It was early August, just after Tish B’av, and we decided to take a day trip with the our three young children, aged 6, 4 1/2, and 2, from our home base in Modiin (which is a city about a half hour drive from both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). We first considered going up north, but since the rest of the country was thinking the same thing (everyone goes north in the summer — not that it’s much cooler up there) we chose to be contrarians and head south, to the lowest place on earth: the Dead Sea.
We had spoken of the salt filled sea (which is really a medium sized lake by American standards) often to the kids, and about how they could float without even knowing how to swim, and about the mud — you know, all that fun stuff that attracts tourists from around the globe. And yes, it is the lowest place on earth, which also means that you’re not supposed to get sunburned there.
We decided to head to the northern most Dead Sea beach, Kalia, which is only around a twenty minute drive from Jerusalem (or around an hour from Modiin). We left Modiin at 7:30am and made it to Kalia at 8:30am. The goal was to beat at least some of the heat and the crowds. We succeeded at both.
The entrance fee to the beach, which is owned by the Kalia resort, is 55 shekels for an adult and 45 for a child. The beach has clean bathrooms, changing facilities, showers and a cafe/bar — and a gift shop, of course. The cost didn’t bother me one bit when we got to the actual beach and saw that there were only about a dozen people there. In fact, I’m happy to pay for the opportunity to go anywhere fun in Israel without having to struggle with crowds.
There were plenty of chairs and umbrellas on the beach, so we settled in, left our stuff and walked into the shallow, roped off, Dead Sea waters. The heat wasn’t bad, since it was early. The water felt great. We loved it! After a couple of hours a group of Chinese tourists arrived. One of them, a middle aged man, asked if he could take photos of my son and I floating on our backs. He even provided me with a magazine to hold up as if I were reading it while floating on my back. I’m assuming that at some point we’ll end up on the guy’s Facebook page with a funny caption that will go viral throughout the Far East — hey, any publicity is good publicity, right?
Of course, what’s a Dead Sea excursion without mud? So we dug up the mineral rich mud (there’s plenty of it!) and covered ourselves with it. My skin still feels great, two weeks later! We all had an amazing time!
The Fresh Pools of Ein Tzukim
We left Kalia Beach at around noon and then drove 5 or 10 minutes south to the Ein Tzukim Nature Reserve, which is billed as the lowest nature reserve in the world. The reason we chose to go there was because of the swimming pools — no not the chlorine filled kind — these are pools of water that you can swim in.
We paid 29 NIS per adult and 15 NIS per child at the park entrance. The attendant suggested we hang a left at the end of the road and head to the group of pools that she said were less crowded than the popular ones closer to the entrance. We followed her advice and were happy to find that she was right. There several pools in a beautiful oasis-like setting. The kids swam and splashed for a few hours. It was the perfect end complement to the Dead Sea experience.
It was a fun day for all! So if you’re looking for a day trip to do with the kids, go south and enjoy!