Greetings from Cyprus
In praise of: Dubai!

In praise of: Al Dar Island

A continuing series exploring expat life in Bahrain.

When I was first assigned to Bahrain, my CDO left me a hand-written note in my welcome packet, raving about all the "beautiful beaches" in Bahrain. After three months in Bahrain, we're still asking: What beaches? 

Bahrain is an island with few beaches. Around the coast, the land simply ends in a pile of rocks and drops off into the Persian Gulf (aka Arabian Gulf). Most of the sandy beaches that did once exist have sadly been destroyed by land reclaimation projects, or fenced off as private property for beachfront homes, or for hotel beaches that are only accessible to guests. There are only two free public beaches in Bahrain, and they are not recommended. 

Thankfully for us beach bums, there's Al Dar Island -- a crescent-shaped, tiny spit of sand located about 10km off the east coast of Bahrain. On Saturday, the Two Crabs & friends packed our beach towels and sun block and headed to Sitra fishing port. There, you pay 10BD ($26.50) admission fee and hop on the water taxi for the short ride across the straits, past several oil refineries and factories to the island.  The island has been recently renovated with all new facilities including a locker room with showers and changing rooms, a small lighthouse that contains restrooms, a resident donkey named Bup, and a small restaurant/bar serving up grilled kebabs, fresh fish, Caribbean cocktails and super-friendly staff.  You can also rent paddle boats and jetskis or go on a pearl diving or dolphin watching trips. But the real attraction is the small but tidy beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. The beige sand is soft and inviting, dropping into a cove filled with small fish and kelp forests. But be careful: the current is surprisingly strong; if you're not a good swimmer, you might find yourself half-way to Iran! Admission to Al Dar is strictly limited to only 150 people per day, so it never feels overly-crowded.

There are lots of new activites and attractions planned for the future. During our visit, half the island was closed for the construction of several beach bungalows that will soon be available for rent.  Solar panels and windmills will soon provide green power for the island.  Al Dar will also be hosting monthly beach parties with DJs and dancing. It may not be St. John USVI, but if you're in Bahrain, Al Dar it's definately worth a day trip.

A few more scenes from Al Dar:

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