As the weather heats up, Lebanese traditionally head to the beach to cool down in one of the many private resorts along the Mediterranean. In the past few years, however, entry fees to such resorts have spiked to such an extent that for some, the idea of heading there is not so cooling any more.
Many still enjoy the luxury offered at the more expensive resorts and gladly pay up the average entry fee of $26 and whatever their food and drinks cost — a big bottle of water will set you back $6 so you can imagine the rest. “I consider a day at the beach akin to a night out partying so I don’t mind paying what amounts to the same fee to have a good time during the day. I then stay home at night because I am too tired from my day anyway,” says Hazem, a resort-style beach enthusiast.
Others go to the high-end resorts because they believe there are no cheaper options that are clean and well maintained. “I see these public beaches on my way to Lazy B or Orchid and I am shocked by the garbage and general dirtiness there,” says Nadine, a beach goer, who adds that while she would like to go to more affordable beaches, she doesn’t believe that Lebanon has any with high standards.
This view is common among the Lebanese middle-class but there are many decent quality cheaper options, including free beaches. Executive took the challenge of pinpointing a collection of good beaches where one can pay the entry fee, enjoy a bite to eat and a drink all for less than LL50,000 ($33).
In Beirut itself, this challenge proved very difficult as the only non-free beach in the city that met our criteria was the Bain Militaire (Officers’ Resort) — which is only accessible for military officers and their contacts (who then have to pay a $10 entry fee). So we headed to Beirut’s northern and southern suburbs, and the further we went, the nicer and more affordable the beaches became.
Just south of Beirut in Jiyeh is Jonas Beach & Resort, a basic but clean strip with quality food to match. Entry to access Jonas is $20 on the weekend and a sandwich with a drink will cost you around $10.
North of Beirut also boasts some interesting and affordable options, ranging from rocky to sandy. Cyan Beach in Kaslik is among the closest to Beirut and, with an entry fee of $23 during the weekend, you will have just enough of the $33 budget for a sandwich and drink. Pierre and Friends, a restaurant and bar on the rocks of Batroun, is another option, particularly favored by foreigners for its free entry combined with loud music and drinks. But while cash-free at the door, beware that the food doesn’t come cheap. Further north, closer to Tripoli are the sandy beaches of Al Harreh and Chekkah where some affordable, though more populated, resorts can be found.
But perhaps the most endearing option is the cheapest of all. For beautiful and clean sandy shores with crystal clear water at no cost at all, go further south to Tyre — where the beaches garner more international acclaim every year and tourists bask in the sun. All the beaches in the city are free and there are little huts along the shore for food and drinks — Cloud 59 being the most visited for its good food and affordable prices. Some complain about the distance (an hour from Beirut on a clear day), the traffic, and the fact that some of the money you save is spent on gas. But the beach is clean and relaxed ambiance makes it worth the trip.
With the collection listed above, one can still enjoy a decent day on the beach without spending too much.
Know of another good beach where you can spend a day for under $33? Tell us in the comments below.