Dead Sea vs. Blue Lagoon: Which Natural Spa Is Better?

Photos: iStock; Hugh Sitton/Stocksy

Ah, the age-old fight has reared its head at Yahoo Travel: if someone is going to travel to a natural spa… which one is the best to go to?

I recently went to two world-famous spas — the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and the Dead Sea in Jordan — and when asked to pick, I have to admit, it’s a tough choice. They are both relaxing, they both are relatively cheap (thanks to the strong dollar and the social unrest in the Middle East), and they both promise to cure a list of skin ailments.

So the only way to choose? A smackdown! Basically, we report, you decide.

The Blue Lagoon

Fast facts: The Blue Lagoon was created in 1976 in the middle of a lava field. Manmade, the lagoon is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal Svartsengi Power Station and is renewed every two days. This promise of fresh water, along with Iceland’s strict hygiene code and the chance to relax before hopping on my flight to Greenland, got me out of the airport and into a bathing suit during a snowstorm. It even got me to enter a body of water with a swim-up bar. [Note: I have a deep-rooted fear of swim-up bars. Everyone starts drinking, and no one ever gets out to go to the bathroom. Especially during a snowstorm. You do the math.]

Related: The Blue Lagoon: Iceland’s (Affordable) Geothermal Spa Heaven

Treatments offered: Silica and algae masks as well as massages, facials, and other treatments typically found at a spa.

Price: Prices start at around $35, but most people go for the Premium package ($65) which includes entry, bathrobes, a restaurant reservation, and skin treatments.

Pros: The silica mask will leave your skin feeling like a baby’s butt, and if you have dry skin, the algae mask is insanely hydrating. All the products promise to nourish! Energize! Lift! And basically give you all the plastic surgery you’ve never been able to afford. As it’s a geothermal spa, the hot water is heavenly. The whole place feels as if you are swimming in the biggest hot tub in the world.

Cons: It smells like sulfur (aka farts and eggs). Getting in and out is cold. It is a hit with bachelor and bachelorette parties, so some of the guests can be a little drunk; And then there’s the whole pee in the pool factor. (Seriously, it’s so cold out, no one is getting out to go to the bathroom).

The Dead Sea

Fast facts: The Dead Sea, which is surrounded by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, is in the Great African Rift Valley, 1,300 feet below sea level. It has over 34 percent salinity, which can’t support life, but it can support human bodies — it is the best place to float away in with no effort whatsoever. The temperatures remain warm and without the discomfort of humidity, and the dry air of the region doesn’t support irritating levels of pollen and is relatively free of pollution.

Related: Floating Alive on the Dead Sea

Treatments offered: You basically just float in the sea and cover your face with mud, but locals swear the Dead Sea’s waters and mud and atmosphere can cure almost anything, including: acne, rheumatism, asthma, psoriasis, depression, bronchial diseases/respiratory issues, arthritis, muscle pains… the list goes on. It’s like the Gold Bond ointment of seas.

Prices: You can float for free, but most people opt for one of the resorts on the shore of the lake, where prices can vary. I stayed at the moderately priced Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa.

Pros: After just one swim and a 10-minute mud mask, my acne cleared up for weeks. It’s stunningly beautiful, and, due to the crisis in the region, prices have dropped at resorts.

Cons: Jordanians and Israelis are the first to admit they are in a rough neighborhood. Jordan borders both Iraq and Syria, and both Jordan and Israel have had to deal with the fallout from the Islamic State crisis. However, Israel and Jordan have the strongest armies in the region, and both have remained (relatively) terror-free.

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