Before I lived in Lebanon, our family called going to the beach a “vacation.”
It usually involved time off from work, a flight (or a long road trip) and packing.
Now with some of the world’s most fantastic beaches just a short drive away, no planning’s involved. Grab a towel, spending money, suntan lotion and go!
With our seafront running the length of the country from north to south, a beach is not more than a couple of hours away from anywhere in the country. The terrain varies from the rocky shores of Batroun to the smooth sandy beaches of Tyre. So with so many beautiful beaches, how do we choose?
Fortunately, I know an avid watersports fan who could give me the scoop on Lebanon’s best beaches – with “best” depending on what you want to do that day. Talking to Firas Assi, the 22-year old Lebanese sportsman, he gave me the lowdown on the best surfing, diving, windsurfing, fishing, and chilling spots on Lebanon’s coastline.
For windsurfing, fishing, and good food, Batroun’s rocky coast provides a scenic setting, a strong wind and rows of seaside restaurants serving fresh fish, says Assi. According to LebanonTourism.com, Batroun and Tripoli have the best wind conditions in the region for windsurfing, a sport that requires skill, attention and practice.
Balancing on a board with a sail that you control with your hands as a wind whips you along the sea offers excitement and a good workout. You’ll be ready to relax on flat rock under the sun when you are done.
And a cold beer might be just the ticket, too. A new microbrewery in Batroun sells its own exclusive brand of beer, Colonel, named after the point along the Batroun shore of the same name. Craft beers are relatively new to Lebanon and Colonel, with its four original brews, has garnered international attention.
If you really want to chill, Assi recommends Pierre & Friends, a resort that belongs in “a 1920s tourist commercial.” (Beirut.com)
If you have guests from abroad or you want a weekend getaway for the family, look no further than Jbeil. In what the United Nations World Tourism Organization named one of the best tourist cities, Byblos (Jbeil) not only holds perhaps the oldest city in the world, but also prime beachfront.
In the heart of the capital, beach resorts thrive. From the cosmopolitan Movenpick to more local flavors of
Coral Beach and Sporting Club, there is a Beirut beach club for everyone, says Assi. Jet skiing, swimming, tanning – the typical beach-front activities are practically universally available.
Lebanese photographer Rasha Kahil published photos on the Nowness website (https://www.nowness.com/story/ocean-view-beirut-sporting-club) that capture the “faded luxury” of the
Sporting Club, which still has a vibe of 1960s glamour.
Surfing is Assi’s favorite pastime. He recommends Jiyeh, halfway between Beirut and Saida. It is one of two spots (the other is Chekka, near Batroun) with the right conditions for surfing, he says. Jiyeh is the official HOME of Surf Lebanon. You can check out Surf Lebanon’s Facebook page (https://
www.facebook.com/surflebanon1) to find current updates on surfing conditions. After a few hours of catching waves, you can relax at a number of local, privately owned beach resorts along the 7-kilometer sandy beach in Jiyeh.
Tyre is a favorite destination of young Lebanese who want to have fun at the beach at affordable rates, thanks to the Tyre Beach Nature Reserve, says Assi. Its wide, sandy beaches and clear waters are open to the public. Affordable restaurants on the beach are a great place to spend an afternoon lunch followed by a stroll along the beach or digging in the sand. Tyre’s picturesque harbor, flanked by the old souqs, offers another great view for photographs.
On the other hand, upscale private resorts such as the Rest House, offer kayaking and sunbathing, and swimming in the pool or the sea.
The cleanliness and beauty of Tyre’s beaches are well known.