Five Tips for Swimming in The Dead Sea

Even if you've never meditated a day in your life, floating in The Dead Sea will make you feel like a Zen master. In other words, the hype is worth it. And although you don't need any special skills, you need to know a thing or two in advance. So, before you toss that bikini or Speedo in your carry-on and jet off to the Middle East, note these tips for swimming in the dead sea, which are almost more important than sunscreen.

The Dead Sea is nestled between Israel and Jordan, and – spoiler alert – isn't a sea at all. It's actually a landlocked lake and the lowest point on Earth, which, according to Tourist Israel, is just one of its claims to fame. Geography trivia aside, legend has it that the body of water has been wooing people to its shores since the days of Cleopatra. In a feature about how the mineral-rich water and mud of The Dead Sea benefit skin, ABC News mentions that Cleopatra traveled from Egypt to create what many people believe was the world's first luxury spa. 

1. Appreciate The Calm Waters and Have a Meaningful Experience

The Dead Sea has an intense concentration of salt and minerals such as bromide, magnesium, and potash, so it's common to see beauty products that originate from its shores (via USA TODAY). But it's not just the skincare benefits that land The Dead Sea on travelers' bucket lists. The unusually high salinity of the water in The Dead Sea makes it possible to float without any effort whatsoever. So much so that the BBC reports that it's about ten times saltier than a typical ocean. At that salt intensity, people are fully buoyant and can float close to the water's surface with almost no effort. So, you'll see plenty of fun and quirky images on social media – people having a bit of fun by reading books or newspapers while floating.

But Instagram shenanigans aside, the calm waters of The Dead Sea offer a more meaningful experience. So, by all means, take a few I-did-it-for-the-Gram photos, but be sure to leave time for the once-in-a-lifetime relaxation of weightlessness.

2. Watch Your Step, It's a Doozy

One tip that hotel staff and other locals share is to walk into The Dead Sea slowly. As you approach the water, the rocks are covered with a thick, geode-like crust of mineral build-up. It's a bit sparkly when the light catches it just right, but those crystals can also make it tough on the feet. Some people choose to wear water shoes, but there are often easy-incline ramps to avoid the rocks altogether.

Once you're at the water, pay close attention. After about three or four steps, you'll feel a sensation under your feet. And from there, as your body sinks in, you'll begin to free-float. Hurrying into the water can be disorienting. Remember, this is a new sensation for your body, so ease into it.

Once you get used to the buoyancy, you can settle into a position on your back that takes no effort to maintain. The water doesn't feel thick, but you can feel a difference. It's lush and silky. For example, if a regular ocean feels like thin cotton, The Dead Sea feels like satin. Plus, there are no waves, just calm, tranquil waters.

3. Plot Twist: No Swimming in The Dead Sea

Just as it's a lake, not an actual ocean, The Dead Sea experience includes another misperception. More than just a grammatical distinction, the accurate term for enjoying The Dead Sea is “floating.” As it turns out, you can't really swim in The Dead Sea. You're far too buoyant, and efforts to swim would have you looking (and feeling) like an astronaut spiraling into outer space.

Also, don't splash your neighbor. If you put aside the usual etiquette, the fact remains that splashing in The Dead Sea might cause other swimmers to get water in their eyes. And this is especially painful due to the high-salinity content.

With this in mind, it's also important to avoid rubbing your eyes. And although some people fully submerge, avoid this or do it with great care to not get the water in your eyes.

4. Grooming Can Be a (Literal) Pain in The You-know-What

Do you remember the last time you got salt water in a cut or abrasion? Well, multiply that by ten, and you'll start to have an idea of the discomfort when your paper cut encounters the high-salt waters of The Dead Sea.

But it's not the little scratches the locals will warn you about. Instead, frequent visitors often follow one golden rule for enjoying The Dead Sea – skip the shave. Although it's not visible to the naked eye, a fresh shave causes mild abrasion to the face, and you will feel it. This also applies to more intimate grooming. In other words, skip the manscaping or bikini line grooming before floating in The Dead Sea.

It would be best if you handled that bit-o-business at least a day before you plan to rejuvenate in these waters. So, to be safe, no shaving, plucking, or waxing the day before your Dead Sea float.

5. Choose a Secluded Beach

There are plenty of public beaches if you're looking for a quick dip and social media cool points. But these can be pretty crowded. But if wellness and relaxation are your goals, plan a stay at one of the hotels along the shores. On the Israeli side, Herrod's Dead Sea and the Vert Dead Sea Hotel are among the many options, including adventure-friendly camping options. If you're on the Jordan side of The Dead Sea, the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar is a worthy splurge.

Most hotels offer dedicated beaches, lounge chairs, and towel service. But, for the ultimate solitude, get up early and go to the beach as soon as it opens, which is often around 7:00 am. This is a great opportunity to float in absolute silence. 

The Dead Sea awaits if you're looking to escape from the high-pitch pings of emails and to-dos. But, in the end, even if you're the clean-shaven tourist wincing in discomfort, it's still one heck of a travel story.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.