Qatar has many islands off its coast from The Pearl to Purple Island to Safliya Island. Being the curious panda that I am, I obviously have all these destinations on my radar but there’s a distinct lack of information for people on the actual HOW TO visit some places. Some of them are far more accessible than others. But no fear, here I am trying to make information about Qatar more accessible so that we can all enjoy these places (responsibly!). Visiting Safliya Island should be a simple affair. It’s less than an hour from Doha by boat, there are many boats anchored along the corniche and all you need to do is take the supplies you need. Should be simple but for many reasons it’s not!
Note: The transportation & activities in this post were NOT SPONSORED or DISCOUNTED.
Why is it not simple?
When you rent a boat, you’re obviously expected to pay for the entire boat regardless of how many people are in your party. Most companies are charging between 5000 to 6000QAR for hiring the dhow boat with a minimum of 15 people on board. Which obviously doesn’t work, if you’re only a small party of people visiting Safliya Island.
Other boats- if you rent one from the corniche- charge you 200QAR per hour that they’re with you. Which might be a more reasonable option but remember that it takes you 45 minutes to get here and another 45 minutes to get back. So if you want to keep prices down, you may be a bit rushed. And if you’re only 2 people from one household, that’s still a lot of money.
So how to visit Safliya Island without blowing your budget?
During the winter months (October- February), there are a few local tour companies that offer a package that will allow you a full day trip to the island, including water sports, beach games & a meal. The prices range from 170-290QARpp (discounted prices are available for kids) making it really viable for couples & families to visit Safliya Island reasonably. You can find the list of tour companies here (these are just the ones I found & enquired with; there may be others):
Now the best way to find out about the dates for these tours is to follow these companies on social media (Facebook and/or Instagram) because they seem to be more active on these platforms than their actual websites.
The choice of which company you go with when visiting Safliya Island will depend on the day/date you want to go, how much you’re willing to spend, what the company is offering and the general professionalism of how the company communicates.
I ended up going with National Cruise Company mostly because they were prompt in their communication & handled the booking process smoothly. I had initially planned to go with Qatar International Tours but they kept providing me with incorrect details & changing their information which frustrated me. We went as a party of 8 people; the cost was 180QAR per person.
What to expect on the day
National Cruise has a special section of the corniche where they launch their dhow boats from, right next to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). We parked in the MIA parking lot and carted our stuff the short distance onto their boat. We shared our boat some other families but we were less than 20 people on the boat in total.
You will need to have a green Ehteraz and be vaccinated to be onboard the boat.
40 minutes after we set off at a leisurely pace, we arrived at Safliya Island. There are shaded areas and some showers & toilets on the island. But mostly, it’s quite rustic; you can swim, tan and relax on the island. National Cruise organized a banana boat ride for their guests which was quite exhilarating and was included in the price.
Although I loved swimming and walking on the beach, the highlight was watching the sunset behind the skyline of Doha while being submerged in the warm sea.
After sunset we enjoyed our meals (we had chosen them before we departed) from their many options that will satisfy even the fussiest eaters.
Around 7:30pm we boarded the boat to head back to Doha.
Was visiting Safliya Island worth it?
Visiting Safliya Island has been one of the highlights of my time in Qatar so far. If you’re a resident in Qatar, I strongly recommend a visit during the winter months (October-April). According to the Panda Rating Scale, this experience only lost points in ease of access- because its not easy to go there independently and also in the category for photo worthiness because its very busy when the boatloads of people are there, making it hard to snap pretty pictures.
There are few other places that offer such a picture-perfect view of the Doha skyline combined with warm waters, fine sand and an escape from the bustle of city life. It is for these reasons that I strongly recommend you add visiting Safliya Island onto your Qatar itinerary. Even though it requires forethought and planning to ensure a smooth trip, I do believe its worth it.
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Would you consider visiting Safliya Island in Qatar? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!