Lonely Planet Writer

Go pearl-diving in Bahrain and take your treasure home with you

Travellers diving in the azure waters off Bahrain are now able to bring home more than just memories of their time in the islands. Adventurous visitors can now sign up for pearl-diving expeditions and bring home whatever treasures they’re lucky enough to find underwater.

Pearl souk, Manama, Bahrain. Image by Adam Woolfitt / robertharding/Getty Images

Pearl-diving had been closed off to tourists for eighty years, but is being reintroduced as part of a major drive to bring tourists to the Arabian Gulf. Bahrain has traditionally been known as the pearl capital of the world and will become one of only a handful of places where visitors can dive for the precious gemstones.

Sunrise at Al Hidd, Bahrain. Image by Helminadia/Getty Images

Bahrain’s Tourism and Exhibition Authority explained: “for more than 2000 years, Bahrain’s pearls have been prized as some of the best natural pearls in the world. In the past, pearl divers spent months away from home at sea. They were lowered on weighted ropes and remained underwater for over a minute with nothing but a nose peg to control their breathing. Now, we offer you the opportunity to hunt for pearls right here in the seawaters of the Gulf.” Today’s visitors will not have to worry too much about nose pegs and weighted ropes, and only have to follow a simple six-step guide to be a modern pearl diver.

Tickets can be bought through an official government website and travelers then attend a briefing workshop on what they need to do. They then depart from the port of Ras Rayyah with one of the licensed companies before heading on their underwater adventure. They can collect up to sixty oysters, then open their collection on the boat as they make their journey back to dry land. The pearls are then appraised for value and quality … and travelers can bring their bounty back home with them.