Now when you think of Qatar you might think about Souq Waqif, Qatar’s famous shopping malls, Doha city centre or the sand dunes but have you ever heard of Purple Island, Qatar? Purple Island is actually one of my favorite places to visit in Qatar, and it is one of Doha’s best hidden gems in my opinion. In this guide we will tell you why you should add Purple Island to your Qatar itinerary, how to get to Purple Island and more.
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What is Purple Island?
Purple Island actually isn’t the official name of this island. It is actually called Bin Ghannam Island but in all my years of living and visiting Doha I have never heard it called this as all the locals affectionately call it Purple Island.
It is called Purple Island due to the relationship this island has with the ancient purple dye industry and I had heard a rumour that the colour of the Qatari flag is the colour it is because of the dye you can make on this island.
Visiting Purple Island Qatar
How to get to Purple Island Qatar
To get to Purple Island you need to drive to Al Khor. Purple Island is approximately 5km further on from Al Khor Town centre. Though you have to go down a dirt path to get there, the drive is relatively flat to Purple Island.
Best Time to Visit Purple Island
In my opinion the best time to visit Purple Island in Qatar is between the months of November and February. This is because the Qatar Winter Weather is much more pleasant than the summer weather when you really don’t want to be outside for extended periods of time.
Also during this months you are also likely to be rewarded on a visit to Purple Island with a chance to see the flamingo migration that stops in Qatar during the Winter months and is one of my all time favourite things to do in Qatar.
Be sure to check out our monthly Qatar guides for more weather, things to do and special event information
And no matter what time of year you are visiting we recommend heading to the island either first thing in the morning or for late afternoon. This way you will escape the worst of the Middle East heat but also be able to see the bird which Purple Island is famous for at their most active.
Are there any facilities on Purple island
If you are going to visit Purple Island I can not stress enough the importance of being prepared. As a natural wonder in Qatar, there are no facilities or amenities in this area i.e. no restaurants or food trucks or bathrooms. Therefore you need to bring everything you will need for a trip to Purple Island with you.
If you forget anything you can pop into a shop in Al Khor but these are not as well stocked as their counterparts in Doha city centre.
What to bring to Purple island
As I said it is important to bring everything you are going to need for a day at Purple Island with you. We therefore think the below item should always be on your Purple Island Packing List.
- Water – and plenty of it as Purple Island has little shade and no where to refill water bottle. Being out of town it is important that you carry extra supplies of this even in Winter.
- Sun Hat – as I said there is little shade on Purple Island so you need to protect your self from the sun
- Sun Cream / Sun Screen
- Sun glasses
- Binoculars – while not an essential if you are visiting during the flamingo migration or are there in the early morning you will be rewarded with some of the best bird watching in all of Qatar. A pair of binoculars will greatly increase your enjoyment of the island.
Best things to do on Purple Island in Qatar
Go Bird Watching
As I said above my favorite time to visit Purple Island is in December and January when I like to go and see the flamingo migration. The flamingos love to rest and feed in the mangroves so you actually get quite a good up close view of them.
Spot the Wildlife
On top of the flamingos and amazing birdwatching Purple Island is also a great place for wildlife spotting. When we were visiting Qatar with kids we used to love to take them here to spot snails (which have been so important to the island’s history) and crabs.
Go for a Walk
Although in the desert the Purple Island area is pleasant to walk. You cross a wooden bridge onto the island itself and you can see pathways have been made by previous visitors.
Unlike other desert areas in Qatar Purple Area is relatively flat and therefore easy to walk on.
Purple Island Kayaking
But perhaps the best thing to do on Purple Island is to go kayaking. The Kayaking excursions of Purple Island are a great way to get up close to birds and are usually done at sunset to allow for cooler weather and more activity among the birds, though excursions may be available at other times depending on the tides around the mangroves. And the great news it these excursions are completely family friendly. They usually cost around 200QAR for adults and 100QAR
Have you visited Purple Island Qatar? What do you like about it?
Further Reading on Qatar:
What to do with Kids in Qatar
Qatar’s Most Beautiful Places
Hidden Gems in Qatar Public Beaches in Qatar