Discovering Qatar’s Wild Beaches
Qatar is known for its scorching heat and desert landscapes. However, with only sixty kilometres of its border bounded by land, the other five hundred and three kilometres is coastline, which is cooler, more forgiving and home to most of the country's population. And, where the land meets the sea, there are beaches, which, for the local populace, serve as places of relaxation, adventure, exercise, sporting activities, social hangouts and, of course, somewhere to soak up some Vitamin D.
Qatar's coastline has an abundance of beaches, which generally slope gently into the sea, with clear, calm, deeper water further out. Such topography makes the coast perfect for both families with children, those who like to relax on the shore or just wade in the water, and for swimmers and those who enjoy water sports activities that need more depth. (Swimming in the sea is considered to be safe. There are jellyfish, stonefish, lionfish and stingrays in the waters, but in limited numbers, and suitable precautions will reduce the risk.) Beaches can be sandy or rocky depending on their location, meaning there is something for everyone - sandcastle builders and sunbathers to overnight campers and explorers. Indeed, Qatar has all types of beaches...
In the capital city Doha, miles of manicured sandy stretches are found alongside major hotels, clubs and resorts. These beaches are usually privately owned, well cared for, with all the amenities you would expect, and are used at a princely cost to beach-goers. Numerous private resorts can also be found beyond the city lines in isolated locations, offering luxury and tranquillity, but again cost is an important factor. If you are conserving cash but would still like some basic facilities at hand - sun loungers and shades, toilets, showers, bbq and picnic tables, play equipment for kids - then Qatar's tended public beaches are extremely popular, usually located in and around towns along the coast and outside of the city limits. However, if you are looking for a more authentic experience, some adventure, some peace and quiet away from the city and more crowded beaches, then why not try some of Qatar's best wild beaches…
Qatar has a copious number of wild beaches along its lengthy coastline, which offer an unforgettable and unique view of the natural landscape. Some beaches have miles of sand, some have rock formations or mangroves, some have birdlife, and some have extraordinary sea life. Some wild beaches are ideal for swimming, some for paddling and crabbing, and some for water sports. Some are perfect for camping - what better way to experience the traditional Bedouin lifestyle than to camp under the stars away from all the trappings of modern life!
All of Qatar's wild beaches are worth a visit and generally are pretty easy to reach by car. So, if you have transport, your own, borrowed or hired, then surely it's time to get the boot packed with your beach-going necessities and hit the road…but where to?
Check out some of our favourite wild beaches in Qatar to give you an idea:
Qatar’s Wild Beaches
Images: Google images
Fuwairit Beach is one of Qatar’s most beautiful, wild and undeveloped public beaches. Its calm seas, shallow waters, white sand dotted with shells and pebbles, are an obvious attraction at this remote spot. Camping, barbeques and picnics are popular at the beach, as are swimming, snorkelling and kite surfing. Shallow waters make a safe haven for kids to play in, and swimmers can easily wade out to deeper clear blue water.
In the sea, there are plenty of fish, crabs and other wildlife to spot, as well as along the shore. Dolphins have been spotted in the water, and the beach is a protected hawksbill turtle nesting site.
There are also interesting rock formations along the coast. Known locally as ‘jebel’, ‘mountain’ in Arabic, these small rocky hills lead right into the water's edge. With overhangs and a myriad of cracks and holds, the rocks provide a great place for climbers to practise their bouldering skills. Climbing near the water should only take place at low-tide.
Fuwairit Beach is close to the northern tip of the Qatar peninsula, approximately 100 km from Doha along the Doha Expressway and the Al Shamal Road. The journey takes over an hour, and the beach is accessed via the Fuwairit Road (exit 79 on the Al Shamal Road). The last part of the journey is over a rough dirt track.
There are no amenities at the beach, so you need to take everything that you are going to need with you. Food, water and something to shade you should be at the top of your list.
Al Ghariyah Public and Swimming beaches are located just to the North of Fuwairit. These are also nice beaches to visit if you are in the area.
- Part of the beach is closed and fenced off, by the Ministry of Environment, from April to August for the turtle nesting season.
- For the safest place to park, use the expanse of flat and before the beach.
Slightly south of Fuwairit Beach, Al Maroona (also known as 42km Beach or French Beach) is another perfect place to visit if you are looking for a natural, wild beach with soft golden sand – ideal for building sandcastles - and a shallow sea. Where the water gets deeper, swimming and snorkelling are great activities to try in the crystal clear blue water.
You can discover a variety of wildlife in the shallow depths and wet sands, from numerous fish, ghost crabs, hermit crabs, starfish to the occasional turtle.
Around 90 km north of Doha, the journey takes about 75 minutes; the beach is accessed via the Al Shamal Road from Doha to Al Khor, exiting the main road when you see a blue signpost for Al Maroona. Following the signs will lead you onto a bumpy dirt track - 4x4 vehicles are best for the journey - which ends at the beach (left of a large white building).
There are no amenities at the beach, so you need to take everything that you are going to need with you. Food, water and something to shade you should be at the top of your list.
Set in the North-East of Qatar, this is a great place for exploring and hiking. First stop, Qatar’s most impressive rock carving site, Al Jassasiya, slightly south of the beach. These neolithic petroglyphs comprise a total of 874 carvings located on several rocky ridges. The carvings include numerous designs, such as ships, footprints and rosettes - a design unique to the region.
Image: Prem Chokli/Shutterstock.com
South of Al Maroona and just north of Al Khor, Al Thakhira beach is part of a large nature reserve - designated in 2006. The reserve is made up of stretches of golden sand, mangroves and salt marshes. The mangrove forest is one of the largest and oldest in Qatar; its presence, in stark contrast to the surrounding desert, attracts an abundance of wildlife, including flamingos, herons, other waders and sea turtles.
The soft sand, shallow waters provide an excellent place for paddling and exploring the shoreline; though the soft, muddy sand makes getting out to the deep water for swimming a less viable option. The mangroves, with their maze of waterways, provide the perfect place for kayakers looking for adventure and wildlife. And, the salt marshes provide an ideal spot for bird watching.
Al Thakhira Nature Reserve is not to be confused with Al Thakhira Family Beach, located close by on the shores of Al Dhakira town. The nature reserve has none of the amenities serving the family beach, which has a long promenade and a cycle route running alongside it with a variety of seating areas and sunshades, and a children's park.
The beach is located to the north of Al Khor, approximately 65 km from Doha. The journey takes just over an hour, and the beach can be accessed from the Al Khor Coastal Road, though the Al Khor and the town of Al Dhakira. The last few hundred metres of the trip is on a bumpy dirt track - 4x4 vehicles are best for the journey.
There are no amenities at the nature reserve, so take plenty of water, food and sunscreen with you. Shading is recommended too.
Al Dhakira town is nearby and has most of the usual facilities - shops, supermarkets, food kiosks and restaurants, and play parks.
Kayaking is a great way to explore the mangroves. Several tour operators offer morning and afternoon trips and provide all the equipment you need. You will need to book these beforehand.
- When parking, take care - salt marshes become treacherous when wet. A small wadi adjacent to the beach provides a good place to park.
Staying on the east coast, Sealine Beach is located at the southern end of the Qatar peninsula just after the town of Mesaieed. The beach, fringed by date trees and set against a backdrop of some impressive dunes, is made up of acres of white sand.
The long sandy beach is very popular with visitors and gets extremely busy on the weekend. People come to picnic and BBQ with family and friends, and to swim in the clear seas. Camel rides, for a fee, are also a popular pastime on the beach.
Behind the beach are towering sand dunes - climb to the top of a perfect view of the sea and the desert.
Sealine Beach is located approximately 50 km south of Doha on the Mesaieed Road, via Al Wakra, or the Doha Expressway south towards Mesaieed. The journey takes around 45 minutes and the beach is accessed on the Sealine Beach Road south of Mesaieed and past the Sealine Beach Resort.
There are no amenities such as toilets, showers, shading, cafes and restaurants at the beach, so take everything that you need with you. There are, however, a couple of food kiosks for snacks and fast food.
Adjacent to the beach and clustered around the Sealine Beach Resort are several shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a mosque, an ATM and a petrol station.
You can rent equipment such as sand boards, dune buggies and quad bikes at the Sealine Beach Resort. Doha Bus operates a desert safari on a monster bus from a shop next to the resort.
Sealine Resort with its tidy beach, pools, all-day dining and sports facilities, is a great place to stop for lunch. On the weekend you can get Brunch and a Day Pass to use all the facilities.
Regency Sealine Camp is a luxury glamping facility nearby in the desert. If you fancy stopping over for the night, it is a perfect place to try camping like a local.
The Inland Sea, a lagoon amid the desert, fed by the sea, is a relatively short drive south of Sealine Beach. It is a great place to explore, take on the dunes and spend a night camping under the stars.
- Park on the sandy ground at the family beach.
- The beach often suffers from large amounts of litter being left by visitors - there are bins available to help keep the beach clean for everyone.
Khor Al Adaid
Continuing south and into the dunes adjacent to Saudi Arabia, Khor Al Adaid, commonly known as the Inland Sea, is one of Qatar’s most beautiful natural wonders. It is, in fact, an inland lagoon in the midst of the desert’s enormous rolling sand dunes. It is one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches so deeply into the desert - its unique features making it incomparable with any other lagoonal system anywhere else in the world.
Astoundingly picturesque, Khor Al Adaid is recognised by UNESCO as a nature reserve with a unique ecosystem. It is home to a variety of birds, land animals, and marine life - some of which have rare or threatened status.
Visitors to the Inland Sea are attracted by the extraordinary and scenic landscape, to relax on the beach, picnic, BBQ, swim, fish, explore the dunes, as well as to stargaze on overnight camping trips. For the more adventurous, there is dune bashing and sand-boarding.
The Inland Sea lies approximately 90 km south of Doha, past Mesaieed and Sealine Beach Resort. The beach is accessed via the Sealine Beach Road and the Inland Sea Off-Road using GPS or another navigational system. Over 30 km of the route is over desert tracks, desert and sand dunes - you will need to let some air out of your tyres before going over the dunes. So, the best vehicle to travel in is a 4x4. You can do it yourself, but going in convoy is probably the safest way.
There are no amenities at the Inland Sea so take everything that you need with you, especially if you are planning to camp there. Plenty of water, sunscreen and something for shade are top recommendations.
There is plenty to do at Khor Al Adaid. The water is clear, calm and perfect for paddling, swimming and fishing.
However, if you like to explore, there are an abundance of rocky ridges and crags, raised plateaus, coastal sabkha (salt flats), salt hillocks and moving sand dunes to discover.
There is an array of plant life – 40 species not normally found together in a single location; wildlife – lizards, snakes, gazelles, Oryx, camels, flamingos, cormorants, seagulls, terns, ospreys and migrating waterfowl; and, marine life - marine reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs, porpoises, dolphins, Bryde’s whales, fish, turtles and dugong species, coral and seagrass to spot.
And, for a bit of culture, visitors can also take a look at the various archaeological and heritage sites around the area.
- The best time to visit is from November to April.
- Commercial fishing is prohibited, but you can fish for yourself for pleasure.
- Several tour companies offer day and overnight camping trips into the desert. Tour operators offer a variety of amenities and facilities, and activities, for a fee.
Heading up the west coast of Qatar, Dukhan beach is remote from the country’s usual tourist attractions, but it is a popular, clean and sandy beach with clear blue water.
The beach is open to all and attracts people from all over the country, especially for camping trips, picnics and barbeques. It is a perfect place for walking, swimming and snorkelling - there are reefs just offshore to explore, and there are plenty of fish in the sea. Surfing is also possible - Dukhan has some of the highest tides in Qatar. The beach to the south is equipped with wooden shades.
The beach is located near Dukhan City on the West coast of the Qatar peninsula, approximately 80 kilometres from Doha on the Dukhan Highway. The journey takes around an hour; the beach is accessed via Beach Road on the coastal side of Dukhan.
Other than the wooden sunshades and bins, there are no amenities at the beach, so you need to take everything that you are going to need with you. Food and plenty of water should be at the top of your list.
The beach is near to Dukhan City where you will find local shops, restaurants, toilets and a petrol station.
Mystery Village, with its beautiful scenery, ancient rocks and deserted forts, Film City, and the Brouq Nature Reserve, with its steel sculptures, are reasonably close by (see Zekreet Beach section below for more information).
- Although Dukhan beach is sandy, there are sharp rocks under the water, so it is best to wear beach shoes.
- Park in the car parking spaces on Beach Road.
Image: Keena Ithar/Shutterstock.com
NOTE: KEEP QATAR’S BEACHES CLEAN - TAKE YOUR RUBBISH AWAY WITH YOU!
Main image: Sunny89/Shutterstock.com
Zekreet (also known as Ras Abrouq or Bir Zekreet), located at the top of the Zekreet peninsula on the west coast of Qatar, has two remote beaches – North and West. Zekreet West Beach is set in a picturesque half-moon bay, while North Beach sits almost at the very tip of Qatar, jutting out into the Persian Gulf.
Zekreet peninsula is one of the most interesting places in Qatar and is full of interesting places to explore. The beaches are clean with clear, turquoise water, shallow at low tide. Each beach has a fair amount of golden sand, though there are plenty of rocks as well. The backdrop to most stretches of beach is made up of striking eroded rock formations, hence the rocky beaches.
Most people travel to this remote destination to explore the unique and fascinating landscape, to spend the day relaxing on its peaceful beaches, or to camp overnight. The beaches are safe for children but are not swimming beaches - instead, they attract many kite and windsurfers. Many people venture out to hike in and climb the rocky hills too.
The beaches are located north of Zekreet village on the west coast about 95 kilometres from Doha. The journey can take up to 2 hours, and the area is accessed via the Dukhan Highway and north on the Zekreet Beach/UNESCO Reserve Road. You can drive to Zekreet in a sedan, but to explore the peninsula, it is recommended that you have a 4x4 vehicle.
There are no amenities at Zekreet’s beaches, so take everything that you need with you, especially if you are planning to camp there. Plenty of food, water, sunscreen and something for shade are highly recommended.
The nearest facilities are in Dukhan.
Zekreet’s landscape is made up of open desert, rock and eroded rock formations that create strange and arresting pillars and mesas across the peninsula. Perfect for hiking and climbing, this area has become something of a climbing haven on the weekends.
Some of the rock formations, namely those at Mystery Village just south of West Beach, have small circular huts on top of them. They are part of an abandoned film set from a Qatari soap opera. The rest of the film set is slightly further south. Film City, as it is known, is a replica Arabian city in the middle of the desert. It's a fun place to explore while you're in the area.
Another oddity for the middle of the desert is a piece of modern art by American artist, Richard Serra. The 50ft steel columns run for more than a mile.
Much of the peninsula is designated as a nature reserve, the Brouq National Reserve. You can spot camels, Oryx, gazelle, deer, ostriches and flamingos.
The archaeological remains of Zekreet Fort can also be found outside Zekreet village.
- Although the beaches are sandy, there are sharp rocks along the beach and under the water, so it is best to wear beach shoes.
- Park on the firm sandy ground at the beach.
- Keep clear of ostriches, in the breeding season they can be aggressive.