Experiencing the Dead Sea is one of those surreal travel experiences and absolutely top of any Middle East bucket list – but how appropriate is it to visit the lowest and one of the saltiest points on earth with kids?
Travelling with kids always requires a little extra research, from what you find on the internet to travel agencies and, most importantly, advice from families, friends, and travel discussion groups!
Before our first visit to the Dead Sea, the one overwhelming message I got was THE KIDS WILL HATE IT!! Curious and intrigued, we did a lot of research why and decided not to take them in the water…. well even best-laid plans can fail.
Three mortified, screaming children later, I can assure you some places need to be tackled a little differently when it comes to family travel!
If you have any intention of swimming in the Dead Sea with kids, here’s what you need to know before you go!!!
What is the Dead Sea?
Despite its name, it’s not actually a sea (no water flows out) but a saltwater lake – one of the saltiest in the world – almost 10x saltier than the ocean. It is the lowest land point on earth and, at 304m in depth, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.
Why is the Dead Sea “Dead”? – basically, nothing can live in it.
So should I visit the Dead Sea with the kids?
Whilst the novelty of floating weightlessly on the Dead Sea is appealing, there is much more to the Dead Sea. It is also known for its healing mineral muds and luxury resorts. A visit to the Dead Sea is a must for every Jordan or Israel itinerary.
18 Top survival tips for visiting the Dead Sea with Kids
So you think you’re game to tackle “swimming” in the Dead Sea with kids? Game on!
Your experiences could vary hugely depending on your kid’s ages and just how well prepared they are for this unique experience – so take all these tips with a grain of salt (pardon the pun!) and think about how it fits with your family:
- Be prepared for the fact no one is actually swimming in the Dead Sea! At best, you will get to “float” on the Dead Sea, but you’re not going to be swimming laps!
- That float could take only a matter of minutes once you realise just how slippery and difficult it is to enter the water with small children to supervise; older children who can hold their own ground may fare better and actually get to a lying position on their back.
- Prior to getting into the water, inspect bodies all over for any obvious cuts of chaffing (if you’ve just come from Petra, this is a high possibility!) If you can, put water-proof bandages over any obvious abrasions.
- Don’t think of shaving yourself – anywhere – in the 24-48 hours before you jump in the water!
- Do wear your togs to the waterfront and be ready with a towel.
- Pack reef shoes to clamber over the rocks; water levels are continually falling, so you will need to do a little scrambling even at the top resorts to reach the water – mother nature, I am afraid.
- Shower everyone in freshwater immediately after exiting the salt water.
- Bring a large bottle of fresh water with you to the waterfront. Although all the luxury resorts have showers or hoses set up, there’s no guarantee the freshwater shower is free exactly when you need it, and you may need to splash water on to little bodies in a hurry.
- The entry to the Dead Sea is likely to be a long hike back to your hotel room.
- Be prepared for mosquitoes in the evenings. We’ve heard others report lots of flies too. Bring kid-friendly bug spray.
- Especially if you are with small children, consider making two trips into the water, one just to supervise and assist your little ones, which could be very brief; then, if possible, get the kids a babysitter or kids club so you can come back and enjoy it properly sans kids.
- Avoid the peak heat of the day over the hotter summer months.
- I would have loved one of those little neck pillows with me in the water!
- Don’t bring any books of value with you into the water; a high chance they’ll get wet as you climb in and out
- You can pretty much forget the GoPro and selfie stick; the salty water will cake itself over the lens before you can get a snap out.
- As funny as it is to laugh at each other and talk, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!!! In fact, keep your whole head out of the water.
- Splashing others is just not funny at all!
- And an obvious warning to avoid getting the water into any painful spots like eyes or, ah, lady bits. The stinging will subside, but wow, it’s not all that relaxing an experience!
More Dead Sea with kids’ stories
- Our Globetrotters – Visiting the Dead Sea with Kids – sharing their experience with three youngsters at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
- Bring the Kids – Why I hated the Dead Sea and my kids will never go back – 7 kids, cuts, scrapes, and no resort!
Need more excuses why you SHOULD visit the Dead Sea?
Now it’s truly not all bad news! After taking some cautionary measures and a big spoonful of advice from your fellow travelling parents, here are some of the great things to consider planning a family visit to the Dead Sea;
The healing powers of the Dead Sea have been evident since Biblical times when Egyptian kings would travel to the Dead Sea. Not only is the water incredibly salty, but it is also incredibly dense in nutrients. Those suffering from respiratory issues, joint pain, psoriasis, arthritis, and many more ailments are advised that a Dead Sea dip will do them good.
Visit the lowest point on earth
Sitting 432m below sea level and evaporating at a rate of more than a metre a year, this is truly a unique geographic experience!
A beautiful resort retreat
So accepting that it is easiest and safest to visit the Dead Sea from a resort, make the most of the experience. The Jordanian Dead Sea coast is packed with luxury branded hotels, including multiple swimming pools, playgrounds, spas & restaurants. You certainly don’t find this level of luxury and indulgence all over the country – so enjoy it.
Also beneficial for your health is the Dead Sea Mud. The mud comes directly from the sea bed and it is high in calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Now you’re not about to eat it, but get yourself into a luxury spa for a mud wrap, and we’re positive your skin will thank you for months!
Here’s more on the Dead Sea mud’s healing powers!
Great proximity to other Jordan attractions
Sitting just 60 kilometres west of Amman, staying at one of the Dead Sea resorts can be a good base for also exploring e Wadi Mujib nature reserve, the Hammamat Main Hot Springs, and the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ.
Tours or drivers to these nearby destinations can be organised with your concierge.
The Dead Sea is dying
There are many places in the world you need to consider seriously; will these places be the same if my children want to return to them in 20 years’ time?
The Dead Sea is one of those places that will significantly change over the course of their childhood. Due to a myriad of reasons which are explained well here, the Dead Sea is slowly vanishing – well, not even that slowly; the water level is dropping by over 3 feet (1m) a year.
It is evident at many of the resorts where the Dead Sea entry-level used to be and where it is now.
Where to stay near the Dead Sea; the best Dead Sea Hotels and Resorts
On the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, a string of luxury resorts runs along a stretch of the Jordan Valley Highway through to Sowayma Village.
Budget isn’t really an option for staying at the Dead Sea.
If you want the overnight experience, this is the one you need to save up and spoil yourselves. The cheaper end-of-the-scale options include the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea and Ramada Resort by Wyndham – our personal favourites though, with kids are Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea & ultimate luxury at Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea Resort (pictured).
Alternatively, you are situated only an hour from Amman by road. Many will indulge in just a day trip; however, as we recommended above, you will hugely benefit from the resort facilities if you are travelling with small children and the access to fresh water showers and swimming pools.
Day Trip Facilities at the Dead Sea
There is a public beach 2kms south of the main resort area, The Amman Beach Tourism Resort, Restaurant and Pools. Nowhere near as fancy as a resort and quite dated, but it provides visitors with freshwater showers, sun lounges, and umbrellas. It can be exceptionally busy with Amman day-trippers on weekends
The entry cost is JD 20 adult / JD10 child ($28USD/$14USD) for day entry. Lockers are 1.5JOD and towels 3JOD (prices per 2018).
Best times to visit the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea can experience long, hot summers from May to September and relatively mild winters.
There are wonderful shoulder seasons to enjoy, but realistically swimming is best from April through to October. Outside of these times, you will really want to stay at a resort with a heated pool if your kids fancy a splash.
Only the brave are tempting the healing waters from December to February – but trust us, plenty still do!
In terms of the best day/s of the week to visit, weekdays can be equally as busy as weekends with large conferences and tour groups. Weekends (Thursday & Friday night) receive more day-trippers from Amman.
Do you have any more tips to add for swimming in the Dead Sea with kids? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments.
If you have more Jordan or Middle East travel questions you’d like to ask, head on over to our Facebook community.
More resources for visiting Jordan
You may also find these posts helpful for planning a family trip to Jordan:
- A Classic 5-day Jordan road trip itinerary
- Best desert camps for families at Wadi Rum
- When is the best time to visit Jordan
- What to wear in Jordan
Jordan Guide Book
For a first-timer looking to visit Jordan, we can highly recommend you download the Step Into Jordan Guide & Itineraries.
This handy digital guide is just $19.99USD and includes:
- An interactive downloadable map
- 36 detailed pages of planning guidance
- Multiple suggested itineraries (10, 7 and 3 days)
- Tips from an expert
- Accommodation recommendations