Move over Dubai, Bahrain may be a tiny island country, but this country sure knows how to liven up the Gulf region. The slight mention of Bahrain and I’m often left with perplexed looks and the usual statements of “Bah-what?” “Where the hell is that?”. Bahrain is so tiny, that you can drive from one end of the country to the other end in an hour (depending on traffic), and head to the most southern tip of the country in an hour as well. No kidding. It’s only 2.3 times the size of Washington D.C. Although it is a tiny country, Bahrain still packs a punch of great ancient history. There’s even claim that Bahrain is the location of the Garden of Eden. Nowadays the country has its own Formula 1 Grand Prix, a growing art and foodie scene frequented by Manama’s sizable expat population, and all the hallmarks of wealth, modern Arabian style. Now, I know what you may be wondering, “Why would I want to visit such a small country if I can see everything in a day?” Wrong. Having been to Bahrain a couple of times, there’s ALWAYS something to do every single day of the week. Here are my top reasons why you need to visit this Gulf country ASAP!
Currency: Bahraini Dinar (BHD, currently as of 5/2016 $1USD=.38 Dinar)
Official Language: Arabic
King: Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
1.) More Personable: Sure, everyone knows Dubai, everyone knows the UAE, and while everyone is visiting Dubai, how many people actually take a trip to Bahrain? Think of it this way, you get to have the island to yourself without the hoards of tourists that usually flood Dubai. Having been to both the UAE & Bahrain, I feel like Bahrain had more of a local touch to it. And although I love Dubai, Bahrain just feels a bit more warm, in the sense of its people & its culture. The Bahraini people are so proud of their roots and you can see it displayed throughout the entire country.
2.) The Islands: The kingdom consists of 33 natural islands and a number of man-made ones located on the Persian Gulf. With its beautiful turquoise waters, Bahrain is paradise for anyone that loves water activities. One of my favorite islands is Aldar, located about 20 minutes off the shore of Sitra. Visit the Islands for a day to swim in their lagoon or snorkel at the artificial reef. You can also spend a night in one of 6 exclusive chalets and have fun with water sports activities like jet skis, kayaks, & water paddles. Another popular activity is to visit the “disappearing” island of Jarada. Jarada Island is one of the best attractions in Bahrain, golden sands and blue water, very clean sand and the best place to swim, the island appears in the ebb and disappears in the tide. Amwaj Islands are also a beautiful set of man made islands which make for a great escape from the city life.
3.) Open Minded: Now I know what you may be thinking. Yes, Bahrain is less than 30 minutes away from Saudi Arabia, a country where alcohol is forbidden as well as movie theaters, you would be quite surprised how open minded Bahrain is. In fact, as soon as the weekend begins, the Saudi-Bahrain causeway is PACKED with people making their way to Bahrain. What is often a 30-40 minute drive, turns into a 3-4 hour drive, sometimes more. In Bahrain, you’ll find movie theaters, bars, restaurants where both sexes can mingle, beach clubs and more. With a huge expat population, Bahrain has become a very comfortable society to live in, without losing the local charm.
4.) Nightlife: Remember how I said there is ALWAYS something to do every single day of the week in Bahrain? Well, for my party people, this is true. Every time I tell people of my party escapades in Bahrain they’re always left with their mouth open. “What? They can party there?”. Yes, and they sure know how to throw a party. From Formula 1 after parties with big names such as Pitbull, or a simple gathering by the beach, there is always something to do on this tiny island! There’s several clubs, lounges & bars that offer something for everyone. The beach parties are just as amazing, especially during the Spring/Summer time! Keep in mind this is still an Islamic country so please don’t make a fool of yourself out in the open!
5.) The FOOD: Foodies, rejoice, there’s something unique for everyone here! Whether you’re craving authentic Bahraini machboos, or prefer their famous burger chain Jasmis, this Island may be small, but the possibilities for your cravings are endless. From high end boutique restaurants, to small hole in the wall joints, every spot packs a punch full of flavor. Just make sure you remember to stop by the “Shawarma Street” after a night out on the town. You’ll thank me later.
I could go on and on about the reasons why you should visit Bahrain, but I’ll let you decide. I promise, you won’t want to leave!