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World's coolest winter: Natural spots in UAE

Immerse yourself in the country's one-of-a-kind natural landscapes this winter.



By Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Fri 22 Jan 2021, 10:36 AM

Being in the Middle East, most visitors might believe that there aren't many nature-based tourism opportunities in the UAE. Well, this list will definitely prove them wrong. Every emirate has its own landscape to be proud of and right now, the winter season provides the perfect opportunity to go out and explore them. Here are some outdoor spots you can have a blast at.

Abu Dhabi

Jebel Hafeet

Even during the blistering Middle East summer, you feel a cool breeze float through your hair in the mountains of Jebel Hafeet. Motor up the area's pristine roads and get an unforgettable view of the sunset from atop the mountain at the emirate's highest point. There are heaps of activities nearby as well. Visit the Jebel Hafeet Beehive Tombs, the Al Ain Zoo, the Jahili Fort, the Hili Archaeological Park and more.

Saadiyat Island

Who would've thought that there can be islands and deserts mere kilometres away from one another? From windsurfing and sailing to enjoying beach yoga classes, there's something for everyone to have an exciting day at the Saadiyat Island beach. It also hosts tons of native wildlife, serving as a nesting ground for Hawksbill Turtles.

Dubai

Al Qudra

This famous man-made water feature in the middle of the desert, teeming with avifauna, is a popular spot with tourists and residents alike. If you're the sporty kind, there is an 86 km long cycle track running along the desert, waiting for you. Get there before sunrise, exercise under the spectacular morning sky, then enjoy a steaming cup of karak tea with breakfast from a nearby restaurant.

Hatta Wadi Hub

Hatta is bursting with adventure. Make Hatta the 90-minute drive from Dubai for a day of open-air thrills at the Hatta Wadi Hub. Experience a variety of thrilling activities such as the all-new drop-in waterslide, archery, axe throwing, mountain carting, trampolining, zip-lining and zorbing.

Sharjah

Shark Island

This is the perfect place if you are a fish out of water (in a good way). This diver's haven is off the coast of the Khorfakkan beach, an underwater marvel for those who love snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming. As you swim through the Arabian Sea you will see the coral reefs vibrant with aquatic life. If you prefer to stay on the surface, kayak out to spot schools of fish through the transparent waters.

Wadi al Helo

Wadi Al Helo - or 'sweet valley' - is a protected area for local endangered species. Take a hike on the numerous scenic hiking trails. At the top of the hill is an old fort from where you can get a breathtaking view of the UAE mountain range. If you're feeling adventurous, travel on the wildlife-worn path, deeper into the landscape. There are also guided hiking tours available.

Ajman

Dhow Building Yard

On the north side of Ajman Creek is the world's largest dhow building centre. Around 20 to 30 dhows are built from the ground up at the same time, using traditional tools and manual labour that have been physically handed down through generations. This is a treat for anyone fascinated by craftsmanship and the country's historical culture.

Al-Zorah District

This new coastal development hosts yacht marinas, luxury hotels and apartments, dining choices, and a golf course. The most interesting part is the preserved coastal section, which is home to shallow lagoons rung by mangroves. Enjoy bird-watching, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, boat tours, and nature walks.

Umm Al Quwain

Seneyah Island

This beautiful island is the largest of a cluster of islands offshore from the city. The island is especially exciting for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts since it features a wide variety of flora and fauna like the rare Socotra cormorants, mangrove forests, flamingoes and seagulls. This is an excellent natural escapade during the day to get away from the noise of the city.

Dreamland Aqua Park

Water parks are the classic family entertainment. Get drenched on the slides, children's wading pools, twisters, crazy river and kamikaze ride, and a giant wave pool under shaded palm trees. The (fake) thunderous volcano encircled by statues of animals is sure to be a winner with kids.

Ras Al Khaimah

Quad Biking Guided Tour

Get a closer look at the desert on a quad bike or an ATV tour. The sand dunes can be a tricky terrain to drive on so it's best to embark on it with a guide. Thrill as you drive down large sand dunes on the UAE's unique desert landscape. If you get stuck, don't worry! Your guide will provide you with the tips and tricks to maximising your time in the sand.

Musandam Dibba Cruise

Have a seat on a traditional, double-decker wooden dhow and witness the scenic beauty of the Musandam Peninsula's fjords, caves, villages, and rocky peaks. You can even dive into the waters for a snorkel. Keep an eye out for dolphins! Also, enjoy a full-fledged Arabic buffet with unlimited sodas, all included in the package.

Bassata Desert Village

Experience Bedouin life just as it used to be. Simplicity reigns throughout the camp where you can participate in adrenaline-fuelled dune bashing, camel rides, barbecue, sand-boarding and more. The village is dotted with tents for you to unwind, bask in the sun and watch the sunset.

Fujairah

Snoopy Island

About 45 km north of Fujairah City is Al Aqah beach, in the shadow of Snoopy Island's rocky silhouette. The beach itself is a bucket list item for water sports enthusiasts. You can swim or take a kayak or a boat out to the island. You cannot stand on it so keep floatation devices handy, in case of emergencies.

Ain al-Madhab Hot Springs

If you've been travelling non-stop and you're looking for some natural relaxation, look no further than the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. The mineral springs here produce warm sulphuric water that is pumped into two swimming pools. Let the warm, mineral-rich waters soothe any aches and pains.

Wadi Wurayah National Park

UAE's first protected mountain area and national park is home to a host of flora and fauna including the country's only active orchid and the Arabian mountain goat. It's picturesque waterfalls and unique wildlife make it an exciting day out for conservation enthusiasts and tourists alike.


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