Disclosure: My trip to Israel was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. All opinions are my own.
There are few experiences that rival floating in the Dead Sea. From the weightless feeling to the silky skin after effects, if you find yourself in this area of the world, taking a dip in the Dead Sea is an absolute must.
Because it is such a strange sensation, it’s important to note certain protocol before diving in (ex. Don’t dive in!!!!).
- Avoid shaving. If lady or man-scaping your body is a part of your daily routine, I highly recommend skipping this step at least the day before, and ideally 3-4 days prior. The high salinity level of the sea (which gives it the density necessary for you to float) will have a stinging effect on any tender parts of your skin (i.e. razor burn). If a day without shaving leaves you resembling a wooly mammoth, remember two things: you will certainly not be the only one who is hairier than normal, and the water will soften up said hair and will much easier to remove après float.
- Apply an antibacterial gel to cuts/scrapes/burns. When I tried floatation therapy in the U.S., they advised applying Neosporin to any cuts or scrapes on your body to avoid a painful session. I suggest you do the same prior to entering the water.
- Try to arrive with your bathing suit on. There are bathrooms/changing rooms on site, but they are a complete calamity – avoid if possible.
- Rent a locker, or rotate floating times with your party. Obviously, it’s best to not bring valuables, but it’s inevitable that you will require a few basic items: cash, credit cards, your phone, and possibly your camera. If you rotate dips, you won’t have to worry about your things, and you’ll also have the added benefit of the non bather being able to shoot photos from the shore side.
- Wear water shoes. As soon as you step in the water and head towards the muddy section, there are sharp rocks peppered at the bottom, and it is difficult to walk around without stubbing a toe (like I did). Instead of dodging boulders, I suggest wearing water shoes or Teva-like sandals to minimize injuries.
- Wear goggles. I had the unfortunate episode of water making its way into my eyes. To compare it to soap getting in your eyes would be a gentle explanation – it stung, and it stung hard. I had to quickly exit the water (not that easy to do, by the way), and rush to the outdoor shower for relief. Surprisingly, once I rinsed my eyes, the pain completely dissipated. Instead of a dramatic event like this, do yourself a favor and wear goggles.
- Walk to the left of the ladder to the mud pile. Applying mud all over your face and body has amazing results. Your skin will truly feel like silk, so don’t miss this free spa experience!
- Once your apply mud, get out of the water and take pictures. It’s not a great idea to bring your camera into the water, and even those that tried to capture the moment were disappointed to learn that a salty film dries on the lens (even with a GoPro), ruining your photos, and possibly your camera.
- Do NOT open your mouth. Getting a few drops of water in your mouth won’t produce the same painful results of eye contact, but the taste is incredibly awful – shockingly so.
- Don’t try to swim. This should be obvious by now, but keep your head/hair out of the water at all times, and remain on your back, or you will risk dunking your face right in. I tested this theory and quickly learned that if you do try to swim, the water will simply turn you back around – every time.
- Go out deeper than your height. When you can no longer touch the bottom, the water will lift you up all on its own – a very cool feeling. As a bonus, you’ll be in a less crowded area.
- Don’t plan to stay more than a few hours. Floating carelessly in the sea may seem like a perfect afternoon, but after a few minutes, the mud begins to burn your skin a little, and floating eventually becomes boring. Plan 2-3 hours to allow time to change (if necessary), apply mud, and soak for a bit. After your dip, you might be hungry (or want the gross salty taste out of your mouth), so grab an ice cream like I did, or sit at the waterfront restaurant.
- Do not buy the products in the store. It’s tempting to purchase the packages of mud at the gift shop, but be forewarned. Yes, they contain real Dead Sea mud, but they’re also filled with harmful chemicals and cheap fillers. Your best bet is leave the store and stick with the well known brand Ahava.
Have you floated in the Dead Sea? If so, have I missed a crucial tip? Let me know in the comments!