The Best Things to Do in Bahrain This Summer

Island life in Bahrain
Island life in Bahrain | © Dr Ajay Kumar Singh / Shutterstock
Photo of Melissa Nazareth
22 June 2018

Summers are the perfect time to enjoy the island life, and where better than the secluded archipelago of Bahrain? Whether you’re the outdoorsy type or prefer staying indoors, there’s so much you can enjoy, right from pearl diving through to a romantic getaway to one of the country’s 33 islands.

Hit the beach

Take a dip in the sea or enjoy sunbathing at one of Bahrain‘s public beaches. Al Jazayer beach is one of the country’s most impressive, and though it’s a little far off, it’s worth the ride for its pristine sands and secluded nature. The coast at Hidd and Arad is more for picnicking than swimming; nonetheless, these are ideal family spots. If you’re looking for something more refined yet free, then you could try Marassi, Bahrain’s first managed public beach, while the private beaches at the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Sofitel and ART Rotana offer a more luxurious affair. Though Bahrain is quite liberal and doesn’t have strict dress codes, it’s best to avoid wearing revealing swimwear as a mark of respect for the local culture.

Al Jazayer Beach in Bahrain | © Philip Lange / Shutterstock

Surf’s up

Get your adrenaline rush with some water sports adventures. Bahrain’s beach clubs and resorts offer a range of activities including kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling and banana and donut-rides. If you’re the adventurous type, you could even train to sail and scuba dive – and get your PADI certification – or opt for the more exotic pearl diving. Finders are keepers in Bahrain – visitors get to keep the valuable pearls they find after a diving session. The five-star hotels also have their dedicated water sport activity counters, offering day passes on both weekdays and weekends.

Hop on a boat to a secluded island

Looking for a holiday from the holiday? Hop on one of the boats from Sitra and head to Al Dar islands for romantic getaway; maybe even book a cruise to the nearby islands. Boats leave from Al Dur Jetty to Hawar, a group of desert islands off the west coast of Qatar. A renowned wildlife reserve of international significance, it is home to pristine beaches, indigenous fauna and flora, and migratory birds. A trip to Bahrain would not be complete without a visit to Hawar.

Bu Maher Fort in Arad with the beach and view of Manama city | © Manu M Nair / Shutterstock

Indoor and outdoor waterparks

Bahrain’s biggest water park, the Lost Paradise of Dilmun (LPOD), is nothing short of a desert oasis. Offering a number of attractions including rain fortresses, pools, raft rides and slides, it beautifully recreates the historical Dilmun era with its stone sculptures and architecture. If you’re not in a mood to brave the heat, there’s Wahooo Waterpark at Bahrain City Centre in Seef district. Though much smaller than LPOD, it’s air-conditioned and enclosed in a mall, which has its own perks.

Cool down by the poolside

Brunches are quite popular on the island and some of the five-star hotels host really good ones. Often, these brunches include a poolside BBQ where you can cool down with a swim while your platter of succulent seafood and meat grilled to perfection is prepared alongside. There’s entertainment for the kids as well, so everyone is catered for. If you’re looking to dance the night away, Coral Bay over in Amwaj is renowned for its DJ parties complete with food, drink and fun.

A'Ali, a town of burial mounds and pottery workshops | © Stefan Krasowski / Flickr

Learn pottery and other traditional art

Bahrain is a great place to learn pottery. The craft is a part of the local culture, dating back to the fourth millennium BC, though many artisans still make a living out of making and painting pots. Head to A’ali Pottery to get hands-on under the tutelage of a real craftsman. There are other art studios on the island that offer sessions on ceramic and mosaic painting. If you’re looking to unwind with something more relaxing and therapeutic, the Art Therapy Centre at Riyadat mall in A’ali offers sessions on Mandala painting by a trained psychotherapist. You can even head to the many art galleries in Bahrain that display the works of talented Bahraini and expat artists.

Bahrain Summer Festival

Right from traditional architecture to local bazaars, there’s so much culture to explore around the island. Bahrain Summer Festival’s 10th edition will run up to the end of August 2018 at the iconic Arad Fort. There will be a wide range of entertainment, activities, and workshops for the entire family to enjoy. You could even spend the day at the Bahrain National Museum, which has on display relics including trading seals from the Dilmun era and burial bounds from historic times. One of the halls even offers insights into life in yesteryear Bahrain – models of traditional traders including blacksmiths, potters, fishermen and spice traders, as well as Bahraini weddings, the majlis (social gatherings) and madrasa (schools).

Sunset at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa | © Rory / Flickr

Unwind at the GCC’s only seawater spa

Perched on the pristine beaches of Zallaq, overlooking the Arabian Gulf on Bahrain’s west coast, Sofitel is the GCC’s only Thalassa Sea and Spa – seawater spa. It offers a range of energising massages and relaxing treatments. You could pair a slimming treatment with a sauna session to detox at the Domain Bahrain’s unique Japanese-style sauna Iyashi Dome. Book a private villa at Al Areen, close to LPOD, and enjoy their spa treatments followed by relaxing in your private heated pool or Jacuzzi. Bahrain also has many Ayurvedic massage centres as well as spas that offer the real deal without burning a hole in your pocket.

Watch a movie at a waterfront mall

The Avenues at Bahrain Bay is a waterfront shopping centre and the biggest mall on the island, sprawling across 40,000 sq.metres (430,556 sq. feet) with an additional 30,000 sq. metres (322,917 sq. feet) underway. Seef district has a couple of interesting malls to visit too and so does Juffair. On a hot day there’s nothing better than taking the time to stroll in an air-conditioned mall, stop by for lunch at one of their many amazing restaurants and follow it up with a movie at their state-of-the-art theatres like Novo Cinemas and Vox Cinemas.

Ditch cold coffee and try a traditional café

Over the past few years, dozens of coffee shops have appeared throughout the Kingdom; not just your international chains like Starbucks and Tim Hortons, but also homegrown ones. Bahrain’s cafes will spoil you for choice with their the varied menu including the usual fare like croissants and muffins, but also traditional treats and variations of them. Chai Café smears khubz (traditional oven-baked flatbread) with Nutella and is popular for other snacks like falafel (chickpea fritters), mince and cheese wraps, zaatar (herbs) bread and a range of Bahraini teas.

Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay | © Nelson Cena / Shutterstock

Watch the World Cup in a Bedouin tent

Bahrain is a football crazy nation! Don’t believe us? Head to one of the sports bars across the island and catch the World Cup 2018. You can watch the matches, live, on large LED TV screens while you sip on a chilled brew. There will be some amazing offers on food and drink – all the hotels will be airing live matches at their outlets, as will the shisha (hookah) cafes and stand-alone venues. Four Seasons is stepping up its game a notch – its massive football tent will not just air live matches, but also offer grandstand-style seating, PlayStation games and more.

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