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  • Writer's pictureHilary McCormack

Jazan clean, green, and blessed with natural beauty

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

In nature, nothing is perfect, and everything is perfect.

Al Farasan Islands, the west bay used daily by the fishermen to land their catch

What can be more enjoyable at the start of a trip than an airport experience that is effortless and efficient? So imagine my joy when I could walk off the plane and out the airport front door with my suitcase in my hand in under five minutes. Where am I?

I am in beautiful Jazan in the South West of Saudi Arabia.

With the luxury of a four-day weekend stretching ahead, I decided to visit Jazan, close to the Yemeni border.

Hillside farming on centuries old terraces

Jazan is the second smallest region of Saudi Arabia (after Al Bahah) and, according to my pre-trip research, has the highest population density in the Kingdom, with a recorded population of 1,567,547 in the 2017 census.

Locally grown and sweet arabica coffee beans

I quickly discovered that there are several variations of the spelling for Jazan; for example, I found it spelled Jazan, Jizan, Gizan, and Gazan. Ranging from the Arabic: جيزان to the romanized Jizan. I discovered this interchangeability stems from the fact that the main port city is actually called Gizan, while the wider province is called Jazan.

The highest peak is 2600 meters and is in Addayer area

The capital city of this southern coastal region is a port city formerly known as Al-Tihameh in Arabic, and it is the jumping-off point for the Al Farasān Islands. These famed and beautifully unspoiled archipelagos have long been on my 'must-visit while in Saudi' list.

Pick your private beach for the perfect snorkeling experience on Al Farasān Islands

The 1934 Treaty of Al-Ṭāʾif defined Jazan as belonging to Saudi Arabia, but that didn’t stop the Yemenis from claiming the town back in the 1960s. This tussle for control of this largely wild place paints a long and interesting history for the area.

Jazan's coastline stretches 300 km along the southern Red Sea coast, north of the Yemeni border. Its land area covers approximately 11,671 km², making Jazan, surprisingly, larger than Lebanon.

Al Farasan Island, idyllic moments

Large parts of the region are extremely fertile. In addition, the region has a vast network of working mountainside farms that produce high-quality tropical fruits like bananas, mangos, figs, papaya, and other local stables like arabica coffee beans for Saudi Coffee.

Like a Swiss village, the slopes are dotted with lived in homes

All these unique attributes combined provide Jazan with the potential to be a vibrant country within a country and one with a very promising tourism future.

Visit Saudi calls this magical place the pearl of the south. But the reality is that this region is more of a diamond waiting to be buffed to a sparkle. The weather is drier and more moderate from December through March, making winter an excellent time to explore this province's wealth of culture and natural places. In the summer months, the rains come, making the whole place refreshingly green and lush.

Wadi Lajab is accessible by car and is two hours from Jazan

Jazan's tourism portfolio offers great diversity across many different landscapes. During my stay, I crisscrossed the province by car with a local guide, and each day I aimed to find the next unique location, and Jazan has many such places to share.

Ranging from the fine alabaster sand beaches of the islands, azure seas, thick green mangrove forests, and the high craggy mountain peaks decorated with terraced agricultural enterprises all combine to frame the region.

Hike through Wadi Lajab

Just an hour off the coast by ferry, I was excited to visit the protected archipelago of islands called Al Farasan. Its coral islets are home to an abundance of colorful marine life and a haven for those keen to explore Saudi's shoreline from the sea. The ferry leaves the port three times a day and can take 50 cars and 200 passengers. Modest and functional accommodation can be found on the island, and an overnight stay is highly recommended.

By the time i left Wadi Lajab i had smoke coming out of my camera!

From the ancient palm-roofed forts that overlook the mountain landscape to the merchant houses and evocative stone buildings of Al Qessar Heritage Village on the Al Farsan Islands, Jazan's appeal is as varied as its scenery.

My days were long and productive as I rose early to make the most of every day. I met lovely friendly people at every turn and felt welcome and safe everywhere I went.

Al Qessar Heritage Village Al Farasan Island

Tour Details:

· Day one: The mountains of Addayer & its terraced farms clinging to the steep slopes.

· Day two: Al Farasan Island (accommodation is available on the island).

· Day three: Spectular Wadi Lajab

· My Tour Guide was Fatima from Haya Tours

· Flights: Flyadeal

· Hotel: Novotel Jazan

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