Bodies of Water in Israel

Israel’s major bodies of water include the Sea of Galilee; the Red Sea; the Dead Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea that runs the length of Israel’s western coastline. Israel’s Mediterranean coast is bordered by gold sandy beaches where you can enjoy leisure time swimming and doing water sports. The Sea of Galilee is located at the foot of the Golan Heights. Visitors can take a boat excursion on the lake, do water sports, and swim. Every visitor to Israel should see the iconic Dead Sea at the lowest point on Earth, where you can float in the salty water. Eilat is on the edge of the glorious Red Sea. Beneath the calm water are coral reefs inhabited by tropical fish. You can snorkel, dive, swim, see dolphins, and do water sports in the Red Sea.

The 251km-long Jordan River runs through the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Other rivers in Israel including the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, Banias in Galilee, and Kishon River, to name just a few. Many of the country’s national parks center on bodies of water, where there are wet hikes through streams, like NahalAmud and Nahal Dragot. Other Israel bodies of water include the Gihon Spring; the Hamat Gader hot springs; the desert springs at Ein Gedi; and Gan HaShlosha. There are many other Israel bodies of water where visitors can cool off from the Middle Eastern heat.

Camping Around the Sea of Galilee

When you camp around the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) you are literally camping “around” the Sea of Galilee as you can see from the campground names which are usually identified with the name of the beach they occupy. Israelis love to camp and you can find campgrounds suited for families and others more suited to youngsters. Here we have listed some of the facilities on offer at each site but there may be more facilities.Camping Around the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Adam Sherez on UnsplashTake into account that during the Israeli school holidays the campgrounds get very full and very noisy with individual sound systems and all-night gatherings around a BBQ. But another thing about Israelis is they love to include all those around them so you won’t be left out. Camping is a great way to meet the locals. There is no ideal location to camp on the Kinneret as the total distance around the Sea of Galilee is 55 km so everything is pretty close. Whether you want to be close to Tiberias would perhaps be the only factor to consider in terms of location. Otherwise, choose the style of campground you prefer and the one with the facilities you need.Jordan Park CampgroundThis campground is run by the JNF (Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael or KKL) and is within Jordan Park which covers 250 acres northeast of the Kinneret alongside the eastern channel of the Jordan River. It is one of the area’s largest campgrounds. The campground is free to enter if you walk in but there is a fee per car. At several points in the park, there are streams from the Jordan River, and some deep enough to swim. Here you can find electricity outlets, lighting, restrooms, showers, water coolers, camping tables, a small amusement park, mini-market, lawns, and a place to pitch your tent. Uba Kayak, a popular kayak rental business is located in the park. You can kayak on the Jordan River from here. Nearby there is an opportunity to go horseback riding. This is considered a unique campsite and is operated from April to November.Tiberias. Photo by Thalia Tran on UnsplashAmnon BeachLocated near Kfar Nahum at the northern end of the Kinneret this campsite has many facilities and is popular with Christians who recognize this site as Capernaum. Tents and caravans can use this site and there are picnic tables, benches, shaded areas, showers, restrooms, and parking.In the summer there are water sports and attractions for the kids. You can enjoy a buffet breakfast from the beach cafeteria and if you keep Shabbat you can pre-order food for the Sabbath. You can rent mattresses and chairs from the cafeteria as well. The beach is not serviced by a lifeguard. Price of camping (at time of publication) 150ILS per car for 24 hours.Bereniki BeachStretching for over 2.5 km to the west of the Sea of Galilee this is a quiet beach near Tiberias which is popular with Israeli families and youths. It has shady trees, night lighting, showers (cold water only), restrooms, cafeteria, tables, umbrellas, chairs (no charge), BBQ stands, and campers are allowed to play music.There is a small area which is serviced by a lifeguard and swimming is only allowed in this area from 9 am to 5 pm. The rest of the beach is an unofficial beach and swimming is at your own risk. The beach is wheelchair-friendly. Here as with many of the camp beaches, you pay for the parking rather than the camping. It costs 5.9ILS for each of the first 3 hours and 2.1 for each hour after that so 24 hours camping would cost you 61.8ILS.Shores of the Sea of Galilee, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDugit BeachThis campsite is located on the northeastern side of the Sea of Galilee and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches surrounded by a picturesque forest. Here you can canoe, sail and partake of other water sports. There is room for tents, a mini-market, cafeteria, and restaurant. There are cold water showers, restrooms, lighting, and lifeguard service. Playing loud music and even bringing loudspeakers into the area is strictly forbidden. Here (like most of the Sea of Galilee campgrounds) you pay for the parking (62ILS for 24 hours) and can then camp. The fee is by the hour. The campsite is wheelchair accessible and chairs and tables can be rented.Gofra BeachOffering room for up to 300 tents this campground on the eastern shore of the lake 2km north of Ein Gev has restrooms, showers, a mini-market, cafeteria, camping equipment, small refrigerators for rent, playgrounds, and moorings for boats. The facilities and accommodation options are expansive. The site only operates during the spring and summer.There is daily cleaning of the beach, lifeguard service, BBQ stands, and a beautiful 1,500-meter long beach, and a small forest. Access to the beach is only on foot. This campsite is suitable for caravans or you could rent one of their caravans for 250ILS for 24 hours. You can even rent a tent which has 6 mattresses, chairs, and tables.View of the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © ShutterstockGreen BeachThis is a Blue Flag beach and one of the most beautiful in the area. This beach-park campground is 3km north of Nof Ginossar on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee. It is a well-kept beach with lawns up to the sand and shady trees. There are parking, showers, restrooms, camping tables, lighting, and a convenience store.The park operates year-round. Animals, jet skis, sound systems, and generators are prohibited. It is possible to rent tents, mattresses, tables, and chairs. One tent, a table, and 4 chairs will cost you 245ILS for the night. You can bring your caravan to this campsite or rent one (750ILS-1799ILS). The campground offers several deals like tent, mattress, chair, table, and breakfast for 119ILS per person.Haon BeachThe campsite is next to the Haon Holiday Village, south of Kibbutz Haon and the beach is shared by guests of the Holiday Village and campers. The beach runs for 1km and there is a lifeguard service. There are restrooms, showers, tables, benches, umbrellas, refrigerator rental, electrical outlets, and BBQ stands. There is wheelchair access to the campsite but no organized wheelchair access to the water.Camping supplies.Photo by Brina Blum on UnsplashJordan-Kinneret BeachThis beach runs for 0.5km and is a family beach campground. For this reason, it is a quieter beach than others and amplifying sound systems are prohibited. Playing music (not using an amplifier) is allowed from 8 am to 11 pm. There is no lifeguard service. The campground offers restrooms, showers (with 24 hours hot water), picnic tables, a mini-market, refrigerator rental, lighting, and a place to recharge mobile phones. The campsite is not suitable for wheelchair access.Lavnun BeachThe Lavnun Beach is a string of three beaches together with Halukim and Kursi so there are three areas for pitching a tent. The site offers water sports (kayaks, water skiing, paddle boats, etc). You will find drinking water, a place to wash your dishes, ball courts, a restaurant, cold water showers, a place to recharge mobile phones, and an exciting, young atmosphere.This beach is popular with the young Israeli crowds so expect plenty of noise especially during the Israeli holidays. Israeli teens like to camp here and bring their karaoke machines, so expect an all-night party. There is a lifeguard service but limited wheelchair access. Cost is approximately 70ILS for 24 hours for parking and camping.Water sports at the Sea of Galilee. Photo credit: © ShutterstockSussita BeachJust north of Ein Gev this beach is about 0.5km long on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and is managed by the Ein Gev Kibbutz. It is named after a car that used to be produced in Israel and has sentimental significance for a lot of Israelis. This is an unofficial beach so there is no lifeguard service and swimming is not allowed.The campground operates from April to the end of October. Groups camping on the grass area near the beach should be pre-arranged but you can pitch your tent on the beach as well. There are tables, restrooms, shade, lighting, showers, and a cafeteria. The beach is not wheelchair-friendly as there are 11 steps down from the parking lot to the beach. The cost of camping here is 100ILS per car.Tzinbari BeachThis is one of the Kinneret’s most famous beaches and campsites, it is a venue for many summer festivals. The beach runs for 1km and there is a lifeguard service in a small central area from 9 am to 5 pm. Here you will find water slides, a baby's pool, electrical outlets, lighting, a place to pitch your tent, indoor lodging, beach umbrellas, shade, chairs, locker rooms, cold water showers, a place to recharge mobile phones.There are also restrooms, water sports, lighting, a restaurant, loads of parking, and wheelchair access is limited due to stones and pebbles plus reaching the water requires going down several steps. Amplified sound systems are not allowed in the southern part of the area which is indicated by signs.Sunset view at the shores of Kinneret. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Petal Mashraki

Day Trip to Masada and the Dead Sea

Tourism is slowly returning to the world and Israel is no exception - COVID restrictions are easing and if you’ve been double vaccinated and your last shot was less than 6 months ago, then you’re welcome in the Holy Land. Once you’ve received the results of your PCR test from the airport (which usually takes around 12 hours) you’re free to start exploring - and what better place to start than with two of Israel’s top attractions - Masada and the Dead Sea.Tourists on a day group tour to Masada and the Dead Sea with Bein Harim. Photo credit: © Sarah MannWriting this not just as Bein Harim’s social media maven but as an intrepid solo traveler, I’ve always wondered what it’s like to explore sites abroad with a group, led by a professional, guide and today I’m being given the chance to find out first-hand, joining one of the company’s first-day tours running since Winter 2020! I really have no idea what to expect so I’m coming with an open mind, plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and the requisite bathing suit! Let’s see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be…Tel Aviv pick-up - 6.40 amBleary-eyed, I show up at the pick-up point, in downtown Tel Aviv, early. I quickly spot the other participants - three women, from France, Austria, and the US respectively. They’re all taking a longed-for vacation after Corona and love the idea of a group day tour - they tell me they don’t want to deal with car rentals, Israeli roads, and complications in Hebrew. They also want to learn as much as they can about the area we’re visiting, andguided tours in Israelare perfect for that.And before we know it, here he is, in a bright yellow banana-themed t-shirt. His name’s Itamar and he’s been guiding for over a decade - he’s young, fun, personable, and immediately we all warm to him. We hop in the van and head towards Jerusalem, to pick up our fifth trip member. Before we’ve even hit the highway, he’s giving us a bit of the history of Tel Aviv and quizzing us on our Hebrew. This is going to be fun!Sea Level Sign, on the way to the Dead Sea. Photo credit: ©Sarah MannJerusalem pick-up -7.55 amWe pick up Elena at the hotel - we’re a bit late because we’ve been battling city traffic and then we’re off. Jerusalem’s en route to the Dead Sea and soon we’ve left the city behind and are confronted with desert scenery and Bedouin shepherds. We stop for an obligatory photo at the ‘Sea Level’ sign and stretch our legs - it’s November but the weather is perfect - a toasty 26 degrees. Then we jump back in our van and head south, heading further and further below sea level. The Dead Sea’s the lowest point on earth (!) and we can feel the temperature rising. Itamar reminds us to drink lots of water (a must in this part of the world) and points out things of interest en route, including the Qumran caves (where famousDead Sea Scrollswere discovered there in 1947).There is a number of sinkholes (where the soil has eroded, with devastating consequences) causing parts of Route 90 to be cordoned off. The Dead Sea is evaporating - in the last 30 years it’s said to have lost 30% of its water - and the climate crisis isn’t helping it either.Masada Cable Car, Israel. Photo byDebby HudsononUnsplashIn the meantime, we’re all getting to know each other, chatting about where we’re from and why we took the trip. For some, it’s the first time in Israel, for others a chance to rediscover old places. We’re a group of independent women, all with our own reasons for loving travel, and being driven by Itamar is a delight because he’s hilarious and knowledgeable at the same time. After a pit stop at the Ahava outlet (where we grab a coffee and a couple of us buy some mud pack treatments), it’s onto our first stop of the day - Masada.This ancient fortress is a place I personally have visited a fair few times but I have to admit that every time I return, I get goosebumps. Completely isolated, at the top of a mountain in the midst of the Judean desert, it takes your breath away. Designed by King Herod, a master builder and lover of the good life, not only was Masada his ‘winter retreat’ but also a haven from his enemies. And Herod spared no expense either - this Royal Citadel contained not one but two sumptuous palaces, remains of which have been excavated and we’re going to see today.Looking through an ancient stone wall opening at the Masada ruins in Israel. Photo byCraig VodnikonUnsplashMasada Fortress - 11.30 amBefore we ascend by cable car, Itamar gives us a little history of the complex (which is, by the way, completely fascinating) and we watch a fun 7-minute film, explaining the strategic importance of the fortress and why it’s so important to Israelis today. There’s a lot of Jewish history bound up with this place - after all, it was where Jewish rebels, 2,000 years ago, decided to commit suicide en masse rather than be taken alive (and then be made slaves) by the Romans. A sobering thought - but also a symbol of Jewish resistance, heroism, and bravery. No wonder it’s so revered today.Exploring the Fortress - 12 pmWow! Up we go, in the cable car, with astonishing views below us, including the ‘snake path’ which winds through the mountain precariously. We then spend a good hour exploring the site - frescos, bathhouses, cisterns, storerooms (with tonnes and tonnes of grain), and even a synagogue. Now I realize the advantage of taking guidedMasada tours- Itamar has a wealth of information at his fingertips and I’m learning so much (even as someone who’s studied Jewish history for 20 years). He takes us from place to place, answering our questions, explaining the whys and wheres of this astonishing fortress, treating us to some ‘Bamba’ (a tasty peanut snack that Israelis love, which he packed in his bag in case we became hungry before lunch!) We look at models of Masada, in terms of how it was set out, back in the day, and marvel at the thermal pipes, the aqueducts, and even the sleeping quarters for the guards who protected Herod. Tourists in Masada, Israel.Photo credit: ©Sarah MannThere truly is no end to the resourcefulness of the engineers involved in Masada, we all agree. Built in the year 30 BCE, it’s spread out over three terraces and made up of eight Roman camps, a siege wall, and a ramp constructed of earth and wood, which was established on the western side of the fortress. It’s also an example of a luxurious villa - Herod imported only the finest wines and best food here, no matter the cost and the lengths that armies of servants had to go to transport it. Still, this was a place where the King didn’t just enjoy himself but also conducted business - and Herod was certainly one for impressing his guests.It’s super hot by now and we’re all looking for shade, every time we move to a different spot. Itamar takes us to some fabulous lookout points where, at every turn, we’re afforded panoramic views. The Dead Sea glistens before us, shades of blue and turquoise, and the sky is clear. What’s even more astonishing is that, because of COVID, Masada is almost deserted. We don’t have to wait to enter a single part of the complex and, in certain parts, the silence almost deafens us.Masada ruins, Israel. Photo byKelly ReprezaonUnsplashIt’s also fun to be in a group tour like this - because it’s a lot smaller than normal, it gives us the chance to ask endless questions and really get to know each other better. We’re a very diverse group - Maria grew up in South America and because she’s catholic, it’s always been her dream to visit Israel. Francois’s been in the Holy Land before, but it was over 20 years ago, and in the meantime, she’s been learning Hebrew, Linda’s flown in from LA because she wanted to take a holiday before starting a new job. And Ute’s taking a quick break, having hopped a flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv with Wizz Air. It’s really eye-opening, meeting all these different people, who’ve come from all over the place to visit this country! It’s also good to see how much they’re enjoying their time in Israel and, from what I can see, their day out with Itamar. Our guide reminds us to keep swigging water and we oblige. Now it’s off to the Dead Sea, for a spot of lunch, some floating in the lowest point on earth and some optional mud-slathering!2000-year-old fortress of Masada. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDead Sea - 2.15 pmWe’re heading to Kalia Beach, at the top of the Dead Sea (for which there is an entry fee, but it’s included in the price of the day trip). Itamar, our loveable guide, gives us the lowdown on where to find changing rooms, lockers, and places to grab a bite (because we’re all starving!) Nobody can wait to get into their bathing suit - the idea of floating in water is quite novel! - and soon we’re all at the water’s edge. As someone who’s content just to sit in a chair and admire the views of Jordan from across the water, I soon become the appointed photographer, snapping everyone as they wade in and realize, quite quickly, how buoyant they are!The weather’s good, even though it’s mid-November, and the beach isn’t particularly crowded either. The air feels so clean and pure, and I can’t help but smile as I watch my group trying valiantly to put their feet down in the water! Some are reading books (the ultimate photo opportunity, to show off back home).Some are floating peacefully and one has got out of the water to cover herself in black mud, which can be found all over the beach and is perfect if you want to rejuvenate your skin! Even Itamar has stripped down to his trunks and has gone in, and I have to smile as I watch them all larking around…Floating at the Dead Sea, Kalia Beach, Israel.Photo credit: ©Sarah MannThe beach closes at 4.30 pm (since it gets dark early at this time of the year) and, as sorry as we are to leave, we’re all quite exhausted. We hit the road back to Jerusalem and as we arrive in the city, dusk is turning to dark and the lights are twinkling. Itamar drops off two of our participants (one wants a cocktail, the other has decided - on my recommendation - to make an impromptu visit to the Israel Museum since it’s open until 9 pm that night). Everyone’s swapping numbers and hoping to meet again in Tel Aviv, for dinner, in a couple of days. We’re tired but happy, that’s for sure. By the time we arrive back in Tel Aviv, I’m dead beat, Itamar, who’s gone above and beyond for all of us today, drops us all off personally, close to our homes, and as I hug them all goodbye I wonder why I’ve spent my life avoiding day group tours. After all, even if you’re traveling independently in Israel, there’s no reason why taking these kinds of trips isn’t a great idea.So there you have it - what to expect on a day tour to Masada and the Dead Sea. And whilst I do work for Bein Harim Tours, I have to say that this is a day tour I’d recommend to anyone - history, archaeology, scenery, and a chance to chill out at the beach too. These are sites that everyone should see on a trip to Israel, and taking one of the organized Dead Sea tours is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to hire a car, appreciates the knowledge of a guide, and wants to make new friends. Competitively priced and giving you a lot of bang for your buck, what’s not to like? In fact, I might even take another one soon. Watch this space… Sunset at the Dead Sea, Israel. Photo byBenjamin RascoeonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

Things to Do at the Sea of Galilee

Visitors to Israel tend to make a beeline to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but many miss out on one of the country’s most beautiful attractions – the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret in Hebrew). To get a sense of the diverse natural wonders of Israel you really should make a trip north to Galilee.Paddleboarding on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Erez Gavish on UnsplashThe Sea of Galilee covers about 102km², 28km from north to south and 10km from east to west. If you want to drive, walk or cycle around the lake it has a circumference of 53km. It is called Kinneret from the Hebrew word for violin or lyre because the lake’s shape resembles a violin.This is also where Jesus spent his ministry preaching in nearby villages and it was here that Jesus walked on water and performed several other miracles. The Kinneret is the country’s reservoir for fresh water and as the water level rises and falls depending on the rainfall so the country watches in anticipation to see if there will be a water shortage each summer. There are a lot of things to do at the Sea of Galilee:1. The Holy City of TiberiasThe largest city on the shore of the Kinneret is Tiberias; the Jewish Talmud was written in Tiberias. Visit the holy city of Tiberias and take a relaxing walk along the Tiberias Promenade. There is a small flea market near the water’s edge and you can enjoy a fish dinner overlooking the water.At the southern end of the Tiberias Promenade, there is a nightly sound and light show which lasts 15 minutes and is performed at 8:30 pm and 9 pm or 10 pm. The multimedia show is free and projected onto two large water screens. The scenes created on the screens highlight the history of the region and are accompanied by classical music and dancing fountains.Rocky Shore of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Chris Gallimore on Unsplash2. Yardenit Baptismal SiteYardenit is a point at the southern tip of the Kinneret where the lake meets the Jordan River. It was here that Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. Today it is possible for visitors to get baptized in the same waters. At the Yardenit Visitor Center, you can get a white robe, be baptized, and receive a certificate attesting to your baptism. There is an alternate baptismal site further south at Qasr al-Yahud.3. Mount of BeatitudesThe Mount of Beatitudes (Har HaOsher in Hebrew) overlooks the Sea of Galilee and was the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Today a beautiful church crowns the mount; the octagonal church represents the eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) and was built in 1938.4. The Biblical Village of TabghaIn Tabgha, literally on the water’s edge is the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes where Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. The original church was constructed in the 5th century and has since been restored. The original floor mosaic has survived. Also in Tabgha is the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.The Jordan River at Yardenit Baptismal Site.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. Capernaum -The Town of JesusYou can visit Capernaum, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This biblical town has several ancient churches and synagogues including the church of St. Peter’s House. A modern octagonal church surrounds the remains of St. Peter’s house which can be seen through the glass floor.6. The Jesus Boat at Kibbutz GinosarThe Jesus Boat is a 2000-year-old fishing boat that was uncovered on the bed of the lake during a drought in the 1980s. It is now on display in the Jesus Boat Museum (Yigal Allon Center) on Kibbutz Ginosaron the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Other parts of the museum display art by local Arab and Jewish artists of the Galilee and showcase art that depicts the culture, history, and nature of the area.7. Kibbutz Ein GevOn the east shore of the Sea of Galilee is Kibbutz Ein Gev where there are activities for the whole family, a beach, accommodation, and restaurants. There is also an anchor museum and an art gallery. You can take a 30-minute tour of the kibbutz on a mini-train and learn about the establishment of the kibbutz in 1937 and the everyday life of the kibbutz.A column with Inscription, Capernaum, Israel.Photo by Phil Goodwin on Unsplash8. Camping and Water Sports at the Sea of GalileeThere are several beaches on the shores of the lake as well as campgrounds where you can set up your tent just a few meters from the water. Camping around the Sea of Galilee is a must for all nature lovers. You can try a number of different water sports on the Kinneret including water skiing, kayaking, kite surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, and sailing. The top beaches around the Sea of Galilee are Tzemach Beach in the south and Ein Gev Beach on the east coast. At Gai Beach, Luna Gal, and Tzemach there are water parks.9. Hot Springs near the Sea of GalileeVisit the hot springs of Tiberias where there are ancient Turkish baths fed by natural springs. The thermal mineral pools are both inside and outdoors and there are heated swimming pools, hot tubs, and spa treatments. Not far from the Sea of Galilee is Hamat Gader Hot Springs another thermo-mineral spring complex on the same site that the Romans built their baths 2,000 years ago.10. Cruise Ships on the Sea of GalileeThere are tourist cruise ships that make short excursions from Tiberias. There are large boats that can carry up to 165 passengers to all ports around the lake. These boats resemble the fishing vessels used in Galilee in the times of Jesus. Cruises to Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee are also possible.Boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhile You’re in the Area….Just a little further afield into the Golan Heights, south to the Jordan Valley, and into the Bethsaida Valley there are more wonders to discover like the lush forests and vegetation around the River Jordan. One of the areas nearby is so beautiful it is believed to have been the Garden of Eden.The Galilee is crisscrossed with hike and cycle trails all clearly marked. Other nearby things to see and do are at the Jordan Park, Naharayim, Bethsaida Nature Reserve, and the Jesus Trail – a 65km hike trail from Nazareth to Capernaum.Liked this article? Join a One Day tour to the Sea of Galilee.View of the southern part of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Petal Mashraki

The Best Dead Sea Beaches

One of the must-see destinations in Israel is the Dead Sea, mainly because it is completely unique and the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea is an elongated strip of water with the northernmost of two basins measuring 50km long and 15kn wide. The sea divides Israel on the western shore from Jordan to the east. The low altitude of the Dead Sea makes the environment unique. The water is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean and the air at this altitude is rich in oxygen. Dead Sea Shore.Photo credit: © ShutterstockEven the sun is healthier at the Dead Sea as the sun rays are low in dangerous UV rays. All of these factors together with the mineral-rich black mud of the sea bed that can be used as a natural skin mask make the Dead Sea a popular destination. Along the western shore of the Dead Sea are several hotels, spas, and beaches offering a range of facilities. Here is a list of the best Dead Sea beaches to help you choose where to experience this spectacular natural wonder.Northern Dead Sea BeachesThe northern beaches are easiest to reach from Jerusalem being only half an hour south of the capital. Most of the northern beaches are private, which means you will have to pay an entrance fee (50-100 ILS) and can enjoy many beachfront amenities. Kalia Beach, Dead SeaThis is one of the best beaches for those looking for a complete range of facilities. You'll be able to use the toilets, lockers, showers, beach chairs, and umbrellas. There is a snack bar, Bedouin tent restaurant, a bar, parking, lifeguard, BBQ area, souvenir store, and even sulfur baths. All amenities are included in your entrance fee and you can camp here for an additional fee. On the beach, you'll be provided with Dead Sea mud to smother on your skin. This is a calm, quiet beach away from the large hotels in Ein Bokek. If you take one of the Dead Sea tours you could possibly spend time on Kalia Beach or a similar excellent Dead Sea beach.Open: Summer 8 am – 7 pm. Winter 8 am – 5:30 pm.Fee or Free: Entrance fee (16,5 USD)Kalia Beach, the Dead Sea. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinBiankini Beach, Dead SeaBiankini is the Dead Sea beach with the most facilities, a laid-back daytime atmosphere, and a vibrant nighttime bar. The private beach amenities are provided by the Biankini Resort Village. There is a beachfront restaurant selling oriental food. Visitors can enjoy Middle Eastern music as they lounge on the sand and use amenities such as the spa, swimming pools, kid's club, and stores. There are top-quality beach cabins and bungalows at the Biankini Resort Village, beach chairs, umbrellas, a snack bar, billiard tables, minimarket, lifeguard service, and free parking. When the sun goes down the restaurant turns into a nightclub but continues its Middle Eastern theme with live performances, karaoke, and sometimes even belly dancing!Open: 8 am – 6 pm. Fee or Free: Entrance fee (25 USD).Biankini Village Resort, Dead Sea. Photo credit:©Biankini Village ResortNeve Midbar Beach, Dead SeaThis is a wide, sandy beach with lawns bordering the sand, camping areas, bungalow rental, a swimming pool, restaurant, and parking area. You can find the natural black Dead Sea mud on the shoreline. Enjoy a drink or meal on the restaurant terrace overlooking the sea and sometimes you can even catch a live performance or festival on Neve Midbar. There is a lifeguard on duty; a Dead Sea products store, toilets, showers, beach chairs, and sunshades. This is a great choice for families, groups, and singles. However, there is a steep walk down to the water's edge and there have been reviews saying the beach is not kept clean.Open: 9 am – 6:30 pm. Fee or Free: Entrance fee (15,5 USD)Neve Midbar Beach.Photo credit: ©Neve Midbar BeachDead Sea Beaches in the Ein Gedi AreaEin Gedi Spa Resort Beach, Dead SeaIf you've come looking for a beach near the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve or Ein Gedi Kibbutz you will have found that Mineral Beach and the old Ein Gedi beach are closed due to the danger of sinkholes. However, Ein Gedi Spa Resort Beach is open. Here you can enjoy spa treatments using Dead Sea products. Amenities on the beach include lifeguard service, toilets, showers, beach chairs, and sunshades. There is a shuttle from the spa complex to the beach. You can use the natural Dead Sea mud as a skin mask and soak up all the beneficial salts and minerals. There is a large outdoor pool overlooking the Dead Sea and the spa has six thermos-mineral sulfur pools. Take a look around the spa's health and beauty store and enjoy a meal in the spa restaurant, ice cream store, or snack bar.Open: 8:30 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free:Entrance fee (24 USD)Mineral Beach, Dead SeaCLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICEEin Gedi Beach, Dead SeaCLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICEEin Gedi Spa Resort Beach, Dead Sea. Photo credit: ©Ein Gedi Spa Resort BeachDead Sea Beaches in the Ein Bokek AreaThe southern beaches of the Dead Sea are free although there are a few private beaches where only guests at the adjacent spa resorts can use the beach. Ein Bokek is about a 2-hour drive from Jerusalem but offers beachfront hotels, amenities, and a wide, sandy beach.Segregated Beach, Dead SeaThis public beach is used by the religious community and is divided into a men's bathing area and a woman's bathing area. The beach has a lifeguard on duty and there are beach amenities including open-air fresh-water showers, toilets, and water fountains. This free Dead Sea beach is well maintained and can be visited during the week but not from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Sunday morning.Open: Monday-Friday, 7 am – 4/6 pm, closed Saturday. Fee or Free: FreeTravelers enjoying the Dead Sea on their guided tour. Photo credit: © ShutterstockEin Bokek Beach, Dead SeaEin Bokek is the area where most of the Dead Sea hotels are concentrated. A rather new beach promenade runs along the shore in front of the hotels connecting Ein Bokek's two beaches. Ein Bokek beaches are free and most hotels have access straight to the sand. This year-round stretch of beach is great for the young and old. The Ein Bokek South Beach and Central Beach both have amenities that include lifeguard services; beach chairs; sunshades; water fountains; BBQ areas; outdoor fresh-water showers and nearby snack bars. Camping is prohibited on the Ein Bokek beach except during the holidays when there are designated areas for overnight stays.Open: 24/7 with services 7 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free: FreeNeve Zohar Beach, Dead SeaThis is the southernmost stretch of Dead Sea beach located about 3km south of Ein Bokek in Neve Zohar. The beach is free although there are some facilities you can pay for like reclining beach chairs. Also available here are toilets, changing rooms, outdoor fresh-water showers, and a snack bar. During holidays and the summer season, there is a lifeguard on duty. Open: 24/7 with services available 7 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free: FreeTo view the list of beaches in Israel feel free to check this article.Ein Bokek Beach. Photo by Tristan MIMET on Unsplash
By Petal Mashraki

The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Hebrew/Jewish manuscripts, discovered in the Judean desert, inside the Qumran Caves, in 1947. Historians are confident they date back to the last three centuries BCE and the first century. Written also in Aramaic (a Semitic language that was commonly spoken in this period and often used in the writing of holy scriptures) their contents include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts that were later put into the Hebrew Bible. The majority of the scrolls were written on parchment, with some on papyrus and one on copper.The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHistory of the Dead Sea ScrollsThe Dead Sea Scrolls are, of course, of enormous significance - historically, theologically, and archaeologically - since they give us enormous insight into the daily religious practices at the time of the Second Temple. Because of the poor condition of some, less than half of them have actually had their texts identified to date.Of those that have been studied, scholars agree that about 40% relate to the Hebrew scriptures, roughly 200 books from the Hebrew Bible. Another 30% are related to the Hebrew Bible but not canonized. These include commentary on the Bible and apocalyptic proclamations. Finally, the remaining 30% relate to apocryphal manuscripts, containing books not included in the Jewish canon - either previously undiscovered or known only through translations. So how were the Dead Sea Scrolls actually found? In fact, it is an astonishing story.Qumran and the Discovery of the ScrollsThe story of the discovery dates back to 1947 when a shepherd boy and his cousin were out tending their flock. On realizing that one of them was missing, they wandered into the nearby Qumran Caves (close to the Dead Sea) to search for the animal. There, they stumbled upon seven scrolls, all of which were buried in earthenware jars. Burying worn-out Hebrew manuscripts was a common Jewish practice at that time, since - in Judaism - it has always been forbidden to discard them casually. Not knowing the importance of this discovery, they took the scrolls back to their Bedouin camp. There they remained for some time, whilst their family began looking for a dealer to whom they could sell them. How they later came to be recognized for the extraordinary items they actually were is, again, a fascinating story.The Dead Sea Shore.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDetective Story Behind the Discovery of the Dead Sea ScrollsEventually, not knowing their true value, the Bedouins sold all seven scrolls to two antique dealers - three to a man named Salahi and four to a man called Kando (who then resold his to Archbishop Samuel, head of the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St. Mark, in Jerusalem). Professor Chaim Sukenik, an archaeologist working in conjunction with the Hebrew University, tracked down Salahi and, after seeing the scrolls and, in his own words, trembling with excitement, acquired them.In the meantime, because of the 1948 War of Independence, Archbishop Samuel smuggled his four scrolls out of Israel (to keep them safe) and shipped them to New York. In 1954, having decided to sell them, he placed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. This very advertisement was seen by Yigael Yadin, the son of Professor Sukenik, back in Israel. After having raised $250,000, he purchased them, through a middleman, on behalf of the State of Israel, and - once they were back in Jerusalem - reunited them with the other three. A true detective story!What Can We Learn from the Dead Sea Scrolls?The scrolls give us enormous insight both into history and biblical texts. Many of the words in the fragments found are quite different from the words of the same passages in the Greek Old Testament. This shows that the ‘sacred words’ of the Bible have changed over time, even after the Romans conquered the region.Obviously, there is an enormous debate between academics as to their origins and how they came to be placed in this cave. Many scholars believe they were put there by the Essenes. The Essenes were a sect in ancient times who were regarded as being extremely pious and who - it is believed - had deliberately left Jerusalem for the wilderness of the Judean desert. The Judean Desert.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWho Were the Essenes?The Essenes, essentially, were priests, many of whom practiced a monastic existence. They regarded Jerusalem as a city of corruption and, in comparison, regarded themselves as the ‘sons of light’. In the desert, they worked communally, eschewing private property. They were alone (they had left their families behind) though still kept Jewish law, although they ate no meat and carried out no sacrifices. They worked hard in their fields and not for profit, rather for basic survival. Their lives were disciplined, admission to their group was not easy, and, once a member, an Essene divulged nothing to the outside world. One of the professions in which they excelled was scribe, which is perhaps why the scrolls at Qumran were so well looked after. As well as having been placed in earthenware jars (which were water-resistant and practically airtight) most had been written on the hide (skin) of animals, which is known to be a long-lasting material. The cool, dark atmosphere of the caves acted as a deterrent against humidity.Not all academics, however, believe it was the Essenes who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some believe the scrolls were abandoned by refugees fleeing the Romans, after the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Others believe that it could also be possible that they were placed there by a number of individuals, over a longer period of time. After all, these caves were used for shelter by all kinds of people, for hundreds of years.The truth is, we will never be entirely sure who wrote them. Without a doubt, however, the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided scholars with a unique window into a time in Jewish history that was extraordinarily complex.The Qumran Caves, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhere are the Dead Sea Scrolls Today?The Scrolls today are held in a building erected especially for them, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Named “The Shrine of the Book” it is by far and away one of the most popular attractions there and visited by tens of thousands of visitors each year. This Shrine holds all seven scrolls - Isaiah A, Isaiah B, the Thanksgiving Scroll, the Habakkuk Commentary, the Community Rule, the War Rule, and the Genesis Apocryphon. Save for the last (written in Aramaic), all are written in Hebrew. The Isaiah and Copper ScrollsThe most impressive of the Dead Sea Scrolls is, perhaps, the Isaiah Scroll - the only one from Qumran that is completely preserved. At almost 735 centimeters long, it is the oldest of its kind - academics estimate that it was written around 100 BCE. This stands in the center of the hall, beneath the Dome itself.The Copper Scroll also has a fascinating backstory - it is, in many respects, a ‘treasure map’ because it lists 54 different underground places where caches of silver and gold were hidden. Unfortunately, none of these hoards have ever been recovered (historians believe they may have been pillaged by the Romans (or, if you are more cynical, never existed at all). Since it was not made of parchment, the Hebrew and Greek letters of this scroll were actually chiseled onto it.The galleries of the building are also worth exploring - the upper section tells the story of the people who lived at Qumran and the lower gallery center of the 10th-century Aleppo Codex, which is the oldest-known complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible.Israel Museum, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDesign of the Shrine of the BookThe Shrine of the Book was designed by two architects - Frederick Kiesler and Armand Baros. Built in 1965, with funds detonated by the David Gottesman family (a Hungarian philanthropist) its magnificent design is structured to represent one of the earthenware jars in which the scrolls were found.The building itself is contemporary, and striking because of its use of black and white. Some have referred to it as an abstract modernist’s dream. The white dome of the building is shaped like the lid of the jar, with a black basalt war standing nearby. This contrast is deliberate and mimics the theme of the struggle between the forces of light and dark (i.e. good and evil) mentioned in the texts.A Modernist Design for a Building Symbolising SpiritualityTwo-thirds of the building is actually housed underground - the entrance is beneath the basalt wall - and walks through a passage that has been designed to imitate the actual caves in which the scrolls were discovered. Inside are many glass cases that contain pages of scrolls. However, it is the central display, which resembles a giant spindle, along with a handle, that really catches the eye. More pages of the scrolls are displayed here, and spun around (rotated) regularly so that no one section is ever at risk of deterioration from being ‘over-displayed.’ The building took seven years to complete and its location, is a reflection of the national importance that is placed on these ancient texts and the extraordinary building which is now housing and preserving them. Today, the building is regarded as an icon of modernist design. The symbolism of the building has also been taken, by many, to show the Shrine of the Book as a kind of sanctuary, in which deep spiritual meaning can be found. Not accidentally, a corridor links it with the Second Temple of Jerusalem model, emphasizing that these two buildings, together, are an invaluable source of learning for anyone seeking to understand that period in history.View of the Dead Sea from Masada fortress.Photo credit: © ShutterstockVisiting Qumran and the Israel MuseumQumran, which is set in the Judean Desert, not far from the Dead Sea can be seen from afar during any day trip to the Dead Sea and Masada. Alternatively, individuals with a particular interest in history and archaeology can choose to travel to the archaeological park alone, or take a trained guide, as part of a private tour of the Dead Sea area. Approximately 20 miles from Jerusalem, it takes around 50 minutes to reach there by car.The Israel Museum is one of the country’s most prominent museums and world-renown, not just for the Dead Sea Scrolls but also for its fine art collection, Model of the Second Temple, sculpture garden, reconstructions of synagogues that once existed in Venice, Curaçao, and Cochin and engaging exhibits (both permanent and temporary) relating to Jewish culture, art and life.The Israel Museum is situated 2 km from the Central Bus Station and is close to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). It can be visited alone, as part of a guided tour, with aJerusalem Private Tour, or with a Jerusalem New City Jewish Private Tour. Parking is available and buses numbers 14 and 15 run there from the city center.The Israeli Museum is open seven days a week and offers discounts for students, senior citizens, and the disabled. A number of guided tours take place each day, in different languages, most of which are free. Audio guides are available and can also be downloaded onto your smartphone. Tickets can be booked online at a price of 59 NIS/18 USD (regular) ad 39 NIS/12 USD (discount).The museum also boasts an excellent shop, which sells beautiful jewelry, sculptures, small statues (including the replica of the famous ‘Ahava’ statue there), art books, and Judaica (menorot, hannukiot, and wine cups) made by established Israeli and international artists. Visitors can also purchase refreshments and meals in its two eateries, both being kosher, with one serving dairy products and the other a meat menu.The Judean Desert vegetation.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

5 Ways to Visit the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a must-see attraction for any trip to Israel. This natural wonder is a salt lake at the lowest point on Earth 418m below sea level in southern Israel’s Negev Desert. The Dead Sea is not centrally located; it is 170km from Tel Aviv and 100km from Jerusalem. Once there you can enjoy one of the many Dead Sea beaches, the Dead Sea spas and hotels. The high concentration of minerals in the saline water and Dead Sea mud has health and beauty benefits. Even the sunshine and air in the Dead Sea region are known to have properties beneficial to our health.View of the Dead Sea from the top of Masada Fortress.Photo credit: © ShutterstockPublic Transport to the Dead SeaThere are no trains that reach the Dead Seaalthough you could catch a train to Be’er Sheva and from there a bus to the Dead Sea. Alternatively, take the bus from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. The buses stop at Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek, both places where there are things to do near the Dead Sea. The journey takes about 1.5hr-2hrs. Buses leave from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and from Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov Bus Station. It is advisable to leave early so that you can maximize your time at the Dead Sea. The last bus from the Dead Sea back to central Israel leaves in the late afternoon so be careful not to miss the bus! There are no buses to the Dead Sea on Shabbat or public holidays.Road Sign on the way to the Dead Sea, Israel. Photo by Amit Lahav on UnsplashDead Sea ToursThe easiest way to visit the Dead Sea is to join a Dead Sea day tour. There are several to choose from including tours that include stops at other popular sites like Masada, Jerusalem, Jericho, Ein Gedi, or Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Some day tours stop at several sites while others give you a full day at the Dead Sea and can offer the option of Dead Sea spa visits or lunch at one of the Dead Sea spa hotels. The Dead Sea is usually included in multi-day package tours that cover attractions across the country.Renting a Car to Drive to the Dead SeaYou could rent a car from anywhere in the country and make the trip south independently. Use a navigation app or GPS device to help you reach the Dead Sea. The steep winding roads through the desert hills are notoriously dangerous and you will need to drive very carefully.The Dead Sea Shore from above. Photo by Artem Belinski on UnsplashVisit the Dead Sea by TaxiIf you are nervous about traveling alone by car to the Dead Sea then it is possible to go by taxi although this is quite an expensive option. Taxis to the Dead Sea should be arranged in advance and can include hotel pick-up. A slightly cheaper option is a shared taxi (mini-bus) run by a private taxi company which departs from major cities. You will then have to find an available taxi to make the return journey or preferably arrange it ahead of time.Take a Private Tour to the Dead SeaOn a private tour to the Dead Sea, you can tailor-make your trip by including other sites along the way. Popular destinations often included on a private day tour to the Dead Sea are Jerusalem, Jericho, Qumran, or Masada. On a private tour, you will have the driver, an air-conditioned vehicle, and a guide who will devote all of his time to you.A man reading a book in the Dead Sea, Israel.Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
By Petal Mashraki

5 of the Dead Sea’s Top Hotels and Spas

Situated 1,400 feet below sea level, which makes it the lowest point on earth you can travel to whilst remaining out in the open, the Dead Sea (or the ‘Salt Sea’) as it's often known is a truly magical destination. Set a short drive from Jerusalem, in the Judean desert and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this is not just a place of enormous tranquility but one that ‘feels’ different. That’s because it actually is - the saline in the sea means that visitors are actually breathing in healthy mineral-rich air.Breathe in the Mineral-Rich AirTruly, spending time at the Dead Sea lets you experience a whole new atmosphere. With a unique body of water in which you can float, to your heart’s content, proven healing qualities that reside in the air, and the attractions of the ancient fortress of Masada and lush oasis of Ein Gedi on your doorstep, it’s no wonder this is perhaps Israel’s top tourist attraction. It’s also a mecca for those with skin complaints (eczema, psoriasis) looking for a relaxation tour and it's often commented that the sulfur baths work magic on anyone feeling run-down.Luxurious, Elegant, and Designed for PamperingSo where to stay? Well, the area has all kinds of accommodation but in this article, we’ll be focusing on the higher end of the market - five of the top hotels (each with their own spa) that offer you comfort, style, and sophistication, with all the amenities you’d expect, and a few extra touches too. The Dead Sea’s perfect for a spa break, a romantic getaway, or just a couple of days away from the daily grind. All of these hotels are located in the Ein Bokekpart of the Dead Sea, and all very close to the shore. Attractions such as Masada and Ein Gedi are close by, for anyone who wants to join one of numerous Dead Sea tours. And because the Dead Sea is just 45 minutes drive from Jerusalem and 2 hours from Tel Aviv, you don’t have to think twice before heading down there.Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHere are some of our recommendations, for a break that will exceed your expectations, in terms of accommodation, cuisine, spa facilities, and breathtaking scenery.1.Milos Hotel Dead Sea - Ein BokekThis luxury hotel, owned by the Herbert Samuel group, offers five-star private beachfront accommodation all the while drawing on the colors and textures of Greece. All rooms have rainfall showers and Nespresso machines and the deluxe offering comes with your own private pool.Milos has a pool with a gazebo (perfect for afternoon cocktails), a gym, a gaming room for younger guests, and a spa that offers a Turkish hammam, dry sauna, dead seawater pool, and sulfur bath.The main restaurant is built in stone in the style of a Greek taverna, the stone having been shipped in from Saloniki. It boasts an excellent chef who, according to reviews, visits each table at dinner. Guests have rated Milos highly on Tripadvisor, and commented on the professional, courteous staff. Guests on have rated it at 9.2 for a couples getaway. Milos also offers occasional special offers which are published each afternoon, at 2 pm, for same-day check-in, so for a last-minute break, you can’t do better.Details: Milos Hotel, Ein Bokek, tel: 08 668 8100Milos Hotel Dead Sea, Ein Bokek. Photo: Herbert Samuel Hotels2.Herods Dead Sea – The Premium Collection by FattalHerods is an award-winning hotel that offers guests a rejuvenating and luxurious experience at the shores of the Dead Sea. With its own private beach, luxury rooms and suites, royal spa facilities, and innovative cuisine, it is the perfect place for anyone looking to be pampered. Herods ‘Vitalis’ spa is considered to be the jewel in the crown of this hotel, boasting a variety of heated and health-centered pools (seawater, sweet water, and sulfur), a Turkish bathhouse, solarium, and an array of mud pack, facial and cosmetic treatments. Extra touches include magic shows, free bicycle hire, a ‘fun area’ for kids, and a ‘Welcome Baby’ service. The hotel offers two restaurants, the ‘Rothschild’ bar (with excellent homemade desserts) and a Health Bar which serves natural and fresh shakes. Rooms are tastefully designed and the Executive range comes with a sunbathing balcony and free international calls. Reviews on rate Herods as ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Superb’ and comment that breakfast and dinner went beyond expectations. Details: Hamei Zohar, Neve Zohar Tel: 03 511-0000Herods Dead Sea Hotel. Photo: Herods Hotels3.Daniel Dead Sea HotelSet in the heart of the Dead Sea’s Ein Bokek area, The Daniel hotel boasts 320 luxury rooms, 12 of which are lavishly decorated suites. Wifi is free throughout and all rooms come with LCD TVs and black-out curtains. Some offer sea views whilst others overlook the Edom Mountains. As you would expect from a luxury hotel, The Daniel has its own private beach and indoor and outdoor pools, as well as a fitness center with a gym and workout rooms. There are children’s activities available and entertainment in the lobby most evenings. Guests arriving by car have access to free parking.The Daniel offers a range of spa treatments, including massages, a steam room, and wellness treatments, There is a tennis court available for those who wish to practice their strokes! Guests reviewing the hotel on are particularly happy with the buffet breakfast, which they say has an excellent variety of items. For special prices at the Daniel, take a look at the Trivago website which offers excellent prices.Details: Ein Bokek, Dead Sea Tel: 08 668-9999Daniel Dead Sea Hotel. Photo via Leonardo Club Hotel Dead Sea - All InclusiveThe Leonardo Club hotel is located on a private beach in Ein Bokek and offers guests a wonderful location with breathtaking views of both the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains. It boasts 368 beautiful designed rooms, set in two wings, with the deluxe option offering guests a balcony with sea views. There is miniature golf on site, a games room and also free bicycle rental. The Leonardo is the only hotel in the Dead Sea which boasts its own water park, with three amazing slides, ideal for family fun. The fact that it is all inclusive means delicious cuisine and drinks (soft and certain alcoholic) are available 24/7. Guests on Tripadvisor rate the food as tasty and plentiful, with one commenting “GREAT food; hats off to the cook.” Le Spa at the Leonardo offers guests facilities including a heated seawater pool, a sulfur pool, and a modern sauna, as well as a wide variety of high-quality health and rejuvenation treatments.Detials: Ein Bokek, Hamei Zohar 08 668-9444Leonardo Club Hotel Dead Sea. Photo vialeonardo-hotels.com5.Isrotel Dead Sea Resort & SpaNestled at the foot of the mountains that surround it and just moments from the shore of the Dead Sea, the Isrotel offers its guests an experience of complete tranquility where, as they put it, ‘pampering and relaxation always come first.” Given a rating of five stars by the Ministry of Tourism, each newly-renovated room (which is bigger than your average hotel room) has a balcony and is stylishly designed.Isrotel’s spa, ‘Esprit’ offers a wide range of rejuvenation treatments including massages, mud packs, and seaweed masks. Also on offer are a sulfur pool, massage rooms, sauna, steam bath, and a private sun deck. The hotel’s ‘Ranch’ restaurant is an American-style affair, with a wide range of meats on offer - a carnivorous paradise. Guests can also ‘chill out’ at the poolside, where kids light bites are served, as well as shakes and cocktails. Reviews on describe the hotel as ‘Superb’ and ‘Excellent’ and comment on how efficient the booking and check-in process is. One noted that on a particularly hot day, staff was handing out free ice cream and cold drinks to guests.Details: Ein Bokek, Dead Sea Tel: 08 688-966Isrotel Dead Sea Resort & Spa. Image: Isrotel hotelsPractical Travel InformationThere are several ways to reach the Dead Sea: rental car, bus, taxi, and private transfer.Rental car: Renting a car in Israel is pretty simple and not incredibly expensive. Try Hertz, Eldan, or Avis, who are all located at Ben Gurion Airport, as well as in the major cities. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s permit!Bus: Buses run regularly to the Dead Sea from all parts of the country - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the south (Eilat, indirectly. There is no direct route from Eilat to the Dead Sea - you will have to change buses in Beer Sheva)From Jerusalem: The number 486 travels from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station (platform 5) direct to the Dead Sea.From Tel Aviv: the 421 travels from the Central Bus Station direct to the Dead Sea. It is advisable, and more often than not, necessary to book a ticket for these buses in advance. This can be done by calling Egged on *2800 or 03-694 8888. It is also possible to book tickets directly through their website. Please note: there is no public transport in Israel over Shabbat which means that from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, it is not possible to travel by Egged.Taxi: A taxi from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea should take about 45 minutes and cost in the region of 350-400 NIS. A taxi from Tel Aviv will take between 90 minutes to 2 hours and cost around 700 NIS.Private transfer: A private transfer from the airport or your hotel to the Dead Sea is another option, and is quick and convenient. Your Israeli tour operator will be glad to advise you in this regard. Get packing!Rejuvenating Dead Sea mud. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

The Red Sea Jazz Festival

The Red Sea Jazz Festival is an annual event held in the gorgeous beach resort city of Eilat, Israel on the edge of the Red Sea. Since its initiation the festival has grown in size and importance. The Red Sea Jazz Festival plays an important role in fostering Israeli jazz talent and has also earned itself a reputation in the international jazz scene. The event takes place over four days in August at the music-inspired Prima Music Hotel and other Eilat venues.jazz festival The Red Sea Jazz Festival hosts a special tribute to Israeli jazz with lots of performances spanning the full spectrum of the Israeli jazz scene, showcasing the multicultural tapestry of Israeli jazz. The festival includes Israel’s greatest jazz performers who have established careers both in Israel and internationally. At the festival, there are both veteran pioneer artists responsible for establishing the jazz culture in Israel and new up-and-coming Israeli artists. The festival follows a special format to salute the legendary Israeli jazz artists with original productions showing the development of jazz through the generations. In addition, usually, there are several big-name international acts including such artists as The Chick Corea Trio, Avi Lebovich and The Orchestra; Aharale Kaminsky; Albert Piamenta; Guy King; TATRAN; Quartet to Afrika; Shlomi Shaban; Shalom Hanoch and Maya Belsitzman among others.Few festivals manage to continue for 30 years and this is a testament to the strong legacy and unique character of the event. In addition to the live performances, the festival offers other special events like the Red Sea Jazz Festival Young Jazz Program. Young musicians will be able to join a workshop run by some of the festival performing artists. The festival hosts the Israeli Jazz Convention, discussion panels, lectures, master classes, workshops for the public, and in the mornings special jazz performances geared towards children aged 5-10 years. One of the traditions of the Red Sea Jazz Festival is the Jam Session held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel poolside. The jam session starts at 11 pm and the jamming continues into the night. Throughout the festival, there are usually sunset jazz cocktail events on Mosh’s Beach near the Eilat Port. Entrance is regularly free and the cocktails will be accompanied by a selection of young bands.Queen of Sheba hotel EilatEilat is the ultimate beach resort; during the festival, visitors will be able to enjoy the incredible Red Sea where there are natural coral reefs, schools of tropical fish, and even dolphins. There are water sports for the whole family, cruise excursions, dreamy beaches, and amazing malls. Eilat is a duty-free port city so you can shop-til-you-drop. Be sure to visit the Ice Mall which has an ice rink in the center. Visitors can also take excursions into the surrounding desert to places like Park Timna, the Dead Sea, and Masada. From Eilat, there are convenient day trips to Petra, Jordan, one of the seven wonders of the world. Eilat has wonderful restaurants, many specializing in seafood and you will find that Eilat hotels rival the best beach resort hotels worldwide. Visitors can enjoy the Red Sea Jazz Festival and a fantastic holiday.Practical Information:When: usually in August. Performances and events take place throughout the day from 10 are to 1 am.Where: At select Eilat venues including the Crowne Plaza Hotel; Jazz Cinema; Port arena; Red Note and the Sea Club.
By Petal Mashraki

Israeli’s Bathing Season Officially Opens

The Israeli bathing season officially opened and will last until October 17. Israel’s beaches spread across 306 kilometers (190 miles), but the authorized public beaches measure a little less than 19 kilometers (11 miles) in length. Another 190 kilometers (118 miles) belong to beaches which have not been declared, but which the public has access to. The public has no access to some 97 kilometers (60 miles).In total, Israel has 137 authorized beaches, including 92 along the Mediterranean Sea, 24 in Lake Kinneret, 17 in the Dead Sea, and four along the Red Sea. At the moment, the only beach which may not be opened for bathing is in the northern city of Akko, where authorities are waiting for an answer from the Environmental Protection Ministry in regards to pollution discovered on a nearby shore. The bathing season will open as planned in Herzliya and Bat Yam, where a malfunction in the sewerage was recently fixed and the flow of sewage to the sea was stopped. And how much will one pay for bathing? By law, a local authority with an authorized public beach within its boundaries can charge an entry fee to the beach only after receiving approval from the interior minister. The entry fee will be NIS 10 (about $2.3) for bathers over the age of 13. In addition, the beach must have an open, free-of-charge beach nearby, so that the bathers can decide which one to go to.At the moment, only nine authorized public beaches are allowed to charge an entry fee. According to Yosef Amar, an Interior Ministry official in charge of public beaches, all other beaches are not allowed to charge an entry fee, and those which do are committing a criminal offense. “We call on all bathers who have been charged money for using a beach which has no approval to do so, to file a complaint with the police or contact us and we will file the complaint,” he said. However, there are those who skirt the law and charge money for parking in a parking lot adjacent to a public beach. According to Amar, the parking lots are the responsibility of the local authorities rather than of the Ministry of Interior
By Petal Mashraki

Health Benefits of the Dead Sea

Many want to visit the Dead Sea as it is an iconic site and one of the most amazing wonders of the world. People want to be able to say they’ve been to the “lowest point on Earth”. But another, and arguably more important reason to visit the Dead Sea is that it can be good for your health. For thousands of years the Dead Sea environment has attracted visitors who come to enjoy its health promoting properties.Dead Sea SunAt approximately 417 meters below sea level the harmful solar rays have further to travel and thus are filtered on their way through the air, by air molecules, water vapor and aerosols (minerals). This leaves only the useful and beneficial rays which reach the Dead Sea. The region has pleasant weather with sunny days almost the entire year.AirThe air in the Dead Sea environment has a high oxygen density of 15% above the average levels. The air is also dry, virtually allergen free and there is little humidity so that those with repertory problems find it easier to breath. The air at the Dead Sea is specifically healthy for those with asthma. The high concentration of bromine and magnesium in the air relaxes and relieves tension.WaterThe highly saline water of the Dead Sea has a unique composition of minerals and therapeutic salts. The water is 32% salt as compare to the salt level in ocean water of 3%. When you swim in the sea your skin is stimulated and nourished easing joint ailments, relaxing the nerves and stimulating the circulation system. The saline density prohibits the body from sinking so that you can relax (mentally and physically) while floating on the water.Dead Sea MudPeople floating in mineral rich Dead Sea water The mud which forms the sea bed and the banks of the sea, contains the same rich mineral mix found in the water so that this handy natural skin “mask” can be smoothed over the skin to allow the minerals to be directly absorbed. The mud stimulates blood circulation and can help those with rheumatism. The sea and mud contain sulfur, magnesium, calcium, chloride, sodium, bromide, potassium and other trace elements. In all there are 21 essential minerals and 12 are unique to the Dead Sea.A combination of the air, filtered solar rays, mineral rich water and mud can be beneficial to those suffering from skin diseases, specifically psoriasis, arthritis and dermatitis. The Dead Sea benefits not only your health but your looks as the mud and water cleanses and softens your skin. You’ll find that after a visit your skin will feel and look rejuvenated. The benefits don’t have to end when you leave the Dead Sea as Dead Sea products are sold around the world and at the Dead Sea itself. At the Dead Sea you can even buy bags of the black mud to take home with you!Some tour options to The Dead Sea >>
By Petal Mashraki
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