The Weekend Guide: Dragon Boating in Bahrain

Looking for more fun? Our monthly weekend guide will give you ideas of great things to do around Bahrain.

Bahrain is a fascinating island that has a lot to offer – vibrant city breaks, sublime beach escapes and interesting activities.

Activity #1

Dragon Boating

Originating from China, Dragon boating has a long history attached to it. In ancient China, the dragon boat was used for religious purposes as a way of appeasing the rain gods. The first participants were superstitious Chinese villagers who celebrated the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Racing was held to avert misfortune and encourage the rains needed for prosperity – and the object of their worship was the dragon. The dragon of Asia has traditionally been a symbol of water. It is said to rule the rivers and seas and dominate the clouds and rains.

However, all you need to know is that there’s a boat, a lot of paddling and a massive amount of team building to be done! An average one hour training session can burn anywhere between 500-800 calories. Many people automatically think this is an arm sport – it really isn’t because you make use of everything – back, shoulders, legs and core. The boat weighs the equivalent of a polar bear and with 20 paddlers inside the boat, close to 2 tonnes.

Today, dragon boating has become one of the world’s fastest growing sports. During races, teams of paddlers paddle furiously to the beat of a drum, providing spectators with an exciting and colorful sight. It’s unlike any sport you will have ever done, but you shouldn’t be put off after your first go – it will feel strange and your muscles that you didn’t even know you had will ache!

Whether you’d like to engage in dragon boating competitively or just for fun, Bahrain has a place for you. The Bahrain Rowing & Canoe Centre is home for amateur and elite athletes to learn, compete, build an inclusive community and reconnect with the island’s maritime history. There are also several paddling teams you can join like the Hurricane Alpha Racing Dragons, Mabuhay Paddlers and RP Eagle Warriors, Bahrain Fit to Row, X3M Dragon Warriors, among others.

Paddling, like most things in life, doesn’t improve without practice. The Mabuhay Paddlers Team (@mabuhaypaddlers) offers training sessions for beginners. This includes preparation training in land, pool and boat.

Mabuhay Paddlers Training Schedule:


  • 7.30PM – 9.00PM / Monday
  • Nasmah Star, Juffair


  • 7.30PM – 9.00PM / Wednesday
  • Marina Corniche, Coral Bay


  • 4:00PM – 6.00PM / Friday
  • 5:00AM – 7:00AM / Saturday
  • Bahrain Rowing & Canoe Centre, Bahrain Bay

Bahrain Rowing & Canoe Centre | @bahrainrowing | bahrainrowing.org