There are parks dotted around Doha, but you need to know where to look to find some of the more hidden ones. The larger parks, especially those along the Corniche, are popular destinations for a picnic or meeting up with friends or kids for an afternoon of play. Some parks are closed for refurbishment; most notably Rawdat al Khail Garden (Al Muntazah), one of the oldest parks in Doha, which has been closed for years and residents still await signs for the refurbishment work to begin. The Aspire Park, a large park at the Aspire Zone featuring a vast expanse of grass and a lake, is the newest of Doha’s parks and there are plans for the development of 12 further parks and the construction of a community hall in Al Rayyan. Still more parks and play grounds are planned throughout the city and suburbs of Doha.
Doha loves its parks and they are well maintained, with most having cafés and toilets. All are free to enter and some can be accessed round the clock, however, several are only for families so single men will not be permitted entry. Grassy areas, such as those at Airport Park, are frequently taken over by impromptu cricket games, especially on Fridays.
Most beaches in Qatar are private ones owned by the hotel leisure clubs that have any facilities, so be prepared to take your own food, drinks, deck chairs and shade.
The hotels on the north side of Doha, such as the new Grand Hyatt, Diplomatic Club, the InterContinental, and the Sheraton, have well-maintained private beaches. Further south, the luxurious Sharq Village and Spa offers public access to the beach; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are ladies only. Four Season’s offers public access to their beach on weekdays. Prices vary from QR180 for a day pass during the week to QR20,000 for an annual family membership at somewhere like the Diplomatic Club which includes beach access. Hotels will occasionally run specials which allow women to access their beaches for free so make sure to check with the individual hotels for any specials.
Doha’s first public beach has opened at the Cultural Village of Katara. It’s QR100 per person for entry onto the beach but there are water inflatables to keep the kids amused and plenty of sun loungers for parents.
Since the informal, open access beach next to the InterContinental closed, jet skiers look forward to the opening of Ritz Carlton’s access beach. This much needed space is under construction and it’s unclear when it will be open.
Popular spots south of Doha include Al Wakra, by the dhow harbour, and the stretch of coastline extending from Messaieed down past the Sealine Beach Resort to the Inland Sea. On the west coast, there are beaches at Zekrit and along the coast by the Dukhan oil fields, including the palm tree beach near Umm Bab. North of Doha offers the most options for beach lovers. Simaisma on the road to Al Khor is worth a visit, as are Al Khor itself and the area to the immediate south-east. The northern tip of the country has many fine beaches with shallow waters, including those around Al Huwailah, Fuwairit, and Al Ghariya.
The Qatar National Green and Clean Campaign organizes volunteers to clean up the beaches but the beaches in Qatar can still be littered, and broken glass is a real problem; it is a good idea to wear beach shoes. During the summer, jellyfish lurk in the waters around Qatar so you should carry a bottle of white vinegar, which will help ease the pain of a sting.