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Israel: We’ll All Float On

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.

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Comments ( 18 )

  1. AH! I can so totally relate to this since I was JUST there (as you know). I agree wholeheartedly, that sea bottom HURTS LIKE HELL!

  2. So fun! I visited the Dead Sea in the middle of July so it was hot hot hot, basically like a spa. In fact, I grabbed chunks of salt from the sea floor and then floated around and rubbed the salt on my feet like a pedicure (yeah, I just realized how ridiculous I am.)

    The kind of sad part was this: My half-sister, who was maybe 8 at the time, WOULD NOT get in the water because it burned, umm, you know. One of my half-brothers, 13 at the time, was dead-(no pun intended)-set on getting her into the water, but she didn’t want to tell him why she wasn’t getting in. Poor thing :-(

    Anyway, thanks for bringing back a good memory for me!

  3. Great job! Here’s my story on it http://bit.ly/cvuoGa

  4. Wow. What an amazing experience!

  5. Sooo cool!!! What a fun post. Those pics are fantastic. Love the color of the water, wow! And the sunset…amazing!

    I can’t wait to check out Israel myself soon! :)

  6. Where’s your “reading-a-trashy-magazine-while-floating” snapshot? LOL :)

  7. It looks so nice and warm. LIAR DEAD SEA!

  8. cute video, i love your voice! i think it’s cold bc you went in November haha
    what camera did you use on this adventure? underwater proof?

  9. It was pretty warm when I was there in April (we’d just been up and down Masada so everything felt warm), but I agree that the burning is truely intense! I also found the whole experience rather oily. Still, worth doing if you’re in the area.

  10. I had the same problem, and first thing I did was rub my eyes so painful! I then ran for shore with y eyes burning and closed and tripped and cut my foot, yeah great time all around! looks like you had fun though!

  11. the last photo is gorgeous. i hope it’s warmer when i visit!

  12. Super saltiness and troublesome sharp rocks aside, it sure is pretty.

  13. Wow, that color is absolutely amazing. We are now hankering after a trip to the Middle East because we have met three people who have told us that the Red Sea is the best diving they have ever done and we want to flaunt our recent PADI certifications, that Cairo is the worst city they have ever been to and we want to see if that is actually true, and now these gorgeous pics of the Dead Sea.

  14. I would have thought the dead sea was warm too. Hmmm
    I wonder why you kept flipping over, funny.

  15. Loved your little video and your giggles as you braved that cold water. You are braver than I. I am getting goose bumps thinking about it. But it looked really lovely. I do hear the Dead Sea Salts are supposed to be terrific beauty aids. There is this place in the mall trying to peddle stuff from there for BIG bucks. I think the salt was part of the bouncy, flippy thing.

  16. 1) I hate you for your ability to pull off a white bikini. We are no longer friends.
    2) Even though I know that’s no what it is, it totally looks like someone whizzed on the beach.
    3) That last picture = epic. Which is, for some weird reason, my favorite word today.

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