Stretching 200 km along the tip of Saudi’s Red Sea coast, Jazan has all the prerequisites for a quintessential summer holiday. The petite province packs in a wealth of nature, culture and adventure, with a landscape that spans from alabaster beaches and azure seas, to green forests and craggy mountain peaks. The port city is perhaps best known as a jumping-off point for the unspoilt Farasan Islands, a protected archipelago of islands and coral islets that is home to an abundance of wildlife and colorful marine creatures, but it’s also a haven for those keen to explore Saudi’s heritage and diverse geography. From the ancient palm-roofed fort that overlooks the town, to the merchant houses or evocative stone buildings of Al Qassar Village, Jazan’s appeal is as varied as its scenery.
From Al Muwasem Beach in the south to Al Shuqaiq Beach in the north, Jazan’s gently curving shoreline is ideal for family holidays. Highlights include walking barefoot along the sand, basking in picture-perfect waters, or relaxing and unwinding in the balmy summer sun. Nearby resorts offer an array of watersports, boat rides and fishing trips, or you can snack, sip, and snap an Instagram-worthy sunset from a spot at the town’s seaside restaurants and cafés.
Plan a private trip with one of Jazan’s expert local dive centers, your gateway to an exotic underwater wonderland. Take the plunge into warm waters rich with colorful fish life and bright coral formations, and scattered with uninhabited islands. Divers might glimpse sea turtles, dugongs or manta rays, or explore saltwater-worn shipwrecks. For those happier on the surface, there’s still plenty to marvel over: snorkeling is a pleasure in these clear waves.
The jewel in Jazan’s crown, the beautiful and idyllic Farasan Islands are the source of endless adventures. Only three of the 84 islands are permanently inhabited, with the remainder largely a protected marine sanctuary. This is a land of white-sand beaches, lush mangroves, low inland cliffs and wide blue skies; home to an array of bird and wildlife, including the idmi gazelle, pink-backed pelican and clusters of flamingos. Explore the islands, snorkel in the shallows, and end the day with an evening bonfire under a serene and starlit sky.
Where to have fun: Enjoy cliff-top hiking trails in the Faifa Mountains, or Jebel Qahar, east of the city, or explore the plunging ravines and striking peaks of Wadi Lajab. Among the Farasan Islands, don’t miss the Al Qandal mangrove forest or the evocative streets of Al Qasser Village, a snapshot of Jazan’s storied past.
Where to eat: Enjoy freshly caught fish and seafood at local favorite AlDiyafah, or dine al fresco on the terrace of the aptly named Happy Times restaurant. For Arabic dishes, head to Qamdan or Mefa, or snap up a burger and topped fries at South West on the northern corniche.
Rent a car: Car rental companies can be found along the airport and Prince Faisal roads, as well as inland, including Budget, Theeb and Hussain.
Learn more: Roads of Arabia packages take in Jazan’s archaeological sites, in addition to the Al Qattin village coffee plantation. Masarat’s Farsan Island tours include visits to Al Qasser Village and Al Najdi Mosque.
The northeastern city of Tabuk has long been a resting point for Jordanian and Egyptian pilgrims, with a rich Bedouin culture that can be felt in the bustling Souq Twaheen, which still supplies patterned rugs and goat-hair tent covers for modern nomads.