Arwad (ارواد) is Syria’s only inhabitable island, located 2.5 kilometers offshore from Tartus (طرطوس). The densely populated island has a long history dating back to the Phoenician period, but is more well known among Syrians for its numerous fish restaurants. While nothing from the Phoenicians remains, there are two small fortresses on the island, one left by the Crusaders which is open to visitors. This was the final point held by the Crusaders until their withdrawal to Cyprus, and the population of the island has remained Sunni Muslim since their departure.
Apart from the island’s historic sites, the tight maze of alleyways is fun to explore, and the lack of motor vehicles refreshing (though the hordes of children sometimes overwhelming). On the northwest and northeastern points of the island, local boat-builders can be observed. The island also has an unusually large number of public posters of the president and his late father. A fairly thorough visit of the island can be completed in a few hours, allow a bit more time if planning to dine at one of the seafood restaurants.
Getting There: Ferries between Tartus (طرطوس) and Arwad (ارواد) run until the evening. They depart Tartus (طرطوس) from a small port a couple hundred meters south of the old city. The fare is paid upon return to Tartus (طرطوس). Boats can also be hired from Arwad (ارواد) to visit nearby uninhabited islands.
Coordinates: 34°51’23.10″N / 35°51’32.99″E
Transliteration Variants: Ruwad, Ruad
Rating: (7 / 10)