As big as golf balls if you believe the legends, Bahraini pearls made the kingdom rich before the discovery of oil. Colonialists traded them under Queen Victoria, while sailors smuggled them to Hong Kong. Follow the Pearl Trail – a Unesco World Heritage Site in Muharraq – to learn more.
The King of Pop made the Amwaj Islands his home when he fled Neverland and was offered sanctuary by Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. See the appeal for yourself on a drive around the manmade islands.
Bahrain’s banner event, the Formula 1 Grand Prix (14-16 April), thrills the world for one weekend every year. Afterwards, the glitzy party moves on to the marina and beach at the Coral Bay resort.
There’s no escaping comfort food, especially at Al-Qaisariya souk. Load up on balaleet (sweet vermicelli with eggs), milky tea served with dipping bread and chocolate date cake at Saffron by Jena bakery.
The National Theatre
Designed to look like a mother-of-pearl jewellery box (a wink to Bahrain’s seafaring heritage), this music hall is an architectural puzzle. Find arabesque latticework, curving staircases and, rather cleverly, 1,001 seats inside.
The granddaddy of Bahrain’s hotels, The Ritz-Carlton is famed for wining and dining visitors, who lounge poolside or watch Filipino cover bands at tiki bar Trader Vic’s.
Cathay Pacific flies to Bahrain from Hong Kong seven times a week.