14 of the most adventurous outdoor activities in the UAE
We love the great outdoors…
Thinking of doing any outdoor activities in the UAE during summer is a big no-no. But thankfully, it’s that time of the year when you switch the conversations around from ‘It’s so humid’ to ‘Wow, this weather is amazing’.
So, if you want to breathe in some fresh air, here are some of the best outdoor activities in the UAE you don’t want to miss…
Kayak through the Abu Dhabi Mangroves
For a hit of fresh air in the capital, visit Jubail Mangrove Park, where you can wander along the Qurum boardwalk, spy local birds and animals, and explore the waterways on a kayak. A one-hour tour costs Dhs100 (per adult) and Dhs90 (per child between the age of three and 12).
Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, 7am to 8pm daily, Tel: (0)5 6 303 2423. park.jubailisland.ae
Hike Jebel Hafeet
The rugged backdrop to Al Ain, Jebel Hafeet is Abu Dhabi’s highest peak, at 1,240 metres. Not for novices, Jebel Hafeet is geared towards experienced hikers who can handle the steep routes and punishing terrain. Beat the heat with an early morning or evening hike, and be sure to bring your sturdiest boots, hiking poles, and refreshments.
Have some fun at Hudayriyat Mar Vista
Whether it’s to exercise or to just get your heart pumping, Hudayriyat Mar Vista is a great place to be. There’s a sports village with fields, pitches, tennis and basketball court and more; a bike park; a cycling track; Circuit X which is home to BMX Park, Skate Park, Splash Park and High Ropes Park and more. The OCR Park has several challenging obstacles where you can test your strength, stamina and endurance.
Spot dolphins at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
Dolphins are majestic creatures and if you want to spot them in the capital, head to Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. A recent study conducted by the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) found that over 700 humpback dolphins live close to the coast of Abu Dhabi, making it the largest known population in the world. Grab a pair of binoculars and head to one of the many hotels along that shorefront (including Jumeirah at Saadiyat and Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island) or speak to the concierge at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort and they will direct you to the best dolphin-spotting teams in Abu Dhabi.
See the best of the city with Abu Dhabi Yellow Boats tour
Abu Dhabi is actually an archipelago made up of more than 200 islands which means that one of the best ways to explore the city is via its grid of waterways. Head to the website and pick from a corniche tour, Yas Island tour, Emirates Palace tour and more. Prices start from Dhs99.
Cycle around Al Qudra Lakes
Just a 30-minute drive from Dubai, Al Qudra Lakes has become a firm favourite among the UAE cycling set. Keep your eyes peeled for wild oryx and camels as you ride the 85km Al Qudra Cycle Course through the sand dunes. If you don’t have your own wheels, you can hire a bike from the Trek Bicycle Store at Seih Al Salam, near the Al Qudra Course.
Al Qudra Cycle Course, Al Qudra Road. Tel: (04) 832 7377. trekbikes.ae
Hit the waves in Dubai
Surfing may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Dubai, but when during the cooler season, those in the know make a beeline for Sunset Beach. Rent a surfboard or standup paddleboard from the Surf House (from Dhs75 an hour) for a paddle in the shadow of Burj Al Arab.
Surf House Dubai, Villa 12A, Umm Suqeim, Jumeirah 3, daily 7am to 7pm. Tel: (0)50 504 3020. surfingdubai.com
Get your adrenaline pumping at Hatta Wadi Hub
Your bucket list of outdoor activities in the UAE is incomplete without Hatta as it has fast become one of the biggest adventure hubs in the UAE. It’s a 90-minute drive from Dubai but you are guaranteed a day of open-air thrills. It is now open for its fifth season in September with an all-new adventure ropes course, on which both children and adults are invited to try. You can also enjoy archery, zip lines, axe-throwing, paragliding, horse riding and off-roading on electric scooters.
Hatta Wadi Hub, located off the Dubai-Hatta road, 8am to 12pm and 4pm to 9.30pm. Tel: (0)4 820 5500. visithatta.com
Hike around Hatta
Strap on a pair of sturdy shoes for four all-new hiking trails through the Hajar Mountains, via wadis and rocky outcrops. Be sure to pack water, snacks and a fully charged phone for the 32.6km of trails, rated easy, moderate, difficult and extreme. Email [email protected] for more information.
Hatta Wadi Hub, located off the Dubai-Hatta road, two-hour guided hiking tour, Tel: (0)56 616 2111. visithatta.com
Ride a mountain bike in Hatta
Fancy a pedal instead? The Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre offers 50km of trails catering for everyone from beginners to professional riders. No wheels? No worries: you can hire bikes at the Wadi Hub from Dhs65 for an hour. It is only open to those above the age of 10.
Hatta Wadi Hub, located off the Dubai-Hatta road, 6am to 6pm. Tel: (800) 637 227. visithatta.com
Go kayaking in Hatta’s quiet waters
A 15-minute drive from Hatta Wadi Hub brings you to Hatta Dam, a postcard-perfect reservoir framed by mountain ranges. Hire watersports equipment from Hatta Kayak, including kayaks (Dhs60 per person or Dhs120 for a double kayak), pedal boats (Dhs150), donut boats (Dhs300), and water bikes (Dhs60 per person). Hatta Dam is easily accessible from the Sedr Trailers Resort. All boats are also available during night rides, but some areas will be restricted for safety after sunset.
Hatta Kayaks, Hatta Dam, Hatta. Daily, 7am to 11am and 3pm to 9pm. Tel: (0)56 616 2111. hattakayak.com
Ras Al Khaimah
Scale new heights in Ras Al Khaimah
Jebel Jais is home to a number of adrenaline-pumping experiences. There’s the new Jebel Jais sledder which opened in February last year (Dhs60 for a single ride for an adult and child or Dhs40 per adult), the Jais Rope Tour – a thrilling hour-long knee-trembling experience (Dhs70 on weekdays and Dhs80 on weekends), Jais Flight (Dhs330), Jais Sky Tour (Dhs260) and more. It is also home to the UAE’s highest restaurant – 1484 by Puro.
Jais Adventure Peak, Ras al Khaimah. Tel: (0)4 815 7333. visitjebeljais.com
Explore Wadi Showka
The rugged expanse of Wadi Showka is ripe for outdoor adventures. Go mountain climbing, hiking, trekking, abseiling and more. For more information, email the team on [email protected]
Adventurati Outdoor, Al Manama, Ras Al Khaimah Road, Al Kharran, Ras Al Khaimah, Tel: (0)50 280 3663. adventurati-outdoor.com
Snorkel around Snoopy Island
Pack your snorkel and swimming kit for a day spent paddling around Fujairah’s Snoopy Island, so named because of its resemblance to the cartoon dog. Set out from Sandy Beach Hotel & Resort for a snorkel around the island. You can hire snorkels and kayaks from the hotel.
Sandy Beach Hotel, Fujairah, Tel: (0)9 244 5555. sandybeachhotel.ae