All my life I’ve had this sinking feeling. No matter what, keeping my head above water takes work. In plane-crash-over-the-ocean daydreams I realize this spells doom for me, I just won’t be able to tread water until I find that deserted island where I can befriend a coconut. Now will I be afforded the opportunity to tell the sole beautiful women that inevitably ends up on the island with me that there is, in fact, not many fish in her sea… I’m a sinker you see, always have been, and probably always will be.
This is why the Dead Sea has always intrigued me, could I experience what it’s like to be a floater? Could I casually rest a beer on my belly while floating as Homer Simpson does? Seeing photos of people reading newspapers intrigued me, but to be honest I always thought they were fakes, that there is no way people could float so effortlessly. This was one phenomenon I just needed to experience.
Ein Gedi Beach, just outside Ein Gedi, Israel, is easy to get to, free to enter, and provides showers to wash away the “healing minerals” of the Dead Sea.
Our first chance at floating in the Dead Sea was from Jordan. Upon arrival we imagined it would be easy to make the 60 mile trip from Amman, spend a day lazily floating, then return to the city. Quickly though our hopes were dashed, getting to the Dead Sea in Jordan requires private transportation and the best beaches are private, increasing the cost beyond our budget. That left one option to suspend my body above water: Israel.
The Dead Sea is eight times saltier than the ocean and filled with minerals. It has been said that these minerals provide health benefits, but while you’re floating you can’t help but wonder how that burning feeling is actually good.
On our first bus ride in Israel, from the South to Jerusalem, we made an astonishing discovery, this side of the Dead Sea is served by public buses. Even better, we had inadvertently discovered the very bus we needed to take, the Jerusalem-Eilat bus (#444 or #421). It was on, I was going to the Dead Sea!
Did I float? Yes I did!
Being a life-long sinker I was amazed by the floating feeling. I simply loved it! The blistering sun combined with the cool waters made it especially nice, but the water causes a burning sensation while you’re in it and leaves an oily residue when you get out. It has been said there are health benefits to the water, but I preferred showering immediately after getting out. Even with these negatives, I had a blast floating in the Dead Sea.
Here I am, aimlessly drifting towards Jordan.
The next day we did a “control” experiment by trying to float in the nearby Red Sea. Was it possible that it wasn’t the Dead Sea at all? Was it possible our over consumption of bagels, shawarmas and Newcastles in Israel had made us floaters?
Nope, it was the Dead Sea that made us float…
WHEN YOU GO:
-SHOWERS ARE NECESSARY. While you could swim in many places, make sure you go somewhere with showers. A dip in the Dead Sea will leave you feeling oily and cause a burning sensation that you’ll want to wash off.
-JUST A SHORT VISIT. While you can splurge for expensive accommodation on the Dead Sea (expect to pay $120+ per night for a double), stopping by for an hour or two on a day trip from Jerusalem is enough.
-JORDAN’S DEAD SEA COAST IS REPUTEDLY MORE BEAUTIFUL. Even Israelis who have been there said this, but getting and staying there is substantially more expensive.