Top 5 unexpected travel highlights of Bahrain
With history, wildlife and luxury at your fingertips – there are countless reasons to visit the Island Kingdom this winter
Located in the Arabian Gulf, the Kingdom of Bahrain is the only island country in the Middle East. One of the world’s smallest nations, the archipelago is a melting pot of old and new and is home to luxury hotels and important historic archaeological sites.
Visitors to Bahrain can expect year-round sunshine, a myriad of cultural highlights, ancient landmarks and unmissable wildlife – here are the top five unexpected highlights of a trip to Bahrain
1 – The island nation with a rich history
The Kingdom of Bahrain is the only island nation in the Gulf, comprising of 33 natural islands, with Bahrain Island being the largest. The nation is thought to be the location of the fabled Garden of Eden, as well as the origin of the legend of Gilgamesh. It’s this rich history that gives Bahrain the edge over other Middle Eastern destinations – you can relax in a five star resort after discovering thousands of years of important history.
2 – A new unmissable UNESCO site
The Kingdom of Bahrain has just been awarded its third UNESCO site. Spanning over 21 archaeological sites on the western part of the island, the Dilmun Burial Mounds were built between 2050 and 1750 BCE. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site earlier this year, there are over 11,000 mounds that signify evidence of the Early Dilmun civilisation around the 2nd Millennium BC – with most of the mounds being intact and remaining unexcavated. This exciting new addition joins a further two UNESCO sites: Qal’at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) and the pearling site on Muharraq island.
3 – Pearl diving and the World’s Largest Underwater Theme Park
Visitors to the Island Kingdom have long been invited to experience the art of traditional pearl diving, where divers can scoop as many oysters as they can carry and if they’re lucky enough to find a pearl, they can keep it forever. This year, the underwater adventure is set to expand with the opening of the world’s largest underwater theme park, which also acts as an important conservation area.
The theme park covers an area of over 100,000 square metres and features a 70-metre long decommissioned Boeing 747 as its centrepiece; the largest aircraft ever to be submerged. Located off the north coast of mainland Bahrain, 30km from the Amwaj islands, the underwater spectacle sits approximately 20 metres deep and has been fully decontaminated of toxic substances. Featuring several sunken structures in addition to the aircraft, the dive site will also include a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly material that are designed to encourage the growth of marine life.
4 – The disappearing tidal island of Jarada
With its golden sands and clear blue waters, Jarada Island is a day-tripper’s dream. But come high-tide, the sand bank disappears. Located approximately 14km from the mainland, travellers can seek out the paradise during low-tides with one of the many day trips on offer. Dolphin watching and snorkelling in the nearby coral reefs is the perfect way to spend an afternoon – or just kick back on the beach with a picnic and enjoy unparalleled views of the crystal-clear sea.
5 – Spot dugongs and endangered birds
Visitors to Bahrain have a wealth of wildlife at their fingertips with protected species including gentle dugongs and majestic Socotra cormorants calling the area their home. For bird watchers, a trip to Hawar Islands – an archipelago of desert islands located off the west coast of the mainland – offers the chance to view many different species of bird, including the endangered cormorant. The islands are also home to flamingos and small herds of Arabian oryx and sand gazelle. In the surrounding waters, travellers may be lucky enough to encounter dugong – a gentle mid-sized mammal. Bahrain’s dugong population is among the highest in the world and it’s not uncommon to encounter herds of up to 100 in Bahrain’s southern waters, where the sea grass is abundant.
For more information on The Kingdom of Bahrain, please visit btea.bh