With a rich pearling history, Farasan is the largest town in the Farasan Islands, a Red Sea archipelago that lies off the coast of Jizan. It’s renowned for its coral-built houses and picturesque beaches, as well as a marine sanctuary that’s home to endangered sea turtles, dugongs and whale sharks.
Things to do
Spend an afternoon exploring the historic Pearl Merchants’ Neighbourhood, which is clustered with coral-built houses featuring intricately carved plasterwork and kamaryat coloured glass. Admire the elaborate Rifai House and observe the South Asian influences of the Najd Mosque, which features 12 domes rising atop thick pillars.
Southeast of Farasan is the Al Qessar Heritage Village, a collection of mud, coral and reed structures where many of the town’s residents lived until the mid-20th century. Take note of the family names that are etched on the front of the houses, which all face the sea breeze, then relax with a coffee in the village cafe.
For a day on the sand, head north to the sheltered waters of Hasees Beach, a popular destination for swimming and snorkelling throughout the year. If you’re visiting in April or May, you may be lucky enough to see the thousands of parrotfish that congregate here, an event that’s celebrated by locals with the Hareed fishing festival.
A 10-minute drive from Farasan is the Farasan Ferry Wharf, which has regular connections to Jizan on mainland Saudi Arabia. Both ferries and flukas (small private boats) travel the route, with the journey taking around an hour. The Jizan Regional Airport has flights to destinations across the Middle East. Share taxis are the main means of getting around the islands or you can rent a car at the Farasan Ferry Terminal.