With Covid pandemic messing up our holiday plans, Qatar’s scorching heat, and most indoor establishments still closed for kids below 12, it’s not easy to find ways to spend time as a family.
In the past, we would never even consider visiting any beaches in Qatar between June and September. With the heat and humidity reaching ridiculous levels, we assumed staying outdoors for more than 15min was an impossible task. This year, out of desperation, we’ve decided to pursue this option. And, surprisingly, it works for us much better than we expected! Beaches seem to be the only space where families can sit and relax together, at the same time successfully practicing social distancing.
So how are we doing it with two small kids in tow? There’s some logistics involved, but overall once you get yourself organized, it’s not as overwhelming as it seems to be!
Based on our own experience of trial and error, below are three main rules which we stick to while enjoying beaches in Qatar, in the summer:
We don’t stay on the beach between 11am and 3pm.
It’s simply too hot, especially considering the little ones! We either wake up before sunrise to enjoy breakfast & a dip in the morning, or go for a late afternoon / early evening session. Both timings have their upsides and downsides.
So what’s so bad about having breakfast at the beach? First of all, we find it really difficult to wake up so early! In order to fully enjoy beaches in the morning, we need to set our alarm clock somewhere between 4am and 5am. Then wake up the kids, which is a whole different challenge. Also, around 10-11am the heat becomes unbearable and we feel like we’re being chased out from the beach!
And what are the upsides? The biggest upside, for me, is that for the first 2-3 hours the weather is great! Sand is not crazy hot, humidity is on reasonable levels and temperatures are manageable. Also, beaches during this time of the day tend to be much less crowded than in the afternoon, and once you get back home you still have a whole day ahead of you. The idea of enjoying breakfast on the beach is an appealing one, too! Overnight oats make a great mess-free option for the kids, we also take a variety of fruits in the cooler, and of course coffee for the parents!
Going in the afternoon has some drawbacks, too! To begin with, once you climb out of your comfy air-conditioned car, you get hit in the face with the heat and humidity, because the temperatures didn’t start to drop yet. On top of that, there’s a big chance that your kids had their afternoon nap in the car and for the first hour or so they will function in a low-energy grumpy mode 😉 Afternoons and early evenings also tend to be the time when beaches are the most crowded (especially during weekends). In my next blog post, I’ll give you some ideas about which beaches in Qatar to visit, to avoid crowds. 🙂 The last major drawback is that going back after the sunset can prove very tricky, especially if it requires some offroad driving. With no light, it’s easy to get lost or stuck in the sand/mud.
Luckily, the upsides of afternoon beach trips outweigh the negatives. Firstly, it’s a great time to do an early dinner bbq, and for us, nothing tastes better than freshly prepared juicy burgers enjoyed under the shade on the beach! What’s also important is that once the sun starts setting, UV index goes down and it’s much safer for the kids to run around (and for us adults to chase them 😉 ). Unlike in the mornings, weather becomes more and more pleasant with time and we don’t feel rushed to leave. Also, leaving home in the afternoon gives us plenty of time to make sure that everything we need is packed up and all the necessary shopping is done.
We always do proper research about the beach which we plan to visit for the 1st time.
We love exploring new beaches in Qatar! Every week we try to visit a different one. However, despite the fact that the landscape of Qatar seems more or less the same throughout the country, it does vary from one beach to another! It is therefore important to do some research before going. The things I always check before any beach trip are:
- How far away from Doha is the beach we chose? Establishing this helps us schedule our departure, kids’ naps, meal times etc.
- How is the road? Is there any offroad driving required? And if so, is it just about going on a dirt road, or will we actually need to use the 4-wheel-drive? This also gives us a good indication of how crowded it might be.
- What do people say about the beach? I always check out reviews on Google, as well as search through the relevant Facebook groups.
- Have any of my friends been there? If so, what’s their insight?
- Will the beach be suitable for small kids? For example: is the water shallow enough for them to splash around? Is it sandy, or are there any rocks? Is there any excessive offroading activity nearby (we HATE Sealine because of this, I will never feel comfortable letting my kids run around so close to dune-bashing landcruisers and quads). And so on.
- Is the beach open at the time when we plan to visit? If it’s a public beach with facilities, it might be open only on certain days/hours. Even the semi-wild beaches can be closed at times (like Fuwairit for the turtle nesting season).
- What are the timings of tides? Very important, but so many people forget about this! In extreme situations, a rising tide can cut you off if small dirt roads become flooded. On the other hand, with the tide at its lowest, it can be a long walk from the beach to even reach the water. 😀 (you can find all the necessary information on the Civil Aviation Authority website, HERE).
We keep a list of Beach Necessities and take extra care to ensure we don’t forget any of them.
This list was created on a trial-and-error basis. You can imagine how many “Oh no, we forgot to bring … ” it took to put it together 😀 But it does make our life so much easier now! So what are our must-have beach items while touring the beaches in Qatar?
- A gazebo! We used to be the “let’s take an umbrella” kind of people, in the past. But that was back in the days when we never considering going to the beach during the summer months. Now we know how important it is to have all the shadow we can get! And one simple umbrella is not enough to do the job.
- Beach chairs and a foldable table sturdy enough to hold a bbq. Those stay permanently in our car.
- A variety of sunscreens. Because one is not nearly enough. 😀 As weird and funny as it may sound, each member of our family has a different complexion and is on a different suntan level! Starting from my 100% Polish white self, through Danny (mostly Polish, but with a hint of Arab), Adam (mostly Arab, with a hint of Polish), to Khaled (100% Arab who always tans brown and never gets a sunburn! Can you sense my jealousy here? :D).
- A huge cooler filled with ice. We store everything there. Mostly drinks, but also fruits, meat, diary products etc. You can imagine how easily things spoil in this weather!
- A “BBQ Box”. Yes, we have a plastic box from Ikea filled with all the bbq-related stuff. Hubby’s in charge of that and makes sure that nothing is ever missing. The box stays inside the car and only goes out from time to time for cleaning. We also have a bbq, which fits inside the box. It’s a portable tabletop kind from Weber and even though it’s not the cheapest one out there, we definitely recommend it, it’s awesome (we got it in Carrefour, and you can check it out HERE).
- Our Beach Bag. We dedicated a soft fast-dry gym bag to keep the beach necessities. It contains: kids beach clothes & hats, change of clothes for all of us, swimming nappies for Danny, wet wipes, and a roll of small garbage bags. After we wash things, they immediately land back inside the bag, so we won’t forget anything during our next trip.
- A plastic bag with all the beach toys and inflatables, that stays permanently inside the car. Because we do not want our offspring to run around playing with random dirt, food, or bbq accessories ;).
- A high chair for Danny. This might sound funny, but it’s the only way to make sure that our little monster doesn’t eat a tone of sand with his food! Those of you who have kids below 2 years old know how difficult it is to make them sit still in one spot while eating.
- Crocs-style beach shoes for the kids. Because the sand gets damn hot during the day!
- BONUS: A “Shisha Box” for hubby! Similar to the BBQ Box, but containing everything you might need to have a smoke while watching the sunset. 🙂
In my next post, I’m going to list our favorite beaches in Qatar (so far) to enjoy time with the kids while avoiding the crowds. I will also share which place didn’t work for us at all. Watch this space 🙂
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