A Bahrain stamp in your passport stands for Crusoe-quality beaches, cut-above food, incredible architecture, awesome shopping experiences, plush hotels, cosmopolitan bars and epochs of history.

If you’ve never considered Bahrain as a holiday destination before, here are 14 things you might not know about the country, that could fast-track it straight to the top of your wish list. We reckon you’ll be searching for a flight in no time…

The flight to Bahrain is only two hours longer than the flight to Tenerife

Direct flights are available to Bahrain from London Heathrow. The flight time is six and a half hours; that’s only two hours more than the journey time to the Canary Islands from the UK.

It’s got at least 33 things in common with The Maldives

Bahrain is actually an archipelago. That means the country calls 33 islands its own. The roll call includes the Hawar Islands, which lily pad their way out into the Arabian Gulf. The shortbread-coloured sands of these islands are also home to endangered species of wildlife, like the sand gazelle. Then there are the Al Dar Islands, which play host to a huge variety of water sports.

It’s home to a disappearing island

Jarada Island is a strip of sift-soft white sand. You can only experience it at low tide, because when the waters rise it becomes shy and hides itself away in the sea. Visitors can arrange to be marooned here at low tide for a real castaway experience.

It’s one of the pearl capitals of the world

Bahrainis have been diving for pearls for 4,000 years. 44 square miles of oyster beds tangle their way around the country’s islands. Divers can pluck pears from their shells and take them home with them if they find one.

It’s got a magic tree

Bahrain’s Tree of Life defies science. This 400-year-old, 32-foot tree thrives in the middle of the desert, where no other living thing exists. It’s whipped by desert storms and scorched by 40-degree heat, yet remains leafy and green. Scientists aren’t certain how it survives. The nearest water source is thought to be two miles away. Some even say the tree stands on the site of the Garden of Eden.

It’s got backbone

Actually, backbones are just one of the assortments of bones that are buried at the Dilmun Burial Grounds in the north of Bahrain. This burial site dates back to the 3rd millennium BC and is thought to be the largest prehistoric cemetery in the world.

Its hotels push the boat out

Fancy a hotel room with a private plunge pool? Or a lagoon-side villa with a private butler who will run you a rose petal bath? Who wouldn’t? Bahrain’s hotel scene name drops big luxury brands like Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons. The latter has a hotel in Bahrain Bay that’s got a panoramic bar on the 50th floor.

It feels the need, the need for speed

Bahrain International Circuit is one of the world’s best motorsport facilities. A leg of the Grand Prix is held here every year. The circuit has 15 turns, four straights, and 1,090 metres of track. It’s also surrounded by 400 palm trees. Visitors can attempt to achieve their own podium place on the karting track here that’s open to the public.

It’s the place to take a dugong safari

Bahrain has one of the largest populations of dugongs in the world. At certain times of year, divers can spot herds of up to 100 at a time lumbering through the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Divers visiting Bahrain can also spot whale sharks in the country’s waters between March and April. These filter-feeding mammals can reach sizes of up to 12 metres long.

It’s a foodie heartland

Bahrain takes a Phileas Fogg approach to food. The country’s dining scene can take you around the world in 80 dishes. You can eat everything here from classic British scones to dishes by celebrity chefs to burritos and curries and Chettinad style dishes (a specialised style of Indian dish).

It takes its shopping seriously

Shopping in Bahrain is not for the faint-hearted. The country is plump with malls and outlets. Bahrain city centre alone has 350 stores. Al Aali Shopping Complex fills its 52,000 square metre space with luxury label boutiques. Moda Mall features 80 fashion stores and 50 jewellery brands. Then there is the traditional Manama Souq, where the labyrinth of lanes is dense with stalls selling everything from incense to gold.

About the author

Sarah HoltSarah has been a travel writer for the best part of a decade. Her travels have taken her from the peaks of the Swiss Alps to the depths of the Bolivian silver mines. She’s also a published author. She recently left the 9-5 to do life her own way. Follow along her adventures on her blog Backpacks and Yoga Mats.

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