RTW Trip the Dead Sea, Jordan Day 63: Floating in water without swimming at all
When tourists visit Jordan, it seems everyone has to go to the Dead Sea. It is located at the lowest point on Earth, with a salinity between 28-35%, while other bodies of water have a salinity of 3-6% only. This means that you can go in the water and float without any effort since it has such a high salt content. I had always heard of its magical powers and dreamed to go to the Dead Sea so I was quite excited to go.
Amman was cold and chilly, and while the Dead Sea was only about an hour away by car, Faoud and his son George, said that it was at least 5 degrees warmer.
As a budget traveler, we had to just throw our rules out the window. We had read on Trip Advisor that Dead Sea public beaches weren’t the prettiest, and for women to feel comfortable, you would have to have your whole body covered. Many travelers suggested going to resorts instead, as the experience would be much more relaxing, with more facilities. The public beach price for foreigners was already 20JD, and our driver mentioned that he had a “friend” that worked at the Marriott Dead Sea Resort, and could get us in for the same price, when the resort normally charges 40JD per person. The driver said that if his friend wasn’t there, we would just go to the public beach.
We thought it would have been easy to catch a public beach to the Dead Sea, but it really isn’t that easy. We basically had no choice but to hire a driver or a taxi. The Lonely Planet mentioned that a lot of budget accommodations do tours, and can drive groups together, but because of the lack of tourists, there was really nobody to share a car with. We even checked out a few budget accommodation places to see if there were other tourists signing up for Dead Sea tours but we had no luck as there simply were not enough tourists! Our hotel also had tours, but we were the only ones signed up, so we had no choice. The cost for a car to the Dead Sea was listed as 20JD per person, but Faoud was kind and told us we would only need to pay 15 per person.
We finally made the decision to go, so our driver drove us to the Dead Sea for a total of 30JD and got us into the resort beach for a total of 40JD. I thought it was crazy that a lot of New Jersey beaches charge $6 or $8 to get on the beach, but this by far was my costliest to a beach, ever. We were greeted through the metal gates, and were welcomed into the resort. We walked through the nice reception, past the two pools and outdoor showers. We walked down a path that led directly to the Dead Sea beach.
Let’s be honest. The Dead Sea is rather underwhelming. You get to the “nice” beach at a resort, and find a small area dedicated for tourists wanting to dip into the water. The view is of other resorts that look deserted or in construction. I thought it was pretty cool that beyond the water, you could see Israel! There were a couple benches, a couple of hoses with shower heads, and a giant plastic communal bucket filled with the mud from the Dead Sea that is supposedly great for your skin.
There are warning signs about the Dead Sea’s salty water, warning everyone that you should keep your eyes and mouth shut, because the stinging can be harsh. I would also like to advise the ladies to avoid shaving their legs or going in with cuts or scrapes. It will sting!
While the idea of communal mud seemed kind of gross, I definitely believe that there is something magical in that mud. I put it all over my body, and my skin felt a lot smoother. Warning: A few of us put it on our faces and found that it was a bit itchy/stingy afterwards.
After a while, the novelty kind of wears off because you feel like you are just in salty water. They also advise not to swim on your stomach, so you are basically just floating on your back. After a couple of hours, we showered the salty water, swam in the regular pool, and met back up with the driver to take us back to our hotel.
For dessert, we ended up going to legendary, Habibah Restaurant for their Knafeh, a traditional cheese pastry. It is sickly sweet but savory at the same time, but really good. If you are on a diet, you should probably stay away from this dessert, as it is heated in butter or oil, then spread with soft white cheese, topped with pastry, and then a thick coat of syrup with crushed pistachios on top.
Water 0.5 JD
Potato filled bread 0.5 JD
Driver to Dead Sea George 30 JD
Entrance to Dead Sea 40 JD
Hashem fuul, falafel, hummus 4JD
Knafeh at Habibah 600 fils
Water 0.5 JD
Cliff hotel 14 JD
Total cost: 90JD / 2 = $63.75 per person
What I learned: Sometimes you just have to suck up costs if you really want to go somewhere. Even though we paid a lot to spend a couple hours at the Dead Sea, I would have regretted not going because who knows when you will be in that part of the world again!
Actual date of travel: Nov. 5, 2014