Travel with Children
Bahrainis welcome visiting children, and a lively expat community means kids are never short of something to do.
Look out for a handy booklet published biannually called Fab Bahrain (www.fabbahrain.com), available from bookshops, schools and Seef Mall. This free directory gives a full A–Z listing of what to do and where to go in Bahrain as a family, from the story-telling activities of ‘Wriggly Readers’ to waterskiing and wakeboarding. Also check out the 'Teens & Kids' section in Bahrain this Month magazine, which has heaps of information on fun activities, including lessons in hip hop and salsa.
Almost all tourist sites in Bahrain offer free or reduced admission for children, but few are pushchair friendly. Sights that will appeal specifically to little travellers include the Royal Camel Farm, where children can get up close and personal with Arabia's most famous animal. In fact, if you tip one of the workers, they may even let the kids ride one. Older kids will love the Bahrain International Karting Circuit, where smaller engines suited to younger drivers are available. Meanwhile those who prefer four legs to two wheels will surely appreciate riding one of the Dilmun Club's beautiful ponies.
Both the Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve and the spectacular Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park are popular with the entire family, especially the toddler pool in the latter and the bus tour of the park. For younger children, there are some really good indoor entertainment options, such as the Wahooo! water park and Magic Planet in central Manama.
Bahrain, like many Gulf countries, is very family orientated, and children are pretty much welcome everywhere; however, this does not necessarily mean facilities specifically aimed at parents are widely available, though this is changing. Most new malls, for example, have baby-changing facilities, as do some well-known restaurant and cafes, but these are often restricted to female toilets and are rarely found outside Manama. Pavements are not very well suited for pushchairs; however, the country's buses do have space for them. Car hire companies provide children's seats at an added cost.
When booking accommodation, families will be far better off staying in either excellent-value suites and apartments, like Fraser Suites, or in one of the very good family-friendly resorts up and down the country. They offer more space and facilities geared specifically to those travelling with children.
Few restaurants or eateries have a children's menu, with Melissa's Emporium being one of the exceptions. As a result, buffets at the bigger hotels are popular with families. As well as being able to provide high chairs, the huge choice of food on offer means even the fussiest child will find something they like. Try Al Waha or Le Domain, and if you decide to drag them through the chaos of Manama's Souq, be sure to reward them with a delicious ice cream at Naseef.