|Dead Sea from afar|
About ten seconds after we decided we were going to go to Israel, I started getting excited about visiting the Dead Sea. I knew almost nothing about it except that nothing lived in it and that you could float really easily, but I had been wanting to visit forever. (Embarrassing Confession: When my knowledge of geography was a lot weaker, I had an awkward moment in Istanbul where I confused the Black Sea with the Dead Sea…I was hugely disappointed when I realized how different they were..)
So basically, my idea of the dead sea was beautiful beach where you could float a lot. Maybe slap on some mud. Well..at least I got the floating part right. Because, man, did we float. We floated like it was our job:
Other than the floating, things were a bit different than I imagined. Luckily we had done some research about available Dead Sea beaches in Israel (Note: you can also visit on the Jordan side), and determined that Mineral Beach was the best location. There are places where you can walk right up to the water without paying, but these parts are heavily commercialized (there is actually a McDonald’s at the dead sea). In addition, we heard that most of these places didn’t have any natural mud. Instead people would buy it from vendors out of bags and then put it on near the water for a photo op… lame.
Since the Masada Youth Hostel was just down the street from Mineral Beach, which charges admission, we went there after our early morning hike of Masada. It was a little pricey, but it included use of the beach, lockers, bathrooms and sulfur baths. They also have a nice little set up with umbrellas, chairs and out door showers.
|Mineral Beach at the Dead Sea|
The other issue with the dead sea is that over time the water has slowly evaporated (part of the reason for the high salinity) which has led to receding shorelines. This means that the beach is now 100 yards further from the facilities that it was when everything was built. That may not seem like a big deal but its a long hot walk in the Israeli summer. (Important: Make sure to wear water proof shoes, under no circumstances should you go in the dead sea without foot protection)
So after putting our things and the lockers and heading down to the beach we got some quick instructions on how to enter the water. No swimming, no splashing, and no putting your head or face in the water. The Dead Sea is so salty that it is extremely dangerous to drink or get in your eyes. According to a lifeguard we spoke to, a lady had fallen and face planted the week prior and had to be air lifted out for medical treatment.
|Covering myself with Mud at the Dead Sea|
The water itself feels thick and slimy. Its also warm, very warm. It was not anywhere close to a refreshing dip. After 15 minutes of floating and few photos we were ready to head out for some mud action. Unlike other parts of the Dead Sea, there actually was a small section with some natural mud available. The mud was actually great fun covering each other with mud, but as it started to dry it became super hot and uncomfortable. Your supposed to leave it on for a while for maximum skin benefits but after 10 minutes I was ready for a shower.
The last stop would have been the hot sulfer bath, but there was no way I was going to near that. At that point the heat and salt of the dead sea had left me feeling like some dessicated carcass and I was ready to get back to our hostel pool.
|Sulfer Bath at Mineral Beach|