It’s been a long, hard year of social distancing and indoor activities. But it’s finally autumn now. With the reopening of outdoor concerts, activities, sports and camping, there are many fun things to do this season.

Around 83% of the total population of Qatar is now fully vaccinated with two doses and the fourth phase of gradual lifting of Covid-19 precautionary restrictions is underway. And the weather’s becoming pleasant, suggesting that this season might look a little closer to ‘normal’ that some feared (good news, masks are fading finally). We all certainly deserve to treat ourselves to a bit of adventure, on land or in the sea, especially after spending so long indoors in isolation, because of both Covid and the dreadful heat. What’s your thing? Watersports and camping, dune bashing or finding some tranquility at the shore? Whatever, we’ve got you covered. There’s plenty on the horizon to feel excited about and we’ve come up with some of our most longed-for outdoor activities. Let us inspire you to get out and about.

MAKING A SPLASH

Qatar offers a serious punch of extreme watersports. Edged by the ocean on three of its four sides, there are lots of options to explore, from kitesurfing to parasailing, kayaking, flyboarding and Jet Skiing.

Flyboarding is possibly every kid’s dream: it takes you up in the sky at the speed of a rocket, defying the laws of gravity, and leaves you there for a few minutes where you can gaze at the fish flapping on the surface of the water. Here, in Qatar pretty much every sports activity imaginable is up for a grab, including the thrilling jet-packing.

Although jet-packing is very similar to flyboarding, the difference is that the pair of high-pressure water jets are strapped to your back rather than your feet, making it comparatively so much easier to control and balance out.

In the past few years, what really has been booming in terms of water sports here in Doha has been Jet Skiing or personal watercraft riding, something that one should not miss on a weekend, perhaps. Many people now actually own one instead of renting due to their popularity. Jet Ski by the West Bay and get an absolutely starry glimpse of the skyscrapers while enjoying the feeling of mildly cold water splashing on your face as you motor through the waves. An experience all of its own.

Another much-hyped activity bringing a massive adrenaline rush is parasailing. It can be conveniently experienced in the centre of the city at Katara Beach. You can go spend a day on the beach and warm yourself to the environment before being strapped to a parachute for about 10 minutes, hanging in the sky at around 600ft above the sea.

The options don’t stop there. With the outstanding Inland Sea and Al Thakira Mangroves both providing kayaking options, there is an absolute treat in store for people interested in witnessing stunning wildlife and landscapes whist spending some fun quality time with either friends or family. All water sports in Qatar are available along the entire 350- mile coastline.

BENEATH THE WAVES

While the temperature drops in Qatar, it is approaching prime diving conditions, with autumn bringing lower wind speeds lending access to clearer water. There’s this unexpected calm under the water. Carrying oxygen tanks and goggles and watching colourful angelfish flit past blue sea stars attached to the coral below, and some paddling sea turtles might just change your relationship and perception of the ocean for life. Although many people think Qatar might not be a destination for scuba diving, the opposite is true. Qatar has a long historic association to the sea, dating back to the pearl diving days.

“Qatar has picturesque marine life which many people don’t know of and diving in the north and the Inland Sea is an absolute surprise,” says Khaled Zaki, a PADI-certified instructor and underwater photographer.

For someone new and a first timer at scuba diving, it can be a little overwhelming to approach it. “Before you dive, you need to know a couple of important things — including which season for fish it is and what species to expect. If you are exploring a sandy bottom area, for instance, then you will encounter more sandy bottom creatures. But the fact is most sea creatures are very peaceful and shy if you don’t disturb them. The key is that when you see a beautiful creature, pretend you didn’t see it, so you don’t scare it away. Keep an eye on it but be very calm about it,” says Khaled.

He shares how he feels when he’s there underwater all on his own. “It’s like meditation for me. Yoga perhaps. You can hear the sound of your lungs, the breath and motion. Everything is slow. You are floating. Diving is adventurous and educational at the same time. After a nice dive and exploring the marvels under water you feel stress-free. It’s like exploring a new world.”

FLYING HIGH

If you’re seeking a rush, to push your limits or want to tick off an adventure from your ‘bucket list’, paratriking could be the thing to do this autumn.

Although some people may find it risky, it’s the adrenaline rush that really compensates for everything else. Amidst the deep blue sky at Sealine, crisp views and fresh air will fuel you up for an experience of a lifetime.

A kart, or trike, with three wheels takes you up into the air with a professional pilot supported by a large paraglider. You’ll be talking to the instructor via intercom as you’re gently lifted off the ground to a height of 500 to 1,000 feet for a 20-minute ride. It’s also pretty affordable to the pocket. Paratriking is available at Sky Masters Sports Club at Sealine beach.

The wind will be fierce even though the air isn’t moving up there — you are moving through it. Expect the sensation you get sticking your head out of the window of a speeding car on a highway, and then multiply it by five. The thing about paratriking is that it’s loud yet piercingly silent. Just a high-pitched whirring sound as you hear in a Hollywood scene when the main character zones out for a moment or two, thinking something deeply.

The extreme emotions and feelings created by flying in the open air cause the brain to produce an active chemical combination associated with extreme sports.

You can opt for different packages that include video footage and photographs of yourself flying that you can perhaps share with friends, family and of course on Instagram.

If we’ve managed to convince you to try this thrilling aerial experience and you decide to go all out for it, don’t forget to share your experience with us on social media. We’ll be waiting for it.

SHIFTING SANDS

An exotic escape to the dessert, dune bashing, camping by the beach as you grill and barbecue with friends or family is essential for those wanting a sense of the real Qatar and an ultra-fun retreat. Now, since the heat’s coming down a notch, a starry night in the desert sounds like a great idea. As a tip, you could take your portable projector with you and find a rock formation amidst the sand dunes to watch your favourite film or show.

Make a day of your dessert outing. Spend an afternoon spotting wildlife such as Arabian Oryx, birdlife or even falcons. There are several enthusiasts in the desert sands who may treat guests to an impressive falconry show.

You can also swap your fancy SUV (Yes! It’s best to take an SUV all the way because in winter the sand may be a little too dampened in places and if you’re in your saloon, you could be stuck for hours) for a camel ride across the dunes as the sun begins to set. This is a perfect Insta worthy moment.

There are several safari tours on which you’ll be greeted with a glass of date juice, followed by a hearty meal while the rest of the evening is spent under the sky on lounge cushions and carpets strewn across the sand. There will also be mint tea and shisha rolling in, all that around a spectacular fire show. There’s usually a fire lit to keep you warm as it can get really cold at night.

For a picturesque experience, we’d advise you to head to Khor Al Adaid. It is one of the few places in the world where the sea impinges into the desert. It’s beautiful and is also a Unesco recognised nature reserve with its own ecosystem.

LET’S GO TO THE BEACH

Contrary to popular belief, particularly among those who have not visited Qatar, this country is actually quite rich when it comes to beaches. There are at least 25 across the country and all are unique in their own way. Now is the perfect time to head to one of them, or all, to have a great time out with family or friends. From well-planned amenities at the tourist hot spots to out-of-the-way sandy paradises, we’re listing our top three for you!

FUWAIRIT BEACH:
About a two-hour drive from the main city, this beach provides an edge touching the foot of eroded hills. Sunsets here are beautiful with a picturesque view of the hills. A perfect shoreline of pink and white sand scattered with shells against the clear aqua sea is worth the drive. It’s usually not crowded, has white sand, clean water and perfect tranquility to dip your toes or simply sit by the sand to meditate and feel a fresh breath of air. You can bring in your camping supplies and spend a night here whilst gazing at the stars, listening to the ocean and barbecuing with family and friends.

MAROONA BEACH:
Located at the south of Fuwairit Beach, it is located at about 80km from north Doha. Maroona Beach boasts fine sand and is the perfect place to relax or take a walk providing a beautiful landscape for an escape from the city. Find yourself, collect your inner thoughts, let it flow and feel the tranquility and crispness of the air.

INLAND SEA:
The Inland Sea is the area ahead of the Sealine Beach towards the south, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the city. It is a beautiful place that’ll make you fall in love with the desert. Although you will need a guide or a four-wheel drive to get there — it’s definitely worth it. Once you’ve arrived, enjoy the most secluded beaches and watch the flamingos as you enjoy the warmth of the sun on these peaceful shores. ✤