Whether it's a stand up paddle boarding (SUP) alongshore Dubai's beaches or kayaking in the mangroves of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy any kind of watersports action you can possibly imagine.
If you are a watersport enthusiast there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. The UAE offers many (and some of them are really exciting!) water attractions, including wakeboarding, jetskiing and flyboarding.
Depending on the area, the different ocean breaks in the country allow a wide range of activities to take place within a close distance. The quiet waters around mangroves in Ajman and Umm Al Quwain are perfect for kayaking, whereas the wide open stretches of beach in Al Gharbia, Abu Dhabi, are a real kitesurfers' paradise. Wherever you go, just make sure to take extra precautions, beaches are not patrolled as often as you may be used to.
Here is a list of the most popular watersports:
Canoeing and kayaking
There are few options here. You can either enjoy a leisurely paddle along the cities' coastline, or explore some of the UAE's hidden treasure - the mangroves. Many hotels in the country provide hourly kayak hire (app. 100 AED/hour), as well as Kite Beach in Dubai where you can rent a single or double kayak (60/80 AED/hour, Kite N' Surf).
Beautiful mangroves can be admired in Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, where you can rent a kayak and explore the area on your own, or join one of many excursions organized by Noukhada Adventure Company.
Quest for Adventure also offers guided tours through beautiful mangroves in Al Zorah nature reserve, Ajman, where you can spot flamingos (175AED/hour).
Another well known location for kayaking is Hatta Dam, a vast lake surrounded by mountains. Hatta Kayak offers rental of both, kayaks and boats. Since the area is becoming more and more popular among those who seeks relaxation in a natural environment, it tends to get crowded during weekends.
If you are looking for a more challenging and thrilling experience, you cannot miss the white water rapids at Wadi Adventure in Al Ain (65AED entrance fee + 75AED for flat water kayaking or 175AED for kayaking in whitewater channels), where you can test your skills at one of the three man-made routes.
Kitesurfing is undoubtedly the most favorite watersport in Dubai. You've probably seen kites flying above the water near Kite Beach (now you know where the name comes from!), that's because it's the official part of the beach where kitesurfing (and windsurfing) is allowed. And that's a great spot, with strong winds and Burj Al Arab only 2 km away.
Kitesurfing is an exciting extreme watersport that involves flying a kite with a board attached to your feet and it is one of those activities that you can master in just a few lessons (Kite N' Surf offers kitesurfing lessons, tours and equipment hire).
Other locations to enjoy kitesurfing:
NessNass Beach, Jumeirah, behind the Sunset Mall, Dubai - also known as Sunset Beach or Kitesurf Beach has excellent conditions for all kitesurfers, also beginners who can master their skills.
- Kite Beach, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi - just next door to Ferrari World, this spot provides perfect conditions for all ability levels, both windsurfing and kitesurfing alike.
Kite Beach Center, Umm Al Quwain - where the very first kitesurfing school was established! You can find here paddleboarding, kayaking, wakeboarding and many other sport activities. Al Gharbiya Kite Beach, Abu Dhabi - known for consistently good winds.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
Rooted in Polynesian tradition, SUP-ing is the fun way to get out on the water when there isn’t much surf. Perfect for people of all ages and fitness level, SUP is quickly gaining its fame thanks to the amazing full-body workout that improves and provides many benefits (cardio fitness, core strength, body balance) and what’s best? It really doesn’t feel like an exercise in a first place.
Since the length and width of the board is a generous size, balancing on top of one is far easier than a surfboard and makes it relatively easy to pick up. And no need to worry about the waves, as very calm flat water is best for beginners.
In case you’re looking for some extra attractions Sea You offers SUP Yoga or pilates lesson to make paddling even more interesting and fun. For more advanced SUP-ers Blue Gym by Watercooled has 4 or 8 km trip around Dubai Marina. With The Surf House Dubai you can enjoy your lesson next to the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Boards and oars can be found on main beaches in Dubai and rest of the cities (from around 100AED).
Ok, the UAE is not exactly the Surfer’s Paradise for advanced players, but if you’re a beginner, the manageable waves and the year-round warm water make the UAE a great location to pick up what’s surfing is all about.
If a little too often you’re left with a board in your hand caused by the frustrating lack of waves, head over to Wadi Adventure and Wild Wadi Park to try the artificial waves generates every 90 seconds in a surf specific wave pool.
The surfing season it Dubai typically starts in October and ends in April, with peak months of December and February.
There are many schools in Dubai and UAE (ie. Surf House Dubai, Kite N’ Surf) where you can learn how to surf like a pro. Surf School Arabia also organizes regular trips and tours to the Northern emirates.