Into the Depths: Mariam Bin Laden's favourite swimming spots

Into the Depths: Mariam Bin Laden's favourite swimming spots

Mariam Bin Laden, Saudi’s record-breaking swimmer, shares her top dive and swim spots at home and abroad
21 June 23
Mariam Bin Laden: Favourite Swimming Locations

Sea swimming has become a very accessible wellness therapy and trend, in the busy hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

From fresh dips in the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea to the warmer waters of seas closer to home, Mariam Bin Laden tells us her favourite locations to swim and dive in the Kingdom and abroad.

History maker, humanitarian and dentist, Bin Laden is a multi-hyphenated definition of a successful woman and sports person, making her a inspiring figure in Saudi Arabia and beyond. Renowned today as an endurance swimmer who has achieved many firsts, her underwater journey began at a young age, with her mother who instilled in her the belief that she could achieve anything she set her mind to.

It’s this belief that motivated Mariam to pursue her dream of swimming the English Channel, which she accomplished in 2016, becoming the first Saudi woman to do so, all while raising awareness for orphaned Syrian children.

In 2022, Mariam achieved another groundbreaking milestone by becoming the first Arab woman to swim across the Red Sea. Her objective was to draw attention to the vulnerability of coral reefs ahead of the COP27 meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Describing the Red Sea as an untouched gem, Mariam also stressed the importance of protecting the planet’s coral reefs.

We sat down with this inspiring figure – in both athletics and environmental advocacy – to delve deeper into her world. From reefs teeming with diverse marine life and coral formations, to stunning underwater vistas right here in the Kingdom, the accomplished swimmer shares her favourite dive and swim spots around the world.


Mariam believes “...the Red Sea is one of the best spots for diving worldwide,” so it only makes sense that Jeddah is one of her top choices. It offers excellent diving opportunities, and although the main sites are 300km north, the south also boasts remarkable reefs. These dives are rich in marine life and wrecks adorned with coral growth. A must-see is the Redmah Wall, Saudi's finest soft coral wall.

Abu Tair

While in Jeddah, why not venture out to Abu Tair, a nearby shipwreck island? Descend into its waters, to where the Staphonos shipwreck (also known as the Cable Wreck) lies peacefully bathed in sunlight, and experience the magic of encountering white-tip sharks, goatfish, and blue-spotted rays.


Another must-see Saudi underwater spot is Yanbu, a scuba diving hub and "Pearl of the Red Sea." Dive into the Seven Sisters coral reef and encounter shipwrecks, hammerhead sharks, and an array of marine life. Mariam cautions that the crystal-clear waters require diligent diving supervision to avoid exceeding
safe depths. Uncover ancient artefacts like fused clay pots and the remnants of an 800-year-old wooden boat.


If you’re looking for an unforgettable swim in the Kingdom, some of the most stunning and unspoiled islands in the Red Sea can be found in the waters of NEOM. From the craggy grandeur of Yuba to the tranquillity of Sindalah, NEOM’s islands provide sublime beaches to “chill or swim,” and are home to
diverse scenery and rare wildlife.

Shutterstock: Sardinia, Italy

Mallorca, Spain

With its invigorating seawater, Spain’s Palma de Mallorca is a haven for competitive swimmers during mid-season. As one of Europe's top coastal destinations, Mallorca offers over 550km of coastline and abundant coves. Its bays guarantee effortless swimming, while its crystal clear waters make its nearly 300 beaches among the Mediterranean's most breathtaking.

Sardinia, Italy

For optimal enjoyment of Sardinia's waters, schedule your visit between June and September. Sunlit surfaces nurture thriving algae, lending the Mediterranean its renowned clarity and blue tint. Sardinia's windy character, though unpredictable year-round, makes it an excellent choice for windsurfing and
kitesurfing aficionados.


After Sardinia, Sicily boasts Italy's most sandy beaches and scenic coastlines. It offers a comfortable swimming experience for half the year – from May to October. Beaches are patrolled by vigilant lifeguards who monitor for jellyfish and promptly raise a red flag when spotted.