A day at the beach, sunbathing on the sand and swimming in the sea can be the perfect remedy for the stresses of the city. Luckily, Qatar is a peninsula; the coastline is over 560 km long, so there are plenty of beaches to choose from. Mesaieed is the most popular beach destination because it is the only place in Qatar where the sand dunes meet the water. Some, like the Inland Sea (Khor Al Adaid) can only be reached by a four‑wheel‑drive while others, such as Al Wakra, are only a short drive away and suitable for all cars. Swimming in the Gulf waters is a relaxing experience, but beware of jellyfish in the summer! If you want to go camping, Ras Abrouq (Bir Zekreet) beach is very popular.
Many of Qatar’s beaches are isolated with no facilities and there may be pollution and litter. Visitors to the busier family beaches should be aware that they need to wear appropriate clothing – nothing too revealing. Bring everything you need with you: food and plenty of water, sunscreen, towels and a first aid kit – and please take away all your rubbish.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment has opened four beaches in Al Wakra, Al Khor, Simaisma and Al Kharayij at Umm Bab, after revamping the facilities in collaboration with the Public Works Authority (Ashghal). All the beaches are cordoned off and have toilets, platforms for barbecuing, play areas for children, playgrounds for football and volleyball, beach umbrellas and canopies.
A family beach with a 1,350 m seafront just outside Al Khor. To get there, coming through Al Khor, go past Al Khor Mall, and at the next roundabout, turn left – there is a sign saying ‘Al Farkeeh beach’. Follow the road for several hundred metres, past the sign for ‘Marina Scouts Club’, and keep going straight until the next sign for ‘Al Farkeeh’. Turn left and the beach can be seen in the distance. There are play areas, wooden sheds, watchtowers, and other facilities.
Opening times: Sunday to Wednesday 7 am – 10 pm; Thursday/Friday/Saturday is for families only,
7 am – midnight Admission: Free
Just 4.5 km beyond Fuwairit is Al Ghariya beach. On Al Shamal (North) Road, take the Al Ghariya turnoff, follow the tarred road and keep to the right when the road splits. After the
Al Ghariya Beach Resort, drive 1.5 km until you reach an abandoned village. The best spot is further north beyond the old Scout Camp.
At the northern tip of Qatar, at the end of Al Shamal (North) Road and about 110 km from Doha, are some quiet beach areas with coves and inlets, and picnic and shaded spots. The rock formations are very different in this region and wildlife such as dugongs (an aquatic animal) can be seen. Al Shamal Municipality has started implementing a project to provide the beach with shades and solar energy-run lights.
Al Sultan Beach Resort
Located on Al Khor beach, Al Sultan Beach Resort is just a short drive from Doha. With its own private beach, sizable swimming pool and Jacuzzi, the resort is wonderful for water activities and just relaxing the day away. 4472 2555/2666, alsultanbeachresort.com
The largest area of mangroves – and the oldest – can be found around Al Thakhira and Al Khor.
A great way to explore the mangroves is by kayak, available from several tour operators and specialist companies. All of these can be booked in advance, and many companies offer both morning and afternoon trips. Al Khor is about 35 – 40 km from Doha. Drive through the town and bear left at the northern end of the Corniche, heading towards Al Thakhira. Turn right at the next roundabout; take the first left and pass through the gap between the houses. Heading left away from the village, pass the car park and jetty onto a track across the salt marsh, which eventually leads to a small wadi (desert depression) and then to the beach. At high tide the salt marsh can turn treacherous, so park near the wadi unless in a four‑wheel‑drive vehicle.
The old fishing town of Al Wakra is undergoing continuous redevelopment. The 4 km coastline stretches from the hills to the fishing harbour. The beachfront traditional village called Souq Waqif, Al Wakra is a replica of life 200 years ago. The Al Wakra family beach in the Al Jabal area has volleyball and football areas, shading, showers and toilets. The water is shallow but with lots of rocks, and children should be supervised. Solar power is being utilised to provide lighting.
Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara (pictured)
Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara feels a world away from bustling Doha but is only a 25-minute journey by luxury ferry from Al Shyoukh Terminal located in the city’s downtown area or a 10 minute helicopter ride directly from the airport with bird’s eye views of the spectacular coastline. Bask on their private 800 metre beach, refresh yourself at the 100 metre long lagoon pool, or master the waves in their surf pool and enjoy a wide range of watersports. You could also sign up for snorkelling and scuba diving adventures. 4040 5050, doha.anantara.com
Dukhan is on the west coast, 90 km from Doha. The most direct route is via Al Luqta Street past Education City, following the signs for Dukhan. At the gates to Dukhan, turn left and follow the coast road for 9 km until you reach Dukhan Water Sports. The tarred road ends here, but to the south there are plenty of places to stop. The beaches are sandy but watch out for sharp rocks under the water.
80 km from Landmark mall on the Al Shamal (North) Road, look out for interchange exit number 79, as the signpost for Fuwairit is just before the bridge. Come off the road, turn right at this sign and follow the surfaced road leading to a small village. Upon reaching the outskirts of the village, turn left onto a rough track running parallel to the coast. Drive for about a kilometre to get to the beach. From here turn right for the main beach and watch the kitesurfers, or turn left to see the unusual formations of eroded jebel that run down to the water’s edge. Watch out for rocks in the water.
Jazirat bin Ghannam island (Purple Island)
Drive through Al Khor and go straight (first exit) over the first roundabout. At the second roundabout, go straight over again (second exit) and immediately take the right turn‑off, at the sign for Dolphin Energy. With the Qatargas/RasGas tower on the right side of the road, go straight for just over 5 km. Turn right at the sign for ‘Flower Each Spring’ and follow the road round to the right – this is an unmade road but suitable for all vehicles. The car park can be seen ahead – park here as cars cannot go any further. ‘Purple’ Island gets its name from the dye extracted from the sea snail (shellfish called thais savigny), evidence of which can be found all over this coastal stretch of land. The ‘island’ is surrounded by mangroves and is accessed via a causeway (broken away in parts). Climb to the top of the jebel for a 360° view of Al Khor. Coordinates for the car park are 25.41.36N/51.33.16E.
Katara Beach is 1.5 km long and open to members and walk‑in guests. A play area is located by the beach where children can enjoy a variety of activities, games and rides as well as child friendly watersports. As it’s a public beach, women are asked to wear a one-piece swimming costume. Katara also has a luxury beach club and spa inspired by Scandinavian health and wellness principles of health.
Opening times: Beach opening and closing timings vary according to season. Call for up to date opening times or visit katara.net/en/Visiting/Beach. Admission: Entry is free; separate fees apply for watersports and lessons. Contact: 4408 1985, 7002 9360, katara.net
Mesaieed is the industrial town at the original centre of the petrochemical industry, 40 km south of Doha. There are some good beaches to the south of the town and this is where the barchans (crescent‑shaped) sand dunes begin. Mesaieed is home to Qatar’s most popular sand dunes and the luxurious Sealine Beach, A Murwab Resort. Dune buggies and quad bikes can be hired here near the resort. It is busiest at the weekend – cars, buggies and quad bikes will be driving in all directions on the beach, so exercise caution. Four‑wheel‑drive vehicles are necessary if veering away from the main beach area – don’t forget to select your vehicle’s lowest gear when approaching the softer sand.
Ras Abrouq or Bir Zekreet (pictured)
The bay is at the tip of a peninsula northeast of Dukhan and is a popular spot for weekend campers and watersports enthusiasts. It can be a rough journey, but if you have a four‑wheel‑drive it’s fun to explore. Follow the smooth and wide Dukhan Road, but turn off at the new interchange about 5 km before Dukhan. Pass The Cuban Hospital on the left and onto the road that heads up the northeastern side of the Ras Abrouq peninsula. After 2 km, turn left or right at the Qatar Petroleum site and pipeline. Turn left and you will see an abandoned police post on top of a jebel after 9 km. Go round the hill base and over the causeway on your left to get to the tip of the peninsula. Full of interesting coves and bays, you may see flamingos in the half-moon bay. If you turn right, you will go past the Ministry of Muncipality and Environment’s SCENR reserve for gazelles and ostriches.
If travelling up to Bir Zekreet, it’s worth taking some time going inland and finding the ‘film set’ built into the rock faces of the jebels with small, rough stone buildings where a film was produced several years ago. From here drive up the jebel face – if in a suitable vehicle – and in the distance you will see a small fort. This was used as the location for a TV series, and is open to the public.
Sealine Beach, A Murwab Resort
Rising majestically from the sands, where the blue waves of the Arabian Sea meet the dunes, lies Sealine Beach, A Murwab Resort, a haven of comfort, luxury, and leisure. Qatar’s first leisure destination, Sealine Beach Resort is the perfect place to get away from the thriving urban life. With more than 58 luxurious villas equipped with modern facilities, and opening on to a rear patio, leading directly to the beach, Sealine Beach Resort offers a wide range of fine cuisine as well as recreational activities such as water sports, desert safari, as well as football, basketball, beach volleyball, etc.
Opening times: Day visitors can pay to use the resort’s facilities, pools and beach 6 am – 7 pm during weekdays and 6 am – 10 pm during weekends. Admission: Call ahead for up to date promotions. Children five and below enter for free, while 6 – 12 year olds can visit at half price. Contact: 4021 4000, sealinebeachqatar.com
Just 27 km north of Doha is the small village of Simaisma. The beach stretches out from a natural jetty, skirts around a small cluster of mangroves and continues around the bend. On the south end is a small hill with a derelict building; a nice silhouette at dusk. Enjoy the mangroves, which play a vital role in land preservation. Try to avoid crushing the mangrove roots. The beach also boasts 121 palm trees, 265 sidra trees and a variety of seasonal plants. The family beach has been developed to include green areas with 18 big shades and 15 smaller ones, along with open areas for barbecues.
Simaisma, A Murwab Resort
Simaisma, A Murwab Resort is a luxurious retreat on Simaisma Beach. The property features 52 villas, and facilities include a private beach area and watersports. The resort has a year-round outdoor pool and barbecue. The resort is also home to Six Senses Spa, which is arranged over two floors with dedicated male and female areas. Spa goers can enjoy a selection of signature massages, facials by Subtle Energies, locally-inspired treatments and beauty services. Contact: 4479 9555, simaisma.com
TaliaMare Beach Club A4/B4
Located in The-Pearl Qatar’s Qanat Quartier, TaliaMare Beach Club is a beach club, lounge and restaurant. It offers a seafront dining experience in an exclusive area. The oasis offers privacy as well as a family ambience outing with sunbeds, cabanas, shisha and more on offer. On weekends, the place delivers a vibrant setting with enticing beach games, movie projections and a wide variety of events for all ages.
Opening times: Day visitors can pay to use the club’s facilities, pools and beach 10 am – 10 pm. Admission: Free. Walk-ins are accepted on weekends. Reservations are required especially for special occasions and to get on the beach. An access or reservation code will be provided for entry. You can get a daily pass from the website. Call ahead. Contact: 4488 8370/3030 2063, taliamare.com
There’s a small cluster of palm trees beside the breakwater that earned the beach its nickname ‘Palm Tree Beach’. From Doha proceed along Salwa Road for 29 km beyond the Industrial Area, and past the Mukainis satellite earth station. Turn right at the next interchange and follow the road for a further
40 km until you reach the roundabout at the Umm Bab cement works. Go straight across and on cresting a small hill, you will see the coast stretched out below and the distinctive group of trees. The sand is very soft, so proceed with caution.