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 ‘Dead Sea’ because no fish can survive in the salty waters. The other result of the salty water of the Dead Sea are 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 Dead 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 the beaches which line the shores of the Dead Sea.
The salty waters of the Dead Sea by bachmont, on Flickr
Masada & Ein Gedi
Masada, is, aside from the Dead Sea itself, the 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.
Further North near the Dead Sea 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 Dead 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’ just to the Dead Sea which is more convenient than taking a bus as the bus service to the Dead Sea 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 running regularly throughout the week which is the cheapest way to reach the Dead Sea, and includes the entrance fee to the beach.
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 and Dead Sea tour visits the two 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, swim at the Dead Sea, and also hike at Ein Gedi. It runs every day as a Masada sunrise tour. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, there is also a Masada, Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, and Jericho Tour option.
If you prefer a private tour, the cost of a private guide for the day is about $395, and for a guide with transport for up to 7 passengers, cost is about $650. 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 at the Dead Sea, and here there are around 15 large resort-style hotels catering to all types of budget. For those in search of a more unique experience, there are also some zimmers and more boutique hotels at the Dead Sea. Our list of the best hotels at the Dead Sea is a good starting point.