Want to know some interesting facts about the Dead Sea? Get ready to swim through some salty knowledge with these fun facts about the Dead Sea. Let’s go.
Interesting facts about the Dead Sea and how to visit it in Jordan Beautiful…but deadly
Interesting Facts about the Dead Sea
Let’s face it, the Dead Sea has a depressing name. But it’s actually a place of fun. At 427 metres below sea level, it’s the lowest point on earth. And its hypersalinity, or high salt levels, make it impossible for life to survive.
It also makes it possible for adults to turn into children as they flip about like penguins on an oily escalator…with all the grace of a slippery turnip.
You see, it’s hard to swim in the Dead Sea. It’s like trying to tap dance on ice.
And woe betide anyone who gets a taste of the water of death: as befits its name, it’s disgusting.
But personal anecdotes aside for a moment, let’s talk about the interesting facts about the Dead Sea. And where it is.
Where is the Dead Sea?
The Dead Sea is a salt lake between Israel and Jordan in the Middle East. It is the lowest point on earth.
Fun Facts About the Dead Sea
1 – It’s the lowest point on earth
The most famous Dead Sea fact is that it’s the lowest point on earth. But how does that work? How can a sea be lower than sea level?
Well, because it’s actually a lake rather than a sea. A lake whose surface is 1300 feet below sea level. To put that into context, Death Valley, North America’s lowest point, is only 282 feet below sea level.
So how deep is the lake? The lake bed is estimated to be around 2300 feet below sea level.
2 – It’s very hard to swim in it
When it comes to fun facts about the Dead Sea, just try swimming in it. It’s surreal and nearly impossible. The hypersalinity means that you float on the surface and your body weight feels and moves differently in the water. Those photos of someone relaxing and reading a newspaper in the water? They’re real, alright, but they don’t show just how difficult it was to get into that position to begin with.
3 – The water tastes disgusting
Around 34% of the Dead Sea is salt. And it does not taste good.
4 – The mud is supposed to be good for your skin
Who knows quite how these things get started but along the banks of the Dead Sea, you’ll find beauty resorts and spa treatments aplenty. Both the Dead Sea salts and the less poetically named mud carry anti-inflammatory health properties, apparently.
There’s no denying that the mud feels silky smooth, though, like nature’s own glossy facial. The ideal “treatment” is to bathe in the saltwater of the Dead Sea, coat yourself in thick mud and then rinse off as the sun sets.
It may or may not work but it definitely is fun!
5 – The salt stings!
A word to the wise. The salty water will STING any open cuts you have. Do not shave before you go in!
6 – It’s not actually the saltiest place on earth
It’s not actually the saltiest place on earth. Nor even in the top three.
7 – You can see another country
You can stand on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan and gaze across for a view of Israel’s West Bank. And vice versa.
However, it’s a myth that you can see Jerusalem or Tel Aviv from the banks of the Dead Sea. They are at least 100km away.
And more fun facts about the Dead Sea. In Arabic, it’s the Al-Baḥr Al-Mayyit (“Sea of Death”), while in Hebrew it’s Yam HaMelaẖ (“Sea of Salt.”)
8 – Almost everything is dead
The only things alive in the Dead Sea are bacteria (and a few people floating at the edge, trying to make it look as though they’re reading a newspaper.)
9 – It was formed by a rift in the earth’s crust
Over 3 million years ago, two of the earth’s tectonic plates pulled apart to create the Dead Sea: the African plate on one side, the Arabian plate on the other. The resulting rift or graben (the German for ditch) used to connect to what is now known as the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, that connection sealed up, leaving the Dead Sea as an inland salt lake. Today, the Jordan River flows into the lake at the northern end.
10 – It has a secret ingredient
The Dead Sea is the main source for agricultural potassium worldwide. See. You knew there was a reason why you read this far!
Had enough fun facts about the Dead Sea or are you ready for a bonus?
Here goes. The Dead Sea was mentioned in the bible and the first ever tourist to visit was likely Abraham. A little nugget of tourism history for you!
Does anyone know any more fascinating facts about the Dead Sea?!
Recommended reading: The Madaba Mosaics Jordan; Making the Broken Beautiful Again
HOW TO TAKE A PHOTO IN THE DEAD SEA
There in the Jordan Rift Valley, with Israel on one side and Jordan on the other, grown adults behave strangely.
For one, they grab a newspaper in a language they can’t read and battle to make it into the water without getting it wet. They float like rudderless cheery souls as they try to assemble for a photo. And for the finale, they slather themselves in thick black mud to create a slick human wetsuit before hopping back into the sea to wash it off.
And all this in the name of beauty (or perhaps, one suspects, the quest for a good photo.)
Either way, don’t they look gorgeous?!
HOW TO VISIT THE DEAD SEA
You can visit the Dead Sea from either Israel or Jordan and stay at one of many luxury “beachside” hotels. If you hire a car from Amman in Jordan, it’s a straightforward drive and at a push you could do it in a day. But it’s beautiful at dawn and sunset so I’d highly recommend you stay the night.
More on Travel in Jordan
See our travel guide to the best things to do in Jordan and then browse through the articles below.
- Jordanian Food: the 21 dishes you need to know
- These facts about Petra will surprise you
- Is Petra at night worth it?
- How the Madaba mosaics show the pathway to peace
- How to plan your perfect Jordan itinerary
- Is Jordan safe for solo female travellers?
- Working about the best time to visit Jordan
- Why bedouin coffee is more than just a drink
Disclosure: Over the years, I have visited the Dead Sea as a guest of Visit Jordan and Globus and iAmbassador. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like and think what I like. Otherwise, y’know, why bother with it all?!