Qatar Travel

Inland Sea Qatar: Overnight camping and dune bashing

standing on top of a sand dune inland sea qatar

Where best to experience the desert in Qatar? Head to Khor al-Adaid, more commonly known as the Inland Sea, which is located on the southeastern side of Qatar. Surrounded by rolling dunes, the huge tidal embayment separates Qatar from nearby Saudi Arabia and is connected to the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf) through a narrow channel. It is also one of the most popular destinations in the country outside of Doha.

Inland Sea Qatar

inland sea google maps screenshot

Rolling dunes barren of life under the oppressive sun is probably what most people who haven’t been to Qatar think of when asked about the country. The more familiar ones would be telling of its fast progression to a modern city in the Gulf region, a result of the country’s wealth from oil and gas.

But there is only so much one can do in Doha, the capital. Much of the adventure can be had in the corners of the country, where the desert meets the sea. What makes the Inland Sea unique, however, is that it is where the desert surrounds the sea!

It is also a UNESCO-recognized natural reserve, an inlet with a diverse flora, fauna, and marine ecosystem.

To reach this remarkable landscape, however, you have to go offroading for there are no roads leading to it. A four-wheeled drive vehicle is a must as well as a reliable and experienced guide or driver, for you need to drive across the rolling dunes to get to this beauty.

Know before you go: Inland Sea Qatar travel guide

where-desert-meets-sea-qatar
Image credit: Qatar Tourism

Where is Inland Sea Qatar located?

Inland Sea Qatar, also known as Khor Al Adaid, sits in the southeast corner of Qatar, nestled against the border with Saudi Arabia. It’s about 78 kilometers south of Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Here’s a breakdown of its location:

  • Region: Southeast Qatar
  • Distance from Doha: 78 kilometers (48.5 miles)
  • Direction from Doha: South
  • Bordering country: Saudi Arabia

Distance from famous landmarks in Doha:

  • Souq Waqif – 104 kilometers (more than 2 hours drive)
  • Hamad International Airport – 99 kilometers (more than 2 hours drive)
  • The Pearl – 119 kilometers (approx 2 hours and 30 minutes drive)

What to pack and bring (DIY trip)

  • Food
  • Water
  • Sunscreen, Sunglass, Hat
  • First Aid Kit
  • Swimming or fishing gear
  • extra clothing
  • personal hygiene items
  • Powerbank
  • Camera
sleeping tents near the beach inland sea qatar

For overnight:

  • Tent and/or sleeping bag/mat
  • Flashlight and other lighting options
  • Rope
  • Matchsticks
  • Cooking/grilling equipment
  • shovel

When is the best time to go

Because of the harsh weather during the summer months, the best time to go is usually during the winter months from November to March although the weather is still favorable during April.

Activities: What to do in the Inland Sea

camels for tourists at sealine qatar

Aside from dune bashing and camping overnight, you can also do the following:

  • swimming (Yes, you can swim in the Inland Sea)
  • fishing
  • quad bike/ATV
  • sandboarding/sand surfing

Map and directions (How to go from Doha to Inland Sea)

  • Click here for the Google Map location.
  • Directions: From the last roundabout at Sealine, take either left or right through the desert. Best to go with a convoy or experienced driver. You can also download the Inland Sea App by Ooredoo.
  • Drive time: 1.5 to 2 hours (approximately 80 km)
  • Route: Take Mesaieed Road south from Doha and then Sealine Beach Road towards the Inland Sea.

Other tips

4 wheel drive vehicles by the beach inland sea qatar
  • Make sure your vehicle is in top shape and that tire pressure is lessened before you drive through the desert.
  • Fuel up before your trip.
  • Know the emergency numbers you can call: 999 or 112
  • A camping permit is required for camping during the weekdays.

Desert Safari and Inland Sea Tours in Qatar:


Overnight camping in the Inland Sea

pitch black inland sea qatar at night

On a Thursday night, which is the start of the weekend in Qatar, I joined a group of offroaders heading to the Inland Sea for the weekend. Heading south to Mesaieed was uneventful until we stopped by a petrol station to wait for the rest of the convoy. Passing by the refineries and Sealine Beach Resort, we finally arrived at the last roundabout in Sealine where vehicles deflate their tire pressure.

This was the end of the road and also the start-off point for our route to Khor Al-Adaid. From the roundabout, you can either take the left or the right, and we chose the latter.

It was pitch black save for the lights coming from the vehicles, which made me wonder how these drivers knew where they were going. From what we can see outside the windows, it was just sand everywhere. Indeed, it is easy to get lost here especially if it’s your first time in these parts.

Following the group leader in a straight line, we drove across salt flats, rocky terrain, and small dunes for around 45 minutes until we stopped in front of camping tents. It was no smooth ride and I was glad to get out into the fresh air by the end of it.

Welcome to Inland Sea“, says our driver for this adventure.

Is this it?“, I quipped, not seeing anything that resembles what I’ve seen in the Google images. It was too dark.

Look closely, you can see the water shimmering“, he urged me.

After a few more steps, I finally saw it. The tops of the dunes and the soft waves of the water outlined under the moonlight.

After a brief discussion, the men settled to head to another spot for fishing. We left the rest of the group who decided to camp near the dunes.

chicken on the grill at inland sea qatar

While the guys were fishing, we were grilling the barbecue in our makeshift camp. Huddling near the fire to warm up our bodies from the cold winds. At one point, I approached one of the fishing poles in the shallow waters. Thanks to the overhead lights they brought, I could see my feet in the clear waters.

Don’t go beyond that line“, they hollered.

Which line?“, I quipped back.

Turns out, if you look closely, you can see that there’s a line in the water separating the dark blue waters from the clear shallow part. They said that it goes very deep and the current is strong that’s why it’s not advisable to go there. Being the bad swimmer that I am, I heed their warning and went back to grilling. After filling up our tummies, it was time to rest until the sunrise.

men fishing on the beach of inland sea qatar

Looking around the vast and desolate landscape while staring at the star-filled sky reminds one how we are just like specks of sand in this universe. Or that somewhere out there in the Universe, somebody is looking at the same bright sky as we are.

“We are but a speck in the Universe

Oh, but what a lucky speck to be…” – Kehinde Sonola

The Inland Sea is also a popular destination for astrophotographers. Seeing photos on Instagram of the Milky Way shot here definitely added to my resolve to reach this place. Too bad I forgot to bring my tripod that time. Hopefully, there’ll be a next time.


Sunrise-watching and dune-bashing in the Inland Sea

sunrise over inland sea qatar

After a bit of a nap, I woke up to find that although it was already light outside, the sun still hadn’t risen. And when it did, it was all over too soon. So we packed up and went to find the others by the dunes.

Walking to the top is no easy feat and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. How I wished it were as easy as we see on TV. The sand in the Inland sea was very loose, engulfing my feet as soon as I made a step. Couple that with the winds, bringing specks of dust to your eyes, it sure is no cakewalk to the top.

view from the top of sand dune inland sea qatar

Panoramic views of the seemingly endless desert and the waters greeted us when we finally got to the top. It was hauntingly beautiful.

Turn around. You’ll see Saudi Arabia behind you“, says one of the guys lounging on the top of the dune looking like he does it every day. And true enough, the water on this side seemed shallower than the one in front of us. And in the far right, we could see a building with a satellite tower. Turning on my Google Maps, I could see he was right.

Too bad, it was steeper to go down the dunes this way. If my legs weren’t feeling weak at that time and my fear of heights kicking in, I would have tried to go as far as I would like the others did.

lady in the inland sea facing the border of qatar and saudi arabia

While the others went swimming, we stayed in the sand, relishing the feel of it and chatting with the others.

Soon enough, it was getting hotter so it was time to go and experience the next part. The most exhilarating part – dune bashing!

4wd going up the sand dune inland sea qatar

Seatbelts on and things secured, we went up and down the big and small dunes. The Persian Gulf is on the right and the endless expanse is on the rest. We stopped by a few times to take photos and too bad the photos don’t do enough justice to show the enormity of it all.

dune bashing from inland sea qatar to sealine

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more adrenaline racing, the cars suddenly stopped and went down a sheer drop! My heart stopped. Thankfully, they took it slow on the way down.

We got another dose of how wide and mysterious the desert is when one minute we could see the whole group behind us, and then after a corner, they were gone! We circled back a few times before we spotted them near the last tricky dune. Good thing the convoy all have flags. We even almost toppled over while skirting the side of one dune thanks to the strong winds. Good thing our driver handled it well.

four by four vehicle going down a sand dune from inland sea qatar

After what felt like forever on the dunes, we finally reached the familiar landscape of Sealine. And just when I thought we’d be taking the salt flats by now, the group went ahead and drove through the rolling dunes once again until we reached the top of the last one where you couldn’t almost see the panoramic view of Sealine Beach and the numerous vehicles below because of the sandstorm.

We got what we wanted – a desert adventure out in the south of Qatar. And I’m still not sure if I’m ready to do it all over again.

Watch this video of our dune bashing from Inland Sea to Sealine:


More beach adventures in Qatar:

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Have you been on a desert safari adventure? How was it? 

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  • Anya and Mark
    July 21, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    We have spent only one day in Qatar when were on our way to Thailand. Checking out Doha made us wonder what else this tiny country has to offer. We loved it and would love to come back to explore more! The dunes look so beautiful!

  • Candice
    July 21, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    I love dune bashing! Never done it in Qatar,though. The inland sea sounds great 🙂

  • Madhu
    July 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Wow it indeed looks like unique and beautiful experience. I would love to explore Inland Sea in Qatar. Thanks for sharing!