Looking for a weekend getaway, but want to try something different than the Dead Sea? While there are lots of options (desert camping, eco-lodges, etc.), there’s also the relaxing destination of the Ma’in Hot Springs. They are located just about 30 minutes south of the Dead Sea hotel strip; the GPS coordinates for the hotel are 31°36'30.3804", 035°36'27.6876", and trust me, you may need them. In theory, it’s an easy drive; just head towards the Dead Sea, pass all the hotels and resorts, follow the signs to the Panorama, drive up and around and around and around and then turn right at the Ma’in Hot Springs/Spa sign, after the Panorama Complex pull-off, then follow the windy road and at an obscure fork (GPS 31°36'43.9020", 035°36'55.3356"), stay to the right and go through the gates hidden behind the trees. Our issue was a few missing signs and a confused GPS that lead to an extra hour of exploration. But all was good in the end.
As of October 2015, the hotel was in the throes of a name and ownership change (hence some missing signage). Formerly they were the Evason Ma’in Hot Springs, under which you can still find them online and even book them, too. But their new name will be Ma’in Hot Springs (or so we were told). So when driving, keep an eye out for either sign, but basically follow anything that references Ma’in.
After you pass through the gates, keep driving towards the hotel. There are also public hot springs here, so if you’re heading to the hotel, just pass the parking and entrances to the public springs, and keep going towards the hotel; the road will dead-end so you’ll know you’ve arrived.
The hotel itself is nice. The rooms were spacious and comfortable; the service and food was good. Just note that the hotel is not geared towards entertaining children; pictures online depicting a spacious fun-looking toddler playroom and playground are inaccurate, they do not exist (must have been under previous management). But if your kids are interested in the warm pool (many kids were), or hiking trails (some long, some short), bike riding, or even the “library” with big chairs, checker boards and an odd assortment of books, they’ll be fine.
But what you’ve come for is the hot springs, right? There are a few options here. The hotel has two pools, a hot one and a cold one. The cold one shuts down for the winter, so we didn’t get to try it, but the hot one was wonderful! The hotel doesn’t offer direct access to the natural hot spring waterfall, but their hot pool is fed directly from it. Plus, you have a lovely view of the waterfall as you laze about in the pool and from the dining area. And if you’re curious, check out the “cave” under the pool’s man-made waterfall for a natural sauna experience.
There’s also a spa just down the road from the main hotel, and there (for a nominal fee) you can have direct access to a hot spring, as well as many other higher priced spa offerings.
And lastly, there are the public hot springs. We were told by the hotel staff that the public ones were only open from 9am-9pm for the public, but as a hotel guest, we could use them anytime. So early the next morning, we grabbed towels from the pool and took a 10-minute walk back up the road. Access is free to everyone, and when we arrived, we were not surprised to find that we were not alone and the “hotel-only” hours were merely a suggestion.
It took a little coaxing, but we were able to ease our way into the different pools created by the waterfall. All were hot to some degree, but as you got used to it, it was quite lovely. The one suggestion I’d make is, if you’re interested in the public springs, bring water shoes. The ground is a bit rocky and slimy and water shoes would have made it slightly more pleasant. In general, just be careful because of the natural algae growing on the rocks, it can be slippery everywhere.
There are actually two different areas for the public springs. If you’re driving in, the family springs (for everyone) are to the right; the women-only springs are to the left. And on the weekends, they become very popular with families and groups picnicking and splashing about all over. This is obviously a much cheaper option if you didn’t want to stay overnight at the hotel. However, in addition to the water shoes suggestion, I will just add that the public bathrooms available here are akin to a cavernous American gas station bathroom that you’d only use in dire situations. So, use at your own risk.
But public or private, the Ma’in Hot Springs were a relaxing getaway and one that we are eager to revisit (especially now that we know where to turn). Enjoy!