If you’re visiting Jordan, no doubt you are planning to spend at least a few hours floating in The Dead Sea. For most people, the chance to swim in the Dead Sea is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely something to include on any Jordan itinerary. However, the experience can be costly. Most hotels in the Dead Sea, with private beach access, are expensive (upwards of $200 per night.) If that’s not what you’re looking for in Jordan and instead you’d rather swim in The Dead Sea for free, then read on to find out how.
What is the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is a stretch of water sitting in between Jordan (to the East) and Israel (to the West). Although it is colloquially referenced as “sea” it is actually a lake. The Dead Sea is referred to by this name, because it is impossible for anything to live in the water (you guessed it!) The salt content is so high that it prevents any sea life, or organisms of any kind, from surviving. This area of water is also known as the lowest point on Earth.
Why swim in the Dead Sea?
The main draw to the Dead Sea, is that you can float in it! You will have seen thousands of pictures of people sitting in the Dead Sea and reading books. It seems to defy gravity, but even with your legs and arms out of the water – you will still float! This provides hours of entertainment. If you want a good giggle, try laying on your front with your legs in the air and then trying to roll back over! Or even better, attempt a bit of breaststroke swimming – impossible.
It may seem odd, given that the water corrodes even the biggest of ships and kills any wildlife, but the Dead Sea is also really good for you. You will have no doubt heard of Dead Sea salts, which are a famous cosmetic product from this area. Swimming in the Dead Sea helps to promote circulation, scrub your skin and can even apparently reduce cellulite (if you went into the water regularly enough.) Who knows how much these claims are proven, but our skin definitely felt softer after we took a dip.
How to swim in the Dead Sea for free?
If, like us, you’re travelling on a budget to Jordan, you may be keen to know that you can swim in the Dead Sea for free. Not only that, but it is also quite easy to do so!
On our recent trip to Jordan, we found the perfect little swimming spot. Even though it is completely free, it also feels quite private. We swam in our own area of the sea undisturbed for a few hours.
The water is also surrounded by a stunning salt beach, which was like nothing we had seen before. A little like being on the moon, or so we imagine (Lotus Eaters Travel are yet to set off into Space.)
The beach area feels very clean, with no trash, and the bright blue water is crystal clear. For us, the salt beach actually seemed even more beautiful than the expensive Dead Sea resorts with mud on the seabed. Who wants mud when you can have salt crystals!
To find this little spot of deliciousness, plug this into your Google Maps. If you don’t have a car, it may be tricky to get here. But if you do have access to a vehicle, it couldn’t be easier. You can just park up on the side of the road and from there, follow the easy trail down. It takes less than 5 minutes from parking up to float o’clock.
Alternatively, you can book a day pass to visit the Dead Sea
If you want to spend longer than a few hours swimming in The Dead Sea, you could consider buying a day pass to one of the hotels in the area. The Dead Sea Spa Hotel is a good option, costing 20 JOD ($28) per day. This is on the cheaper side and a day pass includes access to the hotel pool facilities.
What to wear to swim in The Dead Sea?
Before visiting The Dead Sea, I had read that the salt in the water can damage swimwear. I chose to wear a bright read swimsuit and didn’t notice any discolouration to my garments after swimming. But to be on the safe side, you may want to consider wearing older swimwear.
For women, if you visit a private beach by the Dead Sea or choose to swim in the Dead Sea for free, swim wear is fine. Despite the swimming spot being public, it is well away from the road and only frequented by tourists. We felt comfortable in swim wear, but this is a personal decision.
For a more comprehensive guide on what women should wear when visiting Jordan, have a browse of our article here.
Is it dangerous to swim in the Dead Sea?
It is not any more dangerous to swim in the Dead Sea than swimming in any open water. Of course, in the Dead Sea, you cannot actually “swim”, but just float.
It is recommended that you do not spend more than 20 minutes in the Dead Sea, due to the risks of dehydration caused by the high salt content. You may also experience some skin irritation depending on your skin sensitivity and other factors such as whether you have recently shaved your legs. Ouch.
Do you need to shower after swimming in the Dead Sea?
After swimming in the Dead Sea, you’ll notice that your skin is very salty. If you get water in your eyes, it can start to sting a little bit. We would recommend washing your face after swimming in the Dead Sea, as a minimum. But you don’t necessarily need to shower straight away. Guidance suggests that abstaining for a shower for an hour or so can be beneficial to your skin.
If you choose to swim in the Dead Sea for free in the area that we recommend, there is a shower available. It is a little makeshift, and you will need to pay to use it, but it is there if you need it! For 2 JOD ($3) (as of November 2022), you can get a coffee from the very friendly merchant and use the shower.
When to visit the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is roughly in the middle of Jordan, meaning that it benefits from a hot climate, but without the soaring desert temperatures of the South. If you plan to visit Jordan is late Spring, Summer or Autumn, you could enjoy a day swimming in the Dead Sea. Although in Spring and Autumn, the mornings and evenings may be cooler.
Regardless of the weather, the water in Dead Sea is really warm! So, just jump in and enjoy.
Where to stay to visit the Dead Sea?
Depending on your budget and time constraints, there are a few options with regard to where to stay to visit the Dead Sea.
If you want to spend a few days relaxing by the Dead Sea and have no budget constraints, then there are a number of highly rated hotels. The Movenpick is oft regarded as having the best facilities and access to the Dead Sea.
Another option would be to combine a visit to the Dead Sea with a stay in Ma’In hot springs which is approximately 25 minutes away. In the hotel here, you can get access to the hot springs and the luxurious facilities and perhaps enjoy for a second day after spending a day at the Dead Sea.
If you have budget limitations and also want a base to explore further within Jordan, then we would recommend staying in Madaba. This is a small city around 45 minutes’ drive from the coast. In Madaba, you can visit the Archaeological Park, which houses many wonderful Mosaics and also visit Mount Nebo. We opted for this and found decent accommodation (an apartment) for around 25 JOD ($35) per night.
Alternatively, if you have time constraints and access to a car, you could conceivably drive to Amman for some time in the city or to fly home, after your Dead Sea experience. Amman is around one hour from the Dead Sea
What else to do near the Dead Sea?
There isn’t very much do to at the Dead Sea, beyond luxuriating in the water. The area isn’t a resort as such, but more a handful of hotels. However, near to the Dead Sea you have a few options.
For adventure, we would recommend canyoning in Wadi al Mujib. Sadly, we were unable to do this as we visited in November and this activity can only take place until October, but we’ve heard great things!
If you would like a more cultural experience, we would highly recommend visiting Madaba (around 45 minutes from the Dead Sea) to visit the archaeological park to see mosaics. This activity is included in your Jordan pass too! Near to Madaba, is Mount Nebo, of Biblical fame. You can access this site for 3 JOD ($4), but it is not included in the Jordan pass.
Ma’In hot springs provide another option, for anyone who wants to continue to relax after time spent at The Dead Sea. You can buy a day pass to the hot spring at the hotel for 20 JOD ($28) or use the public hot springs for 10 JOD ($14) (but note that women are expected to dress modestly in the public bathing areas.)
However, Jordan is a relatively small country, and with a car you can visit just about anywhere. We visited North Jordan directly after swimming in the Dead Sea and our article (published soon) provides more details on all the great things you can do there. To the North!