The Dead Sea is Jordan’s must see. As well as offering a mineral boost, quirky floatation experience and mud mask mayhem, this hypersaline lake also offers blue-hued views worth whipping your selfie-stick out for. Swing by as part of a day trip along the 280km Dead Sea Highway or make a day of it at one of the luxury lakeside resorts with a helping hand from our Orbzii guide…
Before you think about rolling out your beach towel and sunbathing, it pays to do a little research. Beaches fall into three categories: public beaches with free access, private beaches with paid access and resort beaches accessible to hotel guests and day pass holders. None conform to the sand-strewn havens you might be used to. Yes, you’re in for a once in a lifetime experience, but you’ll be lakeside on a beach of pebbles, salt crystals and mud. For the luxe experience, always head to one of the Dead Sea resorts. Their beaches are litter free, come lined with beach loungers and umbrellas – and a day pass usually opens up access to facilities you can enjoy alongside the lake’s mineral-rich waters.
As an example, a Resort Visitor Value Pass from the Movenpick Resort & Spa costs 45 JOD per adult. This includes access to their beach, two swimming pools, the jacuzzi and tennis courts. The pass also includes 15 JOD to spend in the hotel’s restaurant.
Orbzii tip: Cheaper options along the shore include O Beach and Amman Beach. Though, recently facilities on these private beaches have been poorly maintained and don’t offer the value for money as they once did.
Float your cares away
When you’ve sought out your spot on the shore, it’s time to experience the iconic Dead Sea float session. Though, anyone who enjoys a long and lengthy soak in the whirlpool at their local spa will need to rethink their approach to a bob in the saline-rich lake waters. The Dead Sea in Jordan has 10 times the salt concentration of an ocean. Which means the maximum recommended float time is around 15 minutes, as the salts can irritate your skin if you stay in too long. Fear not, for most people the salt does nothing more than cause mild itching.
Orbzii tip: Cover any nicks or grazes with a waterproof plaster or Vaseline to avoid the salt stinging too much.
Max out on the health benefits of the Dead Sea’s minerals by wearing a full body mud mask. Decidedly cheaper than stocking up on the region’s skincare products, spending a few extra JOD on the lake’s mud is worth it for the full Dead Sea experience. Mix some sand in with it – the mud stalls tend to sell this alongside for extra exfoliation, and keep a hand clean for the inevitable mud-monster selfie. The bromine, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium are all said to heal everything from psoriasis, eczema and acne to arthritis and hypertension. There is some science to back up the wellness side to the lake. Higher oxygen levels, lower UV rays and low pollen and pollution counts all contribute to healing – though whether a 15 minute dip and a mud mask is long enough to deliver more than a serotonin and endorphin boost is up for debate.
The Dead Sea Highway
Combine a dip in the Dead Sea with a road trip along the Dead Sea Highway to drop in on the following attractions…
Dead Sea Museum Complex
To learn more about how Dead Sea activities in Jordan are changing the size and shape of this ancient lake, pop into the Panorama Dead Sea Complex. Their museum walks you through the geology, conservation and ecology side of the lake, while the restaurant serves up panoramic views of the lake and regional recipes.
Orbzii tip: Try to book a table on the terrace at sunset to make the most of the stunning lake views.
Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve
While the Dead Sea in Jordan might be devoid of life, there’s a flourishing ecosystem right next to the lake. In the south of the Jordan Valley, Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO listed canyon chockfull of birds, plants and canyoning opportunities. Taking a hike along the river in summer is the easiest route through. Though some sections might be a little deeper than others. Worth exploring if you’re looking to escape the hottest summer temperatures.
Orbzii tip: Five different trails offer routes through the canyon, from the easiest wander along the Siq Trail to the Malaqi Trail – where you’ll need a trained guide to help you rappel down the falls.
Qasr Al Yahud
Skipping the Jordan tourist attractions and heading for Qasr Al Yahud gives you the opportunity to explore a site of theological importance. Said to be the location where John the Baptist baptised Jesus, this spot on the Jordan River crops up a few times in various scriptures. Also thought to be where Israelites, crossed over the river and into the Promised Land. Right on the border between Israel and Jordan, access is now open to all after being restricted for decades.
Orbzii tip: Due to nearby agriculture, the river’s water quality can be a smidge pungent at times – it’s generally advised against entering the river.
If you’re looking to maximise your spa experiences in Jordan, add a trip to the Hammamat Ma’in hot springs to your Dead Sea activities planner. Don’t let the onsite hotel put you off – these natural springs are open to hotel guests and passersby. You’ll need to pay a 15 JOD entry fee, but this opens up access to their pools, spa and hotel facilities. Choose to sit in the natural pools – or enjoy the same thermal waters in the man-made pools. Perfectly priced for a quick stop off on a day trip, expect to spend a couple of hours enjoying the scenery and waters before moving on to the next stop on your road trip.
Other must-sees on the route include the world’s largest geographical mosaic floor in Madaba, the Roman Ruins of Jerash and Wadi Rum.