Doha’s best beach clubs
It’s March. It’s not too hot, not too cold, the water is getting warmer, and pretty much all we want to do is lie in the sand all day with a good book and take the odd dip. We suggest you do it at one of these nine spots.
Best for: Peace and quiet
On the shores of West Bay Lagoon, the beach here is definitely lagoon-like. A curve of soft sand, clear and still water. No bells and whistles, just peace and quiet that’s perfect for relaxation. There are also five pools, including two for kids.
One day’s access QR175 per person (weekdays), QR275 (weekends); QR100 per child under 16 (weekdays), QR125 (weekends); QR75 (to add health club access). Open daily 7am-dusk. Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon, www.doha.grand.hyatt.com (4448 1060).
Best for: Ultimate luxury
The first thing you notice here is the huge, Olympic-size pool that stretches down to the beach that looks out over a wide, open stretch of sea. Recline on a plush day bed or private gazebo, nibbling posh poolside snacks (poached lobster salad with peach and beansprouts, anyone?) or sign up for one of the many watersports such as tube riding, wakeboarding and kayaking. This is one of the most luxurious beach clubs in the city, and although you need to be a member to enjoy it, that comes with benefits like complimentary personal training sessions, a massage treatment and restaurant discounts.
For more information visit www.remedespa.com/membership or email email@example.com (4446 0304).
St Regis cabanas The Diplomatic Club
Best for: Families
The beach here is small, but it has lovely views of The Pearl. It's a good option for families thanks to relatively shallow lagoon-like waters. There’s a decent-size pool and loads of sport facilities including a gym, squash courts and watersports including banana boat rides, water skiing and wakeboarding. Al fresco restaurant Al Sayyad also serves grilled seafood and Arabic specialities.
QR150 (adult, weekdays), QR80 (children aged 2-17, weekdays), QR200 (adults, weekend), QR125 (children aged 2-17, weekend). Beach open daily 7am-sunset. Al Istiqlal Street, West Bay Lagoon, www.thediplomaticclub.com (4484 7450).
Best for: Poolside people
The beach here is nice and quiet – you won’t get much boat traffic whizzing by – and it has lovely golden sand with beachfront cabanas. But the best thing about the Four Seasons is its pools. There are a total of five pools here: three grotto-style (elevated to different levels), a family pool and a kids pool complete with waterslides. All surrounded by lush, landscaped gardens. Also enjoy beach barbecues at Arabica or book a romantic private dining spot on the shore.
QR275 (adults), QR175 (kids aged 3-16). Pool and beach access only. Sun-Thu 6am-dusk. Four Seasons Doha, West Bay, www.fourseasons.com/doha (4494 8888).
Best for: Active beach days
The InterContinental has one of the biggest beaches you’ll find without leaving the city and sun loungers are nice and spaced out so you don’t need to worry about getting too cosy with your neighbour. There are volleyball and tennis courts, too, if you don’t fancy lounging, plus they offer kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding for an additional fee (from QR50 for 30 minutes).
QR200 (adults, weekdays), QR100 (children aged three-12, weekdays); QR350 (adults, weekends), QR150 (children aged three-12, weekends). Pool and beach access only. Pool open 6am-9pm, beach open 9am-sunset. Al Isteqlal Road, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4444).
Best for: Sociable beach goers
A small beach area with a marina to one side and the West Bay skyline across the water. There's a cool, city-vibe and for a small, additional fee you'll get access to the gym and spa (which offers beauty treatments and Turkish baths, as well as massages and facials). You can even book ahead with the hotel’s events team to tailor-make a private picnic or barbecue in the hotel gardens. And there’s always Pearl Lounge, if you want to make a whole day and night of it.
QR175 (adults, weekdays), QR125 (children under the age of 12, weekdays); QR275 (adults, weekdays), QR175 (children under the age of 12, weekdays); QR25 per person (gym access). Pool open daily 7am-10pm, beach open daily 7am-6pm. Doha Marriott, Ras Abu Abboud Street (4429 8888).
Sharq Village & Spa
Best for: Getting away from it all
It may only be a ten minute drive from West Bay, but Sharq Village feels a world away from the city. There's a beach with open water and a lovely infinity pool lined with cabanas, but the pièce de résistance of a day spent here is the spa. The 6,500 square-metre, Arabian-inspired spa is one of the biggest in the region. You can rent out a private villa and the menu covers more than 250 treatments from Arabian, Thai or Swedish therapies to holistic options. Booking a treatment gives you access to the sauna, steam room, gym and blissful relaxation areas. Pair that with a day out at the beach, and you won't be needing a holiday for at least six months.
QR250 (adults, weekdays), QR350 (adults, weekends), half price for children aged 3-12. Pool & beach open daily 7am-6pm, spa open daily 6am-11pm. Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Abboud, www.ritzcarlton.com (4425 6666).
Sealine Beach Resort
Best for: An active beach day (and night)
A trip to Sealine will take you about 50 minutes, but it’s worth it for the crystal waters, palm-fringed beachfront and the huge range of activities. You can hop on a jet ski or a banana boat, give flyboarding a go, play a few rounds of tennis, get a football game going, shoot some hoops or even go dune bashing in the surrounding desert. Kids will love the camel and horse rides on offer and the lagoon-style pool with a waterfall. It’s not the most luxurious resort you’ll find, but dining options aren’t bad and there are a number of room, villa and chalet options for overnight stays if you don't want to drive back. It's ideal for a last-minute weekend getaway.
Rooms from QR850 per night. Daily access rate Sun-Wed QR75 (adults), QR25 (children aged 5-11); Thu-Sat QR150 (adults), QR50 (children aged 5-11). Mesaieed, www.sealinebeachqatar.com (4476 5299).
Sunbathe free of charge
It’s unfortunate that within the city limits, lounging on a beach means paying for hotel beach club access. And although the Qatar peninsula is home to kilometres upon kilometres of stunning, untouched coastline, you tend to need a 4x4 to explore it.
In recent years, however, some effort has gone into making free stretches of beach more accessible. Amenities like parks, toilets and gravelled roads have been added, which means you can now head to the beach with a few towels and a portable barbecue and not spend a riyal.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with public beaches, there are some problems with litter, and as these spots grow in popularity they aren’t as pristine as they once were. But for ease of access, basic facilities and nearby (very good) cheap-eat options, these three are your best bet.
Just 27 kilometres north of Doha is the small village of Simaisma and its family beach that stretches out from a natural jetty and skirts around a small cluster of mangroves. One of the most popular, this one gets pretty crowded on weekends, but arrive early and you’ll still be able to nab a shaded spot.
Facilities: Toilets, showers, some shade, beach volleyball nets, football, mosque, parking, playgrounds. The area is mostly secured by fencing and no off-road driving is required.
This beach is located in the small village of Al Ruwais on the northern-most tip of Qatar (also commonly referred to as Shamal after the district). There are actually paved roads leading to this beach, so any vehicle can access it. The beach is an extension of Abu Dhalouf Park, making it the greenest of all free beaches and providing sand-free space for picnics and barbecues. Alternatively, head to the main street of the town where you can pick up a bite at small eateries for next to nothing. At high tide the beach is almost covered, but water is shallow so don’t expect to swim – paddling is pretty much all you can manage. Theoretically, only families are permitted access, but this is rarely enforced.
Facilities: Toilets, two playgrounds, park, benches, shade, parking. No off-road driving is required.
Located on Farkeeh Coast, and once one of Qatar’s best kept secrets, it’s now one of the busiest. It's popular with families, thanks to the myriad of activities like trampolines and playground structures. There are umberellas, but you’ll be lucky to snag one. Ditto with the barbecue pits. We’d recommend taking your own snacks (and an extra grill), though there is a limited selection of food and drinks for sale from a kiosk. Again, the shallow water means you won’t be able to do much (any) swimming, and the beach is quite rocky, so it’s a good idea to take some water shoes.
Hours: Sun-Wed 7am-10pm, Thu-Sat (families only) 7am-midnight
Facilities: Toilets, showers, kiosk, playground, limited shade, barbecue pits, ample parking. Bumpy off-road driving is required.
Free beach-ing tips
Family beaches have an unspoken dress code. Keep everything between shoulders and knees covered with loose fitting clothing, even while in the water.
Wear water shoes to protect your feet.
Carry a first aid kit. No medical services are available at any of the public beaches.
As always, take plenty of drinking water.
Khor Al Adaid aka The Inland Sea
GPS COORDINATES: 24°42’50”N, 51°24’55”E
This is one of Qatar’s greatest natural treasures (it's even on a tentative list to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage status). The huge inlet is surrounded by giant rolling dunes and can only be reached off-road in a four-wheel drive. It’s highly advisable to go in a convoy – preferably with someone who’s somewhat familiar with the route – and take get-out-of-the-sand supplies, like a strong tow rope, shovels and boards. If you don’t fancy venturing out alone, tour group Qatar International Tours offers desert safaris to the location with half-day, full-day and overnight options.
Tours from QR200 per person (half-day, five people). www.qittour.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (55864568).
Wet and wild
Sandy beaches and relaxation are all well and good, but sometimes it can be a bit tame for our liking. Add some adrenaline to the day – or not, if you’re more the stand-up paddleboard type – and hit the waves with one of these watersports.
Kayaking and standup paddleboarding
Entalek organises tours to the mangroves at Al Thikira Bay, which also feature talks about the ecosystem. The whole trip lasts around two hours and there are a few options. The Mangrove Bay tour is a paddle through the open water of a mangrove-surrounded bay and includes a pit-stop at a secluded mangrove beach. There’s also a barbecue and bonfire post-paddle, and flamingos can often be seen in shallow spots. The Channel Mangrove tour goes through the channels of the forest where it’s possible to see reef egrets, terns, herons and jumping fish.
QR200 (two hours). www.entalek.org (3311 6249).
Aquasports offer private overnight kayaking trips to isolated spots, not easily accessible by land (price on request). For the less intrepid, the MIA/dhow harbour tour is a relaxing and less strenuous way to see the city. Their stand-up paddle boarding classes go from beginner up to Level 2, while the more experienced can sign up for early morning and sunset sessions, or tours of West Bay and beyond.
QR200 (two-hour kayaking tour),QR150 (90-minute SUP session). www.aquasportsqatar.com. To book SUP sessions, e-mail email@example.com. (6656 8981).
Wakeboarding and waterskiing
It’s possible to book sessions at Katara Beach for waterskiing and kneeboarding (QR150, 30 minutes, www.katara.net), but other than that, your only option is The Diplomatic Club. Lessons are available at an additional cost to the equipment rental.
Waterskiing QR200 (30 min), QR275 (60 min); Wakeboarding QR200 (30 min), QR275 (60 min), QR400 (90 min); QR150 (60 min lesson). Discounted rates apply for club members. Al Istiqlal Street, West Bay Lagoon, www.thediplomaticclub.com (4484 7450).
The Regatta Sailing Academy offers child and adult courses in dinghies and yachts for complete beginners up to advanced levels. They also offer racing coaching and organise regular regattas throughout the year. Instructors are friendly and there's a great community vibe. Courses typically last five weeks, with one three-hour session each week on either Friday or Saturday. Doha's conditions are ideal for beginners thanks to the warm seas and low winds. Plus you can sometimes see marine life like sting rays on early-morning sails.
QR1,500 (five-week beginner course, 15 hours total). Katara north beach, www.regattasailingacademy.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (3363 2515).
For lessons in windsurfing and kitesurfing check out Blue Pearl Watersport (formerly QSUP). The Discovery course will get you an IKO Level 1 and 2 card, proving you can set up and control a trainer kite and kite 50 metres. The course is four two-hour sessions and lessons take place at Fuwairit (another popular public beach to sunbathe free of charge), so it’s a great way to explore Qatar’s coastline.
Weekday fees QR400 per person (two hours, max four people per instructor), QR550 (two hours, private session); weekend fees QR500 per person (two hours, max four people per instructor), QR650 (two-hours, private session). Fuwairit, Qatar, www.clubbluepearl.com/qkite (666 02830).
Hire a traditional dhow for the day and spend a few hours floating out in open water catching fish. Relax, snorkel or swim as the on-board chef cleans, prepares and marinates your catch and prepares a barbecue of the freshest fish you could possibly eat. The schedule is flexible, and the trip can last up to seven hours, but the downside is that you need a minimum of 15 people for the trip. For smaller parties, the speed boat fishing trip is for maximum of six people, and still includes deep sea fishing, refreshments and a barbecue.
From QAR350 per person (dhow trip, four hours, 15 people); QAR2,500 (speed boat trip, four hours, six people). Qatar International Adventures, www.qia-qatar.com (4455 3954).
Doha Yachting have a range of boats to suit all budgets, from a small 24-foot jet boat, to a 56-foot luxury yacht complete with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and two crew. Relax, swim, sunbathe and just generally chill out.
Package prices vary by boat, party size and length of trip. Phone for more details. Lusail Marina, www.dohayachting.com (3000 4499).