From near-endless golden-hued sand dunes to the azure waters of the Gulf, Qatar offers plenty of opportunities for adventure – a land of hidden gems and unspoiled beauty.
Feel the spray of the warm Gulf waters on a jet ski or scale a soft sand dune to gaze down to where sea meets desert. Excitement can be found all over this understated country. Here are six of Qatar’s finest adventures.
Offroading at Khor Al Adaid, the Inland Sea
On the southeastern tip of Qatar, in Khor Al Adaid, you’ll find the incredible Inland Sea, where you can enjoy a thrilling 4WD riding experience, ascending and descending the majestic desert dunes in off-road vehicles, an experience that defies road rules and gravity. Nothing beats catching your breath after scaling a particularly high dune to witness that first awe-inspiring glimpse of the sea caressing the desert. Set up a tent to spend the night with the camels and Arabian oryx and witness a majestic sunrise as the sun’s rays spread across the horizon.
Make it happen: Half/Full Day/Overnight Desert Safaris
Discover the best of Qatar’s art and architecture
Kayaking at Purple Island
Heading to Bin Ghannam Island (Purple Island) in the northwest of Qatar provides a stark contrast to the gleaming gold of the desert sand. Al Thakira Mangrove Forest offers vivid hues of blue and green. Rent a kayak and traverse the narrow canals created by the winding mangrove trees and learn about the forest’s history and conservation efforts on a guided tour. There are many myths surrounding how Purple Island got its name, and part of the experience is investigating which one is the truest. Whatever the story may be, the lush mangroves are full of birds, fish and crabs that make paddling through the clear waters a magical experience.
Make it happen: Kayak through Qatar’s magnificent mangrove forests
Snorkeling on the beaches of Bu Samra
Driving along the west coast of Qatar offers many untouched and pristine beaches ready for exploring. A favorite enjoyed by locals is the coastline near Bu Samra, the last coastal town in Qatar before the border with Saudi Arabia. The warm, inviting sea here is perfect for adventurous swimmers who want to spot marine life: fish, crabs, coral and even dolphins have been spotted in these waters. Make sure to take snorkeling equipment along as these are undeveloped beaches (you can buy some at Villaggio Mall or rent from an outfit like Alghais Diving, with multiple locations in Doha), perfect for venturing off the beaten path.
Make it happen: Dhukhan West Coast Tour
Plan a perfect romantic getaway in Qatar
Jet skiing around Safliya Island
Just 40 minutes from the city of Doha lies an understated gem: Safliya Island. Rent a traditional dhow boat to make the journey to this quiet island overlooking the city skyline. A day spent at Safliya Island offers a wide range of activities, but jet skiing is the perfect option for a taste of adventure. Riding the waves as the city’s skyline is washed with sunset hues of orange makes for a memorable experience. The perfect time to visit Safliya Island is between October and March when the weather is cooler, and many tour operators offer full-day experiences.
Make it happen: Jet Ski Adventure/ Thrilling and fun
Hiking the Ras Abrouq rock formations in Bir Zekreet
Venture northwest toward the awe-inspiring scenes of Bir Zekreet. Famous for its rock formations in the Ras Abrouq region, these stony inclines provide a little-known opportunity for adventure. The landscape is surreal, dotted with unique limestone rock formations sculpted by the wind. Scale the rocks for a heart-pumping thrill and take in the magnificent views of the Qatari peninsula. Visiting at sunset is recommended, and wearing sturdy boots or shoes is crucial.
Make it happen: Discover the Zekreet Peninsula
Explore the mysterious signs and symbols of Qatar's Al Jassasiya rock carvings
Bouldering and wellness at Dahl Al Misfir sinkhole
Don’t miss visiting the deepest of Qatar’s accessible caves, Dahl Al Misfir (also known as Musfur Sinkhole) near Al Rayyan. Famous for its unusual rock and sediment layers, sightings of small mammals, and hundreds of nesting birds, this is an extraordinary site to explore at your own pace. Descend into the 130ft-deep chasm and watch for a spectacular natural phenomenon: a vast depository of fibrous gypsum crystals, all shimmering under the sunlight and emitting a warm glow. Musfur Sinkhole is an excellent opportunity to go bouldering, free climbing the rocks without equipment. Others visit the cave to practice meditation and yoga. Whatever the activity, it's thrilling to descend into the desert.
Make it happen: Full-day private Qatar desert safari from Doha