Usually when we say “beach holidays” we wouldn’t associate it with an activity that Muslim women can enjoy freely. Well things are changing and there are many more options available to Muslim women than ever before.
I mean, you can definitely swim in your ‘abayah, but it’s not really comfortable is it? I have done it and the after-looks of ”No, she didn’t just swim with her clothes on” still make me cringe. Of course you can swim with a burkini, which I have done as well, and even though it makes you feel a little better, staying in it for hours has its hazards. Yet again, none of these options let you enjoy and “soak up the sun” and as Muslim women, we tend to need this even more since we cover and so miss out on that very important vitamin D.
Today with a little creativity and the demand for Muslim friendly holidays, we have so many more options available to Muslim women than ever before. Halal holiday resorts and the sharing economy of Airbnb are a big support for families who want to enjoy some fun in the sun.
Halal beach holidays
Many of you might have heard of the halal resorts available to Muslim families, the most popular located in Turkey. Turkey ticks all the boxes when it comes to halal holidays since it offers great summer weather, Muslim-friendly environments and great beaches. Combine this with segregated pools and you have a great formula for success. You can find many resorts starting from budget options to five star luxury properties. Other countries such as Egypt and others in the Middle East are also creating halal friendly hotels for their customers by avoiding alcohol and music to make their guests feel more comfortable.
There are many benefits in using these properties when you are on a family vacation since all members can enjoy some fun in the sun. However this is not truly a hijab-free holiday, and the family is not together, but rather separated.
The private pool areas for sisters are away from the main property or have high walls for maximum privacy. There you can enjoy the sun and relax with your female friends. The resorts also have prayer facilities, halal food and the advantage of meeting fellow Muslims. They of course come with a hefty price in some instances, especially if you are after high quality properties. There are a few of them and the prices are similar to five star resorts, running into hundreds of pounds per night.
For me personally the true hijab-free holiday lies in a different, more alternative kind of holiday. The one that you build yourself to suit your needs and those of your family members. My favourite all time classic holiday is one with my own private pool to enjoy alone with just my family without interruptions. After all, when we take a holiday once a year, we do want to spend this time together. And here it comes, the option for renting your private pool villas on a very affordable budget via Airbnb or Vrbo in the USA. Airbnb is an online platform where people who have extra rooms or accommodations such as villas rent them out to other travellers. It is a sharing economy which means that you deal with the owner directly without any middle man. This is great as you get a local feel and also it is cheaper since there are no agent fees involved. They have villas and options not only in Muslim-majority countries but pretty much anywhere in the world, and in fact they have more rooms than any international hotel chain combined.
Renting a private villa is not for everyone, but even if you rent in a Muslim country you can still get the same Muslim friendly feeling without paying a hefty price. Sometimes resorts can cost a lot more than a villa, especially if you have a large family and you need more than one room to accommodate everyone. It also helps with being on a tight budget when you have to consider the cost of eating out or paying for the hotel restaurant. You can save money by cooking some of your meals in the villa, since most come with a fully equipped kitchen, and enjoy only some of your meals outside.
Booking your own villa is easier than many would think, even though it involves a little more planning such as booking a car rental to explore the area, making sure your villa is totally private with high walls and no neighbours overlooking you. This adds to the adventure and makes it a lot more fun for you and the family. What I love about Airbnb and other similar sites is the fact that you can always email the owners of the property to ask them questions with regards to security and the villa. Most of the time they are more than happy to reply and oblige and explain in detail if their property is suitable for your needs. They definitely wouldn’t want a bad review on their profile since this can impact future bookings. Some questions you can ask are about privacy, the pool depth for your children, amenities available, housekeeping and distance from the local supermarket and restaurants.
Prices for villas start from £50 per night for up to four guests in many instances. Halal resort prices vary depending on the facilities and luxury but on average they start from £60 per night for two people sharing.
Our own hijab-free holiday was one of the best travel experiences I had since becoming Muslim five years ago – I could finally have a suntan again without compromising my religion. I could have not been happier, and I definitely recommend it.
Pros and Cons of resorts and villas for hijab-free holidays
• Private pool for hijab-free holiday
• The option to have some “me” time by the pool
• You have the facilities of a hotel which includes breakfast and housekeeping
• Prayer facilities usually located within the property
• Meeting fellow Muslims and making new friends
• Good for families with small children
• You cannot spend time with your family if you want to have a hijab-free holiday
• Restricted to activities in the surrounding area
• Can be expensive
• Few resorts available in Europe
Villas are private for your own use so you can enjoy true family time
Private pool for hijab-free holiday
The option to have some “me” time by the pool
You can cook some meals to keep costs down
Great for independent travellers
Cheaper for larger families
More locations available
You will have to organise your transport
No hotel-like facilities
Prayer facilities if you need a mosque
Halal Food can be hard to find if in a non-Muslim country
Websites to help you book your hijab free holiday
Private villas and apartments worldwide
Angels peninsula luxury halal resort: http://bit.ly/1GfRKEI
Selge Resort four star property: http://bit.ly/1M3iEvt
Porto Marina Egypt Hotel & Resort: http://bit.ly/1OPPJ3a
Elena Nikolova is the founder and creator of the leading halal travel blog MuslimTravelGirl.com and the author of Umrah under £300. She helps Muslims travel the world in style without breaking the bank. Travelling is her passion, especially the halal way! If you have questions or need help you can contact her on twitter @muslimtravelgrl or facebook.com/muslimtravelgirl