If anyone tells you that a trip to the Dead Sea was enjoyable, they’re not telling the whole truth. Yes, it is incredible to be in such an unusual place 422 meters below sea level, and where you can float on the water, but an enjoyable experience?
The reason it may be less than delightful is the blistering, burning, penetrating heat of the desert. You have to wear something on your feet all the time as the sand and stones are so hot, and the minute you come out of the water – which is also quite hot- the salt dries on your skin and you turn white, while your hair turns stiff. Although floating on the water really is amazing the heat can make you feel ill and give you a headache.
All this unpleasantness, and that’s besides the damage the sun does to your skin, as temperatures at the Dead Sea can reach 40 degrees centigrade.
But there is a solution. You don’t have to fry yourself in the hot sun to see the Dead Sea, there is no reason you can’t visit it at night!
That’s right! The Dead Sea is open 24 hours a day and once the sun goes down, the sand is cooler as is the air, although the water remains pretty hot. The experience is even more special as you have the beautiful clear desert night sky above you, and you can do some star gazing.
The best public beaches are Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek on the Israeli side, and at night you have the beaches all to yourself. The area is relatively deserted at night, although there are hotels and a few shops on the waterfront in Ein Bokek and some people camp out on the sand.
Swimming in the water takes on a whole new aspect when it is pitch black, as even though you know that there is nothing living in the water (hence the “dead” sea), you can’t help feeling that something ominous is lurking just below the surface. You can float to your hearts content, not bothering about sun screen, and then once out you can rinse yourself off under the beach showers, without fighting off herds of tourists.
To reach the Dead Sea either take a bus (numbers 486 and 487 from Jerusalem, or 421 from Tel Aviv), or drive down (route 90). If you fancy a longer stay there are plenty of hotels, from budget to 5 * to choose from. Ideally drive down to the Dead Sea, spend the night, and visit the sea at night, then continue driving south to the exquisite Eilat.
I recommend Ein Bokek as there are stores and even a small mall as well as great hotels and beaches. Try the Hod Hotel, Ein Bokek, Dead Sea.