This past Saturday, Jonathan and I visited the Dead Sea. It’s about an hour drive from where we live, down through the Jordan Valley. Surrounding the Sea is a whole lot of nothing: mountains, desert, rock formations, and the occasional camel or donkey.
We pulled into the first beach we found, Kalia Beach, which was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. It cost us each 50 NIS just to get in (which is about $13).
After making our payment, we walked down a wooden staircase/walkway and were greeted with this:
Even though the trees and flowers are obviously planted there and painstakingly maintained, it was still a beautiful sight.
We walked past this bar, which helpfully tells you how low we were (418 meters, or 1371 feet, below sea level). They were blasting obnoxious American pop music and the bar was littered with middle-aged men in Speedos drinking pints of beer.
We didn’t go in.
As you get closer to the beach, you’re greeted with sign after sign of rules to follow! Examples include: “Do not immerse head,” “No running,” “No splashing your companions,” “Use jetty to enter,” “Walk until you are waist deep and then fall back,” and more.
As you can see, “swimming on the stomach” is strictly prohibited and bathing here is dangerous if you’re the “owner” of high blood pressure.
At last, we’d made it to the beach! We picked our way through groups of people in chairs and under umbrellas until we found a relatively quiet area near the water.
The sand isn’t very nice. It’s quite gritty and unpleasant to walk on without sandals — not to mention hot (which I learned the hard way).
Right behind us was an area of the beach that was covered in salt deposits. (Yeah. It’s that salty.)
I think we sat on the beach admiring the view for about 5 minutes before it was time to go in! (That’s Jordan over there, by the way.)
The shoreline is disgusting. The first 15 feet into the water is equal parts sharp and squishy: either your toes are sucked into the gooiest mud in the world, or you’re stepping on hundreds of rough rocks. Eventually, the seafloor turns into the same gritty sand that’s on the beach. Once we were waist-deep, we fell back…and popped right back up to the surface and floated.
It’s crazy. You really do float, no matter what you do.
Jonathan hypothesized that astronauts should train for zero-G here — he suggested this as we were both trying to stay in a “seated” position, keeping our legs crossed underwater. It’s not easy.
We covered ourselves in the disgusting, squishy mud (it’s got healing powers, right?) and floated around for about an hour and a half. There were freshwater showers on the beach – which we definitely needed to use before heading for home! Your skin just feels slime-y and salty after being in the water.
So far, the Dead Sea has yet to cure my Celiac. Time will tell!