Located 50 kilometers from the city of Jizan are the Farasan Islands. An archipelago of 84 islands made of coral reefs - the islands are a haven that is an hour-long boat ride away if you’re visiting Jizan. Even though there are numerous islands there, only three of them have permanent residents. The largest island is called the Farasan Island - with over 12,000 residents. While people do live in the islands - most of them commute to Jizan for work.  

The Farasan Islands boast of incredible biodiversity and rich history. Surrounded by clear waters, the islands are a truly spectacular sight to behold.  

Farasan Islands - History 

The Jizan Province has been a major tourist attraction - ever since the first millennium B.C. People from Arabia, Europe, and Africa frequented the province and the islands. Even though the islands are currently known as the Farasan Island, they used to be called Portus Ferresanus. It is speculated that the islands were a Roman garrison - the discovery of a Latin inscription from 144 A.D. led to this hypothesis.  

Throughout history, many people have passed through the islands - from the Arabs to the Aksumites. The interest in the Farasan Islands and the Jizan Province continued all the way to the 20th century. During World War II, the Germans had built a fort in one of the islands owing to its strategic location.  

Farasan Islands - Wildlife Diversity 

The Farasan Islands are known for their unique biodiversity. In 1996, the Saudi Wildlife Authority declared that the Farasan Islands are a protected area. It was an effort towards preserving the island’s coral reefs and endangered species. In the uninhabited islands, you will find unique species such as the Farasan gazelle, white-eyed gull, the crab plover, osprey, pink-backed pelican, red-billed tropicbird, saunders little tern, and flamingos. 

The reservation efforts also extend to marine life, mostly the corals. While the reefs have a protected status, you can enjoy their vivid colors and variety when you choose to scuba drive amongst the reefs. If you take a dive in the waters surrounding the Farasan Islands, you will also get to see thousands of varieties of fish and marine life.  

Farasan Islands - What to See 

While you can enjoy everything nature has to offer on your visit to the Farasan Islands, if you’re interested in the more touristy stuff - well, you’ll have things to keep you occupied. 

Sandstone Village of Al Qassar - Dating back to Roman times, the village is one of the sites you must see. Currently, it can host tourists - so if you’re fond of historical monuments, check out the Sandstone village.  

Beit Al Refai - The Beit Al Refai is a residential house that belonged to Munawar Al Refai - a wealthy pearl merchant who lived a hundred years ago. The house boasts of traditional Farasani architecture - incorporating features such as coral stones and intricate carvings on the gypsum walls.  

Najdi Mosque - The Najdi Mosque is a testament to Farasan Island’s unique heritage. It is a must-see site for those who wish to understand the Farasani culture better.  


The Farasan Islands present a very different picture of Saudi Arabia than the popular clichés. They garner a lot of interest because of their pristine beaches, unique biodiversity, and rich history. Many tourists visit the islands to better understand their history and enjoy the serenity of the beautiful beaches. Farasan Islands are in the Top 10 Tourist Desitnations to visit in Saudi Arabia.