There’s something so alluring about a beach vacation. Why else would travelers gravitate toward sand, water and sunshine time and time again? Upgrade your beach vacation with an adventure to the coasts of Arabia. Here, you’ll discover enticing and varied beaches, making Saudi the perfect place to plan a classic vacation in a truly unique destination. Even better: Beaches like Umluj and Jeddah are great year-round getaways, not just summer hot spots. In fact, in Arabia, winter is an attractive time of year to hit the water in Yanbu or Jazan.
Personalize your trip by choosing a Saudi beach adventure based on what interests you the most — whether it’s the time of year you plan to travel or your favorite water activities.
Quick tip: Not all of Saudi’s beaches are part of luxury resorts. If this is what you’re looking for, it certainly exists, but you can also find a wide variety of off-resort beaches that are truly untamed beauties.
Jazan: For breathtaking beaches and a whole world underwater, head to Jazan in southwest Saudi. Though beautiful year-round, temperatures are milder and the humidity is lower in winter, making December through March a great time to hit the sands in southern Arabia.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel or resort rather than camping or taking a day trip to the beach, Jazan offers a variety of lodging options. Enjoy seaside views at Novotel Jazan or the Radisson Blu Resort Jizan. For more to see and do in Jazan, check out these recommendations on visitsaudi.com.
Jeddah: The beaches near Jeddah offer a wide variety of activities, no matter the season, thanks to the Red Sea’s yearlong warm temperatures. Scuba diving and snorkeling fans who also enjoy the perks of staying in a city should make Jeddah their home base. If you plan to rent equipment for jet skiing, paddleboarding or other watersports, consider one of Jeddah’s many private beach clubs, such as Oia or Indigo, where you’ll find rental options and a secluded scene to embark on a water adventure.
KAEC: Fans of beachfront sports will like what KAEC has to offer. Set out for activities including water biking, kitesurfing and paddleboating. If you fancy a bigger boat, head to the Bay La Sun Marina & Yacht Club to rent boats and yachts and set sail atop KAEC’s strikingly blue waters. For family fun, spend an afternoon relaxing in a cabana atop the white sands of Yam Beach. It’s a hot spot for kitesurfers, but you can also rent kayaks and explore the natural pool surrounded by coral reefs. Afterward, grab a bite from one of the many food trucks that park along the water. Just 90 minutes from Jeddah, KAEC makes for an easy day trip, but it can also entertain travelers — both on and off the water — for days. Learn more about what to see and do in KAEC on visitsaudi.com.
Yanbu: Nicknamed the Pearl of the Red Sea, Yanbu is a scuba diving haven. Plunge into its rich coastal waters to explore shipwrecks and discover a wide variety of sea creatures, including the hammerhead sharks that have been known to hang out near the Seven Sisters reef. Around the harbor, venture out into the city’s historical area (Yanbu can trace its roots back to the spice trade around 500 B.C.) before eating fresh seafood for dinner. Learn more about Yanbu, Saudi’s scuba diving capital, on visitsaudi.com.
Quick tip: Not all of Saudi’s beaches have lifeguards, so use caution when choosing where to take a dip.
Wajh: For a sea retreat with a pristine coastline and a dose of history, make your way to Wajh. With its Hijazi-style old town — and with the rock tombs of Hegra in AlUla only a quick day trip away — you’re sure to see more than just the water during a vacation in this coastal fishing village.
Umluj: A top summer destination, Umluj’s postcard-pretty beaches are a gem in Saudi. Just north of this coastal town are more than 100 small islands known for their white sands and warm, aquariumlike waters, which are home to more than 1,200 fish species. Keep your eyes peeled for hawksbill turtles, dugong sea cows and migratory birds, such as cranes and kingfishers, and spot dolphins that surface in the turquoise waters at the beginning of each summer. Learn more about what to see and do in Umluj on visitsaudi.com.
Yanbu: Oyster Island is the place to camp, especially in winter. Bring your fishing gear and cook what you catch at one of the island’s many barbecue stations.
Umluj: Enjoy an Arabian camping experience with Royal Tours Permanent Camp, where you can spend your evenings around a campfire under the stars and sleep in tented accommodations. The tour group also arranges boat trips and excursions to attractions around Umluj.
—Lisa Zimmermann is a travel writer and editor who has previously written for Club Traveler, Boston magazine, New England Travel, American Airlines and Atlas Magazine.