Author: Shaikha Khaled

The Red Sea was named after the ruby red of its vibrant reefs. But anyone who’s explored it will tell you that “red” doesn’t begin to encompass its prismatic range of color and diversity. All along the coast, one will find vibrant ecosystems brimming with life, whether it’s a family of clownfish hiding in an anemone, a spotted stingrays gliding along the sea floor, or a reef shark foraging for fish, there is no shortage of natural wonders in the (more than just) Red Sea. In other words, a trip along its coast will unveil a niche for every type of tourist.

To the south, between the Farasan Islands off the coast of Jazan, one may find verdant mangroves where young stingrays and seahorses take shelter. One may also find kelpy forests that outgrew old reefs where curious rainbow parrotfish chase each other and chomp on old corals.

Further north, by Al-Lith, one may catch a glimpse of a juvenile whale shark, which are known to seasonally gather in the area. For the traveling scientist and scuba-enthusiast, Al-Lith is a dream destination, as it is a unique rarity that combines the Saudi coast’s raw, untouched beauty with an enigmatic, natural phenomenon.

If someone was chasing an adventure that weaves more action and history into their underwater experiences, they could follow the migration of hammerhead sharks and come across one of Yanbu’s haunting shipwrecks. The lona shipwreck, which sunk during the First World War, is now covered in mosses and deep sea corals. It’s also home to wayward sea urchins, crabs and fish hiding from predators.

For the vacationer looking for a peaceful refuge, Umluj and its natural pools is the place to go. With the occasional sea turtle sighting, nothing is more harmonious than lounging in a calm, shallow pool surrounded by every shade of blue.

Anyone who loves exploring ruins and coral reefs cannot miss Alwajh. Peppered with Ottoman era fortresses and mosques, Alwajh’s charm never disappoints on land and at sea. Off its coast lies a dolphin shaped island,  where vibrant deeper reefs lie tucked into its tail. On an early morning boat ride, one may be lucky enough to find a pod of actual dolphins on their tail or playing in the turquoise waves on a windy day.

Once again, the “Red” Sea name doesn’t begin to encompass its vast and diverse beauty. No two places are alike, be it in the form of sea life, culture and history. The Saudi west coast offers a unique and wonderful experience for every type of traveler, and a road trip along the coast will confirm that each new region has its own  unique allure.