Swim, kayak, relax at Al Dar Islands, a short boat ride away from Manama
Bahrain is an island of sand, but the beaches are not what folks write home about.
You can spend 30 dinars, around $80, for a day pass to one of the swanky man-made beaches at a five-star hotel if you want. Or, you can find a free, public, rocky beach if you just need a quick splash.
But for beach lovers, families or partygoers, Al Dar offers the feel of an island getaway.
I say “getaway” because no roads lead to the two Al Dar Islands. The southern, larger island is covered in soft sand, huts and amenities that make for a relaxing day away from the hustle and bustle of Manama.
After a 15-minute drive from the U.S. Navy base and a five-minute boat ride, Al Dar awaits. I think the boat ride was supposed to be a little longer, but the driver was heavy on the throttle; parents beware. Life jackets are mandatory.
You will also need a valid identification card, even for your kids, so bring your passports.
Once on the island, patrons can swim at any of the beaches, play basketball or volleyball, rent a personal watercraft, kayak or just hang by the bar. A bucking bronco is also available for those who think they can last eight seconds.
Kids can swim in the shallow waters of the kid zone, but management warns that they must be supervised at all times.
There is one sandwich shop and a diverse adult drink menu, but many bring their own drinks and food for grilling. Huts are available for rent on a first come, first served basis and range in price from 10 to 30 dinars, depending on the size. Huts come fitted with a fan, light, electrical outlet and Arabic-style seating.
The staff reminds patrons to be sensible with their luggage and not to bring large tents, chairs or baggage that the boat captains “see as too much,” according to the posted rules.
If you feel like splurging, chalets are also available for the day or overnight. Check the website for pricing.
When you are ready to leave, just hop on the boat again. It comes every 30 minutes.
My visit to Al Dar was a morning adventure — peaceful and relaxing. The music over the loudspeakers played my favorite ’80s hits. Kids laughed and splashed around. However, the huts and boats quickly filled up into mid-afternoon. In the evening, the DJ takes over the music and partygoers take over the island.
DIRECTIONS: Depart from the Al Dar Islands Office, Block 613, Road 1321, Building 1005, Sitra Fishermen Port, SitraTIMES: Open weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; weekends 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.COSTS: Weekdays: adults, 5 BD; kids 16 and under, 2 BD. Weekends and holidays: adults, 8 BD; kids 16 and under, 4 BD. Children 5 and under are free with valid ID. Full list of prices can be found online at aldarislands.com.FOOD: A shop sells sandwiches, or you can bring your own food for grilling.INFORMATION: Phone: +973 1770 4600. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org