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On the west coast, there are very good beaches at Zekreel and along the coast near the Dukhan oil fields. This includes the "palm tree" beach near Umm Bab.

However, north of Doha offers the most options for beach lovers.

Al Simaismah, on the road to Al Khor, is well worth a visit, as is Al Khor itself and the area to its immediate south-east.

The northern tip of Qatar has many fine, sandy beaches with shallow waters , ideal for families with young children.

Al Huwailah, Fuwairat and Al Ghariyah have particularly fine beaches.

More often than not, the beaches have no signposts, directions or dedicated parking areas. To reach them, you often just drive to a town or village and stop when you reach the sea.

There are generally no beach facilities either. Sunshades, loungers, showers and toilets are not provided.

This is why some people use hotel facilities when they go to the beach. They are much more organised.

Most big hotels with beaches offer day rates for casual visitors, whilst others require full membership of hotel-run beach clubs.

Hotel beaches are cleaned daily, as well. Public beaches may have debris left by the tide.