Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan: An Incredible Experience

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Known as the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea is a unique natural wonder that people enjoy visiting to see what it’s like to float naturally in a lake. It’s an experience no other. The high salt concentration of the water makes it impossible to sink, allowing you to effortlessly float on the surface. This is even the case for people like Nick, who don’t normally float. He actually floated for the first time ever in water!

I can tell you first hand that visiting the Dead Sea is an experience you will never forget. I’ve been there twice, once on the Jordan side and once on the Israel side. Both times were so much fun – a unique and purely entertaining experience.

Visiting the Dead Sea for a float

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The Dead Sea is located 423 meters below sea level and is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The salt concentration here is about 10 times higher than that of the ocean.

You can visit either side, though I think the experience on the Jordan side is better for tourists. You can also combine it with a trip to Petra and the Wadi Rum desert, both of which are also unforgettable experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • You can stay at a resort on the Dead Sea that has everything you need to access and enjoy the experience.
  • The high salt concentration of the water allows you to effortlessly float on the surface, but remember that salt water also stings (so don’t go with any open cuts or having freshly shaved).
  • The mud and mineral-rich waters are known for their health benefits. Cake some on while you’re there!
Dead Sea

How to Visit the Dead Sea

Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan is an experience like no other. As you approach, you will be struck by the stark beauty of the landscape. You can see the salt accumulation around the outside edge of the lake.

The “Dead Sea” is actually a salt lake, bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. The high salt content of the water makes it very buoyant, and you will find that you can easily float on the surface. It’s a surreal experience.

So how do you do it?

If you rent a car and drive there, from either Amman or Aqaba, you’ll quickly see that there are very few public beaches. However, visiting a free public beach is your first option.

In most cases, you will need to visit a Dead Sea resort that offers day passes, or you can stay overnight at a resort and enjoy it for longer. We chose to stay overnight. More on that in a minute. You will want access to the hotel anyway, for towels, showers, etc.

Day Pass

As a second option, you can get a day pass at a number of resorts on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea. Here are some options. Prices are updated as of 2023, but prices may change:

Staying at a Resort

hilton dead sea 1
Hilton Dead Sea Spa & Resort

The third option is to stay at a resort overnight or longer. We chose to stay for one night so we could enjoy the experience, and the pools, and have a nice dinner. There are many resorts, so you just need to choose which one suits your budget.

  • Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea | 5*, 9 outdoor pools, a poolside bar, rooftop terrace, 3 coffee shops/cafes, a private beach, beachfront dining, and sun loungers.
  • Hilton Dead Sea Spa & Resort | 5*, a nightclub, swim-up bar, beach bar, beachfront location, free beach cabanas, and beach volleyball.
  • Mövenpick Resort and Spa | 5*, 3 poolside bars, terrace, shopping on site, a private beach, beach massages, and sun loungers.
  • Dead Sea Marriot Resort | Affordable luxury – 5*, 2 poolside bars, beach bar, terrace, private beach and sun loungers.

Tours from Amman

The fourth option you have is to book a tour from Amman. These tours are simple because they take care of all the details and transportation for you.

What to Expect

dead sea mud

When you arrive at the resort, you can go directly to the changing rooms, grab a towel, and head down to the beach. This is where you will experience the Dead Sea float. It’s best to wear water shoes to protect your feet from sharp rocks. Just get in and float around.

Another popular activity at the Dead Sea is bathing in its mud. The mud is rich in minerals and is believed to have healing properties for the skin. You can cover yourself in the mud and let it dry before rinsing it off in the sea or the showers. Sounds gross, but actually quite fun!

While swimming in the Dead Sea, you may notice that there are no fish or plants in the water. This is because the high salt content makes it impossible for most life forms to survive. However, there are some bacteria and algae that can tolerate the high salinity.

Do note that the high salt content of the water can be quite harsh on your skin and eyes. Don’t go in with any open cuts, don’t shave within 24 hours, and avoid splashing the water in your eyes. It’s also best not to spend more than 15 minutes in the water at a time. Give your skin a rest, rinse off, and get back in if you want.

When you’re done, you should rinse off in the beach showers. Then you can enjoy the other amenities of the resort, if you want. Often the pools and restaurants are open to you, sometimes the spa too.

Other Activities and Attractions

Besides getting in the water there are plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy in the area.

  • There are a few beaches along the coast where you can relax and soak up the sun. Some popular beaches include Amman Beach, Dead Sea Beach, and Kalia Beach.
  • There are several trails in the surrounding area that offer stunning views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains. The Wadi Mujib Trail is a popular choice.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about the history and culture of the area, visit the Dead Sea Museum, with exhibits on the geology, history, and culture of the region.
  • If you’re looking for souvenirs or local goods, visit the local markets, like Souk Al Balad and the Madaba Market. You can find everything from handmade pottery to traditional clothing and jewelry.

History and Significance

Dead Sea in Jordan

The Dead Sea has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. It is believed that the lake was formed over 3 million years ago as a result of tectonic activity in the region. The area has been inhabited by various civilizations, including the Canaanites, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans, who recognized the therapeutic value of the Dead Sea’s waters and mud.

According to the Bible, the Dead Sea was the site of many significant events, including the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the baptism of John the Baptist. It is also believed that Christ sought refuge in the area during his lifetime.

Today, the Dead Sea is a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from all over the world to experience its unique properties. The area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognizing its cultural and natural significance.

Climate and Best Time to Visit

dead sea shoreline

The best time to visit the Dead Sea in Jordan is during the spring and fall months, from March to May and from September to November. During these months, temperatures are milder, and there is less humidity. These months are considered the shoulder season, so you may be able to find better deals on accommodations and activities.

The Dead Sea area is known for its hot and dry climate, with temperatures often reaching over 100°F (38°C) during the summer. In the winter, temperatures can drop to the mid-60s°F (18°C), making it a more comfortable time to visit.

If you visit during the summer, protect yourself from the sun and heat. Be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and light-colored clothing to reflect the sun’s rays. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

During the winter months, you may need to pack warmer clothing, especially if you plan on exploring the area at night. We went at Christmas time and the temps dropped to about 59°F (15°C), but it was still very pleasant.

Getting There

From Amman

The capital city, Amman, is about an hour’s drive away from the Dead Sea. You can hire a car, take a taxi, or use public transport to get there. If you’re driving, take the Dead Sea Highway (Route 65) south from Amman. The highway is well-maintained and is a beautiful and easy drive.

If you’re taking a taxi, negotiate the fare beforehand. Alternatively, you can take a public bus from the Abdali bus station in Amman to the Dead Sea. Buses run frequently and are an affordable option.

From Petra

Petra is located in the south of Jordan, about a three-hour drive away from the Dead Sea. If you’re coming from Petra, the best way is to drive yourself or take an organized tour to get to the Dead Sea. The journey takes you through the scenic Wadi Araba desert.

By Public Transport

You can take a public bus from Amman to the Dead Sea. JETT has bus service to get from Amman to the Dead Sea, at 8:30am from Abdali station and 9am from 7th Circle. Both buses return at 4 or 5pm, and the round-trip costs $30 USD. Book your trip here.

Dining and Cuisine

Jordanian food

You can expect to find a variety of delicious dishes that are influenced by Jordanian and Middle Eastern cuisine, like traditional mezze platters, grilled meats, and fresh seafood. The best thing to do is eat at the resort you’re visiting.

You can also find local food vendors and markets that offer a variety of street food and snacks. Some of the popular street food items include falafel, shawarma, and manakish – a type of Middle Eastern pizza that is topped with herbs, spices, and cheese.

  • Rehan Lebanese Cuisine – Authentic Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes that are made with fresh ingredients. Known for its signature Fattoush Rehan and lamb dishes.
  • Burj Al Hamam is another great option for Lebanese and Arabic cuisine, where you can indulge in delicious mezze platters, grilled meats, and seafood.
  • The Rabbel Lounge & Bar in the Crowne Plaza Dead Sea Resort & Spa is a great place to grab a drink, they have an extensive bar.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Dead sea

Dress Code

Dressing modestly is a sign of respect and part of the regular decorum in Jordan. Especially when visiting religious areas or public spaces, wearing conservative clothes is encouraged. When visiting the Dead Sea, you’ll likely spend most of your time in a swimsuit, but it’s still important to be mindful of the local culture. Avoid wearing revealing or provocative swimwear and opt for more modest options.

Greetings

In Jordan, it’s customary to greet people with a warm smile and a handshake. Men often shake hands with other men, while women may shake hands with other women or offer a friendly nod. When greeting someone of the opposite sex, it’s important to be respectful and not initiate physical contact unless they offer their hand first.

Tipping

Tipping is not a common practice in Jordan, but it’s becoming more common in tourist areas. If you receive exceptional service, a 10% tip is appreciated.

Language

Arabic is the official language of Jordan, but English is widely spoken and understood in tourist areas. It’s always polite to learn a few basic Arabic phrases like “hello” (marhaba) and “thank you” (shukran).

By following these local customs and etiquette, you’ll show respect for Jordanian culture and make the most of your visit to the Dead Sea.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time should I plan for a visit to the Dead Sea in Jordan?

If you have a day pass, you can spend the full day, until sunset, at the resort. You might only spend a total of 1-2 hours at the beach though, because you can’t stay submerged in the salty water for that long. We spent about 1 hour total floating, putting on mud, laying out on the beach chairs, and rinsing off. But there are other things to do at the resort, so expect to spend at least 3-4 hours total.

What is the distance between Amman and the Dead Sea?

The distance between Amman and the Dead Sea is approximately 43 miles (70 kilometers). The drive takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic and road conditions. I would recommended renting a car and driving yourself, or hiring a taxi to get to the Dead Sea from Amman.

Is it safe to visit the Dead Sea in Jordan?

Yes, it is safe to visit the Dead Sea in Jordan. The area is heavily guarded and patrolled by the Jordanian military. However, it is always important to take basic safety precautions, such as not leaving your belongings unattended and staying aware of your surroundings.

Which is better to visit, the Dead Sea in Israel or Jordan?

Both the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan offer unique experiences. However, the Dead Sea in Jordan is less crowded and more peaceful than the one in Israel. Additionally, Jordan has developed its Dead Sea area more recently, so the facilities and accommodations are newer and more modern.

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Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan: An Incredible Experience

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