ActivityDiving Bahrain's pearl beds

The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the only places in the world where you can dive for your own pearls

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It might be better known for Formula One, but the gorgeous island nation of Bahrain has been the epicentre of natural pearling for more than a millennium. At its peak, this ancient industry ushered in a golden era – thanks to quiet seas, few predators and beautifully warm waters, Bahrain’s tiny treasures are some of the purest in the world. Try out pearl-diving, walk the heritage trail and visit the waterfront museum to really understand one of the most fascinating cultural identities on the Arabian Gulf. 

Handpick your own offshore treasures

Bahraini pearls are usually found by chance, but this incredibly rare industry is as fun for the experience as it is for the potential treasure. The rich waters around the islands are a known breeding site for pearls, and there are plenty of locations that an approved diving company can take you to if you fancy having a go at harvesting them by hand – just make sure you’ve bought a pearl diving pass prior to departure from Ras Rayyah port. If you’re uncomfortable with diving, try a gentle snorkel instead above the shallow beds closest to the shore, while more experienced divers can head towards the deeper reefs around Muharraq island. Following in the ancient traditions of the original Ghawwas, swim past turtles, stingrays and above the most kaleidoscopic of coral reefs as you search within the depths for up to 60 of your own oysters. Hop back on the boat to have a go at shucking – you’re allowed to pocket any pearls that you find on the trip, too.

Pearl diving old fishing dhow bahrain jumeirah shutterstock

 

Walk through history on the Bahrain Pearling Trail

Follow in the footsteps of the eminent French jeweller, Jacques Cartier, and take a trip across to Muharraq Island to walk the country’s legendary Bahrain Pearling Trail. Bahrain’s second accoladed UNESCO heritage site (the first being the Bahrain Fort) is a stunning testament to the lasting legacy of this country’s unique pearling history. Stretching out over 3km, the pearl route winds its way along a heritage section of old buildings, right into the heart of the former ancient capital. Take in the old shipyards, markets and former homes of the merchants and dhow captains that you’re passing as you learn about this important onshore connection to one of the world’s oldest industries.

Bahrain pearling trail shutterstock jumeirah bahrain

 

Take a tour of Bahrain’s National Museum

From old fishing artefacts to vintage action diving shots, Bahrain’s National Museum on the waterfront is the perfect place to unpack more about this important ancient industry. Spot the pearl diver sculpture, a centrepiece on the quay outside, before taking a tour of the inside galleries which showcase the heritage of this old tradition. Step back into the 1800s and look for the displays of the old timber fishing dhows – you’ll also see the vulnerability of the equipment used prior to the modern introduction of today’s protective suits.

From an abundance of incredible marine life to the chance to bring home your very own pearl, head out from the Jumeirah Royal Saray and spend the day trying out one of the country’s most celebrated and historic industries.