Israel’s Hot Springs – A Mini Dead Sea

The hot springs of northern Israel are one of the country’s least-popular sites for visitors. Understandably, most people who travel to Israel are interested primarily in visiting its hundreds of historical religious sites. These springs, though, with their healing qualities, are extremely popular with locals. Since I’ve already seen most of the religous and historical sites in this area, I felt I had to visit one of the hot springs. I wanted only to experience it, not expecting anything special. I came away thinking this is so special it should be called the Dead Sea of Northern Israel.

Located at the lowest spot on earth 423 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is on the border with Jordan and heavy laden with minerals that purportedly heal many ailments, in particular psoriasis, and enable you to float almost without effort while making swimming impossible. The hot springs of Tiberias, a few-hour drive north of the Dead Sea, are likewise below sea level and filled with healing minerals. Swimming, however, is perfectly possible in the hot springs. And I was happy to discover that floating was even easier than in the Dead Sea.

For 69 Shekels (20 USD) I visited a spa called Rimonim Tiberias Hot Spring, whose waters flow out of a nearby spring called Hamat Tveria. This is on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, a few minute drive south of downtown Tiberias. Another hot spring called Hamat Gader exists in northern Israel, southeast of the Galilee. Its website claims that bathing in its hot springs “contributes to accelerated metabolism, cell renewal and contributes to the relief of joint pains.” Rimonim hot springs was filled with many older people and has special chairs which can lower disabled people into the water, so I’m sure that its healing qualities must be similar to those of Hamat Gadar.

Two men entering the blazing hot outdoor pool at Rimonim Tiberias

Descending into the outdoor cauldron

The hot spring in Tiberias consists of one large indoor pool and a couple of smaller outdoor pools. One of the pools outside is a “sweet water” pool, which I assume means regular, chlorinated pool water rather than hot spring water. A sign on the wall told me that the temperature is approximately 37 degrees Centigrade in both the indoor and mineral pools. Both pools were not the same temperature, though. Hanging out in the outdoor pool felt like I was being boiled in a pot on a stove, the steaming heat so intense it fogged up my sunglasses. After only about ten minutes I had to get out to save myself. I did return back to its waters a couple more times in the hopes I wouldn’t still find it so tortuously hot, but I just couldn’t stand it. The indoor pool, however, was a slice of paradise.

While the waters of the Dead Sea are so unbelievably thick with minerals that any type of motion is difficult, the hot springs allow you to move like any regular heated pool. It was easy to forget that I was swimming in the waters of a natural, healing spring rather than just another indoor pool, until a little of the waters splashed onto my lips and, rather than chlorine, I tasted salt.

By far the coolest aspect of the hot springs was one which I hadn’t heard about and also one which I saw no one else enjoying. I decided at one point to float on my back for a while, expecting, of course, that I would have to move my arms and legs to keep myself afloat. I was so surprised when I flipped onto my back and found that I needed to do nothing to stay on top of the water. I literally lied there moving nary a finger or toe for minutes on end. I found this to be far easier than floating in the Dead Sea, which in my experience required me to move my legs and arms a little bit to keep afloat. The Dead Sea did allow me to easily float face down too, though, but the hot springs wouldn’t. when I flipped onto my stomach, I promptly began sinking.

Floating in the indoor hot springs at Rimonim Tiberias in Israel

Floating effortlessly in the indoor hot spring

While I thought my trip to the hot springs in Tiberias was going to be a simple mandatory matter of seeing it once because it’s so close by, I have a feeling I shall be returning.

8 Comments Post a Comment
  1. This looks wonderful–totally my cup of tea! How nice that you can float there. Looks lovely!
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..Cultural Clashes- Dramas and Dilemmas pt 2My Profile

  2. Sabina says:

    Totally my cup of tea, too, Lisa. The floating is fabulous.

  3. Gray says:

    I always had a hard time with hot tubs because of how hot they often are. I just can’t stand it. But the indoor pool sounds pretty nice, with the floating. What a great price, too!
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  4. Sabina says:

    Hi, Gray. I’m so glad I figured out I could float. Since no one else was doing it, I had no idea.

  5. Claire says:

    I had an agonizing experience in the Dead Sea after I got just a wee bit ‘o salt in my eye! I was just telling my students the other day about how you can float and not sink and how salty it was and they were pretty amazed.
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  6. Sabina says:

    Hi Claire – I had a little cut when I went into the Dead Sea. it hurt SO bad when the salt got to it. The Dead Sea may be healing, but it is not good for open wounds – or eyes!

  7. Steve says:

    I’m surprised that you could float better in these hot springs more than the dead sea. It looks like it would be worth checking these hot springs out.

    I tried some hot springs in Costa Rica. There’s just something about lying in hot mineral water that is so relaxing. There must be some people that really love boiling hot water though because some of the springs I went to had near scalding heat to them.
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  8. Sabina says:

    That outside pool had almost boiling hot water in it. Apparently some people do dig that, although that pool was pretty much empty while I was there. I couldn’t believe I could float. No one else was. I think maybe I could float at the hot springs better than in the Dead Sea because in the Dead Sea I had to wear sandals due to the sharp, jagged surface beneath the water and they might have weighed me down too much.

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