Every year, I make the most out of the August bank holiday to head back home and unwind for a week. I am a always happy to join the hoards of expats coming back to Lebanon and put up with insane traffic, 30+ weather and heightened ‘tourista risks’ for a dose of ripe figs, mountain tomatoes, and endless sunshine.
One of my all time favourite spots to hang out in Lebanon – especially in those hot summer days when even the sea can’t stand the heat is Joining in Batroun, a little piece of heaven in the form of a rock and a tiny fish restaurant. My brother’s girlfriend discovered this place three years ago, and i have since been at least once every visit – even in December! There are a number of boulders around to practice your deep water soloing techniques – or just lie in the sun with the waves gently caressing you – and interesting formations which include an underwater cave that you can sometimes visit, depending on the tide. The sea water in this area is always fresher then elsewhere, thanks to cold water sources coming from the mountains. Although you can’t rent paddle boards or kayaks there, a few of the visitors bring their own and use joining as a base to go explore the surrounding areas. The restaurant is pretty decent:do not miss the raw fish (depending on the catch of the day) and the fattoush salad, all washed down with a good local beer, Colonel.
For the days where you feel sporty (which was definitely not the case this weekend!), you can rent bikes from Routes, a local tourist shop that also organises amazing biking, walking and kayak/SUP excursions. Otherwise, just head to the old city of Batroun to get a glimpse of the 2000 years old Phoenician wall, still standing to this day – a good testimony to the resilience of the little country – , and don’t forget to grab your fresh lemonade from Hilmi’s, located on the highway back to Beirut.