Tag: hijaz

Sea Excursions

Al Lith Island

I spent a whole year in Jeddah and watched Jeddah go through so many changes over the past year. Though it has been so long since I visited the fascinating Red Sea, I miss its sea breeze, salty water and vast marine life. A visit has been long over due as the last I have visited it was when I was in Egypt over a year ago. I heard about this uninhabited island called Al Lith from a fellow nomad, I immediately was interested in it as I was in search for a place to bury my newly found Hijazi treasure and thought that it will also give me a chance to explore the marvels of the Red Sea.

I set off from Jeddah traveling south with the beautiful coast on my right and the vast desert on my left. After traveling around a 170 km I reached the dock and once there I set-up camp near the shore, so that I may sail the first thing in the morning. I spent the night gazing at the twinkling stars, it was the ideal place for viewing the sky away from the city lights, tried to connect the stars with imaginary lines and see the constellations, but I was unsuccessful in doing so as I had a heavy lunch earlier in the day, so I wasn’t feeling hungry and decided to go directly to sleep.

FantasyIsland

The following morning I woke up to beautiful sunny skies and fresh gusts of the wind, it was so clear that I could almost see the island in the vast horizon…I fixed myself breakfast consisting of fried eggs and sausages with some bread and cheese along with a warm cup of coffee. After a heavy breakfast I packed up and head to the dock to find a boat.

I found a charming little boat, loaded my treasure on it and sailed towards the mysterious island, thankfully the weather was perfect which allowed me to enjoy the boat ride to the island.

BoatIsland

The first sight I got of Al Lith island was terrific, it was of a small desert island surrounded by pristine waters all around. The sight was even more memorable as I reached there at around noon and the whole island was lit up by the sun.

I finally set foot on the island & docked my boat, I was enthralled by the sound of the feeble waves colliding with the shore, it was just an amazing feeling of tranquility.

JabalAlLith

After a little nap I started searching for food as I didn’t eat anything since I had breakfast and was super hungry. On an island with ocean all around the only thing I could think of was fish , so I cut some branches of palm trees, tied them up and made a sort of a net, and head towards the beach.

I was astonished by how crystal clear the waters were and as I got closer I started seeing bright colors underwater, some of them moving and some stationary. Then I realized that I totally missed this in the morning, as I didn’t even look in the water.

All my past memories of the Red Sea came back to life as I walked into the water and got my feet wet, I felt the magic that I always felt whenever I set foot in Red Sea waters.

It was shallow for some distance, and approximately 300 meters away from the island the deeper waters begin, and the water color changes to cobalt blue.

YachtIsland

I stayed at the edge of the coral reef for a while with my head underwater waiting for my dinner to swim by, I usually like the parrot fish but this time I was thinking of grilling the fish, so I had to find me a nice red grouper. Didn’t think of this earlier when I made my palm tree net, I wasn’t sure if it was going to hold but I wasn’t totally depending on it and kept my skin diving skills as a backup.

It wasn’t long before I saw a good size red grouper pass right in front of me, it was about 2 meters away from me and staring as if it is almost telling me to come and catch it. I quickly raised my head up above the water and took a deep breath then slowly pushed myself back into the water, and calmly positioned myself supporting myself against the reef to give myself a push…counted to 3 and pushed with everything I got, I could tell that I really surprised that red grouper and it almost got away if I didn’t extend my arm holding that net and used the net to push the grouper against the corals then got my arms around it, and held it tightly, swam up to the surface with the red grouper held tightly against my chest and got up and over the coral reef and started running towards the shore while the fish is snapping violently trying to break hold, and I ran as fast as I could and as soon as I reached shore I threw it on the sand and then I realized that I have been cut all over my arms and chest, Nothing serious though just some minor cuts.

I got my bag from the tent and used the knife that was in it to clean up the fish and get rid of all its entrails. Following which I mixed salt, pepper, a little bit of cumin, dried coriander with a squeeze of lemon and chopped garlic, I marinated the fish with them and left it for about an hour. Later on I took my large skewer and stuck it through it’s mouth and out it’s backside and I let it roast on the open fire.

There is nothing more satisfying than a freshly caught camp-cooked meal. I felt so sleepy afterwards but before heading to bed I made a note to self that “Tomorrow is my last day here, I have to hide my Hijazi treasure”..

The following morning I went towards the virgin beach and took a dive in the pristine sea, the warm waters along with the soft sand below made it an even more memorable experience. I went past some of the most beautiful corals that I had ever seen and I just wasn’t able to get over observing the astonishing marine life.

Finally started to explore the place, traveled by the mountain ravines and found a cave tucked in the middle of the mountain,I decided to use it as the place to bury my valued treasure.

At sunset I head towards the beach and observed the sun setting beautifully in the red sea. And while I was doing that I noticed there were these crabs that were constructing these tall structures made of sand. And an interesting thing I learned was that whichever male crab makes the tallest structure gets the female!! In the process I totally forgot about dinner, so I took some time to pick up some of the male crabs who lost that day and took them to camp.

CrabIsland

As the night laid it’s curtains down I felt a little sad that my adventure is almost over, I must get some rest and get up early in the morning to head back to Jeddah. I let the fire burn the whole night which saved me plenty of time, luckily those crabs take only 10 minutes to cook. After that I was ready for a good night sleep, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous so I took a stretcher out of my tent and slept outside under the star studded sky.

I soaked up everything about the brilliant island from the gorgeous marine life, to the fabulous beaches, and even to the way the ebbing waves left puncture holes on the virgin sand for the baby crabs to crawl out and catch their breath

Although I did not want to leave but it was time for me to head back to Jeddah, my treasure has been buried and i visited my long cherished Red Sea. I sailed from Al Lith island and I already started missing it, the peace, the serenity, the island life well almost all of it even the food were running through my head in a flashback. There were many islands and islets that I could see while heading towards the shore and I was telling myself that when I visit Al Lith next time I’ll definitely pay a visit to some of these other islands as well. After landing ashore I headed north towards Jeddah using the same route which I came from. I took back with me an experience of a lifetime and numerous stories to tell.

Video By Haukur Thor Thorvardarson

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