The Dead Sea, known in Hebrew as Yam Ha-Melakh (the Sea of Salt) is the lowest point on earth, surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Negev Desert. The shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest point on the surface of the earth, and the saline water of the lake give lead to the name because no fish can survive in the salty waters. The other result of the salty water is their renowned health and healing properties and the unique feature that one can float naturally in them.
About the Dead Sea
Sunrise Over the Dead-Sea by H@rpoon, on Flickr
Really just a lake, the Dead Sea is part of the long border between Israel and Jordan whose towering mountains can be seen from the Israeli side, part of the Judean and Negev deserts. Just a one-hour drive from Jerusalem, the sea is a place popular with Israeli’s wanting a few days relaxation, people, taking advantage of the medical properties of the water, as well as tourists staying for a short time to experience the unique Sea and surroundings. People famously cover themselves in the mineral-rich mud and float in the salty waters at its beaches.
Masada & Ein Gedi
Masada is another great attraction of the area. Atop a mountain to the side of the Sea lies this ancient fortress. With a steep history and ascent, Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is traditionally climbed early in the morning by tourists wishing to see the ruins at the top as the sun rises over the Dead Sea and mountains of Jordan in the distance. Today it is not necessary to climb, as a cable car has been built.
A bit further North of Masada is the Ein Gedi National Park. Situated in the famous Kibbutz, this park contains a range of cool water hiking trails which allow you to cool off in the heat. The higher you go, the quieter it will be and the more likely you will be able to find your own little oasis. Ein Gedi also has a public beach and spa which is much closer to Jerusalem than the majority of the beaches, if you have less time.
Visiting the Dead Sea
There are a number of public beaches open along the shores of the sea. Popular beaches include the Ein Gedi Beach and the beach at the Ein Bokek resort (where many hotels offer private beaches – see below). Some beaches charge an entry fee.
It is possible to take a bus ‘tour’ directly to one of the beaches, which is more convenient than taking a public bus as service to the area is slightly infrequent and not so easy to navigate. The Dead Sea Day Trip runs daily and provides you with the whole day at the beach!
Alternatively, there is a shuttle to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv running daily throughout the week which is the cheapest way to reach the sea and includes the entrance fee to the beach. If you’re based in Eilat, you have the option to book this Dead Sea Tour from Eilat.
Tours to the Dead Sea
From Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, there is a great range of daily group tours to the Dead Sea which will also go to Masada. The typical Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea & More Tour visits those places leaving daily from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and is fully guided. We suggest that you consider a great alternative which also runs throughout the week a week and allows you to climb Masada at sunrise, float in the sea, and also hike at Ein Gedi. It runs every day as a Masada sunrise tour. For those looking for a unique and memorable experience atop Masada, the Masada Sunrise Yoga, Ein Gedi Oasis, and Dead Sea Wellness Experience Tour is an unforgettable way to experience the breathtaking sunrise, while enjoying a private yoga session.
If you’d like to start from Eilat in Southern Israel, the Masada, Ein Gedi, and Dead Sea Tour from Eilat is a great option to float in the salty waters.
If you prefer a private tour, we are happy to arrange a private experience that can be guided, or unguided just including transportation. Private tours are customizable and more flexible See more about private Masada tours.
Hotels at the Dead Sea
Dead Sea Hotels come in all shapes and sizes. In Ein Bokek is the main hotel area on the shores, and here there are around 15 large resort-style hotels catering to all types of budgets. For those in search of a unique experience, there are also some zimmers and more boutique hotels in the area. Our list of the best hotels in the area is a good starting point.