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On the Israeli side, the main access points are the oases of Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek, both accessible via Egged bus from Jerusalem (lines 486 and 487), Tel Aviv (421), Eilat (444), Beersheva and Arad (384). Due to the sparse population services are infrequent, so check schedules before heading out.
The water in the Dead Sea is extremely salty, and in fact, it's generally reckoned to be the saltiest major body of water in the world. The name comes from the fact that the water is far too saline for any fish or other larger animals to live in it.
Because of water being siphoned off from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea is continually shrinking in size and the water level becoming lower and lower. Pessimistic estimates say that the Sea may disappear entirely within 50 years.
The Dead Sea is hot, hot, hot. Winters can be chilly by local standards, occasionally dipping under 20°C, but most of the rest of the year temperatures are firmly above 30°C and not uncommonly rocket past 40°C. The area gets an average of 330 days of sunshine per year, with rainy days occurring (if at all) only during winter.
In Ein Bokek, there are many health resorts catering to those wishing to take advantage of the reputed curative properties of the sea.