Me at Ga'ash, a spa with hot springs in israel. Me at Ga'ash, a spa with hot springs in israel. You're not really living if you're not taking a makeup-less selfie and making it the cover of your story. (Photo: Maayan Baydats)

My epic quest for the best bath in the world

The Earth's molten core creates hot mineral water that people (like me) travel miles for.

Last year, I camped out with a couple "rewilders," people who were trying to live like hunter-gatherers did 10,000 years ago. We dug up roots, told stories and slept outside in the Oregon desert. Traipsing through the desert was, you know, difficult, and I was starting to miss things like showers and ice cream ... Until the rewilders took me somewhere that changed my image of relaxation forever: hot springs.

There are natural hot springs in the Oregon desert, places where warm mineral water shoots out of the ground into the most relaxing baths of all time. People have been using this balneotherapy for thousands of years, as it apparently provides a whole bunch of health benefits. Hot springs are everywhere – from Oregon to Israel to Japan.

japanese bathhouseYubatake, a hot springs source that brings hot water to bathhouses in Japan. (Photo: CK Ma/Shutterstock)

That is, everywhere except New York City. I tried to find some there, and I ended up at an Asian bathhouse in Queens that was crazy nice, but not hot or mineral-esque. I even looked when I took a class in West Virginia last summer, but I again just ended up at a lukewarm bathhouse. It seemed I was doomed forever to regular baths.

Then, when I came to Israel a few weeks ago, I found out that hot springs were all over the country. Sometimes, people even redirect the water from underground into pools, like at Ga'ash, a spa on the Mediterranean near Tel Aviv. I went to Ga'ash with a friend, fearing the worst: another lukewarm bath.

The molten center of the planet makes water hot underground. Then humans put it in pools for fun.The molten center of the planet makes water hot underground. Then humans put it in pools for fun. Go humans! (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss)

But to my amazement, these were the real deal. The water was warm, and I swear I felt the minerals seep into my skin like Yeerks in an Animorph's ear (you either get the reference or you don't, sorry).

Hot water AND top-notch decorations? Now they're just showing off.Hot water AND top-notch decorations? Now they're just showing off. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss)

Plus, the place was awesome. There was a massage bath and a super hot bath, as well as warm showers, a pool and some eating areas.

It's the like concession stand at my hometown pool, except everything isn't covered with radioactive-looking cheese.It's like the concession stand at my hometown pool, except everything isn't covered with radioactive-looking cheese. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss)

Then my friend and I walked around the spa to some cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, where we saw what might be my favorite sight in Israel thus far – the trail, yellow flowers, sea and sky were just so beautiful that they seemed like they weren't part of real life:

Seriously, does this not make you want to walk into the screen like Mary Poppins?Does this not make you want to walk into the screen like Mary Poppins? (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss)

It's funny, nobody really talks about hot springs when they go to Israel, but this place was way more relaxing than, say, the much more famous Dead Sea (seriously, it's called the "Dead" Sea because it's so chemically uncomfortable that nothing can live there).

Not that you shouldn't go to the Dead Sea. Go. Do it for the photos. Then go to some hot springs for yourself.

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My epic quest for the best bath in the world
The Earth's molten core creates hot springs so comfortable that I scoured the planet for a balneotherapy spa.