The Dead Sea is the saltiest sea in the world with 34,2% salinity. Practically this means that swimming here becomes floating.
The seas surface is 427 metres below sea level, making it the lowest point in the world. The reason for the saltiness is that there are no outlet streams. The Jordan River is the only major source of water. The name is derived from the fact that the water is far too salinated for marine life.
The Dead Sea has attracted visitors for thousands of years. It was one of the world's first health resorts, and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. The salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea are also very popular for creating cosmetics and herbal sachets.
Due to man-made reduction of the Jordan River and the high evaporation rate, the Dead Sea is shrinking all the time. All the shallow waters of the southern end of the sea have been drained and are now salt flats, but measures are currently being proposed to replenish the rapidly shrinking waters.
On the Jordanian side, the Dead Sea is possible as a day trip from both Amman and Aqaba. The road is a good dual carriage way. The tourist areas are about 60km from Amman and 275km from Aqaba along the eastern side of the sea. The tourist area has a lot of hotel owned private beachfronts. The public beach is called Amman Beach, located about 2km south from Sweimeh village, the marker of this place is located there.
From Amman downtown a taxi for the day to the Dead Sea can be purchased for 20JD. Many of the local hotels and resorts have shuttles that travel from Amman to the Dead Sea for a fee.
From Aqaba a taxi can be hired for a full day for approximately 80JD for the whole day. There are also tour operators arranging trips to Dead Sea from Aqaba.
Around 10km south of Amman Beach is a local's favorite place that is easily recognized by a couple of stands selling snacks and water near the road. The place is dirty and nobody takes care of it, but if you're on a shoestring, the Dead Sea there is just as good as everywhere.
The Israeli side of the Dead Sea is a possible day trip from Jerusalem (39km from Northern Dead Sea via the West Bank), Eilat (220km from Southern Dead Sea), or Tel Aviv (98km from Northern Dead Sea).
The main access points are the oases of Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek, both accessible via Egged bus from Jerusalem (lines 486 and 487), Tel Aviv (421, starts once a day from Arlozorov Station at 8.36 am ), Eilat (444), Beersheva and Arad (384). Both Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek have public access beaches, but Ein Bokek's beach is the better of the two. Public services are infrequent, so check schedules before heading out.
Taxi is also an easy way to get to your desired beach.
The cost to enter the public tourist beach (Amman Beach) is 16 JD (April 2012). The hotels private beachfronts are about 20JD for hotel guests and 50JD for non-hotel guests.