It doesn’t take long to see why this small coastal town and region are frequently referred to as the Maldives of Saudi Arabia. North of the town, travelers can venture to more than 100 small islands known for their egg-white sands and ancient swaying palms, and home to a gentle technicolor world of nudibranchs, turtles and dugongs living in the aquarium-like waters. The beach at Umluj is postcard-pretty, but the main attraction is taking a boat to islands like Jabal Hassan, or relaxing at palm-covered coastal beaches such as Ras Al Shaaban and Doqm. From town, it’s possible to tour nearby mango farms or travel about an hour inland to Harrat Lunayyir. Here, discover a curious black lava field of craters and cones, which feels a world away from the dunes and turquoise waters of the coast.