Finally, the mercury levels are dropping, and before you know it we’ll be donning jackets, so now is the time to enjoy the more exciting side of outdoor island life. Getting outside, whether it’s for exercise or just for a picnic, has a wealth of proven health benefits such as boosting energy, decreasing depression and allowing you to really reconnect with nature. Plus, if it is a good old fashioned work-out you’re after then studies have shown that people who exercise outside do so for longer than your average gym-rat.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an extreme sports nut, seasoned camper or just love the idea of a leisurely boat ride because this island has it all.
Kite surfing Imagine techniques of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and a bit of gymnastics all rolled into one and you’ll have an idea of what kitesurfing is like. It may be an extreme sport but it’s one that’s become increasingly popular in Bahrain over the years. The best spot to have a go on the island is at Amwaj but this is not a sport you can immediately have a go at alone. You’ll definitely need an experienced and certified instructor with you. Try hitting up the people at Skate Shack who not only offer lessons but also sell appropriate equipment. Call 1769 7176.
Wake boarding Now combine water skiing, surfing and snowboarding techniques to get a picture of surface water sport wakeboarding. It starts off fairly calm as a powerboat pulls you along but then it becomes one thrilling out-at-sea adventure that can evolve into jumps, flips and all-round impressive moves that require you to catch the ‘wakes’. We could get pretty lingo-istic here but we won’t – what we will say is if you need some proper instruction then head over to Coral Bay on the Al Fateh Corniche where a session costs BD20 for 30 minutes or BD35 per hour. Equipment is provided, so you just need to take your swimmers. Call 1731 2700.
Camping Annual camping season in Bahrain generally starts around November and runs for around five months, when the days and nights are cool, so later this month you’ll need to register on the relevant government portal to make sure you’re legit. Then sure, you can grab a do-it-yourself tent from Geant, set up a little site in an approved spot and stay the night but why not go glamping Bahrain-style? Al Wedyian Camps offers 14 tents in three sites with spots catering to all group sizes and come complete with bathrooms, barbeque stations, kid’s playgrounds, flat-screen TVs and more. Wady Al Remaytha, for example, costs BD100 on weekdays or BD150 on weekends and they’ve had up to 160 people there before (but they don’t like an excess of parked cars so you’ll need to find alternative transportation for big groups). Meanwhile, Wady Al A’amer, for small to medium groups, costs BD70 on weekdays and BD120 weekends (but they can squeeze in over 100 people too!). You can request daily, weekly or even monthly rates. Register for camping season on www.southern.gov.bh. Call Al Wedyian Camps on 6633 7887.
Stand Up Paddling This water sport also known as SUP originated in Hawaii and is a form of surfing. In recent years, it’s become increasingly popular all over the world as a cardio and core workout that can be done by anyone at any age with any skill level. There are many variations of the sport you can enjoy including even SUP yoga so it’s worth the investment for the equipment (includes the board and a paddle). In Bahrain, there’s a group of paddlers that get together in Amwaj Islands and they call themselves the Bahrain Stand Up Paddling Association (go figure). They offer demos and trial clinics, and have a selection of boards and paddles available so you don’t have to buy your own just yet if you’re just trying the sport on for size. They say it takes just an hour to pick it up. Call 3445 9457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waterskiing Picture this: You’re gliding across the water at high speed, the wind flying through your hair as you feel the spray of the sea flicker across your body. Sure, you ache all over and you’re holding on for dear life but it’s just so much fun you don’t care. That’s all waterskiing really is – standing on two skis and being pulled by a motorboat going at least 32km an hour. It’s not just about having fun though because waterskiing provides a variety of major health benefits too. It particularly builds up your muscles, increases endurance and develops agility, flexibility and coordination. It’s tough at first but anyone who’s tried it will agree that once you get into it there’s no turning back. If you haven’t already had a go, then head down to the Marina Club for some lessons at BD20 (30 minutes) or BD40 (one hour) where they have an in-house instructor. They provide all the equipment. Call 1729 1527.
Diving Let’s face it, it would be rude not to at least try diving since we’re surrounded by water and there are so many places offering courses which lead to internationally recognised PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) qualifications. The PADI Scuba Diver certification requires less time than the PADI Open Water Diver course, covering only the first three of five sections of knowledge development, the first three of five pool sessions, and the first two of four open water training dives, resulting in a limited certification. But it’s particularly useful if you expect to go scuba diving primarily in the company of a dive guide or if you have limited time to devote to scuba certification. Or there’s the PADI open water course, as described, but with all the extras thrown in. Local company Into The Blue BH offer all kinds of scuba diving-related services and courses such as the above, plus advanced open water and even the master scuba diver certification. On top of all that, they run pearl diving trips and sell equipment in their dive shop. Call 3775 7373.
Horse riding If you’re more of a land lubber but still like a shot of adrenaline then why not try horse riding? Whether it’s you, the adult, looking to start up, or you’re searching for your little one, there are plenty of centres on the island offering lessons. A spokesperson from Dilmun Stables once told us, ‘Riding is a fantastic sport that not only teaches someone a new skill, but it is a sport that involves working/creating a partnership with your horse.’ It gets you fit, you bond with your pal and it’s great fun, so why not? Old favourite the Shakhoora Riding Centre, located beside the BSPCA, charges adults BD12 and kids BD6 per each half-hour session. Call 1759 1103.
Trips to sea Do you like the outdoors, love nature but are in no way an adrenaline junkie? Then a trip out to sea to go fishing or dolphin watching is a great idea for you. It’s also the perfect thing to do with tourists to introduce them to Bahrain’s natural side as we have some great wildlife in and around the water. There are a number of tour companies in the country offering such services like Jarada Tours who will take you out for however long you like. For a fishing trip, it’ll set you back BD45 for the first hour and BD35 for any additional hour, and for a leisurely dolphin spotting trip it’s BD40 and then BD35. They also offering snorkeling and diving trips, speed boating, jet skiing, banana boating and awesome island barbeques. Alternatively, you could rent a boat and go island hopping for the day with friends. Nothing will make friends and family back home more jealous than an #islandselfie. Visit www.jaradatours.com.
Golf Bahrain is home to two golf courses: the desert Awali Golf Course or the world-class Royal Golf Club. You don’t need to be a member or a pro with a handicap to attend either. At Riffa’s Royal Golf Club, for example, you can just head to the driving range for a fee to hit a few balls. They’ve also started a great initiative called ‘Learn to play golf in one day’ which allows newbies to spend five hours with instructor Gavin Campbell to learn the basics for BD59. He told us when we met him recently that it’s a great game with benefits like strength, flexibility and even for learning patience. ‘Literally anybody can play and it’s a game you can play all your life,’ he says. So what are you waiting for? Call 1775 0777.
Yachting The benefits of sailing, particularly from a young age, are limitless. You learn coordination, common sense, team work, environmental awareness, dedication and confidence, among other things. Take it up a notch and try yachting with the Bahrain International Sea Services over at Amwaj Marina. School owner Nabeel Hijris offers courses for kids and adults ranging from basic jet-ski right up to day skipper and helmsman under the regulations of the UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Visit www.bissmarine.com for full price information and schedules.