Welcome to our detailed guide to the Dead Sea in Jordan, a destination that many travelers have on their bucket lists. Floating effortlessly on the surface of the Dead Sea is an experience unlike any other and is a must-do when visiting Jordan.
In this guide, we’ll share six essential things you should know before going to the Dead Sea: where to float, things to do around the Dead Sea, where to stay, and other tips to have a wonderful time in the lowest point on earth. We’ll also share our personal experience and opinion about this experience.
Planning a trip to Jordan? Check out our Jordan Ultimate Guide and Detailed Itinerary.
6 Things You Should Know Before Going to the Dead Sea, Jordan
- How to Visit the Dead Sea?
- Dead Sea Resort Beaches vs Dead Sea Public Beaches
- Where to see the Dead Sea Salt Formations?
- Things to do Near the Dead Sea, Jordan
- Where to Stay to Visit the Dead Sea?
- Tips for Floating in the Dead Sea
1. How to Visit the Dead Sea?
Much of the Dead Sea is fenced, private, or inaccessible. Additionally, it’s not a place where you come to lay down and sunbathe unless you’re staying at a resort. So, you need to do some research to know how to access the Dead Sea and know what to expect. Here are four different ways to experience the Dead Sea in Jordan.
1) Stay in a Dead Sea Resort
The most convenient and comfortable way to have a Dead Sea experience, which includes floating in the Dead Sea and dead sea mud is to stay in a resort with access to the Dead Sea. You need to shower right after getting out of the water due to its high salinity and the beaches at the resorts have all the facilities, they’ll provide you with towels, and you can go back to your room to change and relax afterwards.
Additionally, they also offer Dead Sea mud, which is an essential part of the Dead Sea experience. Basically, you cover your skin with dead sea mud before getting into the water. The mud is said to have medicinal properties. The truth is that your skin will feel rejuvenated afterward.
The beaches at the Dead Sea Resorts are artificial with sand and don’t have salt formations. You’ll need to explore the southern part of the Dead Sea to see them.
2) Dead Sea Resort Day Pass
If you’re not staying at a Dead Sea Resort, you can still have all the facilities by getting a Dead Sea Resort Day Pass. Basically, contact one of the many resorts on the Dead Sea to inquire about their day passes. You’ll have the same experience as if you were staying at the Resort.
3) Free Swimming Spots
As we’ve mentioned, most of the Dead Sea coast is private, fenced, or inaccessible, but there are a few free swimming spots where you can go to float in the Dead Sea. Search on Google Maps for “Dead Sea Free Swimming“. You’ll get results for some accessible spots.
We went to the spot next to the Wadi Mujib Reserve. In this place, you won’t have sand on the beach, but the beautiful Dead Sea salt formations. Make sure you bring water shoes or sandals, otherwise, you’ll certainly cut your feet in the sharp salt crystals.
We went in low season, but there was a small shop selling drinks and an improvised shower and changing room.
4) Organized Tour to the Dead Sea
Finally, you may opt to go on an organized tour. Many tours combine a visit to the Dead Sea with other highlights like Petra and/or Wadi Rum in two or three days. This is a great option if you have just a few days in Jordan and you don’t have a rented car. Additionally, you’ll have everything sorted out if you just want to relax and go with the flow.
2. The Difference Between Dead Sea Resort Beaches and Public Beaches
The Dead Sea Resorts are located in the northern part of the Dead Sea. The beaches at the resorts are artificial and made out of sand. You won’t find any of those salt formations there. These beaches are not pretty, but provide all the facilities and amenities for a comfortable experience at the Dead Sea.
The public Dead Sea beaches are usually difficult to access and don’t have sand. The shores of the public beaches are covered with salt crystals and salt formations. Some spots have improvised showers and small “shops” selling drinks. Make sure you have a place to shower or take water bottles with you if you intend to float on the public beaches so that you can rinse right afterward.
3. Where to see the Dead Sea Salt Formations?
In the northern part of the Dead Sea, you’ll find the Dead Sea Resorts. The beaches are artificial and have sand instead of salt formations. To see those beautiful salt crystals, you’ll need to drive south.
Take a drive along the Dead Sea Highway, making several stops at viewpoints to appreciate the views of the Dead Sea. We made our way to a location marked as “Dead Sea free swimming” on Google Maps, situated near the entrance to the Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve. From the side of the road to the shore, it’s about a 5 to 10-minute walk. The terrain is not very good, but it’s also not that bad.
Although the salt formations are really unique, beautiful, and something we hadn’t seen before, I was kind of sad to see the place was pretty dirty. There were lots of plastic bottles, bags, and trash scattered on the salt formations. It’s still nice, but not exactly how I thought it would be. So, just keep in mind it might not be super clean when you go there.
4. Things to do Near the Dead Sea, Jordan
Besides floating in the Dead Sea and seeing the Dead Sea salt formations, there are other interesting things to do around the Dead Sea.
Explore the Dead Sea Wadis
The Dead Sea wadis are dry riverbeds surrounding the Dead Sea region, formed by runoff during heavy rainfall. One of the most famous wadi in Jordan is Wadi Mujib, known as the “Grand Canyon of Jordan”. These areas feature dramatic landscapes with steep cliffs and canyons. While it’s usually safe to visit these places, it can be dangerous if flash floods occur. So, make sure you check the weather before going.
We planned to visit Wadi Mujib but found it closed in mid-April, so we explored Wadi Numeira instead. This lesser-known gem offers a safe, free, and relatively undiscovered experience. It’s a deep sandstone gorge near the Dead Sea, with a 3 km hike (we did 2 km due to recent rain) featuring some steep sections. The entrance is free and there’s plenty of parking space at the entrance.
Expect to get wet, so bring spare shoes. Wadi Numeira is breathtaking and attracts fewer tourists, providing a unique experience. We highly recommend it. We felt like we were on another planet; it was absolutely breathtaking. We have a quick video about this place that you can watch below.
However, if you have the opportunity, make sure you reserve an experience in Wadi Mujib, which usually opens at the beginning of May. You can reserve at the Wild Jordan website, at the entrance of the Wadi Mujib Reserve, or go on an organized private tour (there are several options on GetYourGuide).
Panoramic Views at the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex
The Dead Sea Panoramic complex provides some of the best panoramic views of the Dead Sea, where you can spot Israel on the other side. The entrance is not included in the Jordan Pass and it costs 2 JOD per person.
In this place, you’ll also find the Dead Sea Museum, which is a great place to learn more about the history, fauna, flora, geology, and the importance of its minerals. Reserve 30 minutes to one hour to visit the museum if you like to read all the information like me.
It was particularly interesting to learn about the receding of the Dead Sea and the formation of dangerous sinkholes as the water recedes. If you intend to visit the Dead Sea, the best time is now. It’s estimated that it can cease to exist in the next fifty years, and soon it may be too dangerous to visit because of sinkholes.
Drive the Dead Sea Highway
The Dead Sea Highway runs along the Dead Sea, giving you a scenic drive with amazing views. If you visit the Dead Sea salt formations in the southern part of the Dead Sea, you’ll probably drive along this road.
Visit the Nearby Town Madaba
From the Dead Sea, you’re just a short drive to the nearby town of Madaba. This place is known as the city of mosaics. It’s also where the famous Map of Jerusalem is located on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George. It depicts an intricate representation of the ancient city of Jerusalem and other regions of the Holy Land during Byzantine times. Entrance to the church is not included in the Jordan Pass.
There are many interesting places to see in Madaba like the Madaba Archaeological Park. We did a guided tour and learned a lot about mosaics and the civilizations that occupied this part of the world.
We just spent a few hours in Madaba, but you can easily spend one or two full days.
Visit the Baptism Site and Mount Nebo
The Baptism Site and Mount Nebo, both important religious locations, are easily accessible by a short drive from the Dead Sea.
The Baptism Site, situated along the Jordan River, is where Jesus is thought to have been baptized, while Mount Nebo is where Moses is believed to have seen the Promised Land before he passed away.
Although we couldn’t visit these sites during our stay in Jordan due to time constraints, they hold significant religious and historical importance, so we recommend a visit if you have more time.
5. Where to Stay to Visit the Dead Sea?
The most comfortable way to explore the Dead Sea is to stay at one of the Dead Sea Resorts. The Dead Sea Resorts stay in the northern part of the Dead Sea. The resorts are out of town, so if you’re staying in a resort we recommend going with dinner included.
We stayed at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel and we had a wonderful stay. The room was big, clean, and comfortable, there were several pools, direct access to the Dead Sea shore, and plenty of options at the buffet breakfast and dinner. Additionally, they also had entertainment after dinner.
If you don’t want to spend such an amount of money on a resort, you can stay in Madaba and then, drive to the Dead Sea. Alternatively, you can also go on an organized tour leaving from Amman.
6. Tips for Floating in the Dead Sea
Here’s a few things to know before floating in the Dead Sea
- You can’t actually swim on the Dead Sea: the Dead Sea water is ten times saltier than the regular seawater, just lie back and relax to naturally float on the water’s surface. Due to the high buoyancy of the water, it’s not recommended to actually swim on it. If you try it, your legs will shoot up in the air and you’ll submerge your head in the water.
- Wear water shoes or sandals: the Dead Sea floor is covered with sharp salt crystals, so make sure you protect your feet.
- Use an old swimsuit as the high salt concentration can stain or damage it. I used an old swimsuit but it didn’t get damaged.
- Don’t shave beforehand: avoid shaving the day of or before your Dead Sea visit, as the high salt content can cause stinging sensations on freshly shaved skin.
- Don’t stay longer than 10 to 15 minutes to prevent skin irritation.
- Don’t swallow water and don’t splash saltwater in your eyes.
- Rinse off afterward in a freshwater shower to remove excess salt from your skin.
- No one is allowed on the water after sunset.
Our Experience at the Dead Sea
We stayed at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel for two nights. It’s convenient because it has its own private beach on the Dead Sea, it has showers and they also provide towels for your visit. You can easily walk to the beach from your hotel room.
On the beach, you’ll find large bowls filled with Dead Sea mud. First, we applied this mud all over our skin, and then we floated on our backs in the water. We spent about 10 minutes in the water. The Dead Sea water feels thicker and a bit greasy compared to regular seawater. It’s not as refreshing as a typical beach, and the beach itself isn’t ideal for sunbathing.
In my opinion, the Dead Sea experience is unique and worth trying, but don’t expect it to be like a typical beach vacation for sunbathing. However, the resorts also have pools where you can relax before or after your visit to the Dead Sea if you have some free time to unwind.
As we’ve mentioned, these beaches don’t have any salt formations, and you’ll need to visit the southern part of the Dead Sea to see those landscapes.
Watch our Videos About Jordan
We created a playlist on Youtube with all our videos about Jordan. Check them out below.
Is visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan worth it? Absolutely. A visit to the Dead Sea should definitely be on your itinerary when in Jordan. Floating effortlessly on the Dead Sea’s water is a unique experience, and the salt formations are beautiful, like nothing you’ve seen before.
However, you need to have some realistic expectations when visiting. The Dead Sea Resorts have sandy beaches, providing a more comfortable and convenient way to float in the Dead Sea. But, keep in mind that these beaches are not beautiful and not ideal to spend a typical beach vacation (at least from my point of view).
To see the salt formations, you have to go search along the Dead Sea shore. The salt formations are truly beautiful, and you’ll get some great pictures. However, there was a lot of garbage, and the places were not well looked after, which ruined the experience a bit.
We hope you found this guide to visit the Dead Sea useful. If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, make sure you check our Jordan Ultimate Guide and Itinerary.
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Thanks for reading.