“Lebanon’s alternative seaside destinations”
Lebanon’s alternative seaside destinations
The Daily Star, May 12, 2012 – By Niamh Fleming-Farrell – Original link
BEIRUT: Loud music, high heels and even higher entrance rates may seem to be inescapable at the beach in Lebanon, but this need not be the case. The Daily Star has sought out five unique seaside haunts for those seeking an alternative day by the coast.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
The seafront at the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is the antithesis to the vast majority of Lebanon’s beaches – no music, no beer, no luxury swimming pools. But this beautiful, calm, clean stretch of coast running from Tyre’s public beach to the Rashidiyeh Palestinian refugee camp is one of the sandiest in Lebanon.
Part of a protected nature reserve founded in 1998, the beach, along with being the perfect place to sunbath in tranquility, is also a great location to spot nesting turtles and migrating birds.
The conservation area, which one requires permission from the TCNR office to access, comprises a wetland of international significance, located as it is on a major migratory path for birds, and it is also an important nesting area for two endangered sea turtles species: green and loggerhead turtles. Permission can be obtained from the TCNR office Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
TCNR does not charge an entrance fee, but it does accept discretionary contributions to its ongoing conservation projects.
Outside the conservation area, Tyre’s public beach, which is also wonderfully sandy, is a great place to enjoy lunch or refreshments right on the sea.Contact TCNR by email at [email protected]>[email protected]>[email protected]>[email protected] or phone at 07-351-341 or 03-287-211
Some 11 km off the coast of Tripoli lies a cluster of flat rocky uninhabited islands, among them Rabbit Island. Reaching Rabbit Island involves a little more adventuring than accessing most of Lebanon’s beaches, but the trek’s rewards include long sandy beaches and great places to swim.
Some preparation is needed prior to departure: As there are no shops or restaurants on the island, you’ll need to pack an ample picnic to keep you going through the day.
Leave Beirut early and bus or drive north to Tripoli Port. If you’re travelling by bus, you’ll have to take a service from where it drops you in central Tripoli to the port.
Once at the port, you’ll find plenty of guys with boats eager to ferry you to your destination – be prepared to haggle for a good price. Upon arrival on the island, take a stroll around its perimeter – it will take you all of 10 minutes – then swim, sunbath and enjoy your picnic.
Be warned: While there may be some entrepreneurial young men willing to hire you a table and chairs on which to eat your lunch, no one has as yet established any bathroom facilities – be prepared for seeking out a secluded spot in order to relieve yourself.
As long as you’re not the last people on the island, it should be easy to find a boat to take you back to the mainland. Alternatively, you could try to arrange for the boat that brought you out to return and collect you at a designated time.
The seafront itself may be nothing more than a narrow, very rocky strip of land, but Pierre and Friends beach club just outside Batroun is one of the country’s most relaxed and unpretentious – you won’t spot any high heels or maids in uniform here. However, you do need to be prepared for an aural diet comprised almost exclusively of Bob Marley and the occasional afternoon when the Mediterranean, for whatever reason, is whipped into a temper, making the rocky coastline hostile and unpredictable as you try to safely pick your way into the sea.
Entry to Pierre and Friends is free, but during peak season, you do have to pay a small fee to rent a plastic sun lounger. The bar and restaurant on site are also good and prices are reasonable. Choose a seat facing out to sea and you’ll invariably be entertained by the antics of windsurfers, spear fishermen and groups of friends mismanaging rented kayaks. When you’re ready, rent a kayak yourself and join in the fun.
If you get tired of Pierre’s chilled vibe, drift southward to Pearl Beach where the blasting techno or pop music eventually leads pockets of hip-gyrating beachgoers to indulge in a spontaneous seaside discotheque.
TAKE THE FAMILY
Slightly further north, but within walking distance of Pierre and Friends lies White Beach. Its strand, which is equally stony, is much deeper than its neighbor’s, and while the beach itself is less “hip,” it’s just as relaxed, but in a family-friendly way.
There is an entrance fee at White Beach, but it’s only LL5,000 and includes a chaise longue.
The club also offers a range of activities, from snorkeling to diving, sailing and windsurfing. Its website invites guests to bring their own fishing gear and advertises that the Lebanese restaurant on site will cook your catch for you.
For more information visit www.whitebeachlebanon.com/index.php
LAZING BUT CONNECTED
Lazy B has long since ceased to be a secret, and it has definitely become one of Lebanon’s most popular beaches, yet it remains without equal in the country.
Aiming to create a relaxing, peaceful and traditional sun, sea and sand atmosphere, the resort, unlike most others, plays no music during the day and has tried to retain as natural a coastal environment as possible.
Featuring the beach, a creek, two swimming pools, deck chairs, loungers and beds, guests may choose their preferred environment for relaxation. Food is served at the seven terraced restaurant on site, or wherever one chooses to lounge within the sprawling complex. Free Internet is also offered.
Lazy B is a private resort and does charge entrance rates on a par with the upper end of the beach club market. For the 2012 season, entrance for adults and children over 15 is LL31,818 plus VAT on weekdays and LL36,363 plus VAT on weekends and holidays. Children under 15 are charged LL18,181 plus VAT. It is also worth noting that while children are welcome at Lazy B, the pools are off limits to them. The resort is open daily from 9 a.m. until sunset, with lifeguards on duty until 6 p.m.