Splash-tastic Water Park Fun in Qatar
Qatar isn't a country you would instantly associate with water, considering the Middle East is famed instead for its searing heat. However, Qatar's position as a peninsula protruding from Saudi Arabia into the Gulf sea means that most of the nation's borders are coastal. Even in the desert, you can find one of the world's only inland seas. So, it should be no surprise that, with so many long sandy stretches available and access to warm, clear, sparkling waters, water sports and the beach lifestyle are extremely popular with Qatar's residents.
Indeed, there are many activities in Qatar for the more water-loving among us, from swimming, sailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding and diving to kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. But if you're looking for a fun, family day out with activities suitable for everyone, and a little less sand in your crevices, then it is time to check out the country's water parks.
Water Parks in Qatar
Qatar has two water parks, and though one is yet to open fully, both are extremely impressive. From the world's tallest record-breaking and crazy rotating water slides to multi-level interactive water play areas, log flumes and lazy rivers, these water parks are full of the latest state-of-the-art rides and attractions, making them one of the nation's favourite leisure activities.
So, if you haven’t made a splash in Qatar yet, let’s take a look at these watery worlds in turn:
Desert Falls Water Park
Image: Hilton Salwa Beach Resort
The Desert Falls Water Park is located at the water's edge in the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort on Qatar's quiet southwest coast. To reach the resort, you must drive away from the bright lights and the hustle and bustle of the city through the country's desert heartland. When you finally see the beach resort on the distant horizon amid the arid, empty landscape, it's like finding a desert oasis. And what an oasis!
The water park, though an outdoor oasis with native trees and pools of water glistening in the bright sunshine, also incorporates a large area known as the Sea Caves. The Sea Caves are a labyrinth of man-made caves full of adventures for the whole family.
The entrance to the park is through the Sea Caves area. Once inside, the cool air, date palms dotted around where the caverns are open to the sky above, waterfalls, and pools of clear water give you a sense of an exotic secret world - until you hear the many excited screams and shouts as guests throw themselves wholeheartedly into the many activities on offer. Adventurers big and small delight in the wave pool, the Surf Dunes (where you can learn to ride the waves on a surf simulator), the interactive kid's aqua playground, Lenny's Lagoon (a multi-level play structure with slides, water features and a huge water dump bucket), and the Spinning Rapids (a river that runs through the cave, taking up to six riders on inner tubes, round to the pinnacle of the attraction - a 32 m high twisting, turning open-air slide that ends with a steep drop back into the caves). The Sea Caves also incorporate a Lazy River, navigated on huge inner tubes or by swimming, that wraps itself around the cave system before taking you outside to explore the rest of the park…
Outside, you can find a raft of watery activities to enjoy. The Lazy River, all 268 m of it, winds its way past the Falls Pool (a swimming lagoon with waterfalls), the Ship's Kid's Pool (shaped like a traditional Dhow with added extras, such as slides, water fountains and jets), and the Dahl Kids Pool (another interactive water playground), as well as a host of thrilling rides. Why not try the King Cobra slide, a twin tube ride that sweeps riders round and down through the snake slide out and up into the cobra's mouth. Or go on the Family Abyss, a wide, open-air slide hosting inner tubes fit for a whole family that propels its riders down into a vast funnel to oscillate from one side to the other at speed, then out into a splash pool. Or take a race down the Whizzard Mat Racer, a high-speed set of slides you can race down head first, on padded mats, against your friends and family.
There are currently 18 attractions and at least 56 rides and slides at the park, so plenty of watery fun is to be had. However, if you fancy something extra, the park also incorporates a canyoning experience, an arcade games zone, a go-karting circuit, and a laser tag adventure. In 2023, the park will also open a new kid's obstacle course (for dry land antics) and a women's and children's pool, the Desert Rose Pool - an oasis of tranquillity for mums and little ones.
With so much to do and see at the Desert Falls Water Park, the only trouble you'll have is getting everyone back in the car at the end of the day - it's so good no one ever wants to leave!
Location: Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas, Salwa Road (Exit 86), Abu Samra
Directions: Desert Falls Water Park can be reached via car on the Salwa Road, southwest of Doha. Visitors should exit Salwa Road at the Learaig Interchange (Exit 86) and follow the signs for the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort and Water Park.
Plenty of free parking is available.
Contact Number: +974 4423 6416
Other Useful Information:
Opening Hours: The water park is open from 10 am - 6 pm daily. Other dry land activities have alternative opening hours:
- Canyoning: 10 am - 7 pm daily
- Diving: 11 am - 6:30 pm daily
- Go-Karting: 11 am - 7 pm daily
- Laser Tag: 11 am - 7 pm daily
- Arcade: 11am - 7 pm daily
Costs: Entrance to the water park currently (2023) costs QAR 150 per person for adults and kids and QAR 500 for 4-person families.
Pre-book tickets at q-tickets.com.
Canyoning, diving, go-karting and laser tag entrance and arcade tickets are not included in the price but can be purchased at the appropriate reception desk for each activity:
- Canyoning: QAR 100 per person for 30 minutes (all safety equipment included). Advance booking is required; call +974 4423 6416.
- Go-Karting: QAR 75 per person for 10 minutes
- Laser Tag: QAR 60 per person for 12 minutes (bring your own socks or buy at the Laser Tag reception for QAR 10).
- Arcade: between QAR 15 - 30 per play
Amenities: The park offers the following amenities to guests:
- Changing rooms,
- Lockers (for a fee),
- Prayer Rooms,
- Smoking Areas,
- Towel Rental Centre,
- Sea Caves Souk (swimwear, towels and convenience items),
- Lost and Found Centre,
- First Aid Room.
Facilities: When visiting the water park, you can, for a fee, access the Hilton Resort pool and beach and its food and beverage outlets. A variety of access packages are available at the water park reception.
The water park offers separate rooms and areas for birthday parties. Various packages are available that include Water Park Access, Laser Tag access, party food and drinks, a party host, goodie bags, etc. Contact [email protected] for further details.
Food and Drink: The water park offers various food and drink options. There are numerous juice bars and snack kiosks, including the Cinnamon Rolls Kiosk serving fresh pastries. There is also a cafe and restaurant for more filling alternatives. Telal Cafe serves fast food, including burgers, hot dogs, wraps, salads and fries, and MIQA (Made in Qatar) is a casual dining eatery serving shawarma, kofta meals, curries, fried rice and mezze dishes, such as moutabel, tabbouleh, fattoush and kibbeh.
Safety: Life Guards are available on-site at all times. A First Aid centre is provided close to the kid's adventure course manned by fully trained medical staff.
All children under 13 years of age must be accompanied by a fee-paying adult.
Each ride and activity has minimum height restrictions to ensure safety. For example, little visitors to Lenny’s Lagoon must be at least 1 m tall to participate, though smaller kids under that height can have a blast at the Ship’s Kids Pool. For some of the bigger adventure rides and slides, a 1.2 m height restriction is in place. Height requirements are noted at each activity location.
Dress Code: Proper, appropriate swimwear only.
What to Bring: While many items can be bought at the water park’s Sea Caves Souk and towels can be rented at the Towel Rental Centre, it is advisable to bring your own sunscreen, towels and a bottle of water.
Food and beverages from outside the park are not permitted, except for one 500 ml bottle of water per person, baby foods, and dietary and medical necessities.
Meryal Water Park
Meryal Water Park is one of the more recent attractions to be unveiled in Doha. Located on the new entertainment island of Qetaifan, which includes a host of leisure attractions, such as a beach club, top-notch restaurants and cafes, parks, plazas, a souk and a host of waterfront activities, the water park is an immense addition to the new man-made isle.
The water park, though not yet officially open to the public, covers 281,000 sqm (an area almost the same size as forty FIFA football pitches) and will offer, amongst other things, 36 water slides, some of which will make up the park's centrepiece, Icon Tower.
Icon Tower is an 85 m tall slide structure, the world's tallest, which hosts 12 different water slides, two of which are already record-breakers for their height. The slides, 80 m and 79.5 m high are the world's tallest water slides. Both slides beat the current world's tallest, the 'Insane' water slide at Brazil's Beach Park, by over 28 m each. So, for those who know no fear, expect a seriously hair-raising ride. Reportedly, guests will reach the tallest slide via an 80 m high cantilevered platform, step into a launch capsule and wait with bated breath for a trapdoor below the feet to open, allowing an almost sheer drop down the initial section of the slide. The high-speed descent of the slide will apparently take at least 60 seconds to complete! Aside from the record breakers, Icon Tower is also home to a further ten slides, from body and tube slides to raft rides, taking in one of the world's largest abyss funnel slides. Such dizzying heights and so many slides may seem like a lot of stair climbing, but don't worry, two lifts are provided to take guests up and down to the slides, and conveyor belts bring rafts up for guests to use.
Icon Tower is located on a small islet that can be reached via a train, which transports passengers from the main water park over a bridge to the attraction.
Back on the main island, there are over twenty more water slides and a host of other activities to explore. If thrills and spills are your things, you can try the Master Blaster (a water slide that propels riders up and down a double flume that extends out over the sea), the Colorado Drop (an extreme water slide ride for daring duos with zero gravity feels), the Boomerang (a slide with big drops and near vertical descents), and the Constrictor (a coiling water ride with tight turns and corners that promote some extreme Gs). Or, if you're after something a little more laid back, you could try the Lazy River for a relaxed trip around the park, the log flume, the wave pool, or any of the aqua playgrounds with the kids. There are even an array of dry land activities to enjoy, including a rollercoaster and a virtual reality slide.
The park's theme is, unusually, oil and gas, an ode to Qatar's history and the discovery of oil, which has propelled the nation to where it stands today. So, not only will you have a whale of a time trying all of the rides and slides the park has to offer, but you may also learn a little about Qatar's culture and heritage while doing so.
Location: Qetaifan Island North, Lusail
Directions: Meryal Water Park is located on Qetaifan Island North, just off-shore of Lusail City and an easy 30-minute drive from central Doha. Visitors should head out of the city onto the Lusail Expressway to the northern side of Lusail and head over the Qetaifan Island Suspension Bridge. Once on the island, signposts guide visitors to the water park.
Other Useful Information:
Meryal Water Park has yet to be opened to the public, but watch this space - as soon as this adventure playground opens its doors, we'll have all the latest updates for you here!
If you fancy swapping adrenalin-fuelled slides for dipping your toes in the ocean and building sandcastles; why not take the family to one of Qatar’s fantastic family beaches. Check out our recommendations for top sandy shores here:
Main image: Tinna Pong/Shutterstock.com
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