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The Dead Sea
One of the country’s most alluring and popular places to visit, the Dead Sea makes for a fun and slightly surreal experience.
The incredible buoyancy of this large saline lake makes for a surreal experience © Suprun Vitaly, Shutterstock
The eerie name of the sea that marks the lowest point on earth couldn’t in fact be more apt. Shark-a-phobes be reassured, for in the salty waters of the Dead Sea nothing can live, its extreme salinity meaning all forms of organism are unable to survive, both in the water and on the shores that surround it. Yet in contrast to this rather gloomy picture of a barren and lifeless region, the Dead Sea has had a colourful religious, cultural and geological life.
Biblical history abounds along the shores of the sea, with names such as John the Baptist, King David, King Herod, Sodom, Gomorrah and Lot intricately connected with its history. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1947, the sea’s religious significance became unparalleled. In recent years, the phenomenon that spurred King Herod to build his majestic spa on the cliff at Masada has been tapped and the sale of Dead Sea products for their therapeutic properties has become a worldwide trade, thrusting Israel into the tourist limelight.
The incredible buoyancy of the Dead Sea makes for a fun and slightly surreal experience, bobbing up and down like a cork. Beaches have subsequently popped up along the coast, ranging from free and crowded to expensive and crowded to private and crowded. In peak seasons, finding a place to put your towel is unlikely, but out of season (especially midweek) beaches are much quieter.