On the Coast
There is plenty to do in Qatar. Whatever your reason for being in the country – the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a cruise ship visit, a city break, a holiday or perhaps as a resident – take the opportunity to visit the many attractions located on or near Qatar’s coastline. You won't be disappointed.
There is a multitude of beaches, pools and islands to visit. While some beaches and islands are wild and secluded, many have a variety of activities on offer, such as water sports, fishing, boat trips, horse and camel rides, dune bashing and more. Some offer nearby promenades, souqs, parks and museums to explore. And many, especially the pool and beach hotels and resorts, sport cafes and restaurants.
So, pack your beach towel and sunscreen and get ready for some sun, sea and outdoor fun.
Qatar is a small country that sticks out into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia. It is bounded on three sides by the sea; the fourth side is the land border with their Saudi neighbours. The coastline is 563 km in length and the land border just 60 km; making the coastline nearly 10 times the length of the land border. Qatar's centre is generally sandy desert, so you will find that a great deal of life, and attractions, lie along the country's coast.
In general, the coastline is emergent and slopes gently into the sea. The seas around Qatar are rich in marine life; there are extensive coral reefs and low lying islands. Turtles nest along parts of the coast. Dugong groups gather off of the coast.
In the past, Qatar’s beaches provided access to the sea for pearl divers. Today beaches provide the location for a large number of the country’s recreational activities. Swimming in the sea is considered to be safe. There are jellyfish, stonefish, lionfish and stingrays in the waters, but in limited numbers - taking suitable precautions will prevent any problems with them.
There are many public and private beaches in Qatar. The majority of those beaches are located on the East Coast, the most populated of the Qatar peninsula. Each beach has unique features. In recent years a good deal of attention has been given to public beaches to make them attractive and pleasant places for people to visit. Some beaches have a host of facilities and amenities such as toilets, cafes, shops, changing rooms, playgrounds and barbeques, sun loungers and sunshades. Some have very limited additions. Some beaches are ideal for swimming, some for paddling and crabbing, and some for water sports. Some beaches have miles of sand, and some have rock formations or mangroves, some have birdlife, and some have great sea life. All of them are worth a visit and all of them are quite easy to reach.
There are also many private beaches located at hotels, clubs and resorts. These beaches are all well cared for and have all the amenities that you would expect. If you are staying at the hotel, you will, of course, have access to the beaches. As a visitor, you can, for a fee, go to the private beaches and use some of the associated amenities.
There are public and private swimming pools that you can visit. In truth, there are many more private pools than there are public ones. They are all well cared for, and all have the kind of amenities and supervision that you would expect. The private pools are again located at hotels, resorts and clubs.
Qatar also has a surprising number of islands to visit just off of the coast. The majority are uninhabited, secluded places with little or no facilities, but for activities, such as fishing, diving and birdwatching, they provide the perfect location. Some even provide an ideal, unspoiled setting for a quiet picnic and a spot of relaxation away from the madding crowds.
And, Once You Are There?
There are lots of attractions on or near the coast in Qatar – all within easy reach of beaches and hotels. If you are in Doha you can walk the length of the Corniche promenade – here you will find Souq Waqif, museums, parks and traditional dhow boat trips. If you go to Al Wakra, the local souq, which is right on the coast, has a busy eatery scene and beautiful sunsets. At Al Thakira beach you will find salt flats and mangroves with plentiful wildlife – just right for exploring. There are pre-historic sites, old settlements and an 18th-century fort to see near Zekreet Beach. Then there is the Inland Sea (try fishing) and Banana Island (just a short boat ride to this lovely resort). There is something to satisfy all tastes along Qatar's coastline!
Remember that you are in an Islamic country, and a certain amount of modesty is appreciated. So, if you are out and about and especially if you go to a public beach or in a public pool, remember to dress appropriately. Both men and women should wear clothing that is not tight and revealing. Men should wear longer style shorts and should not wander around without shirts on. Women should avoid wearing revealing bikinis and swimsuits and should keep their shoulders and down to their knees covered when walking the beaches. Dress code at private hotel beaches is generally in line with western codes and bikinis can be worn.
It’s good to adhere to local culture when you’re abroad, read our Cultural Etiquette article to find out what’s customary in Qatar.
The sun shines all year round in Qatar, and the sea temperature rarely falls below 70˚F (20˚C), so it’s always good to go in. The best time to visit Qatar’s beaches and islands is between November to April when the temperatures are generally below 73˚F. In the summer months of May to October, the temperatures can reach over 90˚F (32oC) and even reach 108˚F (42˚C) – which is pretty hot! However, it’s easy to keep cool in any of the many pool facilities, indoor and outdoor, across the country.
For more information about Qatar’s weather and what to expect at different times of the year, click on our Weather in Qatar article.
Qatar is a small country and getting from place to place is easy. Since the early 2000s and in the build-up to the World Cup 2022 great efforts have been made to make travelling around Qatar easy, economical and environmentally friendly. The road system across the peninsular has been upgraded to provide a network of multi-lane highways, expressways and ring roads. The new automated Doha Metro is a 76km system connected to a 19 km light rail transit system. There is also a 12 km tramway. There are taxis, there are buses (including a hop-on-hop-off discovery service), and there are boats. Whether you plan to visit a beach, island or pool in Qatar, there are plenty of options to get you there.
So, there is no excuse while you're in Qatar not to enjoy the climate, explore the coastline, or find the facilities and attractions that are perfect for you!
Want to delve deeper into Qatar’s coastal retreats? Then check out the following articles:
For a great day out with your nearest and dearest, check out this list of family beaches dotted along Qatar's shores.
If you want to visit a public beach but don't want to compromise on facilities, check out Qatar's free beaches with great amenities in offer.
For a myriad of outdoor activities by the sea, check out some of Qatar's finest adventure beaches.
When it comes to getting sand between your toes, Qatar has something for everyone, from cultivated beaches to remote and wild sandy shores.