Saudi Arabia is usually believed to be a country with conservative atmosphere and lack of entertaining facilities, but if you are an enthusiast and want to explore the country, you can find so many places for entertainment. Expats usually get the vacations once a year to home country and it is not possible to take long time off from jobs in between for enjoyment. It is pretty much only the weekends you get to enjoy your time in the kingdom. So, if you love beaches and want to spend some relaxing time in coastal city, you can plan a weekend trip to Jubail.
Lately I discovered that Jubail, half an hour ride from Dammam, is a great place to spend quality weekend. The corniche adjacent to Fanateer district is breath taking. I along with my family visited Jubail a while back. Jubail is an industrial city in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
If you are visiting Jubail from nearby cities and can reach Jubail within 4-5 hours then I would recommend taking a road trip. You can start your journey right after sunrise on Friday. Make all necessary arrangements a day before. Pack luggage and do not forget to take your camera to capture the beautiful scenery in the coastal city. You can have a little breakfast and keep some snacks for enjoying the road trip.
On our trip to Jubail, we made booking at Mergab Tower Hotel Apartment. You can read the details here. It is 20 minutes drive from the Fanateer Beach but if you have your own car, it won’t bother as hotels near Fanateer are quite expensive. Make your hotel booking earlier as it will save you time. Leaving at sunrise will insure that you reach Jubail before noon.
After resting for few hours, you should go to corniche in Fanateer district. There are many private beaches in Jubail that you can search for but the corniche in Fanateer is beautifully designed and full of natural sights. You can spend quality time walking and jogging on the beach or sit on the corniche and take beautiful pictures of the surrounding.
Caution: Some of our friends told us earlier that if you make a mess on Fanateer beach, you will be fined. So when we reached there, we saw signs of warning tourists to keep surrounding clean or they will be fined of 100-200 SARs. I can’t remember what exactly was that amount but if you are caught, you will have to pay fine so be cautious.
For lunch and dinner you will find a lot of restaurants nearby and don’t have to go farther for grabbing a bite. You can walk and choose from your favorite cuisines including Chinese, Indian, cafes & popular fast food chains. For lunch, we bought some snacks and enjoyed our time on the beach.
Spending time in corniche amidst beautiful natural scenes, birds flying past and greenery, you will feel the time is flying. If you are accompanying kids, they will love to spend time at beach as alongside cornice, there are different patches of sands with different swings, slides and see saw. Kids can also play football.
There are dedicated spots available for fishing. We saw people fishing with multiple rods. They placed the equipment and waited around in hope to catch something big, but we only saw people catching very small fish. If you are lucky enough to catch a big one, then barbeque fish and enjoy.
The beach is alive till 2am, so no worries of going back to hotel. At night, if you love barbeque then you can take all necessary items with you for cooking as there are some barbeque spots available at the beach. If you are not in the mood of barbequing, there are many restaurants that you can choose from. We tried an Indian restaurant Maharaja. We went in just before Isha and ordered Karahi and Naan. The karahi was no way near the taste I like. It was bland and tasted like just chicken and tomatoes. We also did not get Naan, they served Roti to us and there was no time to replace as Isha had started.
Next morning we woke up before sunrise, offered Fajar and rushed to the Fanateer Beach as we wanted to enjoy sunrise and capture some beautiful pictures. The sunrise is mesmerizing and I would highly recommend sacrificing your sleep for the breathtaking dawn at sea. You will surely be tired from yesterday’s travel and enjoyment at the beach but still you should not think of missing dawn as you don’t even get to see sunset over the sea. We spent almost an hour or so there capturing different sceneries and it is the experience I would always remember. Plus, this early you will see very few people at the beach who come for jogging and morning walk. It is quiet, peaceful and soothing.
We came back to hotel at around 7:30 am and had breakfast which was complimentary from the hotel. Then we had some rest and went back to Fanateer. We checked if the ferry ride was available at around 11 am. We wanted to take an early ride as we were leaving for Riyadh in evening. But they told us that ferry would start after Asar. Ferry Ride is a must have if you are at Fanateer Beach. You can read the full details about ferry ride here.
After Zuhr we searched for some lunching place and fortunately we came across Qila of Rice. We ordered barbeque chicken piece with biryani rice and Naan. Naans were so hot, chewy and delicious. The rice tasted great with barbeque chicken. I will give 4.5 / 5 points to Qila of Rice and highly recommend this place. There is only one issue, they do not have family section so you have to get packed and enjoy it on the beach. After lunch, you can go for shopping in Fanateer Mall opposite to Fanateer beach, but it is a small mall with limited options.
After Asar prayer, we went for the ferry ride. It was a double decker ferry that could carry around 50-60 people. The cost for one trip is 20 SAR for each person. We have to wait for half an hour for the boat to be completely filled. It was a 40 minute ride in the open sea along the corniche. The cool breeze, sound of birds, splashing of waves and clean environment brought the trip to a perfect ending. It was truly an icing on the cake.
I must say, it was an amazing tour. The overall cost of the trip for two people is around 800-1000 SAR with one night stay at hotel.