might offer the facilities you need.

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We accessed the Dead Sea via the Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea – it’s a huge resort with great facilities, beautiful and well maintained grounds and most of all, very helpful staff. It has direct access to the shore of the Dead Sea and view from there is just AMAZING.

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The hotel has villa type rooms facing the sea with private pools. The whole ambiance is very peaceful and relaxing.

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The pools at the hotel all looked very lovely however, it was too cold for a swim. Thankfully, the Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea has a “winter” pool called the hydro pool at the spa where the water is heated.

If I had to do it again, I’d probably stay for a night at the Movenpick just to relax after the Dead Sea experience and enjoy the hydro pool at the spa more and perhaps, another dip in the healing waters of the Dead Sea!

2. Don’t shave a few days before your visit

This tip is applicable to both men and women. The high salinity means that even the smallest of cuts will burn. Cover open cuts or wounds with a waterproof bandage if you don’t want to know the real meaning of “putting salt in one’s wound”.

3. Consider wearing water shoes

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The shores and floor of the Dead sea is not soft powdery sands you might encounter on most beaches. The shores are pebbly and there are several sharp clumps of crystallized salt stuck to the stones at the floor. Pristine had a cut on her toes because we were barefoot. If I would do it again, I’d definitely bring and use some sort water shoes. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.

4. Bring some reading material to capture that IMPORTANT photo

You’ve probably Googled “floating in the Dead Sea” and saw photos of people holding magazines as they float on their backs. Want that iconic shot? Bring along your own prop! We didn’t bring any but luckily, the hotel staff gave us something to use!

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5. Wear an old bathing suit

The water is quite harsh on fabrics and can cause discolouration. Save your favorite bikini for the pool.

6. Don’t splash the water

Try not to splash. That’s not the usual recommendation for a seaside getaway, with a salt and mineral content upward of 30 percent, a splash of Dead Sea water in your eyes and you can’t open it for at least five minutes! If you get a drop of water on your face, do not use your wet hand to try to brush it off! You’ll get more water on your face and if it gets into your eyes, it will sting a lot. Just get out, walk like a blind man and go to the shower.

Don’t kick the water to move, just use your hands.

7. Just lean back

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Don’t try to swim. Floating ON YOUR BACK is the preferred method of immersion at the Dead Sea. In the photo, our guide is trying to explain to Pristine how to do the floating thingie properly. I honestly don’t know what we’d do without her when we were there. She tells us to just relax, walk in slowly, pretend you are about to sit down on a chair and lean back; the water will do the rest.

The buoyancy is nothing like you’ve experienced before because the salinity is 8-9 times that of normal sea water.

8. Do the mud pack!

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Don’t laugh now but the black mud of the Dead Sea is VERY good for the skin. The black mud found on the seabed is high in magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium, which can give you a mud bath that can help to treat many ailments and skin diseases..

After floating, we applied mud all over our body and allowed the mud to dry.

The sun was shining out but the cold winds of winter made us shiver. We were the only bathers when we were there because winter is off season for this kind of activity. After the mud dried up, we rinsed it in the salty water again and OMG – my skin became especially so soft, shiny and just absolutely smooth for a few days after our mud pack and Dead Sea soak!

9. Don’t spend too long in the sea

The water is dehydrating, and you’re advised to spend no more than 20 minutes in it. A shower is advised right after getting out. You can always go back in the sea for another 10-15 minutes, but shower in between if you don’t want to have your skin become irritated.

10. Bring a camera!

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Take a photo or it did not happen, right? I also want to mention that I used a waterproof, all weather, all terrain casing for my phone so we can take photos at the Dead Sea. My very trusty Catalyst Case survived a dip in the world’s saltiest waters!

Have you been to the Dead Sea? Any other important tips you would like to add?

Day trip to the Dead Sea

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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?

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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?

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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.

Did you know? The air in the Dead Sea is oxygen-rich and free of allergens, also alleviates symptoms and improves quality of life for patients with respiratory diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and cystic fibrosis.

IS THE DEAD SEA WORTH IT?

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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.

Go there even just for 1 hour and you will remember it for a lifetime.