Is the Dead Sea really “dead”?

On a cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean we were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea, located on the eastern edge of Israel, bordering Jordan.  My husband was super excited about visiting the Dead Sea, although I must admit; I wondered what the big deal was. 

As the sea is located in the middle of the desert, we traveled through the Judean Desert and I was amazed at the landscape.  The rolling hills of sand were stark and yet beautiful in contrast to the blues of the sky.  As we rounded the corner, and the Dead Sea came into view, I was still wondering, is this going to be a memorable experience?

Israel - The Dead Sea Aerial

As we changed into our bathing suits, to get ready to make the plunge, we were warned not to put our heads under water and to not stay in the water for too long….hmmmm…now this is getting interesting.  Not your usual warnings for swimming in the ocean.  The Dead Sea, a salt lake, has one of the highest salinities (salt content) in the world and is over 8 times saltier than the ocean.

Israel - The Dead Sea

We visited Israel in the middle of summer which we would probably not recommend as the heat is staggering if you are not used to it.  On the day we visited the Dead Sea, the air temperature was a whopping 44°C.  So, in my naiveté I was really looking forward to cooling off in the sea.  Boy was I wrong! 

With our warnings in the back of our minds, we headed into the water.  HOT! HOT! HOT!  The edges of the water were so hot that we had to walk quickly to deeper water as it felt like the water was burning our feet.  Then as we submerged, it was not refreshing at all!  It was like going into a hot tub.

Israel - The Dead Sea

However, then we started to float and it was the strangest feeling.  Half of our body was still out of the water.  The buoyancy was incredible!   This is due in large part from the high salt content.  Then, we tried to stand up.  Who knew standing up would be so difficult.  Because of the high buoyancy, it was really hard to push our feet to the ground as they wanted to float.

Israel - Floating in the Dead Sea

Israel - Floating in the Dead Sea







As we walked to the edge of the sea, we noticed that there were millions of golf ball sized balls of salt.  As the salt collects on the shores, it clumps together into these salt balls.  They make a cool souvenir!

Israel - Salt balls from the Dead Sea

Now, back to my original question…Is the Dead Sea really “dead”?  Due to its high salinity, an incredibly harsh environment is created in the salt lake.  The severe environment is not suitable for animal life and therefore they do not survive well in the Dead Sea, hence the term “Dead” = no living creatures. 

I am glad my husband convinced me to visit the dead sea and I can now say that I have also visited lowest elevation on land at 423 metres (1388 ft.) below sea level.  It is strange how sometimes the experiences in travel that you know nothing about turn about to be some of the most memorable events.  I will never forget the feeling of super-flotation in the Dead Sea!

For more on Israel, check out our Travel Guide here.

Where have you experienced extreme environments?  Should we go?


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4 Responses to Is the Dead Sea really “dead”?

  1. I love floating in ocean water because of the salt so I sooo want to go to the Dead Sea to experience the crazy level of buoyancy there. Why did they say not to put your head under water? Will the saltiness really burn your eyes or something?
    Gina recently posted..Photo Tour Friday: LondonMy Profile

    Gina July 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm Reply
    • Being from Vancouver, Canada where the ocean water is too cold to swim in for most of the year (unless you are crazy 🙂 ) we also love to swim in the ocean wherever it is warm enough to feel the buoyancy as well. Yes, the advisory not to put our head under water did have to do with getting the salt in your eyes. They said it would hurt a lot and be quite unpleasant. We were also told to rinse off immediately using the outdoor showers and then to go inside and have a real shower and scrub down with lots of soap and water to get rid of the salt otherwise you skin would become incredibly dry.
      Thank you for your comment!

      evan&tracy July 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm Reply
  2. Because the Dead Sea, on the boundary between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest body of water on the Earth’s surface, any water that flows into it has no outflow. It is called “dead” because its extreme salinity makes impossible any animal or vegetable life except bacteria. Fish introduced into the sea by the Jordan River or by smaller streams die instantly.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..בני ברוךMy Profile

    Candice Michelle December 13, 2012 at 12:19 am Reply
    • Hi Candice Michelle.

      Thanks for all your added information. We love to learn information about the places we have visited. We are always happy to be informed about something we did not know before.

      evan&tracy December 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm Reply

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