Karachi's Picture-Postcard Beach

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Why you should care

Because paradise can be tucked away in even the most bustling cities.

Whether deserved or not, Karachi is a global byword for violence and mayhem. Like Kabul or Mogadishu, Pakistan’s largest city is often written off with a shrug and a shudder. But this reputation has kept hidden one of the more stunning, albeit hard-to-get-to beaches in South Asia.

Mubarak Goth, or Mubarak Village, is a tiny hamlet on Karachi’s easternmost edge. Unlike most of Karachi’s beaches, it’s spotless. Compare it to the metropolis’ most popular spots — Seaview Beach and Clifton Beach, which are black with pollution and littered with garbage — and you’ll wonder why more people don’t come here.

This locale may have been spared the fate of the other more-trafficked (read: spoiled) beaches because it just barely falls within the city limits of Karachi. To get to Mubarak Goth, visitors must travel on a highway that winds out of the city, through the suburbs, past the slums and finally into a vast, abandoned Mad Max-like wasteland. Most of this dystopian landscape is pockmarked with dusty scrubland where highway bandits roam by night. It is a depressing spectacle that, if nothing else, reinforces the sense of awe travelers feel once they reach the oasis at the end of the road.

“I didn’t know this was here,” our driver, a lifelong Karachi resident, admitted, brow furrowed, after walking onto the beach. “This is Karachi?”

To say the beach here is striking would be an understatement. The Arabian Sea is so turquoise it looks photoshopped. The sand is so yellow that you might suspect it was shipped in from another country.

“I didn’t know this was here,” our driver, a lifelong Karachi resident, admitted, brow furrowed, after walking onto the beach. “This is Karachi?”

But it must be said: The contrast between the weather-beaten local fishermen and well-scrubbed posh visitors is perhaps even more remarkable than the beach itself. While the travelers arrive decked-out in their weekend best — designer jeans, neon yellow life jackets, sunglasses and selfie-sticks — the locals are some of Karachi’s poorest residents. Most live in crumbling cement, wood and rag structures that seem out of place near a beach that you’d expect to see on a postcard.

Mubarak Village remains relatively unknown to most Pakistanis and even most Karachiites. But the city’s best-kept secret won’t stay that way for long. In the past few years, a handful of tour companies have started running day trips to this forgotten edge of the city so that upper-middle class Karachiites looking for an escape can scuba dive, jet ski and snorkel away — as long as they get back on the road to the city before dark.

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