The Dead Sea is actually not a sea at all. With an area of 600 km2 (230 mi2) it is a lake, and it is surrounded by mountains: the Judean mountains to the west, the Moab plateau to the east, and Mount Sodom at its southwestern side. Geographically speaking, it is bordered by Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. It is only an hour’s drive away from Jerusalem, and right next to the Negev and the Judea deserts.
An ideal vacation spot for families
There are many reasons the Dead Sea is an ideal vacation spot for families, groups, backpackers, etc. It is a beautiful – if eerie – place: its water changes color from turquoise to light blue to gray depending on the weather, peculiarly-shaped white salt crystals are scattered all around, and it is surrounded by red-golden mountains. The Dead Sea’s salty water and mineral-rich mud are considered to have numerous health benefits, and many people come there to be treated for various illnesses and conditions and to get spa treatments (that are available in almost any Dead Sea hotel).
The Dead Sea is steeped in interesting history: it is mentioned in the bible several times, as well as in ancient Greek and Roman literature. King Herod the Great had built several palaces and fortresses near the Dead Sea, the most famous of all being Masada. Lastly, there are numerous attractions nearby: the aforementioned Masada, the Ein Gedi oasis and nature reserve, the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the Bokek stream (Nahal Bokek), Mount Sodom and more. In short, Dead Sea holidays are highly recommended for anyone interested in geology, history, nature and health.
Dead Sea information for kids – places to visit
For families with kids especially, the Dead Sea can make for an exciting, fun-filled holiday. There are many hotels around the Dead Sea which are perfect for family holidays, with swimming pools designated for children and toddlers, kids’ clubs which offer various games and activities, and entertaining shows suitable for kids.
In addition, the many attractions nearby also offer children-friendly activities:
- Masada – At Masada, you can take the funicular to the top of the mountain, and enjoy the historical ruins of the famous fortress as well as the stunning view of the Dead Sea, the Edom and Moab mountains and the Judea desert. You can go back down using the famous snake trail, or walk the snake trails to the top and take the funicular to the bottom. There’s also an impressive sound and light show kids will enjoy immensely.
- Ein Gedi Nature Reserve – visit this beautiful green reserve for its canyons and streams, as well as for its large population of ibexes and unique flora. The nearby Ein Gedi kibbutz has a magnificent botanical garden with over 1000 species of plants.
- Qumran – Qumran will spark the interest of kids who are history buffs. In the middle of a dry wilderness, you can stroll around the remains of an ancient village and the nearby caves which had also served for human settlement. You will also hear about the amazing discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the oldest-surviving bodies of biblical texts in the world, which date nearly over 2000 years ago.
- Fantasy Island – Fantasy Island is a unique experience for the whole family, which has two main attractions: a state-of-the-art 7D cinema where you can watch movies while experiencing amazing special effects which excite all your senses; and Fear Factory – a thrilling maze of horror that will make you hair stand on end.
Dead Sea for kids – important tips
While the Dead Sea and the area surrounding it are perfect for family holidays, there are also some precautions you should take when traveling there with kids. Since the water is extremely salty, any sores, cuts or minor wounds should be protected by waterproof bandages – or else they’ll sting badly. Watch your step in the water and beware of rocks in the bottom – wearing water shoes can be a good idea, especially for kids. If your kids are prone to jumping and splashing around, have them wear goggles, so they don’t get water in their eyes.