“Instead of taking two trains, why don’t you just take the bus down to Jerusalem?” asked the receptionist at my hostel in Haifa. What a fantastic idea. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that buses run not only between Tel Aviv and Haifa but between Jerusalem as well. I, too, don’t know how I don’t fall down more.
Yes, for those of you who are wondering, Israel’s mass transportation network is nearly flawless so no matter train or bus, I knew the ride to Jerusalem would be smooth and efficient. Once I arrived at the Central Bus Station, instead of going out the main entrance like normal people do, I aimlessly walked out the back through the garage letting the blue dot version of me on Google Maps lead the way to my hostel.
Arriving in the morning with some time to kill before my tour to the Dead Sea left at 4pm, I walked 20 minutes to the hostel, dropped my bags off, and went on the search for food. Just so you’re not left wondering, I ended up at a place called Metro Bagel staffed by a handsome, young gentlemen no older than 20. Had a fresh bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes, red peppers, and cucumbers. Scrumptious! You’re welcome.
The Dead Sea, easily accessed by bus, hostel shuttle, or shared taxi, is about a 40 minute ride from the city center. Extending along the southeast coast, the water serves as a border between Israel and Jordan.
Bits of Advice
- Bring a towel, change of clothes, water, some snacks, and flip flops
- Also bring lotion because the water will dry your skin right up
- Don’t just assume you can walk right into the water. Sit down on the beach and crabwalk your way in. Take my word for it.
- Ladies, don’t shave down south the same day you visit. Do it 1-2 days before or it will sting like hell.
- Do not attempt to swim as a form of exercise or open your legs at all otherwise it can burn where you dont want it to
- Be courteous to others in the water by not splashing
- Once you’re in the water, do not, I repeat, DO NOT touch your face or rub your eyes
- In case you’re worried about any unfriendly sea creatures, they call it the Dead Sea for a reason
The specific tour I went on had us at the beach for 2 hours which was plenty. Too much time, in fact. After an hour, everyone in my group was ready to go, and yet we had to stick it out for another hour. The restaurant nearby was closed and there wasn’t anything else around to see so we sat and enjoyed each other’s company amongst the beautiful scenery.
The Dead Sea has a high concentration of salt (about 30%) and is very warm. On a hot/high humidity day, it can be uncomfortably warm. What makes the sea unique is that it is its own flotation device. Seriously. It’s impossible to drown and even difficult to try to stand up in deeper waters. You can read a book while leisurely floating on the water with no harm done to the pages.
The beach is plastered with cheap, multi-colred chairs, and across the water you can see the mountains in Jordan. Super neat if you ask me. When you feel like you’re finished floating in the sea, slather yourself in mud which is supposedly good for your skin. You’ll see that many of the stores in Israel sell Dead Sea mud products for around 10 NIS, but I say bag a bit of it when you’re actually in the water and take it with you. It’s messy but if you leave it on for 10-15 minutes, you can run around the beach like a crazy sea creature that survived. After you’ve had your fun, rinse off under the showers, and repeat.
This article is part of a two week series of adventures in Jerusalem. You can read the others below. All tours were booked through Abraham Hostel.