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Where to go when you find yourself in Bahrain?

October 28, 2017 13 Comments

Bahrain isn’t a country high on people’s destination list. Most people go to tick it off their country list or they find themselves there because of a long layover with Gulf Air or… for some particular reason other than tourism. I found myself in Bahrain last weekend in the exact same position- I was there to visit my travel wife for life– Expat Bee!


Its been a long couple of months since we had last seen each other at Munich Airport in July so this visit was long overdue. One of the major struggles we expats have is that most of the time, the people we love live really far away. I’m fortunate that one of my closest friends only lives a 45 min flight away which is really NOTHING if I think of my other besties who live in South Africa (8 hour flight away) and Macau (10.5 hours). So off to Bahrain I went!

Actual footage of me flying across the Middle East

Now if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will recall that I went to Bahrain earlier this year and was less than enamoured. However I am pleased to say that this trip made me a lot happier… something to do with no expectations and all that (the advice I give but do not take).

Yes there are few must sees in Bahrain like the forts, wildlife park and souk BUT if you find yourself in Bahrain and want something different then what should you do?

Head to Aldar Islands is the answer to that question.

I hear you arguing with me that there are perfectly good beaches in Abu Dhabi/Dubai/Kuwait etc.

I am not disputing that BUT you aren’t there are you? You’re reading this post because you want to know what to do in BAHRAIN. So let’s look at this picture taken on the island and then discuss the finer details because now your interest is piqued.


Depending on where you are staying in Bahrain, you may have to drive a little more than you anticipate. Bee lives in Riffa so it was only a 20 minute drive from us to the Aldar Island offices however it may be longer if you’re heading from Manama. Here is the location to their ticket office:

You HAVE to HAVE some sort of ID on you (I took my passport but I am sure they would’ve accepted anything else including driver’s licenses) and we waited for around 15 minutes to be escorted to a boat. There is plenty of parking for your car (which you will NOT be taking or needing on the island). For 8BD per adult and 4BD for kids you can catch boat to and from the island once you have you wristband on. The boats leave from Sitra fisherman’s port- which is quite pretty in its own right, and after a 15 minute boat ride ( you get your ID back when you embark on the boat and oh please put your life jacket on) you end up on Al Dar Island.


So what does the island look like? Let’s see.


The coastline was a blaze of huts, bikinis, abayas and kids- all the colours matched the burning sand underfoot. Against the percussion of the sea was the laughter, coming in bursts and rolling like waves.


Loving that unicorn in the corner!


There is a bar and cafe on the island serving food, soft drinks, juices and alcohol (which they will bring right to your chair if you like) but you are free to bring your own picnic basket. Also on the island is a barbecue area, showers, shaded huts for hire and water sports that can be done for an additional fee.


As I walked along the sand, I noticed the tips of shells peeked from holes, made by little creatures, seeking shelter in the soft sand. Mini dunes of beige dust soon to be soaked by the sea, gradually creeping its way further onto shore. The sun’s rays peacefully floated, resting on the warm water.


Bee and I settled into the warm Arabian Gulf and watched as a huge school of fish swam across from us, jumping out of the water at short intervals. I wish I captured it on the camera! But the best thing was just lazing in the sand, water lapping at my feet, my bestie next to me, enjoying a lemon mint drink and watching this incredible sunset.


The horizon was gorgeous: the flaring hues of the sun melting into the sky and ocean like a divine painting. The forever stretching sea is masked with an apricot colour, that beautiful umber flowing into turquoise. Goodness, was I in Bahrain or back in The Philippines?


After dark, the beach turns into some sort of party but we didn’t stick around to see how lively it got!


We headed back to Bahrain on the fastest speedboat journey I have every undertaken in my life (thankfully there were those life jackets) and all in all, that was one of the loveliest afternoons I have spent in the Middle East!


I know people like to bash the Middle East for being fake and inauthentic but this was a naturally formed island, catering to expats and locals alike. It wasn’t particularly perfect in terms of the sand or water but its realism was what made it appealing to me. As I grow older I realise that the beach is my go-to place. Some people like their fancy coffees: cream and sugar with pumpkin spice. But give me sand, sunlight and water any day. I love to suck in the salty air like its an elixir… to me I think it is. It feels like home no matter where I go.


Have you visited Bahrain and/or Aldar Islands? If so, what did you think? Oh and I would love some recommendations for my next trip to Bahrain which will be early next year 😀

Peace out pandas car


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  • Miguel Gonçalves October 28, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Cool post! From all the Middle East smaller countries (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and even the UAE), Bahrain has always been the one I would love to visit! Maybe because there’s some connection to the Portuguese throughout history 🙂

    • Expat Panda October 29, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Wow you just taught me something because I didn’t know that 😳

      • Miguel Gonçalves October 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

        Haha in the XV and XVI centuries, Portugal and Spain divided the world in two different areas of influence. There are still today some examples of Portuguese fortresses in Bahrain, Oman, the entire African coast, Brazil and southeast Asia. 😉

        • Expat Panda October 29, 2017 at 3:46 pm

          Thank you for educating me! I’m going to look this up further 😄 This is why I love blogging… learning new things!

  • Jolyn Young October 28, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Love it! Thanks for letting us all tag along on your incredible journey. Oh and I am waiting for you to write “Peace out, Panders!” at the end of a blog – for some reason that is how my mind reads your logo at first glance. Keep posting, I love ’em all!

    • Expat Panda October 29, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Haha thanks so much for the feedback and glad you enjoyed 😄

  • justbluedutch October 29, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I was reading this while outside, the strong winds are trying to uproot the trees in the garden…we have a stormy weather now here in Germany and the cold is getting real. Looking at these photos made me feel envious..ahh love the beauty of sunset in beaches..and I can’t believe that Bahrain has this sights..! Thanks for sharing this Panda!
    Looove that pineapple suit!

    • Expat Panda October 29, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      I couldn’t believe it either- Bahrain can be pretty… sorry to hear about the weather on your side but I think this is all part of the Expat experience- heat here and winds there 😁

  • higgledypiggledymom October 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    You are lucky to travel freely with little government input. While I thought and still think of joining my daughter in Turkey (there is an archaeolgy conference she was invited to attend), our government won’t permit it, alas….which makes me look at the possibility of a trip/albeit tour group to Cuba. Just to go…isn’t that the Panda thinking? Thanks again for the sun…it’s becoming coat and ear warmer weather her. =(

    • Expat Panda October 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      I’m sooooo lucky that I can travel freely, you are right. Sorry to hear that you couldn’t make it to turkey but Cuba sounds amazing. I’m so keen to go there one day. I really can’t think about wearing a jacket in the Middle East 😂😂😂

      • higgledypiggledymom October 30, 2017 at 1:38 am

        Guess you’ll not be visiting me in the winter eh?

        • Expat Panda October 30, 2017 at 7:37 am

          I’m heading to Ireland and Paris this December 🙈

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