As you'd expect on an island, the main activities in Bahrain focus on the sea, although very shallow coastal waters mean that swimming, snorkelling and boating are best carried out well offshore.
You won't be able to get away from the history and heritage of pearl diving in Bahrain, the industry that made the nation famous in recent antiquity. Whilst free diving like the tough old men who used to head out on wooden dhows for weeks on end is an experience you will find difficult to re-create, pearl diving as a touristic pastime is now wholly regulated by the government. This is not to say the authenticity has been removed, simply that unlicensed companies can't head out on the waters.
All Pearl Diving Tours depart from the Ras Rayyah Port on Muharraq Island and must be booked via the government portal (http://pearldiving.bh). PADI licensed divers can choose to explore any one of four sites – Sayah, Bu Amamma, Shtayaah and Bulthama in the Gulf – but those who are not licensed can only snorkel at Sayah.
A half-day pearl diving costs BD32 per person or BD195 for a group of seven, and divers can stay under water for up to two hours collecting as many as 60 oysters. Each diver must also acquire a BD5 government pass via the government portal before heading out.
Spotting dolphins is more common than in many other parts of the world, and boats can be chartered for trips lasting 30 minutes, an hour, a half day or a full day. Locals often combine their dolphin-watching with a fishing trip.
Despite being a small country, there are nice stretches of open desert where you can straddle an Arabian horse and gallop through the sands.
The Dilmun Club in Saar and the Twin Palms Riding School will both humour you in this endeavour, but if you're still at the early stages of your newfound aspiration, they'll also teach beginners – even ones that prefer a pony over a horse.
Despite being surrounded by stunning crystal-clear blue waters, parts of Bahrain's coast are surrounded by shallow, treacherous coral and rocks that make it unsuitable to engage in water sports close to the coastline.
However, resorts like Coral Bay, Al Bander Hotel & Resort and Bahrain Beach Bay Resort have all found safe little sections of the coast from where they will happily launch jet skis and inflatables attached to speedboats.