The best free and paid for beach experiences in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
Everyone’s always moaning that Bahrain has no beaches but, here at Time Out, we know that’s not strictly true. Bondi it’s not but there are certainly a quite few places where you can dip your toes in the sea without paying the earth.
Amwaj Not strictly a public beach but the reclaimed islands certainly seem to attract lots of people at the weekends, who surely can’t all live there. There are various areas where it’s possible to reach the sea to swim or just sit on the shore and watch the kite surfers.
One of the most popular spots for Bahrainis and expats alike is at the front of Floating City but there are lots and lots of Jet Skis so if you’re not a fan of the manic mosquito buzz, maybe not the place for you. The surfer dudes take to the water at the front of Tala and there are various other small open beach areas around the islands.
Arad Fort Opened to mark National Day in 2008, this small stretch of beach to the side of the old fort is a great place for a picnic and a paddle but it’s more of a beach park, with a paved area for walking and games, rather than an actual swimming beach. However, you’re in fab surroundings for a sunset stroll with the fort, said to be one of the oldest sites in the Middle East, making a stunning backdrop.
Hidd Another one that’s more popular for picnicking than swimming, this small area of sand opposite Prince Khalifa bin Salman Park attracts barbecue fans in the winter months and is a good spot for beach games. To get there take the Hidd Bridge towards the refinery and turn back on yourself at the end.
Jazayir One of the island’s few truly public beaches, just a shame it’s such a long way out. Right down past the BIC. Just get on Gulf Of Bahrain Avenue and keep on going…
Once you reach the sailing club, turn left and you’ll find yourself at the beach that time forgot. From the wall and gates, it’s reasonable to assume this was once a private facility. But the wall only stretches so far and the gates have long since been knocked open to give access to more than a kilometre of sandyish beach.
There are several areas of kids’ play equipment and large shades, so it’s hard to see, apart from the distance, why Jazayir is not more popular.
At weekends it’s sometimes the haunt of large groups of ‘bachelors’ but a mid-week afternoon visit found just a handful of families enjoying picnics and a dip. True there are still a few Soviet-era toilet blocks and several damaged Portaloos but, in truth, this could be a really nice spot. There are signs of barbecuing on the sand and paved walkways so if you don’t fancy any of the more commercial options, this could be the place for you.
But do bear in mind, this is very much a facility for everyone and particularly popular with Bahraini locals so revealing swimwear and public drinking are really not OK. On the other side of the sailing club is a wide open seascape which is popular with jetskiers and quad and trials bike riders but don’t get stuck in the sand like the two guys we towed on our recce’ visit.
Karbabad Head for Bahrain Fort, past the Bapco petrol station at Seef and you will find yourself on another stretch of public open beach. Karbabad’s a great place for an evening walk or a picnic but again, please appreciate local customs and avoid revealing swimwear.
Al Dar Probably one of the best beach spots even though it’s not strictly part of Bahrain, you have to get a boat from Sitra Fisherman’s Port. But they’ve done it up over the past year and there are various facilities including barbecue areas, a good snack bar and lots of water sporty-type things to hire. Day entry is BD5 which includes the cost of the boat trip. Don’t forget to bring either a CPR or passport which you will have to hand over to the Coast Guard before you get on the boat.
No outside food or drink is allowed and opening hours are currently 9am-5pm Tue-Sun, except during party nights. On Saturdays there is a special secluded area set aside for ladies who prefer a bit of extra privacy. The island can only accommodate 150 guests at a time so it’s a good idea to go early and, while bikinis and budgie smugglers are welcome at Al Dar itself, remember to dress appropriately for the journey as the boat leaves from a working fishing port and there have previously been complaints about skimpy attire. Call (17 704 600)
Bahrain Sailing Club Next to Jazayir Beach but cordoned off by a sea wall, the sailing club has its own small private beach area which is nice and pretty clean. There’s also a snack bar and a couple of pools plus boat rental and a small number of chalets.
From the outside it does look a bit dilapidated but it seems there is work going on so this could soon improve. It’s also the home of the island regatta, so if you head down during the winter months there’s often some good sailing to be seen.
There is membership but you can also pay BD3 to go in for the day. Ladies and couples only, sorry no groups of boys allowed. The chalets are BD40 for a family of four – two adults, two kids. Call (17 836 078)
Bahrain Yacht Club One of the nicest beaches on the island, smallish but clean and with a good restaurant in the club house. It’s members only but you can be signed in as a day guest for BD2 by a member. Call (17 700 677)
Coral Bay This club/restaurant/spa has a small beach that gets crowded at weekends. Popular with the island’s party people as there’s often stuff going on in the evenings and you can chill out with a cocktail or two and snacks delivered to your sunbed. There are also a couple of pools plus Jet Skis, banana boats and kayaks to rent. There is membership but day entry costs BD5 on weekdays and BD8 at weekends and on public holidays. Call (17 312 700)
Marina Club Laze on the small sandy beach or check out the impressive yachts moored nearby. The Marina Club is very popular with locals and Russians who, we’re told, are hardy enough to swim all year round so they’ll be the ones sporting the impressive tans and taut tums. Day entry is available at BD5. Call (17 291 52)
Novotel A nice small beach area attached to the Arabian nights-style hotel. Public welcome on weekdays BD20 single, BD25 couple, BD35 family (2 adults and 2 kids under 12) – also allows use of gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and pool. Hotel guests only at the weekend. Call (17 298 008)
Lost Paradise of Dilmun Yes, it’s part of the water park and yes, it’s a man-made beach, but then so are most of the others and this one comes with a wave machine which we like…a lot and, if you get bored lying in the sun, you can take in a whole bunch of water-based rides too. Entry is BD15 for adults and BD7 for kids under 1.2m tall. Call (17 845 100)
Push the boat out
Jarada Tidal island Jarada, which is about 40 minutes away by speed boat, has been described by a colleague as ‘a lump of sand’ but if you like your beaches pretty much deserted, no Jet Skis, no beach bar, no music, then this might be the one for you. Don’t have a boat? Trips go regularly from Coral Bay and also through Jarada Tours. Call (39 643 222)
A big favourite with bird watchers, these islands, off the coast of Qatar, are around 55 minutes away by boat. The main island is home to the Tulip Inn, where facilities are either for overnight guests or groups of 16-plus on a trip day package.
However, if you have access to a boat the other islands and the area of Hawar away from the hotel make for an interesting visitww. Call (17 849 111)