The Red Sea Project aims to transform the country’s coastline into a luxury resort destination, from restaurant hopping in KAEC to snorkelling at Umluj and diving in Jeddah, here are the best off‐beat coastal experiences you can have in Saudi Arabia.
When one thinks of Saudi, images of vast deserts and grand mosques get formed in the head, but not many are still aware of the fact that the country is blessed with its share of tranquil beaches, which promise to offer an unparalleled and blissful experience. The kingdom’s ambitious Red Sea Project is aimed at transforming the country’s coastline into a luxury resort destination. The magnificent azure blue waters and the peaceful environs of these beaches will instil a sense of calm in you as you discover a world away from the dunes.
And there’s so much more that you could do when exploring these fantastic beaches. We’ve curated a list of the best coastal experiences in Saudi. Read on.
Being Romantic at Half Moon Bay Beach
As its name suggests, the beach is shaped like a half moon and continues to remain one of the most popular tourist destinations in Saudi. Known for its clear blue waters and white sandy stretch, the beach is located in Al Khobar and offers a myriad of activities for visitors. Apart from enjoying a relaxing swim, you and your partner can also get down to some fun and learn how to scuba dive or go for a romantic horse ride. The beach resorts here are simply marvellous and luxuriating in their plush and serene environs is an absolutely divine experience, to say the least.
Exploring Untouched Marine Life at Farasan Island
Famous for their rich underwater life and subtropical shores, the beaches of the Farasan Island are surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests and fossils. When here, you must not miss a chance to go deep sea diving as this is one of the best diving spots in Saudi. Often referred to as one of the most offbeat beach destinations in the world, Farasan Island is also known for its marine sanctuary. Home to as many as 231 species of aquatic creatures like fishes, turtles, dolphins and lobsters, the sanctuary was developed with an aim to preserve the abundant wealth of the incredible sea life that Farasan is blessed with. If you are fortunate enough, you may even chance upon the critically endangered green and hawksbill turtles.
Snorkelling at Umluj Beach
Also known as the Maldives of Saudi, Umluj Beach is a great option for those who are looking for a lesser crowded beach. Home to some amazing natural springs, the beach is a sheer delight for every nature lover, thanks to its rich marine biodiversity. The beach is untrammelled by tourists and the kingdom has also put a ban on the entry of ships and ferries here. Any visit to Umluj beach would be incomplete without experiencing the adventure that is coral reef snorkelling. One of the most unexplored snorkelling destinations in the world, Umluj promises to be an extraordinary experience with its incredible sea life and excellent weather throughout the year.
Restaurant Hopping at KAEC
Located on the coast of the Red Sea, King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi is nothing less than a paradise for those looking for brilliant gastronomical experiences. Dotted with upscale restaurants and chic cafes, KAEC is surrounded by tranquil sandy beaches. One of these beaches is Yam beach, which makes for a perfect destination to enjoy a fun-filled family vacation. No matter what type of dining experience you and your loved ones are looking for, King Abdullah Economic City offers myriad options to please every palate. From fine dining to quick eats, be prepared to eat your heart out. From Italian and Mexican to Mediterranean, you will get everything here.
Reef Diving off Jeddah
Saudi’s Red Sea coast offers perfect conditions for year-round diving, with the major diving sites being around Jeddah. Blessed with an incredible aquatic life and numerous wrecks and reefs, Jeddah’s diving sites offer great opportunities to witness underwater life at its majestic best featuring large sea fans, coral bushes, grass beds, colourful soft corals and endless outcropping.
Some of the commonly witnessed aquatic species include eels, rays, lionfish, clownfish, octopus, turtles, lobsters and starfishes. The best diving sites in Jeddah include Miss Marie Wreck, Boiler Wreck, The Farasan Banks, Cable Wreck and Jabal Al Lith. The most challenging of all diving sites in Jeddah is the Ann Ann Wreck, which continues to draw divers from all corners of the world.