Beaches of Lebanon: north vs south

All of Lebanon’s West coast is bordered by the Mediterranean – the exact same sea in the north and the south and yet there are considerable differences between the local beaches.

North

The day after Hiba’s concert in Batroun we drove back up north and headed to a beach we had seen from the restaurant by the see the previous evening. It looked blue and crystalline and not too crowded and all around lovely. We paid our LBP10,000 entrance fee and headed towards the far end of the beach, far away from the blasting music, the shisha smoking, and the concrete floors of the covered areas.

Jbeil beach looking stunning from a distance. Misleading!

Jbeil beach looking stunning from a distance. Misleading!

Beach in Jbeil

Beach in Jbeil

We found a reasonably clean spot of sand just on the border with one of very few public beaches in Lebanon which was filthy. You probably wouldn’t want to mix with the crowd either! I spread my pareo on the sand and immediately got approached by a man offering us plastic chairs. Sitting on the sand is unheard of in Lebanon and considered a sign of poverty. They can’t understand why a foreign girl (a synonym for rich in their mind) would be sitting on the ground. I on the other hand much prefer sitting on the sand instead of being perched on a plastic chair; it feels very unnatural to me and not very comfortable. So I politely declined the chair and continued rolling in the sand at the risk of being considered poor. The locals would never actually treat me badly on account of being poor because I am foreign and the two (in their minds) don’t go together. They would be confused at most and treading carefully around me as a result.

After some time of sitting on the sand and being heavily stared at on account of being one of very few women on the beach and also one of even fewer women wearing bikini instead of some variation of a cover up, I noticed a pedal boat on the other side of the beach. Some kids were playing with it and it didn’t look like it belonged to anyone. I asked my friend to go and check it out and enquire about the jet-ski too. He came back after a while and said there was nobody attending the thing and he couldn’t find out anything. ‘Why don’t you ask the guy at the entrance? He might know.’ I suggested. Turned out that he knew (surprise, surprise!) and for the modest fee of $10 he was more than happy to oblige 🙂

It took us a while to pedal over the rather biggish waves crashing on the beach but once we were a few meters away we peddled easily into the Mediterranean. We went quite a long way in, looking for a clean spot to swim but we couldn’t find one and it wasn’t long before we went so far in that I chickened out and decided that it was too dark and scary to swim in. When we decided to peddle back we were  more than a bit surprised to find out that the current was strong enough and our peddle boat weak enough so that we weren’t making any progress back! I laughed hard at first, completely unbelieving of what was happening but after a while it finally dawned on us that we were in a bit of a sticky wicky. Long story short, after some creative peddling and pushing we managed to get closer to shore. Getting back to shore took a bit more creativity accompanied by nervous laughter but we finally made it!

We spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach before we thought we’d call it a day and head back.

South

The South of Lebanon is something else! It’s true what the locals say – it has the best beaches. We followed a recommendation and went to Lazy B. Before I tell you more about this wonderful place, there’s something worth mentioning. Most beaches along the West coast of Lebanon are organised into beach clubs and there are hardly any open public beaches. Speaking from experience the public ones are rarely a good idea. Remember that Lebanon is a muslim country and your idea of going to the beach is very different from that of the locals. Also as a solo woman you are bound to attract attention which may not always be wanted. Personally I prefer paying (about $30) for a good private beach club to enjoy excellent hygiene, piece and quiet.

Lazy B offers just that on top of great facilities and impeccable service. The Lebanese are great at guessing your needs before you have even formulated them clearly for yourself. Lazy B spreads out on several terraces leading down to the sea. It has a lovely pool surrounded by lounge chairs and lush, well manicured lawns where you can put your towel down. There is also a smaller infinity pool, overlooking the sea, surrounded by lawns, benches and flowers.

Umbrellas and lounge cushions all over the grounds

Umbrellas and lounge cushions all over the grounds

The big pool

The big pool

Infinity pool at sunset

Infinity pool at sunset

Further down there are a number of cosy shaded areas with cushions and lounge chairs, before stepping down onto the sand dotted with umbrellas, lounge chairs and towels. The west coast of Lebanon is quite rocky and so are the beaches. Lazy B has a small sandy beach to the left with a shallow approach, perfect for young children; it has a natural, meter deep pool accessible from a couple of ladders. It has another ladder leading into the open sea surrounded by rocks, and it also has  a jetty, with another ladder dropping straight into deeper waters.

Lazy B natural beaches

Lazy B natural beaches

Can you handle the undercurrent and the waves?

Can you handle the undercurrent and the waves?

The day we were there it was rather windy and choppy which meant a strong current and it meant that you had to be able to swim well or at least ensure that there’s someone strong around you who can save your sorry as* when you can’t handle the current! Not that I am speaking from experience… 🙂 The water down south is crystalline and warm and such a pleasure to swim in. We spent our time between the small sandy, beach, mainly throwing sand at each other, we rested on our chairs with a fresh, cold watermelon juice in hand, we talked on the edge of the swimming pool, and enjoyed the view of the Mediterranean from a bench by the infinity pool. The rocks formed really cool natural pools and underpasses and it was fun swimming around exploring.

Lazy B also has a nice restaurant serving burgers, pasta, pizzas, salads and fresh fruit. It is perfect for a light snack (or not so light if you are like me!).

Order a freshly squeezed watermelon juice and enjoy the view

Order a freshly squeezed watermelon juice and enjoy the view

There are open showers everywhere around the grounds as well as private cabins near the entrance for that last rinse before you head home.

The most charming bathroom I have ever come across! When was the last time you freshened up under a canapé of blossoming flowers?

The most charming bathroom I have ever come across! When was the last time you freshened up under a canapé of blossoming flowers?

Just as we were leaving I discovered a lovely area near the bathroom ideal for reading and napping. It had a big antique bed covered in cushions, placed under shady vines and flowers. Ideal for those who don’t want to get dirty in the sand.

Relax in the shade with a book...?

Relax in the shade with a book…?

A perfect ending to a perfect day...

A perfect ending to a perfect day…

I am sure there are more wonderful places in Southern Lebanon and Lazy B is just one of them. The South as a whole is definitely better than the North. And you are more likely to get good weather too!

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