Israel Jordan Middle East 2011/12

8 Tips for Floating in the Dead Sea

Ever wanted to float around and read a newspaper? I mean without a floatation device. You know, like those famous images…like this?

obligatory "reading newspaper in the dead sea" photo
Photo Credit

Why, to do that, you’d have to be in the Dead Sea! I mean, who wouldn’t want to just lie back in water with absolutely nothing to catch you and just bob up on the surface? I did and that nice, cool water proved to be just the remedy after an early morning hike to Masada. And you know what? It was a wild experience!

But just running and jumping straight into this turquoise, salty water won’t quite give you such an optimal Dead Sea experience… So let me give you a few tips:

The Dead Sea

Beware of Cuts

Unless you’re hankering for a nice burning sensation, be very aware of any cuts you might have. If you think about it, it’s literally like rubbing salt into a wound. While that might be awfully good for your body (maybe…), it’s not advisable unless you like being in pain!

Avoid Shaving for a Few Days Before

Shaving peels back at your skin and gives you a possibility of inadvertently cutting your skin, neither or which would bode well with all this salt! Again, to avoid a painful burning sensation, this might be in your best interest!

Just Lay Back…

Dead Sea Floating

When I first stepped into the Dead Sea, I had no clue what I was supposed to do. I wandered out till the water was at my neck and instinctually began treading water. But how to get from there to floating? “Just lay back,” others shouted. “Just lay back?!,” I thought to myself, “that’s crazy talk!” After all, why would I stop I treading and just lean back in water? That sounds like a death wish right there…

Finally, I put my faith in everyone’s advice and just leaned back as my arms waved around trying to keep myself afloat. And suddenly, I bobbed up and it felt like I was in some surreal lounge chair…minus the chair, that is. And you know what, it was awesome!

Don’t Dunk Your Face

Remember, you’re in one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. You definitely do not want to get any of this stuff in your eyes or mouth (trust me, it tastes rancid).

Dead Sea Bathing Instructions

Use Your Hands to Navigate

While floating around, you can steer by using your hands, just like you would if you were in an inner tube. Or like you’d do if you were a boat… (Think of your hands as a rudder…)

Don’t Stay in Too Long…

Your body will tell you when you’ve been in for too long, as you may notice that certain areas (like your armpits) will start to burn a little. Again, you can thank the salt…

Want to Know How Salty it is? Just Dry Off!

It doesn’t take too long to dry off in the hot Middle Eastern sun and when you do, you’ll notice something a little strange. Though the water has evaporated, most the salt has not and is left caked on your skin in these interesting little clumps. Just think, take a few dips in the Dead Sea, dry off and bam! You’re the source for your very own sea salt!

Salt on Beach at Dead Sea

Of course, you probably don’t want to keep all this salt on you for long, so you should probably…

Shower Off Soon After Floating

The beach I went to (Ein Bokek on the Israeli side) had plenty of showers right there on the beach and I would highly suggest making good use of them. Sure it’s cool to see the salt remaining on your skin, but I doubt you’d want to wear it home!

Any Tips to Add?

Have you floated in the Dead Sea? Do you have any tips to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!


By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

55 replies on “8 Tips for Floating in the Dead Sea”

I never actually thought to dry off to see how much salt was left behind. Always used to just shower or cake myself in mud afterward – good idea, though!

Did you buy this mud? Or did you find it? The beach we went to did not have any “free” mud around. You could buy some though for US$20!

Yes lounging back in water is quite enjoyable! But I’m rather serious about that burning sensation being rather unpleasant after about half an hour in the water. So it’s good in shorter bursts!

Wow! I’m more intrigued that ever. This is something I’ve actually wanted to do. And, I don’t really know why. Its probably because I’m a bit skeptical (even though many people have done it) that I could just pop up and float. It would be a surreal feelilng, just like you mentioned. Maybe someday I’ll make it there. I’ll have to remember not to put my face in the water – that’s something I never really thought of.

Oh trust me I was skeptical too, even after I’d seen people doing it with my own eyes! That’s why I couldn’t fathom the notion that I simply had to lay back!

I can’t believe you were able to walk in up to your neck once I got about to my waist I couldn’t keep my feet on the ground it is so buoyant. And once you start floating out there it is almost impossible to stand up.

I’m not the strongest swimmer and was trying hard to keep my feet on the ground as long as possible. I had no clue if I was supposed to tread water or what? And yes, standing up again was very hard! I think I floated closer to shore before attempting a bit of a backstroke to get back there!

It sounds amazing doesn’ it? I haven’t had the chance to bathing into the dead sea yet, but I’d probably feel a bit uneasy as I can’t stand having so amy salt on me! So annoying but i’m so curios to fload in the sea that I’ll probably do not care!

Hahaha well think of it as swimming in the ocean. Just add a lot of salt… And you could just take a quick dip and rinse off right away. Don’t let the fear of the salt water keep you away from the floating experience!

I had to laugh at the idea of me being my own sea salt factory. I found this post so fascinating – I never would have even thought about most of the things you listed. So what happens if you swallow the sea water? (the sign said to request help from a life guard)

Hahaha I didn’t ask. But I imagine it would something akin to swallowing some form of cleaning solution where you end up having to go to a poison control center or something! Seriously though, that much sodium really would not be good for your body to intake. I mean, think about drinking regular sea water. Not so pleasant, right?

Excellent advice for bathing in the waters here. I loved it, but must admit I also went and used some of the spas in the excellent hotels at the Dead Sea. I can heartily recommend the sulphur baths. I do remember (and I’m going back 12 years) on arrival, being stunned at how relaxed everybody appeared, and I mean very relaxed. Twenty minutes later I found myself in the same state of relaxation, then I realised it was the Dead Sea air, it contains a strong sedative, which you pleasantly inhale as you wander around making this a very chilled and happy place. Also you don’t need suncream, with it being the lowest point on earth, you cant get sun burnt – which is good for my leathery skin.

Sulphur baths? That instantly makes me think of Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and that’s not something that’s terribly enticing for me to get into… And really? No sunscreen? How does that work? Did you mud yourself up first?

Glad you enjoyed the post!

You DO need to use sunscreen as my husband believed the hype and got sunburnt so would recommend a sunfactor of some degree even if only a low one for protection. But it was still brilliant never the less.

Thanks for the great tip! As someone who was just badly sunburnt on a cloudy Florida day, I don’t think I’ll ever chance being outside for extended periods without sunscreen again!

During my 10 day Birthright trip in June 2010 we went to the Dead Sea and it truly was such a unique experience. It really is hard to imagine that you can literally just lay on your back or stomach and have the water hold you up so easily. I recommend rubbing the dead sea mud all over your body first to exfoliate and then going for a dip!

Where did you get this mud? The beach we went to only had mud for sale (US$20 per container…). Some folks in my group pitched in and got one, though I didn’t take part.

Vicky, I know this was left a long time ago, but I have a question, please? Aaron stated that shaving days before would be a good idea and that areas where your skin is naturally not as thick would start to notice the burning sensation from all of the salt, so if you exfoliate with the mud, wouldn’t this make your skin much more sensitive, much sooner? This may very well be a silly question, and if so I am sorry for that, but I just can’t shake it out of my head. I would love to do this and a friend of mine actually told me that there is a place in our hometown that allows you to float as if you were at the Dead Sea, they replicate it with minerals and salt, and supposedly you can purchased sessions up to 90 minutes. Wondering if these are good points for us to pay attention to when we go do that, which of course will just make me want to go to the Dead Sea that much more. Thanks for all of the advice.

The mud was for sale in plastic container bags when I was there too but we ended up getting some for free from somebody who had used part of the container and didn’t need any more so it worked out for us!

Ah gotcha. Lucky you! I got a tiny bit from the group that bought some but it was too little to actually make any difference.

Looking forward to the Masada hike and a dip in the Dead Sea.
Just read your blog and posts and it sounds great.
However I’m up in five hours to get ready to get to Masada for the sunrise, so I better get some shut eye.
Thanks for all the useful info.

Just a few more tips:

If you’re coming in the summer, the rocks on the beach get extremely hot. Bring slippers to wear until you get in the water. Also good idea to wear slippers on the beach so you don’t get a cut from the rocks, which will hurt like hell when you get in the water. It’s not like a normal beach with nice soft sand.

Also, the showers get extremely hot too if no one was using them for a while as the pipes are right there in the open sun, so don’t just get under it and then pull the cord to start the water unless you want to get burned. Let the hot water run off for a while.

If you get a drop of water on your face, do not use your wet hand to try to brush it off! You’ll get more water on your face and if it gets into your eyes, it will sting a lot. Just get out and go to the shower.

In any case, it’s not recommended being in the water for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. After about 15 minutes, get out and wash all the salt off in the shower, wait for about 15 more minutes and then you can go back in.

On the road towards the Dead Sea, watch for marks on the sides of the mountains. These show you how much below the sea level you are. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth that is not underwater.

Great tips, thanks!

I was there in the winter and the rocks weren’t hot, but they weren’t terribly comfortable to walk on. I wore flip flops. Also didn’t experience the hot shower problem. In fact they were quite cold! I definitely noticed that staying in for more than 15 mins isn’t a great idea as it started to burn in a few areas…

I didn’t know about the below sea level marks! How cool!

Floating is the easy fun part – getting upright is more of a problem because it’s hard to get your feet back on the sea bed because the water feels so dense. Your skin feels really good and smooth for days.

Haha it’s true! It’s almost like floating in jello or something. I also remember the sea bed being really rocky, so I was kind of ok to not be able to put my feet down! Did you try the mud?

I can’t swim, so I’m a little scared of doing the floating thing when I visit Israel in early February. Any advice? Sounds too good to miss. Also, if I get the mud, how long should I leave it on before going into the sea? Thanks!

I don’t think you need to worry as it’s practically impossible to sink. It is a VERY strange sensation though because instinctually you want to tread water but it’s fruitless. Still, you should give it a shot. How many times in your life will you be at the Dead Sea?

As for the mud, I don’t know specifically. It had dried a bit on us before we hit the water again and, in fact, it was still caked on when we got out and came off in the showers. Not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Good luck!

Well the Dead Sea can be visited from both Israel and Jordan. Which one are you planning on visiting from? From Israel, most of it lies within the Palestinian West Bank territory, though Ein Gedi is right on the Dead Sea and is not part of the Palestinian Territory. I visited Ein Bokek, a bit further south, after a visit to Masada.

For the ladies – do not use any feminine products while wading in the Dead Sea! My brother’s girlfriend did and guess what, it sucks up that salty brine like a sponge exactly where you don’t want it.

Hi..will be traveling soon in February. Was wondering how the water is that time of year. Is it comfortable or very cold?

I went in December and it’s not all that cold outside to begin with. Winter is a relative term in the Middle East. It was something like 20 or so degrees C outside (70ish F) so the water wasn’t bad at all.

[…] Dead Sea salt will fry your eyeballs."Fry" might not be the correct medical term, but it will indeed burn like crazy. The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, so you should avoid shaving your legs a few days before your dip and make sure you don't dunk your face — it'll hurt. And "if you swallow seawater, request help from the lifeguard." […]

I remember stepping in the Dead Sea and feeling the burn on my skin. I must have had a few scratched, but that salt sure did burn.

What about women with long thick coloured hair? Is the salt going to turn my hair into a pan scourer in 5 minutes flat or will the minerals make it nicer? I’m going in a fortnight. Thanks!

I would think that the minerals would give you a nice shine! No personal experience with that; as my hair is neither long or coloured. But the water did make my hair and skin feel nice. Just don’t stay in for too long!

What ended up happening with your hair? I’m scouring the Internet and everyone only says good things. I, however, just returned and have never cried so hard trying to detangle my hair, I’m on bottle of conditioner number 2

I can’t say anything out of the ordinary happened to my hair, but my hair is also pretty short. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the Dead Sea giving anyone hair issues and to the best of my knowledge it did not affect any of the women in my group in the way you’re describing. Maybe it was something other than the Dead Sea itself? Sorry you’re having issues with tangles!

Also do not do a somersault while in the dead sea, a friend of mine did and she couldn’t get back up again, good job she was with someone, who was able to straighten her out!!

Pee in it. Especially next to a mate! Share a wiz! Most enjoyable fun we had in years! Now we make it an annual pee party in the Dead Sea! We’ve even got lucky over the years to have other tourist join the yellow frenzy! This sea salt is nothing compared to your mates “sea”men. Now that’s salty! It’s now become over thousands of tourists urination station!

hella great call on a sea over an O’seen!
plus the Israeli shout out when every last light skinned human is a descendant of Adam and Eve.
Caucasian, Latin American…Middle Eastern
-only thing separating all of us is our beliefs in life. IMAGINE THAT


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