The comparatively laid-back emirate of Kuwait is a good introduction to the Islamic world, with its only downside the prohibition of alcohol. The capital is a hub for things to do outdoors, centered on sailing and water sports, although visitors are advised to bring their own diving gear as the selection of rental outlets is small. Powerboats and yachts can be chartered, and fishing trips are a favorite pastime.

Getting to know Kuwait and its people is best done by booking guided tours around the fascinating land. In the capital are attractions such as the Kuwait City Aquarium, the zoo, a number of green parks and an Olympic-sized skating rink. Boat trips along the coast or around Kuwait’s nine offshore islands and overnight camping in the desert are unmissable experiences.

Water sports are the most popular activity in Kuwait, with the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, the coral reefs and a multitude of marine life attracting many scuba-divers and snorkelers. The KIM Center at the Hilton gives instruction and can arrange trips to the best dive sites, as well as offer kite boarding, water skiing and kayaking. For canoeing and kayaking, Dive Caroline is another good source for underwater adventure.

Sailing and power boating are also favorite pastimes in Kuwait, with glorious views of the desert landscape from the Gulf an added bonus. Trips to a traditional fishing dhow are offered by SAS Sl-Gazeer Voyages, and ferries run daily to Failaka Island from the Marina Crescent Yacht Basin. Nuzha Touristic Enterprises offers yachts with or without skippers down the calm waters.

Desert safari tours including overnight camping at a small oasis can be taken between October and March. Most of the sites feature camels, and a few have quad-biking as part of the package. Catering is included, and sleeping in a Bedouin tent or under a canopy of glittering stars is one of the most romantic experiences anywhere in the world. There’s a selection of privately-run camps to choose from and Nuzha Touristic Enterprises can provide the best deals.

To discover the hidden delights and treasures of Kuwait City, you’ll need an organized city tour with a guide who knows the back streets with their fascinating sights. Tours can be customized to your preferences and either half day or full day outings through Nuzha Touristic Enterprises. Typical stops include Ah-Jahra’s Red Fort, Entertainment City, the skating rink, the Scientific Center, and the Aqua Park.

A unique view of the capital and its surroundings or the offshore islands is offered by Kuwait Sky Tours, who specializes in affordable, short sightseeing helicopter flights. Sky tours can be taken from the city up to Green Island and back to downtown or from Failaki Island to Khiran. The MD 500-E helicopters can carry up to three adults with space for one child if necessary.

Kuwait City’s Aquarium is the largest in the region, split into three sections corresponding to the country’s three ecosystems. Not limited to marine creatures, the desert section holds denizens of the sandy wastes such as snakes, hedgehogs and caracals, with the coastal area displaying otters and coastal fish. The marine wildlife is the highlight, with massive tanks containing sharks, enormous crabs, rays and diverse fish species. Diving with the sharks and privately-escorted tours are available from the Aquarium.