How To Swim in the Dead Sea…

view from mp room to dead sea

Rachel and I vowed to make the most of our last day in Jordan.  We rose with the sun, slipped on our bathing suits and headed down the stone path to the Dead Sea.

movenpick cat

No one else, save the hotel cat, was out and about.  We had the beach, the mud and the Dead Sea all to ourselves.

mud jar

We rejoiced at being the first people to scoop the cool, slippery mud from the clay pot that morning and took turns covering each other from neck to toes with black goop.  The wind was warm and the water calm.  A perfect day for a last day.

No, you're right...that isn't me and it isn't Rachel. Did you really think I would subject to you a picture of me covered in mud in a bathing suit?  Silly readers. This gentleman should give you an good idea of what to expect. You're welcome on all counts.

No, you’re right…that isn’t me and it isn’t Rachel. Did you really think I would subject to you a picture of me covered in mud in a bathing suit? Silly readers. This gentleman should give you an good idea of what to expect. You’re welcome on all counts.

We tried to wait the requisite 20 minutes for the theraputic mud to dry before deciding that 15 minutes was “good enough” and walked down the dock to the water.

This is really one of us...just not me.

This is really one of us…just not me.

Unlike the day before, we were now floating-in-the-Dead-Sea experts.  No crashing and splashing around today, no slipping, giggling or ungainly flopping about as we entered the water.  We just stepped in, turned around to face the shore and sat down.  It truly is a surreal experience, this inability to sink (or swim for that matter) in the Dead Sea, but that is completely the point.  One does not swim…One bobs, floats, drifts. One luxuriates.

Me, floating...

Me, floating…

The Dead Sea is a hypersaline (33%!) lake located between Israel and Jordan at the Earth’s lowest point on land (1388 ft below sea level).  It’s referred to as a “dead” sea since the only things living in the sea are minuscule amounts of bacteria and fungi.  I chose not to think about bacteria and fungi and instead celebrate the fact I didn’t have to worry about jellyfish or sharks. I also celebrated that I, a known aqua-rock, can float effortlessly while reading a book/newspaper.  It really is quite an experience and quite justified as the restorative properties of a swim in the Dead Sea are legendary.

So, that’s how we ended our time in Jordan…bobbing on the quiet waters of the Dead Sea, serenaded by a gently flapping Jordanian flag at sunrise and reflecting on the wonders and ancient history of Jordan, the generosity and hospitality of the Jordanian people,  the thrill of seeing Petra and our magical night in the Wadi Rum.  Can’t wait to go back.

Things to Know

We stayed at the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort.  There are a number of other hotels and resorts located on the strip of land adjacent to the Dead Sea.  We absolutely enjoyed our stay at the Movenpick.

Movenpick

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The location was excellent, the access to the Sea was convenient and it had a number of pools and lounging-about areas throughout the resort.  The breakfast buffet was spectacular and the resort had a number of dining options for lunches and dinner.   The resorts along the sea have a definite “self-contained” feeling, and guests are apt to swim, dine and sleep at their particular resort as the public beach options along the coast aren’t particularly well-suited for non-locals.

A few rules…

1.  Wear and old bathing suit.  The combination of mud, salinity and sun is not kind to fabric.

2.  Consider wearing swim shoes.  The bottom of the Sea is filled with rocks and crystals that cut tender feet. Cuts on your body, no matter how tiny, will sting when you enter the water.  Be ready.  It’s tolerable, but noticeable.

3.  I was told the lower elevation protects you from sunburn.  Wear sunscreen anyway.  Trust me.

4.  Do NOT shave for 3 or 4 days before you enter the water.  Do you remember that scene from Home Alone?  Yes, it hurts that much (see rule 2).

5. There is an art to entering the Dead Sea gracefully.  Walk into the water, turn around and sit down.  Imagine you are sitting on a swim noodle when you sit down…same process, just without the noodle. Enjoy!  Bring a book or newspaper for posing your “Look! I’m floating in the Dead Sea” photos.

6. When you try to go from place A to B, use your hands as rudders.  Steer. Flipping over on your stomach and trying to “swim” to shore is inefficient and ineffective.  You essentially end up looking like a demented sea horse, rocking back and forth in one place and getting absolutely nowhere.  I know this because I tried.

7.  Refrain from splashing water on your face or into your eyes.  It hurts.  The lifeguards often keep eyewashes just for this purpose.

8.  Don’t drink the water.

9.  The mud feels fabulous and is great for the skin.  Try it!  Try it multiple times.  It is best to try multiple, short “sessions” in the Dead Sea…interspersed with trips to the showers and pools.

10.  Enjoy the view.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

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