It's time to make up for all those summer months spent cooped up inside by hitting some streets that have no name. Or, you know, aren't actually streets at all. You still get to stay inside, but in a tent, and only after star-gazing and gorging on your grandmother’s delicious chicken tandoori recipe you just fired up on the barbecue. That, or the ready-to-grill marinated meat from your local Lulu, if you’re lazy. Either way, we won’t judge. On the contrary, we’re all for it because camping is so much more than just a perfect barbecue set-up. Finding the right spot is a challenge and getting there is an even bigger one, especially if you don’t own a 4WD. Which is why you have us. We’ve rounded up Doha’s best camping spots and, because we’re extra nice, we’ve located a bunch of reasonably priced SUV rentals, too.
Al Ghariyah Beach
There are so many reasons we love this beach, but the main one has to be the sea. Swimming is great here because there are no rocks on this beach and the best part is that you don’t need a 4WD to arrive. There is a little bit of off-roading involved, but nothing your regular sedan can’t handle. The beach is divided into several sections, including a fenced-off area for families which has huts and showers. They’ve also started renting out dune buggies here, but there are no actual dunes. This is definitely our top pick to set up tent and fire up the grill after a good swim or a quick game of beach volleyball.
GPS: 26.073159, 51.359690
Dukhan is further down Zekreet, on the highway. There are two beaches here, one more rocky and filled with families, and the other further away but more secluded and great for swimming. Fortunately, there’s a town close by and, in case you don’t want to barbecue, you can also just grab some burgers from the nearby food court. If you regret that call later, it’s on you.
GPS: 25.404985, 50.755775
One of Doha’s most underrated beaches, the French Beach (also known as Maroona) is an awesome spot if you want to get away from all the barbecue crowds and just relax by the water. This beach is rather isolated, and there is nothing around, so make sure you take everything from a tent and cosy winter-wear to charcoal and delicious, marinated meats.
GPS: 26.003744, 51.399370
Possibly one of the most popular camping spots in Doha, Fuwairit Beach has the softest sand and bluest waters around. They don’t really have a closing time and the beach isn’t fenced, so it’s probably the best idea to set up tent here. We did mention it’s popular so don’t be surprised by how many people flock along. The good news is, just a short drive away is Jebel Fuwairit, which is completely secluded and private. The trip here is rocky and you absolutely need a 4WD with high ground clearance. Make sure you take everything you need as there’s nothing nearby! It can get pretty chilly too, so don’t forget the blankets.
GPS: 26.039893, 51.366963
Galactic Core Bay
This recently-discovered spot has become a favourite for photography enthusiasts. Far away from light pollution, the views of the Milky Way are stunning from here. It’s advisable to go in groups, especially because it's so isolated. All you need is a bunch of creative friends, cameras, a 4WD and lots of talent. The barbecue is an optional extra.
GPS: 26.125920, 51.180480
This is the first beach when you enter the Mesaieed area and there are clear signs that direct you here. It's pretty basic, rocky, and there are jellyfish. It is, however, far less crowded than Sealine Beach and this one has lots of families. So if you’re looking for a more family-oriented, all-night-out kind of spot, this is it. If you’ve watched Friends, then you also know how to tackle that jellyfish sting.
GPS: 24.8686582, 51.5170316
After an hour of treacherous but exhilarating driving over scores of shapeshifting dunes, you'll witness one of the most spectacular vistas in Doha. A beautiful blue sea on one side, mountainous dunes the other. You'll also see a shockingly large number of 4WDs parked right next to the shore. Which is what we suggest you do, too. One of the best overnight camping spots in Doha, the Inland Sea is a truly scenic spot to create lamb chop history. Hiring a tour operator is also a great option if you aren’t an experienced dune-driver. Several agencies offer day excursions and overnight trips for reasonable prices.
GPS: 24.6390789, 51.2076852
Palm Tree Beach
It’s a rare sight to see palm trees lined up near a beach in Qatar, but Umm Bab (also known as Palm Tree Beach) has a small cluster of them. There’s lots of shade and this is a great place to camp out at. You might also want to know this beach is a part of the Al Reem Natural Reserve. Going in groups is advisable.
GPS: 25.208863, 50.768215
This is the beach of all beaches in Qatar. It is always packed with expats from all areas of the city, it is super soft and sandy and is definitely a top swimming beach in the country. Cars of any kind can access different areas of this beach, since it’s massive. The best part is there’s lots to do around here. Rent a dune buggy or go dune bashing on the beautiful dunes, which you can’t miss seeing. There’s an Al Meera supermarket nearby, so stocking up is convenient. It might be a good idea to check the traffic situation closer to the beach if you decide to head here on a weekend as the queues can get pretty manic.
GPS: 24.861143, 51.516837
This isn’t a beach, but it is probably a more fascinating area to camp out at. The limestone cliffs and ridges here are fantastic and if you’re tired of all the sand, you can rock on right here – pun intended. The surroundings are unusual and make for a great campsite. There’s lots to do around here from checking out Richard Serra’s awe-inspiring art to climbing down a natural cave formation underground. Pocket a rock from here, who knows what it’ll be worth 100 years from now? There’s a kitesurfing beach nearby, if water is essential for you. It’s shallow though, so ditch any diving dreams you have.
GPS: 25.597897, 50.827828
Four to try essential camping supplies
Where else can you have your Blair Witch-style meltdown later? Lulu and Carrefour stock them from as low as QR70, all the way up to QR1,000.
If you’re not a make-your-own-pit type, pick up a small-size grill from Family Food Centre. Bonus points if you're Australian and throw a shrimp on it.
Or, 'flashlight' in American. Seriously, this will be your best friend. Mainly because you'll probably fall out with your actual best friend over toilet paper rations.
Unless you want to get sand literally everywhere, these camping chairs are a must. You can find them in Al Meera or Home Centre for approximately QR120.
Here are some of the best deals in town. We’ve lined them up just for you. All you have to do is bring them back...
Find this sturdy 4WD at National Car Rental (4436 6771).
QR425 (per day).
This desert beast is at Al Muftah Rent a Car. You'll even look like you know what you're doing (7063 4433).
QR650 (per day).
We just sorted your weekend on a budget with this find at Strong Rent a Car (4446 6022).
QR280 (per day).
Take this Toyota for a spin from Go Rent a Car (4432 5500).
QR300 (per day).
This one at Jabr Rent a Car has a name that means business (4415 2020).
QR300 (per day).