Is this natural wonder a little slice of heaven or excruciating torture?
I’ll bet many of you have floating on the Dead Sea jotted down there on your bucket list. And I mean why wouldn’t you. It is after all the lowest point on earth, the second saltiest body of water in the world and quite simply stunning to look at. But would you do it with kids?
In this article we cover:
- Our experience taking kids to the Dead Sea
- Top survival tips
- When to visit the Dead Sea
- Staying at the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa
- Other visitor information
For more information about visiting Jordan, don’t forget to check out our Jordan Road Trip with Kids Itinerary and our Important Facts to Know Visiting Jordan posts
Our experience taking kids into the Dead Sea
It’s an immensely picturesque entrance to the Dead Sea from the Jordan Valley Highway. After a long drive via the mountainous King Highway route and some castle exploring in Shobak along the way (more on that here), the kids were well and truly ready to plunge into the glistening waters by the time we arrived at our next home, Mövenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa.
Visiting the lowest point on earth is definitely one of those childhood moments we were excited to share with the Globetrotters and one they were sure to remember from a young age. However, heeding warnings from other travellers, we decided in advance that we’d skip taking the kids actually into the water here and make it an adults only experience.
Sadly, we didn’t get the kids club option at the resort (more on this below) so if we were going to enjoy it – they’d have to come with us.
Despite our persistence that they didn’t have to actually go in the water – it’s like taking a kid to the candy store and telling them they’ll get nothing. Of course, they wanted to try it too.
Tentative first steps into the water and we were doing OK. The kids were told to wade on the rocky edge and no further. The lifeguard helped Mr Globetrotter ease onto his back, then Master L was placed on top… Then the screaming started.
Master 2 had waded just past his waist depth and the journey was over. I whipped him up to shore, and sure enough everything from this, point onwards crumbled like a house of cards.
Climbing over slippery rocks, then burning hot rocks, frantically trying to get three kids simultaneously rinsed in the tiny trickle coming from the fresh water shower. Desperately trying to establish with each of them exactly what part of them was ‘ouchy ouchy’.
To be fair, I didn’t think any of them had cuts or obvious bites on their legs. But alas, 2-year-old Master J did indeed have a bit of chaffing from a long sweaty car drive (refer furious disappointment on shitty rental car with no cooling, thanks again SIXT….)
Mr Globetrotter trying to right himself in the water looks up at this point; “Do I need a hand?” I can’t find an emoticon to express my feelings at this point surrounded by the chorus of screaming and tears!!!
To be fair, within 10 minutes we had them rinsed, salty swimwear off and wrapped in towels so we could attempt the experience all over again how we originally planned! And yes, indeed, its so salty you really do float on it! And yes, the tiniest little bit entering any orifice of your body really, really does sting, even on grown ups!!!
Two of our three were then willing to try a Dead Sea mud mask with us (basically cover yourself in this nutrient rich mud, let it bake on your skin then rinse off with the fresh water hose or dip back into the Sea). But the third child, with no apparent cuts or issues, stared us down like we had put him through a baptism of fire.
A great experience, and with the kids now seeing the fun side, a far more pleasurable one. We took our obligatory tourist photos then headed back for poolside cocktails and sunset.
Not convinced the Dead Sea isn’t really a child-friendly experience? We are not alone – check out his review from Bring the Kids
Top survival tips for the Dead Sea with Kids
It’s hard to tell you best advice – I bet if you’re reading this there are many things you’ve probably been told “I wouldn’t do that with kids” but you did it anyway, right? So, if you think your kids are old enough to handle it, or will patiently sit on the sidelines;
- Don’t think of shaving yourself – anywhere – in the 24-48 hours before!
- Do inspect all over for any obvious cuts of chaffing – if you’ve just come from Petra this is a high possibility!
- Pack reef shoes to clamber over the rocks; water levels are continually falling so you will need to do a little scrambling even at the top resorts to reach the water
- Bring a large bottle of fresh water with you; there’s no guarantee the fresh water shower is free when you need it and you may need to splash water in a hurry.
- We didn’t notice flies that I’ve read in other Dead Sea reviews, but we did get covered with mozzie bites in the evening! Bring kid-friendly bug spray.
- I would have loved one of those little neck pillows with me in the water!
- Seriously, see if you can get the kids minded for a while and go and enjoy this as an adults only experience.
- And an obvious warning to avoid getting the water into any painful spots like mouths, eyes or ah, lady bits. The stinging will subside, but wow!
Best times to visit the Dead Sea
Given its position in the Middle East, Jordan’s summers can be long and hot. May through to September is considered quite muggy. On the other hand, winters can be quite cool, so really January and February are out for swimming.
That leaves us the wonderful shoulder seasons, February to April and October to November where days are warm and the water will be refreshing. That being said we visited in early April and although the Dead Sea water wasn’t too bad, only one pool in the whole resort was warmed enough for our liking!!
It definitely gets busier on weekends due to a lot of day tripper traffic from Amman but arguably mid-week can still be really busy too with conferences and tour groups.
Staying at the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa
The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea had a really different feel to it than many resort properties we have stayed at before.
Past the large reception building at the top of the hill, you have a village like atmosphere inside with low bungalow style buildings. Rather than room numbers, each building bears the name of a Jordanian town. There are classic, superior and deluxe rooms as well as suites with options of sea view rooms. There’s also a group option for up to 12 adults in the Royal Villa Sea view – complete with your own private swimming pool!
The resort itself is large and spread out, and other than how to find our way back to reception, I didn’t feel we were provided with an awful lot of guidance on our arrival. A resort map in our room would have been a really handy addition, as well as some understanding of bar and restaurant opening times and special offers so we could plan our stay a little better.
We stayed in their family room offering which is two interconnecting superior rooms with a pleasant garden view. The room features are beautiful and spacious, appointed with lovely wooden furniture. The bathrooms included tubs and the beautiful Lisan Dead Sea products we’d come to love! Two small children may be able to share a bed but we opted for the extra roll in bed to fit our family of 5.
Dining and leisure arrangements were not clear and as has sadly so often become the case when we make a family booking for 5, our room was not properly set up on arrival and took several phone calls to deal with. There was no obvious information on what to expect for the kids either, so we went off to explore on foot.
The disappointment was that the lovely looking Dana Kids Club was deserted, no other children, no staff on hand. It has been our intention to book the children in here and prevent the whole salty water palaver we described above, but sadly it wasn’t to be and no explanation as to why.
The vast majority of family visitors were consequently converged around one smallish pool as it was the only one heated. There was the beach pool that gave way to the infinity pool but it was rather nippy for our liking (we are softened to these things living in the Middle East though).
Sadly for us, though no doubt at the pleasure of other adult guests, kids are not allowed in the lower beach pool where we had hoped to sit and watch the sun go down. It’s quite a hike from the sea level back up to the upper-level pools and rooms, especially carrying tired, traumatised children! A cart service does operate though (we later discovered – this information would have been handy on arrival…)
We weren’t able to experience the Zara Spa on this occasion but family members reliably informed us that it is amazing, and definitely worth trying to fit a Dead Sea treatment into your busy schedule.
Customer Service & Ambience
I must highlight though some great examples of good humoured and helpful staff who showed exemplary service. The lifeguard who was helping people get in and out of the Dead Sea had the patience of a saint. Explaining to each new person as they turned up how to safely enter and helping them out again. He was an absolute gem when I was one-handedly attempting my triple child rescue and I saw him checking in on other groups and making sure everyone was OK.
And after our late evening dinner at the Italian restaurant, we had three sleeping children to content with and one of the waiters obligingly helped us carry them all back to our room – a big thanks to those staff for making our experience there.
Despite the village like look, a lot of the resort lacked the relaxed ambience we felt at sister hotel Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay (you can catch our full review of the Red Sea resort here). Particularly at breakfast, you got the feel the whole place was very much full of conference goers, overnight trippers from Amman and tour bus groups who’ve simply come to ‘tick off’ the Dead Sea. That said we were only there a night ourselves for the same purpose, but I would definitely choose Tala Bay over the Dead Sea if you’re looking for a more resorty holiday.
Other Dead Sea visitor information
The Dead Sea resort area is based 60 kms from Amman, making it a popular spot to visit for those with limited time in Jordan to see the highlights. It is also a popular conference spot for Middle East delegations. Do check ahead of booking as immediately prior to our visit the whole Dead Sea region was closed for security reasons due to a Middle East leaders summit.
Other popular luxury resort options with family offerings include the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea (reviewed here be Wandering Wagars) and Hilton Resort & Spa. Those looking for a more midrange option, the new Holiday Inn has been highly recommended to us by friends as a value option.
You don’t need to stay at the top end resorts to experience the Dead Sea, but with kids, it undoubtedly helps – particular the access to fresh water and towels. There is a public beach 2kms south of the main resort area, The Amman Beach Tourism Resort, Restaurant and Pools. We did not pull in but it’s reported to be clean, with fresh water showers, sun lounges and umbrellas. The entry cost is still fairly steep at JD 20/child JD10 for day entry.
Another option is to pay for a day pass to the luxury resorts. Again, not cheap but you can be assured of a luxury setting, fresh water, fluffy towels and access to the pools and restaurants as well.
Of course, you can if you choose simply enter the Dead Sea from anywhere along the Jordan Valley Highway. Be warned though, due to the fall in water level, you will find this is a long, rocky journey to even reach the water, and will not have the luxury of fresh water to rinse yourself off before leaving.
There are day trips to be had from the Dead Sea if you want to extend your stay for a few nights and not just sit at a resort. Nearby is the Wadi Mujib nature reserve, the Hammamat Main Hot Springs and the Baptism site. Tours or drivers can be organised with your concierge.
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Disclosures: We received a discount on our stay at Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea but we were not compensated in any way to write this post. All activities were paid for ourselves and all opinions, as always, are our own. There are affiliate links on this page which may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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