430 metres below sea level, between the Jordanian and the Judean desert, lies the Dead Sea, an iconic body of water that has intrigued and fascinated the world since ancient time. And for almost as long it has attracted a stream of visitors all keen to discover just what all of the fuss is about.
Dead Sea Basics
The Dead Sea, one of the four saltiest bodies of water on Earth, has long been held as something of a magical place. None other than the great Queen Cleopatra once persuaded Mark Anthony to ensure that the sea became her territory as she wished to make use of its fabled restorative properties to maintain her own beauty.
And she was just one of the first. The unique chemical makeup of the Dead Sea has, over the centuries, allowed it to gain a reputation as the planets greatest natural beauty spa and it is for that reason alone that many of those who travel to it go in the first place. But there is more to the Dead Sea than that.
Where to Stay
As you might expect there are a number of rather luxurious hotels along the Dead Seas coastline. Many take the utmost advantage of the areas spa reputation and offer all manner of additional spa services and treatments based around the sea itself. But the pricey spa hotels such as the Herods Dead Sea or the Oasis Dead Sea, while beautiful and luxurious are not a travelers only options.
Charming bed and breakfast hotels dot the coast and there are even affordable hostels and kibbutzes that offer a lower key, but still very enjoyable alternative Dead Sea vacation for those looking to explore the area as well as soak in its health benefits.
Where to Eat
Most of the accommodations in the Dead Sea area offer onsite dining so the exterior pickings can seem rather slim. There are some notable dining experiences to be had if you look a little harder though.
Take the Taj Mahal for example. Totally unrelated to anything Indian it is basically set in a Bedouin tent and offers some fine and rather authentic Middle Eastern treats as well as a floor show that has to be seen to be believed. Alternately you could try the Kaparuchka, a newer eatery considered to be one of the best in the area that serves a delightful combination of gourmet pizzas and more traditional fare such as kebabs and schwarma.
What to See
When not indulging in one of the many beauty and alternative and holistic health treatments on offer in and around the Dead Sea there are other things for visitors to the area to do and see.
The Ein Gedi Botanical Garden is a must visit for anyone who has any interest in nature as it is home to species of plant and tree found few other places in the world as well as to plants of a very biblical nature such as frankincense and myrrh and the very poisonous Sodom apple.
Also of a biblical nature is Lot’s Wife, a natural salt rock formation that rises and leans majestically away from a dazzling cliff face in Ein Bokek. It is called Lots Wife of course after the biblical tale of the woman turned to salt in replenishment for looking back at the destruction of Sodom.