We heard that it would feel oily and not like water at all. We had a friend L. say it was over-rated when she needed to rush around Israel and she was blinded in it. Another pal told us to get out after fifteen minutes or the great burning of sensitive bits would begin. We saw a movie where a little kid drowned instead of floated. Let’s just say, I was a bit apprehensive about the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea? Hilarious fun.
There’s only two places to stay when visiting the area: a completely horrific fake resort location called Ein Bokek (which is actually on salt evaporation pools and not the Dead Sea) or the limited housing around the kibbutz at Ein Gedi. We stayed in Ein Gedi, though saved some money (this place is not cheap) by staying in a room at the youth hostel. The only thing wrong with the youth hostel? Youth. Otherwise, it was a great location and we considered spending an additional day to soak up sun since it only cost $88.
Near Ein Gedi is a public beach or a spa which includes a cart ride down to the receding lake and some sulfur baths. We opted for the public beach with it’s no-cost entry, though this decision happened to us by the early closing time of the spa.
There’s a small rocky beach with tourists in various states of uncomfortable either trying to get into or out of the water or watching the bathers. Once you’re waist deep in the water, the only way to go further is fall backwards. Instantly, you float. It’s easy to turn over and dog paddle. It’s hard to do anything else, like get your feet back under you and stand.
What I was most surprised about was the bitter metallic taste of the sea. It stays in your mouth for hours.
We never found the black mud between the rocks at the Dead Sea, but lucky for us, some German folks shared theirs with us, so we got to slather it on and stand around as if in black face. I can’t say it worked magic on my skin, but it was good for giggles.
Besides the dip in the Sea, the other notable attraction in the area is mountain top ruin of Masada, an ancient fortress made famous as the final stand of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans.
It’s popular to hike up in the early morning to catch the sunrise over the mountains of Jordan and it was worth setting our alarm for 4:30 am to do this. It took us about four hours to see all the ruins, though by the end of it, I was less interested in the pile of rocks than in the amazing views across the wadis and the Dead Sea and wondering when we’d get breakfast.
There’s not much else to do around the Dead Sea but lay in sun, read some books, and hike. We’d not mind going back to do some of the trails, but given our two week tour of Israel, two nights and two days was more than enough to both relax and leisurely see the major attractions.