Around Bahrain Island
Although dominated by its capital city, there’s more to Bahrain Island than Manama, as those coming for the Grand Prix are sure to discover. The island is particularly rich in archaeological sites. Bahrain is small so the main sights make easily accessible day trips from the capital by car, and some can even be visited by bus.
Just over the causeways from Bahrain Island, Muharraq Island could in many respects belong to a different country. With some interesting old houses, a fort and a shore full of moored dhows and lobster pots, there’s enough to keep visitors occupied in the atmospheric back streets for at least half a day.
Al-Areen was once little more than empty desert with a few forlorn native species roaming inside some random enclosures. Over the past few years, however, the escarpment has been transformed into a major tourist attraction with the arrival of the wildlife reserve, a resort and spa, and a water park.
Bahrain International Circuit
The distinctive Al-Sakhir Tower of the Formula One Racetrack rises above the surrounding desert like a beacon. If you are visiting Bahrain out of season and are curious to see what a state-of-the-art race track looks like, then you can join a 40-minute tour of the grounds, including the media centre and race control room, and even take a lap around the circuit.
Commanding the only piece of high ground overlooking the Hunanaiya Valley, this fort was originally built in the 19th century. It was completely restored in 1983. The limited captions and explanations are in Arabic, and the rooms are mostly empty, but it’s interesting enough and the views over a valley of a golf course, nodding donkeys and tree-lined highways is appealing.
Tree of Life
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The excavations at Sar have revealed a honeycomb of burial chambers dating from the Dilmun period. They have all long since been plundered, but the systematic removal of the coping stones has at least revealed the inner sanctum of the site and there is still a feeling that this is ‘hallowed ground’.
The 16 virtually uninhabited islands known collectively as the Hawar Islands are very close to Qatar. The islands are home to a large number of flamingos and cormorants, about 2000 Bahraini troops and the attractive Tulip Inn Hawar Beach. Closed at the time of writing, the resort normally offers a range of wildlife tours and water activities.
Just off the coast south of Sitra, Dar Island offers a great retreat from the city. The main attraction is the sandy beach, but water sports are also available, and there is a restaurant and bar at Al-Dar Islands Resort. The resort is eco-conscious and protects the island by limiting the number of visitors per day so it is important to book ahead.