The Dead Sea is an unusual place to sea kayak. It is the lowest water basin on earth, 400 meters below sea level, and also the saltiest Sea (or lake) in the world, with a salt level above 30%. Nothing lives in its waters. Yet, the mountainous salt formations you will encounter during your paddle makes up for what it lacks in marine life.
The sea is located in the Great Syrian-African Rift that runs from Syria to Kenya. In the middle of the sea runs an unseen line making the border between Israel and Jordan. It is 90 km long and 10-15 km wide, some places 400 meter deep and in other areas very shallow. The sea is surrounded by high mountains on both sides, east and west with desert climate. The mountains are brownish-yellow but at sunset turns to red.
Why is it so salty? The main inflow is the Jordan River which brings sweet water into the basin. Yet there is no outflow! Taking into account the very hot climate most of the year, the evaporation during thousands of years have left the little salt that’s in all sweet water in the lake, and the concentration has grown constantly.
As a result, the Dead Sea has become world-famous for its healthy properties such as treatments of Psoriasis, arthritis, and muscle pain in general. There are a number of hotels with SPA`s and hot sulphatic baths, special treatment centers and nude beaches for Psoriasis patients.
Where to Paddle
Your best bet is to put-in and take-out from the same spot. Ein Geddi campsite is a good place to launch from as it’s free, has showers, a restaurant, and a coffee shop.
You can also launch from one of the official beaches at the north shore, such as Almog Beach, Kalia Beach, and Mineral Beach. These beaches charge entrance fees, but offer facilities.
You will not be permitted to launch from beaches and waterfront areas on hotel properties. It does not matter because the sea in these places are very shallow and the scenery is quite boring.
When Paddling the Dead Sea
Be sure you use goggles to protect your eyes from the salty water.
You will float in this water, so there is no need for a protective floating device, but you should weigh down your kayak because it will float high.
The kayaking tour must be planned because there are very few put-in/out sites due to steep shores.
Bring enough water to drink and clean your eyes with.
Always rinse yourself and your gear after you get out of the lake.
Areas of Interest Around the Sea
High desert mountains surround the sea, making for a spectacular view. Additionally, when the salt crystallizes, it forms snow-white statues on rocks and other debris.
Be sure to visit the famous cliff Masada. This is where the Roman Legions seiged 1200 uprising Jews 2000 years ago. The site of King Herod’s Palace has been excavated on the cliffside.
The Ein Geddi Spring is a short walk in a real desert oasis. At the end of the walk is a dazzling waterfall surrounded by beautifully colorful greenery.
There’s also some good rappelling spots in the desert.
How to Get There and Where to Stay
Fly to Tel-Aviv, take a bus, car, or taxi to the Dead Sea (about 3 hours drive). There are 15 hotels by the lake, rated 3-5 stars, with prices according to season. The best time to go is September through June. There are rooms to rent and two campsites.
Near the hotels you can find restaurants, super markets, and shops that sell various products made out of Dead Sea minerals. Amazing souvenirs.
Visits to Jerusalem (2 hours drive), Red Sea diving (3 hours drive), or kayaking in the Mediterranean Sea are all possible extensions of your stay. There are no kayaks to rent by the Dead Sea. You must contact a kayak club by the Mediterranean Sea in order to arrange the kayaks.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.