Did you know Kuwait has 9 Islands? So how to get to them, well they’re too far to swim to, so boat is the only option, you can charter a boat, hop on a ferry or bribe a friend with a boat to take you there.
A couple of suggestions for boat charters are Silsan, located on the Gulf Road, next to The Sultan Restaurant, whatsapp: 99078860 and website is: www.silsan.net/ or our favourite private charter, Omran, who has a 35ft Marine boat, with cabin and bathroom available, just call 97333765 for more details, and new to our list; Osamah at Barbarostrips on 65553312.
So what/where are these 9 Islands? Warba and Boubyan are to the north. Tiny Umm Al Naml and Shuwaikh sit in Kuwait Bay. Miskan and Auhan serve as satellite islands to the larger and most popular Failaka (pronounced Failacha in the local dialect) and Kubbar, Quran and Umm al Maradim comprise Kuwait’s southern isles. Located near the mouth of the Euphrates River, Warba is a deserted mud flat island with only a coastguard base as its sole human inhabitants.
Boubyan: is the largest island in the Kuwaiti coastal island chain situated in the north-western corner of the Persian Gulf, with an area of 863 km2 (333 sq mi). The island is uninhabited.
The island is mostly flat and low, salt marshes cover most of the coast. There are some intermittent wadis in the center of the island.
It is separated from the Iraqi mainland in the northeast by the Al-Zubayr channel and from the Kuwaiti mainland in the southwest by the Al-Sabiyyah channel. The latter channel trends around the northern end of Bubiyan Island, separating it from Warbah Island. 5.4 km (3 mi) northwest of Ras al Barshah, the southernmost point, Bubiyan is linked to the mainland by a concrete girder bridge over the Khawr as Sabiyah channel, 2.38 km (1.48 mi) long, built in 1981-1983 and opened February 1983, which is for military use only.
During the Gulf War of 1991, four spans of the bridge were destroyed; they have been rebuilt in 1999. The island itself was converted to a military base in 1991 and has served as one ever since. In November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1992), and 833 (1993) which formally ended an earlier claim to Bubiyan Island.
In response to Kuwait becoming the 169th signatory of the Ramsar Convention, the Mubarak al-Kabeer reserve was designated as the country’s first Wetland of International Importance. The 50,948 hectare reserve consists of small lagoons and shallow salt marshes and is important as a stop-over for migrating birds on two migration routes; Turkey to India and Eurasia to Africa. Breeding water-birds include the world’s largest breeding colony of Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola), and the surrounding sea is major nursery for many commercial fish species.
Umm al Naml: Translated to “Mother of Ants” islocated within Kuwait Bay. It is known to be the site of several archaeological finds, mainly from the Islamic era, and the bronze age. The island is at shortest, 600 metres away from the Kuwaiti mainland.
Shuwaikh Island: Also known as Akkaz Island, is a former island of Kuwait within Kuwait Bay. The former island is now joined to Kuwait’s Shuwaikh industrial area as an extension via land bridge and therefore no longer exists as an island.
The area is an archaeological site with pieces dating back to 2000 BC.
Failaka Island: In 2000 B.C., Mesopotamians settled in Failaka at least a century before the Dilmun civilization. Traders from the Sumerian city of Ur occupied Failaka and ran a mercantile business. Failaka had many Mesopotamian-style buildings typical of those found in Iraq dating from around 2000 B.C.
Starting in the 3rd millennium BC, Failaka belonged to the Dilmun civilization. During the Dilmun era (from ca. 3000 BC), Failaka was known as “Agarum”, the land of Enzak, a great god in the Dilmun civilization according to Sumerian cuneiform texts found on the island. As part of Dilmun, Failaka became a hub for the civilization from the end of the 3rd to the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Failaka was settled following 2000 BC after a drop in sea level.
After the Dilmun civilization, Failaka was inhabited by the Kassites of Mesopotamia, and was formally under the control of the Kassite dynasty of Babylon. Studies indicate traces of human settlement can be found on Failaka dating back to as early as the end of the 3rd millennium BC, and extending until the 20th century AD. Many of the artefacts found in Falaika are linked to Mesopotamian civilizations and seem to show that Failaka was gradually drawn toward the civilization based in Antioch.
Under Nebuchadnezzar II, Failaka was under Babylonian control. Cuneiform documents found in Failaka indicate the presence of Babylonians in the island’s population. Babylonian Kings were present in Failaka during the Neo-Babylonian Empire period, Nabonidus had a governor in Failaka and Nebuchadnezzar II had a palace and temple in Falaika. Failaka also contained temples dedicated to the worship of Shamash, the Mesopotamian sun god in the Babylonian pantheon.
At some point following Alexander’s initial advance through the region in 331 BC or in the period 324/3 BC when he returned to Mesopotamia, the ancient Greeks colonized the island, which they named Ikaros after the Greek island in the Aegean Sea and the mythical hero Icarus, apparently in the belief that the island had a similar shape of its Aegean counterpart. Some elements of Greek mythology were mixed with the local cults. “Ikaros” was also the name of a prominent city situated in Failaka. Remains of the settlement include a large Hellenistic fort and two Greek temples.
In 127 BC, the kingdom of Characene was established around the Bay of Kuwait near Failaka. Characene was centered in the region encompassing southern Mesopotamia, including Failaka island. A busy commercial station existed on Failaka island.
A Christian Nestorian settlement flourished in Failaka from the 5th century until the 9th century. Excavations have revealed several farms, villages and two large churches dating from the 5th and 6th century. Archaeologists are currently excavating nearby sites to understand the extent of the settlements that flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries A.D. An old island tradition is that a community grew up around a Christian mystic and hermit. The small farms and villages were eventually abandoned. Remains of Byzantine era Nestorian churches were found at Al-Qusur in Failaka. Pottery at the site can be dated from as early as the first half of the 7th century through the 9th century.
Village of Al-Zawr (on Failaka Island): Prior to the Iraqi Invasion, the island had over two thousand residents and several schools. The village of Al-Zawr is situated near the middle of the northwest side of the island. It was the longest continuously inhabited location in Kuwait. During 1990 and 1991, the invading Iraqis depopulated the island, expelling all of its residents to the mainland. The Iraqi military mined the beaches and used the island’s facilities and buildings for target practice. In 1991, the allied forces forced the Iraqi army forces occupying the island to surrender through bombing and psywar operations. The sewage system was destroyed and has yet to be fully repaired. Also, many old homes continue to sit empty and decaying; bullet holes can still be seen.
After the war, Failaka was cleared of mines, but it remains under military use. Nevertheless, Failaka Island is becoming a popular holiday destination from Kuwait City. The ferry Ikarus takes passengers out to the island. Currently, the ferry terminal is located in Salmiya’s Marina.
Miskan and Aouha lie on either side, north and south, of Failaka. Miskan is a popular nesting ground for birds and turtles and other wildlife (along with southern island Qaruh).
Heading south, Kubbar Island is known as a party hotspot for summertime Kuwait. The low, sandy beaches and surrounding coral reefs make it a popular spot for swimming, scuba diving and picnics. This sadly can also mean piles of trash and leftover waste on the beaches. Kubbar is also a popular nesting spot for terns during the summer months though they are often disturbed by human visitors.
Umm Al Maradim is popular with pearl divers and along with its sister island, Qaruh, was the first Kuwaiti territory liberated from the Iraqis in 1991. Both are home to small but vibrant coral reefs, lively fish and sealife environments where stingrays, sharks etc are frequently sighted.