The Dead Sea may be the lowest point on Earth, but floating in its sun-drenched, salty water may end up being the peak memory from your Jordan tour or Israel trip. Want to know the best tours to book to visit this famous body of water? How about what you should bring with you? Our guide answers all of your questions about the Dead Sea—and ones you never thought to ask.
Answers to popular questions about the Dead Sea
- What is the Dead Sea? The Dead Sea is a saltwater inland sea located in the Middle East and is the lowest point on Earth’s surface—more than 1,400 feet below sea level to be exact. The height of the water recedes about one meter per year due to environmental and human activity, and both the Jordanian and Israeli governments are working to find ways to save the Dead Sea from drying out.
- Where is the Dead Sea? The Dead Sea is located in both Israel and Jordan. In fact, the border between the two countries runs through the center of the sea. Its eastern half is located in Israel, and its western shore sits in Jordan.
- Is the Dead Sea salty? Yes! In fact, it’s about 10 times saltier than the ocean. The density created by the salt is what makes it so easy to float in the water.
- Why is it called the Dead Sea? The water’s salinity means that no plant or marine life can survive in it, hence the name the Dead Sea. All you’ll find here are water, salt crystals, and restorative mud.
- How was the Dead Sea formed? The friction between two tectonic plates filled a rift valley with water millions of years ago. Further seismic movement in the region forced what is now the Dead Sea to pull away from the nearby Mediterranean Sea, creating the salty water that now beckons travelers.
- What can you see at the Dead Sea? The surface of the Dead Sea is so serene and flat that it seems to stretch on forever. Since nothing lives below the surface, the best views are the ones you see above the water, like the rocky peaks along the horizon.
4 tours you can book to visit the Dead Sea
- Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids
Why you should book this tour: You’ll explore three countries, see two world wonders, and visit both the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the Dead Sea.
- Israel Adventure: Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea & Jerusalem
Why you should book this tour: This Small Group Tour shows you and your group of just 12–22 travelers the ancient, eclectic, and energetic sides of the country—complete with free time to float in the Dead Sea.
- Jordan History & Culture: Amman, Petra & the Dead Sea
Why you should book this tour: Looking forward to visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan? This brand-new trip is for you! It dives deep into Jordanian culture and ends with an overnight stay at a stunning resort on the shores of the Dead Sea.
- The Wonders of Ancient Israel: Christian Heritage
Why you should book this tour: You can watch as Christianity’s backdrops come to light on this faith-based tour. Add our Masada, the Dead Sea & Kfar Hanokdim Bedouin Camp excursion and take a dip in the Dead Sea in your free time.
Check out our tours to Jordan and Israel
What should you know before visiting the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is one of the beautiful natural landmarks that you can visit on tour with us. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your time there on our Israel trips and Jordan tours.
- There’s a Jordanian side and an Israeli side. In fact, the Dead Sea is considered a treasure for both countries, and brings a lot of travelers to the Middle East. Luckily for you, there will be free time to float in the Dead Sea on all of our Jordan tours and Israel trips.
- Don’t shave before going into the water. About 30 percent of the water is salt, and that saltwater will sting even the smallest nicks. Try to shave no closer than 24 hours before visiting the Dead Sea and cover any open cuts or blisters with waterproof Band-Aids.
- Focus on floating, not swimming. What makes the Dead Sea so unique is that the only thing you can do in it is effortlessly float. The water density makes it impossible to swim. To float, walk out until the water hits your knees. Then, squat like you're about to sit in a chair and slowly lean back until your butt and back plop into the sea. Lean your neck and the back of your head into the water to get the full effect! “Floating on the Dead Sea was unbelievable,” said traveler Minerva.
- Keep your face above water. The water is so salty that it will sting your eyes, so do your best to avoid getting it on your face and in your mouth.
- Only spend a maximum of 20 minutes in the water. Yes, the nutrient-dense water offers tons of health benefits, but the salt can also cause dehydration if you spend too much time in the sea. Cap your float at 20 minutes or less before getting out, relaxing on shore, and drinking some water to rehydrate.
- Rinse off after you’ve finished floating. The positive effects of the nutrient-rich water will stick around, but rinsing off ensures the oils and minerals are cleaned off your skin.
- Try a mud bath. Just like the water, the mud at the Dead Sea is good for your skin—thanks to the prevalence of minerals like magnesium and phosphate. Here’s how to soak up its restorative effects when visiting the Dead Sea. First, float in the water to get your body wet. Then, get out and slather the mud all over your body before sitting in the sun for 10 minutes to let it dry out. Lastly, pop back into the water to rinse it off. Your skin will feel smooth, plump, and moisturized after. You can try this out at the hotel we stay at near the Dead Sea on our Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids tour. “The Dead Sea on Jordan’s side was a mud feast!” said traveler Sheila.
- Stock up on Dead Sea skincare products. Our Israel Travel Guide talks about how the Dead Sea is famous for its rich, therapeutic minerals. The brand AHAVA (Hebrew for “love”) has bottled up those nutrients into skincare products for men and women. “I bought under-eye cream, face masks, and hand cream at a store we visited during our Masada, the Dead Sea & Kfar Hanokdim Bedouin Camp excursion,” said Emily about her Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids tour.
What should you bring to visit the Dead Sea?
The number one way to truly relax in the Dead Sea? Coming prepared! These are the essential items you should bring with you.
- Sandals with straps. The floor of the Dead Sea differs depending on where you go. “On the Israeli side, there were hail-sized pieces of salt underwater, whereas the ground was covered in soft sand when visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan,” said Emily after her Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids tour. Bring a pair of sandals with straps or velcro, which will make it easier to walk on both the salty and sandy surfaces.
- A book. If you’ve seen photos of people visiting the Dead Sea, you may have seen them reading a book while they float. You too can snap this iconic picture, since it’s so easy to hold a book above the water while you float.
- A bathing suit. You may want to wear an old suit when taking part in the mud bath. While it won’t stain your suit, it’s nice to not have to worry about getting it on your favorite swimwear.
- A towel. You’ll be glad you have one when you come out of the Dead Sea, ready to dry off in the sun.
- Sunscreen. Since the Dead Sea is located in a valley, the air and water temperatures get pretty toasty. Protect yourself by slathering on some SPF before heading into the water.
- A cover-up. You’ll need to walk through the resort we stay at on our Israel tours and Jordan tours in order to reach the Dead Sea. Tossing on a cover-up may make you feel more comfortable as you make your way down to the water.
- Sunglasses. Since your head will be above water the whole time, the glare off the surface of the sea can be pretty strong. Say goodbye to squinting and hello to relaxing by throwing on your shades.
- A water bottle. You’ll want to rehydrate after getting out of the water. Plus, it’s good to have fresh water on hand in case you need to rinse out any salt that may have accidentally gotten in your eyes or mouth.