Where to go when you find yourself in Bahrain?
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!
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.
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 😀