Greenery with. sunset in distance

A day trip itinerary

A guide to Umluj’s beaches and islands

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Where Is Umluj?

 

Located in the northern province of Tabuk in Saudi, Umluj is a small fishing village situated around a bay. “It’s some of the most pristine water I’ve seen in this part of the world,” says Hilary McCormack, a Riyadh resident who recently spent some time in the island paradise. It offers nature lovers and those just looking to get off the grid pure white-sand beaches and turquoise waters so clear you can observe marine life without a snorkel mask. Umluj also boasts casual dining options and a beachside town to explore. (Keep in mind that Umluj is so untouched that there is nowhere to stay overnight at this point.)

 

How to Get to Umluj

 

Umluj is a two-hour drive from the popular diving town of Yanbu. Once you reach the port of Umluj, you can explore a great cluster of islands just off its north coast. “It was easy to get a boat at the port, as there were a few lined up on the shore waiting for guests,” McCormack says. “The boats take you out for two to three hours, and you need to bring all your own gear and food,” she adds. If you’re staying in Yanbu, consider asking your hotel to prepare a picnic basket. 

 

What to Do in Umluj

 

Locals and visitors recommend divvying up your time in Umluj between land and sea. We put together a handy itinerary that contains something for everyone. 

  • 9 a.m. Island-Hop

    “The three small islands I went to just off the coast of Umluj are protected for birds and turtles, so I couldn’t get off the boat there — I hope it remains that way!” McCormack says. “A little to the south of the islands is a small, shallow shelf, about 1.5 meters deep, where the boats pull over for their guests to get out and snorkel. The locals call this area the swimming pool in the sea. It’s the ultimate infinity pool,” McCormack says.

  • 1 p.m. Delve Into Umluj’s History

    Umluj has long been an important port, and visitors can still stumble upon historic buildings near the older part of town. Saunter through the streets here while marveling at the old buildings, some with their original latticed windows still intact. And be sure to check out the Ancient Emirate Palace in the area. The palace was used as the regional ruler’s official home for 21 years.

  • 3 p.m. Take the Kids to the Beach

    Let the little ones loose at one of the many children’s sandy play areas that can be found by the coastal King Abdullah Road. The wind may whip up in the late afternoon, so be sure to bring a beach cover-up.

  • 5 p.m. Go Fish

    The waters that stretch along Umluj are rich with marine life. Motorboats can be rented from the nearby port, which can take you deeper into the Red Sea. A local’s tip: Look out for where the seabirds gather, as that will also be where the fish are found.

  • 7 p.m. Watch the Sunset at Palm Lake

    In the northern part of Umluj, a narrow strip of land separates Palm Lake from the mesmerizing Red Sea. It’s the ideal spot to catch the sunset for those who want to stay away from the larger crowds of Umluj’s beaches. If you plan to stay for dinner and need a little pick-me-up, McCormack recommends grabbing a coffee from Sea Seal Coffee Shop, just opposite the old port.

  • 9 p.m. Eat a Seafood Feast

    A trip to Umluj isn’t complete without a taste of its famed seafood offerings. The Al Balad area is home to several restaurants that offer fresh catches of the day, which are then fried, grilled or even baked to your liking. (For more on where to stay, have fun and, of course, eat, check out the Saudi Tourism Authority’s guide to Umluj.)

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