Purple Island a.k.a. Al Khor Island

UPDATE:

Revisited the island on the 22nd of Dec 2012. See full post and pictures here

Crossing the breach
Crossing the breach

 

Crossing the breach
Crossing the breach

 

Mangrove in the island
Mangrove in the island

 

Halopeplis perfoliata
Halopeplis perfoliata

 

UPDATE:

I visited the island on 28 Nov 2012 very briefly for the purpose of preliminary survey for the trip I plan for a larger group later in Dec. The island doesn’t change much. The breaches are still there; mangrove still grows. Disappointingly, rubbish starts visually discomfort the visit. The island has become popular and irresponsible people littered the island. Please if you visit the island, leave no trace behind except your footprints! I beg you

From this last visit I attach some pictures to complement this post. Enjoy the island.

—-

Purple Island, a.k.a. Al Khor Island or Jazirat Al Ghanim is situated in Al Khor, some 40 km from West Bay, Doha. This small fish-shaped island is linked to the mainland by an earthen walkway which had been breached in two places to allow tidal access to the green salt-encrusted mangrove forest which encircle the walkway and island.

Aerial Phot of Al Khor Island (Source: QNHG website)
Aerial Photo of Al Khor Island (Source: QNHG website)

Despite small (measuring only 600mx400m), the island features uncommon and interesting vegetation and the mangrove forests are home to fish, crabs, shellfish and a wide variety of birds. The Qatargas-sponsored Qatar Archeology Project in 2000 (source: Qatargas.com) confirms intermittent human settlements on the island during the last 4000 years. The results of the project  throw light on Qatar’s role in the network of ancient and more recent maritime trade routes. They have also enabled the archeologists to typify the nature of coastal settlements in the region. These excavations were the first on the island since the early 1980s, when a French Archeological Mission uncovered evidence of a thriving dye-production center there, 1400-1200 BC.

During the Bronze Age (2000 -1000 BC), parts of the Al Khor Island were used as temporary campsites. During these latter excavations, five types of structures were revealed. They consisted of rectangular as well as circular stone-lined fire pits, small un-lined hearths, large circular stone-lined structures and post settings consisting of small pits. All of them were constructed on or dug into the beach surface. They were widely scattered, indicating an extensive, rather than a concentrated occupation of the area. Many of the fire-pits have been in use during various periods from the Bronze Age until present day.

During the Islamic Period (900-1400 AD), the island continued to be involved in trade. In addition, fishing and pearling were major local activities. Unlike earlier and later centuries, artifacts from this period are rare, and this is one reason why the team was excited about what they uncovered.

The various ceramics found during the excavations were dated by comparing them to the reference material in the Qatar National Museum. They included Barbar ware, Kassite, Sasanian and various Late Islamic pottery, among the latter, the well-known “Julfar ware” from the Northern United Emirates from the 14th century and onwards.

My family visited this island on Friday early morning, 12 June 2009. When we were there, one woman with her dog seen morning walked around the island. Access to the island is quite easy – see directions below. No 4WD vehicle required as the road is firm sand, probably because it’s compacted by heavy equipment commuting from/to sand processing plant. We have to park at the edge of causeway. It’s no way that vehicle can enter the island although we saw tire tracks on the causeway.

Park your car at the start of causeway
Few meters into start of causeway
The first breach
Wading through tidal access on the causeway
Wading through tidal access on the causeway
The second breach

It’s about 480m of causeway linking the island to mainland. Two broken tidal access with water depth ranging from ankle-deep to about below the knees, and four dry gaps make walking through causeway an enjoyable experience. Crossing the tidal accesses, you might be scared by a colony of small crabs sunbathing on stepping stone or diving in clear slow current flowing water. It’s also quite interesting to see new mangrove trees jutted out of mud, sometimes become a playground for crabs.

Tree climb crab race (panjat pinang ala kepiting, Ind.)
Tree climb crab race (panjat pinang ala kepiting, Ind.)

Mangrove forest is one of the points of interest on the island; however, you might find yourself surprised by the fact that there are so much shells scattered even in the middle of island where low and high tide seawater seems couldn’t reach. In one spot on the west side, there is a mound of shell bunched at the beach. You might also find a fossil-like object that weather and time has made to the shells.

Salt-encrusted mangrove forest
Salt-encrusted mangrove forest
Mangrove
Al Kheriza? (beach plant)
Dry breach
A fossil-like object that weather and time has made to seasnail shells
A fossil-like object that weather and time has made to seasnail shells
Don't know how this fish casted away
Don’t know how this fish casted away
Are these dye-producing seasnails?
Hills on the island
Rock formation on the island
Looking right from the hilltop
On the Purple Island beach....
On the Purple Island beach….
Sunset with Al Khor corniche/town as a background

Purple Island is not a flat sand island; there are several low limestone cliffs throughout the islands, noticed as a dark portion in the pictures above.

Purple Island owed its name from the ancient purple dye producing site that was situated on the island, dated back 3,400 years ago.  The purple dye was produced from a species of sea snails. The dye was used only for the clothes of kings and the elite few.

Visiting during winter is recommended as you will see migrated birds transiting on the island before making their way to another more temperature friendly environment.

One of the unique vegetation on Purple Island
One of the unique vegetation on Purple Island
New life has just begun
New life has just begun
Green spot over brown
Green spot over brown

 

From the hill overlooking causeway
Overlooking Al Khor from low limestone cliff on the island
Overlooking Al Khor from low limestone cliff on the island

Directions:

  1. Drive to Al Khor
  2. Go through pass Al Khor town, following the signs to Al Thakhira (nearby town). You will pass second last roundabout (Rasgas/Industrial Area R/A) that branched left to Ras Laffan. Go through to Al Thakhira.
  3. Pass the first right turn sign-posted to Al Khor Hospital, continue towards Al Thakhira.
  4. The last roundabout is giving you access to Al Khor Community. Ignore this and continue in the direction of Al Thakhira.
  5. At about 2.5km from Rasgas R/A, take the right-hand turn, and go about 5.2 kilometers following this asphalt road.  You’ll see on your right a big water tank tower, part of Al Khor Community, with Qatargas and RasGas logo.
  6. At the intersection to the left, ignore this and go further 200m to find out turn-off to off road leading to the island. At the moment there is a small board indicating signage to Flower Each Spring camp.
  7. Follow firm and obvious track encircle mangrove area. As you’re approaching the island causeway you will find one big building on your left.
  8. Approximately 2 kilometers from asphalt road turn-off you will arrive at the start of causeway. Park your car here or a further few meters. If you arrive at Flower Each Spring camp, you’ve gone too far. The causeway is on your rear-right.
The road beside Al Khor Community leading to the island
Look for “Flower Each Spring” sign after 5.2km from Al Khor-Al Thakira road, or about 200m from the intersection
Approaching causeway
Direction to Purple Island

 Coordinates:

Al Thakira Road Turn-Off          25 43’ 35” N 51 31’ 47”E

Turn right offroad            25 41’ 36.5” N 51 33’ 54.7”E

Start of causeway            25 41’ 13.3” N 51 33’ 16.4” E

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44 thoughts on “Purple Island a.k.a. Al Khor Island”

  1. pengelana sejati. next time ngikut deh….kalo melihat situasi perlu gear sbb:
    – macro lens buat moto binatang2 mungil.
    – wide lens buat mengabadikan pemandangan
    – tripot buat narsis..hehehe…

    1. wuih macro…seneng banget aku. juga yang ultrawide. mantep. udah punya semua kah gearnya? sayang sampiyan pake canon jadi gak bisa tuker-tukeran lensa….:(

  2. Wow, this is a wonderful website. Nice adventure in Qatar. Nice pictures, Nice Story, Nice Adventure, and Nice Family. Friend of us called this “Jejak Petualang” Qatar style.
    Bravo Wahyu, let’s keep our Journey alive…..

    See Qatar in detail, patterns, marcro, silouette, contrast,feels, tone and mood.

    I am opening this website to see what next trip lies ahead…

  3. Wah Pak Wahyu makasih infonya ya..saya sudah hampir 2 tahun di Al Khor baru tau sekarang nih…kudu dijabanin nih.. :) Minta ijin share sama temen2 saya di Al Khor ya..sapa tau ada yang mau diajakin jalan bareng.. :))

  4. Hi Thanks for the post. Actually we tried to follow your instaructions and got lost after taking the off road. The road ends at a private beach or a camp something…
    we took the right turn after the al khor community road (road sign for Dolphin Energy) and we could find the off road after 5.2 km. We went furhther to the end of the off road but couldnt fins a way to go Purple island…I knew we were missing something, I knew its good to have GPS for these trips but not having one unfortunately…

  5. yes we findit this place yesterday wow amazing trip and we found another place same like the opposit side of the purple island………..

    1. Thanks Riyaz…keep visiting and let me know if you find new places in Qatar so that I can update my blog as well. Keep exploring Qatar

  6. Wahhh…..accidentally I got your page from google. again. hahaha…
    Looking for some Interesting spot to visit, they brought me here.
    .
    Well keep blogging, mister !
    You Rock..

  7. Wow! Thank you Wahyu Family for sharing this. I had no idea Qatar featured this type of beauty. I’m going exploring this weekend. Thank you for your time and efforts in posting this. God Bless :)

  8. I’ll immediately seize your rss feed as I can not to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any?

    Please permit me know in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  9. Hey! I was curious to know if setting up a blog site such your own: http://wahyuinqatar.
    com/2009/06/13/purple-island-a-k-a-al-khor-island/ is hard to do
    for unskilled people? I’ve been wanting to create my own website for a while now but have been turned off because I’ve always
    believed it demanded tons of work. What do you think?

    Thankyou

  10. Thanks for all the great content you share, I have used it several times since I arrived in Qatar a year ago, and it’s made my stay here much more enjoyable. Just wanted to ask what GPS you are using, since mine will not navigate to coordinates that are off road. Can you also please let me know if there is a space to camp & have a bbq in purple island? Would you need to carry everything across or is there somewhere near where the cars are parked. Thanks again!

    1. I used the normal Garmin GPS unit. You can do settings for offroad navigation by selecting Offroad Route: Tools > Settings > Navigation > Route > Offroad. Don’t forget to turn-off once you go back to on-road!

    2. i do want to know as well…is there a space to camp & have a bbq in/or around purple island? or is it allowed to camp around?

  11. Hey thanks so much for sharing all of your fab trips and details of how to get there – we visited Purple Island today using your info – perfect :-) Thanks so much.

    We too spotted the lone woman with her two dogs – we were very disappointed to see she didn’t clean up after the dogs! Things like that spoil it for everyone – On the causeway there was so much rubbish and dog poo – such a shame.

    Why can’t people be more considerate?

    1. Hi, well it may be quite challenging to visit the island during summer. I remember I visited the island the first time in May and it got very hot. If you want to, you may need to consider visiting early in the morning (i.e. 5am) or around 5pm (sunset already passes 6pm though).

  12. Thank you so much for the info. I went to purple island today with my family. It was special. I loved the mossy crossway streams. I followed your path with your gps coordinates. I had a Nokia for my gps and my samsung s3. And they worked perfectly. I would appreciate if you did add that people who do visit should take their trash back with them. There are only limited places to visit outside the city and it’s sad that it’s littered.

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