Being an island, and having 100 miles of coastline, you might think that Bahrain is just one big beach. This is not quite true. However, there are useable beaches and we are slowly seeking them out. One of our favorites remains the public beach at Budaiya Beach Park/Al Budaiya Park (coordinates: 26.208530, 50.446891). It's not pristine, but it's close enough. And considering we have three non-swimmers currently, its warm shallow calm waters are ideal for us. It's also rarely packed. Even on weekends, when families come out in droves, there is still plenty of space.
During a recent weekend down south, we happened to take a wrong turn and came across Al Jazayer/Jazayir beach. It was right on the coast and we could see small white caps and the water was exceptionally blue. We did a quick reconnaissance from the car to confirm that it appeared to be a public beach and made a mental note to return another day.
A week later, "another day" arrived. Since it was about half an hour from home, we thoroughly packed the car to the gills with swim gear, floaties, beach toys, towels and some more towels, clothes and some more clothes, sunhats, sunscreen, travel potty, and enough food and water to keep everyone alive for several days. We drove down, parked in the public lot, and dragged all of our gear and kids to the water.
The first thing I noticed was that the water was filled with lots of happy splashers.
The second thing I noticed was that there was no gear anywhere on the beach. There were a few public pergola-style concrete structures, there was a sun-beaten playground, there was a sun-beaten convenience store and there was one family huddled in the shade of the shop with some stuff.
But no piles of towels or coolers or people sitting in the sun. Where was all the stuff? I felt a bit like a hobo family with all of our gear. But we set everything down in a pile and got everybody ready to swim.
With floaties strapped on, we waddled down to the water's edge and found ourselves standing on a very pebbly beach. Not at all comfortable. We tried to go in a little farther but it just wasn't going to happen with three kids yelling to be picked up. So after a quick conference, we waddled back to our pile of gear, hefted everything back up again and shuffled back to the car having decided to instead go to our favorite beach in Budaiya (and made a mental note to get everyone water shoes).
Just to ensure this wasn't a completely wasted trip, we took advantage of the ice cream trucks milling about the parking lot. My husband, however, did not inquire as to the size he was purchasing. He walked back to the car and I asked, "Where are the ice creams?" He said, "They'll deliver them here." I was instantly worried. And it turns out, rightly so. The ice cream truck lumbered up to us and started handing out cups of ice cream holding five scoops each! It was more ice cream than my kids had seen in their entire lives. They were thrilled!
We finished our sugar implosion, dribbled it all over the car for posterity, hastily wiped as much sugary goo off the children and piled ourselves back in. We drove all the way home and then another two miles back to our favorite beach.
So, it was a misadventure with a good ending. We will continue in our beach explorations, however next time we might come wearing water shoes and (somehow) carrying less gear and maybe we’ll even share ONE ice cream. Stay tuned!