Back in November, when I was trekking it across the Israeli desert, I got the chance to see one of the world’s wonders.* After driving for miles and miles through brown rocky terrain and placid, sandy desert, it truly is magnificent to see muted shades of turquoise peaking back through the haze from just over the other side of a steep ledge.
When our rickety little van reached the first resort town bordering the lake, we stopped at a spa for a dip. (Many of the spas along the waterfront offer entrance, locker rooms, towels and lake access for $10 or so, as well as sell the famed Dead Sea beauty products and offer food or some sort of lakeside snack bar.) And it did not take my friend Amy and I five minutes to throw on our bikinis and go frolicking out onto the shore, ready to take the plunge. Only, you know how you always see those touristy posters where the model, perfectly coiffed and made up, is lounging leisurely atop the Dead Sea, a pina colada and magazine in hand, not a care in the world? That was NOT my experience. Check out this video footage and see what I mean:
First of all, I could not for the life of me stay on my back while floating. I kept flipping over onto my stomach without rhyme or reason, which is precisely what you DON’T want while in the Dead Sea.
You know why? Because the Dead Sea is full of SALT (duh), and salt, it burns the eyes. And no matter what action you take to prevent this from occurring, let me be the bearer of bad news: It will happen.
Amy and I had been wading in the sea for a few moments when our eyes both felt like they’d been lit on fire. The worst part is you can’t even attempt to wipe the salt out of them, as it only makes the situation that much more dire. Luckily, I was wise enough a couple readers wrote me advising me to take my dive booties to prevent slicing and dicing my tootsies on the rocky mud and silt that lines the lake, so my feet were one part of me that remained unscathed from the experience.
Also? The water was COLD, y’all. Frigid even. Doesn’t it look like it would feel like the Indian Ocean, an almost-too warm 86 degrees? Well, here’s news to you: It’s not.
Would I recommend going despite the chilly temps and salty disposition? Sure, why not. If you’re in the area in either Israel or Jordan (that’s Jordan in the background, just a mile away on the other shore), it’s definitely a beautiful site to see—one that may not be around for a whole lot longer—particularly as the sun sets. Just be sure and take a sturdy set of goggles and something to keep your feet protected. And don’t be surprised if sketchy Israeli men on the banks break out their cameras and start pointing them your way. (Just my experience…I was also blown away by how few people were actually in the water. Perhaps due to the sheer size and many access points along the sea’s shores?)
*Technically, the Dead Sea was barred from receiving the honor of “World’s New Seven Wonders” in 2009 due to political implications, but I say it deserves an honorable mention nonetheless.