We were in Bahrain during the eid break and we had an opportunity to visit Bahrain’s disappearing island. Say what? How can you visit a “disappearing” island? Because it’s lulubog lilitaw (appearing and disappearing), that’s why. And when it’s still there, we were also there. Okay, we’ll take you to the beginning of how we ended up in this place.
I was in Bahrain with my husband last Eid-Al-Fitr, and during that time, all we did was stay in the resort which has a swimming pool and a beach and eat and drink. We went to a few tourist spots because it’s my husband’s first time in Bahrain but we didn’t really explore. When we were planning for our Bahrain trip again for Eid-Al-Adha, I turned to Facebook and Tiktok for ideas. I just searched #Bahrain and Jarada Island keeps on popping up. I saw pictures of the place and I was smitten. We need to go to here! I began messaging boat tour operators on how we can go there and thankfully, one of them replied and the rest was history.
What and Where is JARADA ISLAND? No one has widely heard about this island off the island of Bahrain. Even my friend who worked in Bahrain for a few years is knowing this from me for the first time. I guess the island was not a tourist destination until a few years back. It’s considered as “Bahrain’s very own Maldives”. I can compare it a bit to Saudi Arabia’s Umluj too.
Qit’at Jaradah is a cay in the Persian Gulf to the east of Bahrain, located 32 km (20 mi) east of Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Historically, the feature is above water only during spring low tide; it sits approximately midway between Bahrain and Qatar within the 12-mile (19 km) territorial waters of both countries.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qit%27at_Jaradah
So yes, the island or cay (small island) is “disappearing” because of the tide. If it’s low tide, it will appear and if it’s high tide, it will be covered with water. A navigational beacon stands in the island that’s why even during high tide, boat operators know where it is. The cay measured approximately 12 by 4 metres (39 ft × 13 ft) at high tide with an elevation of approximately 0.4 metres (1 ft 4 in), and 600 by 75 metres (1,969 ft × 246 ft) at low tide. In the middle of the Arabian Gulf, you will find a shallow part of the sea where boats can park. The waters around the small island, or sandbar, is crystal clear and shimmering under the sun.
Now, this cay has been claimed by Bahrain in 1936 but there was a dispute with Qatar on this that’s why it hasn’t been anywhere in anyone’s radar as a tourist destination until a few years back.
How To Go To Jarada Island? Of course, you cannot go to Jarada on your own unless you are a skilled boatsman and qualified and legit to do so. As tourists in Bahrain, you can find boat tour operators or travel agencies that arrange a visit to Jarada. We went with Blue Ocean Marine Services that operates in the Water Garden City in Manama. I messaged their Whatsapp number and conversed with Mr. Ali about their packages on Jarada Island.
They have a Joiner’s Package which is BHD 25 per person. Basically, you join other people on the boat going to Jarada Island. Since we were six adults and two kids in our group, we opted to get their Private Package which is BHD 200 for the whole group for 6 hours. Their packages include the transportation to the island, icebox with water, barbecue kit, chairs and table setup, and snorkelling kit (upon request). They also have staff that assisted us in the tour. There are two timings which you can choose from: 6:00 AM – 12:00 NN or 12:00 NN to 6:00 PM. It was a great thing they recommended the morning schedule; you’ll read why later in this post.
We had to pay the BHD 200 a few days before our schedule so that they can book the boat. They sent their Bahrain bank account details and we paid through our Saudi bank account. We did not encounter any problems in this transaction.
Our Experience. We traveled to Bahrain from Riyadh last July 8, 2022. Our Jarada Island trip was scheduled on July 9, 2022 at 6:00 AM. We were asked to be at the Water Garden City before 6:00 AM. And of course, we were there at 5:30 AM (no Filipino time in our case; I hate being late on organized tours). The staff arrived a little before 6:00 AM and we were on the boat by 6:05 AM. The boat looks good and can accommodate up to 10 persons.
A staff forgot to bring ice so we had to wait for him to buy the ice (because ice is life for this hot trip) before we began our boat journey. We left the dock around 6:30 AM after wearing our life jackets. Passport or a valid ID is needed just in case the Coast Guard check us on the way.
The journey in the water was quite scenic on the first few minutes because we were in Bahrain Bay and it’s giving a nice view of the skyscrapers of Bahrain. The weather was also good to us that morning. It wasn’t too hot and we were enjoying the wind in our hair.
It was a one hour ride to Jarada and for the most part, it was a smooth ride in the Arabian Gulf. Until we reached some large waves and we were going up and down in our seats screaming a bit. Haha. That woke us up. It was just a few minutes of rough riding but after that, it went smooth sailing again.
From time to time, we saw some boats from afar. We also some jelly fishes in the water (but we saw more of them on the way back). The morning sunshine was a good backdrop to this trip. We did ask “are we there yet?” a few times. Haha.
We couldn’t believe it when our captain said we’re near. From our seats in the boat, we couldn’t really see anything that resembles an island. Until a small beacon appeared and he pointed to it. That’s where we’re going! Err what? Where?
Turns out, you have to be really close to see the strip of sand that is Jarada Island. The navigational beacon is a sign that it’s there. When we arrived at around 7:30 AM, we can still see a huge part of the cay. It’s not as huge as the shallow sea area of Umluj but it’s enough to accommodate us and the setup we were making. The size of the “island” depends on the tide.
Thankfully, we were the only ones in the island during that time. We basked under the sun and enjoyed the crystal clear water of Jarada. We were welcomed by birds too; probably the only inhabitants of the island. We can see a boat in the distance and we were informed by our guides that it’s the Coast Guard guarding the maritime border of Bahrain and Qatar. We were close to Qatar at this point.
The staff began to set up the table and chairs. We also brought our own food and additional beverages. They’re not included in the package. We just bought meat ready for barbecue in the Tamimi Market near our AirBnB accommodation. While they’re doing that, we were taking A LOT of pictures on the boat, on the sand, on the water… sa lahat na! We also swam syempre, haha. Hindi naman puro pictures.
It was such a peaceful yet fun moment. We were so lucky to have the island all to ourselves when we went. We’ve seen some pictures of other tourists when the island was so crowded they couldn’t take photos without a person in their background. When we were there, we felt safe even in the waters because it was really shallow; no matter how far you go away from the shore (wag naman din masyado malayo haha). The kids enjoyed the waters so much.
We ate the barbecue that the staff grilled for us (we were insisting we can do it but they said we just enjoy the water and they’ll do it for us).
Around 10:00 AM, we noticed that the water was already eating up most of the portion of the sandbar. The waves were getting nearer and the waters were getting deeper. We moved the chairs and tables to the middle but eventually, the waters caught up. We decided to end our Jarada day by 10:30 AM and began gathering our stuff. Two boats arrived around this time with around 10 persons and we can see that the sandbar was already disappearing. We were already in the boat ready to leave when the water swallowed the sandbar and there’s no more “island” even though the part near the navigational beacon was still shallow so people can still swim and sunbathe there.
We left the island around 10:45 AM. We saw a group of tuna in the water and saw more jellyfishes along the way. They were so many!!! At first we thought is was just white plastic in the water but we realized there were too many. It was another hour to reach Water Garden City. By this time, we were tired but we were so happy. We got our tan (char sa tan, umitim lang kami haha) and we got our day in our private beach (o parang amin, bakit ba haha).
When we arrived in the dock, there was another boat ready to go to Jarada Island but we were thinking if they will see the island since it already disappeared by the time we left. Oh well, it all depends on the tide. That’s why we were glad to pick the 6:00 AM slot. Hopefully, they also enjoyed their time in the island.
O kayo ba? Next time, try this adventure when you’re in Bahrain! There are a lot of boat tour operators and agencies offering this trip. Here are the details of the Blue Ocean Marine Services that we went with on this trip. Apart from Jarada Island, they also offer other water activities and tours in Bahrain. This is not a sponsored post nor an advertisement. Just sharing our experience.
- WHAT: BLUE OCEAN MARINE SERVICES
- WHATSAPP: +973-3926-3599 / +973-3510-9192
- FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/BlueOceanMarineWaterSports
- LOCATION: https://g.page/WaterGardenCityBh?share