7 thrilling water activities in Abu Dhabi
Just off the mainland, on an island in the Arabian Gulf, sits the city of Abu Dhabi. While this modern metropolis is well-known for its gleaming skyscrapers, palatial hotels and impressive shopping malls, visitors soon discover that the UAE capital, with its long stretch of coastline, is full of seaside surprises.
There are so many water sports and beach activities in Abu Dhabi to enjoy, including hiring out a jet ski, kayaking through awe-inspiring natural landscapes, and even white water rafting. Scroll down to find some of the top-rated experiences in the emirate!
1. Kayak around one of the world’s urban wonders
Kayaking around the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of the city’s most popular activities! Sea Hawk Water Sports offers this once-in-a-lifetime hour-long excursion, with no prior experience necessary. You'll be accompanied by professional instructors and given a safety and paddle briefing before the tour starts. Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 need to be accompanied by an adult or guardian.
2. Embark on an aquatic adventure at Al Forsan
Experience the thrill of wakeboarding at Al Forsan's cutting-edge water sports facility in Abu Dhabi. As pioneers in the Middle East, Al Forsan introduced a first-of-its-kind water cable system, revolutionising the sport. Picture a massive overhead cable spanning the purpose-built 'pro' and 'beginner' lakes, propelling participants on their boards or skis at speeds up to 35kph. With the capacity to accommodate multiple riders simultaneously, you'll enjoy non-stop action and minimal waiting time. For beginners, the 2.0 system provides an ideal platform to learn pro tricks. Dive into a world of adrenaline-pumping excitement at Al Forsan!
3. Enjoy a dip in azure waters
Abu Dhabi is an archipelago made up of nearly 200 islands, which means hundreds of kilometers of stunning coastline. If you love swimming in the sea, you will be happy to know that not only is the water in this part of the world calm and gentle, but it's also the perfect temperature year-round.
Some of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi include the public Saadiyat Beach and the private stretch of sand at Saadiyat Beach Club - both of which play active roles in the protection and conservation of endangered Hawksbill turtles. Other popular waterside locations include Corniche Beach, Yas Beach, Al Bateen Beach, Mirfa Beach and the private beaches at Nation Riviera Beach Club and Intercontinental Bayshore.
4. Kayak in a protected island reserve
Desert Islands Watersports Centre is situated on the stunning Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the eight desert islands of Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region and a nature-based destination home to stunning wildlife, family-friendly adventure, five-star boutique hotels, luxury villas, purpose-built stables and historical sites.
A highlight of any trip to this unique getaway is the chance to kayak through the area's non-fishing zone, which stretches 8km from the shores of the island's incredible nature-based wildlife reserve. The waters around this life-giving island are teeming with marine flora and fauna unique to the region, also allowing for some of the world's best snorkelling and diving.
5. Glide through the water on Nurai Island
Seeking an idyllic escape? Look no further than the private, boutique Zaya Nurai Island. Perched amid the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf, to the east of the Abu Dhabi coastline and just a short 15-minute boat ride from the city, it's hard to believe that this peaceful island is so close to the hustle and bustle of urban life.
This is a playground for the young and the young at heart, with an ultra-luxurious resort offering visiting and staying guests a range of water sports including scuba diving, snorkelling, jet skiing, water skiing, SUP, fly-fishing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, banana rides and more.
6. Spot a wealth of wildlife in the mangroves
Not many people know, but Abu Dhabi boasts some of the planet's most unique and important ecosystems in its coastal mangrove forests. Home to crabs, herons, flamingos, fish, turtles, foraging foxes, dugongs and dolphins, Mangrove National Park is the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city.
Explore this fascinating natural landscape by kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. Access this experience at Eastern Mangroves Marina, adjacent to the five-star Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel. You'll be able to book kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing and other water-based tours to explore the lush mangroves from here.
7. Speed down man-made white water rafting channels
Looking for a dose of adventure? Heads a short ways inland to Wadi Adventure, a fantastic family-friendly destination situated at the base of the majestic Jebel Hafit, Abu Dhabi's tallest peak. Located just outside of the historic city of Al Ain, this epic spot is home to the Middle East's first man-made white water rafting channels, measuring 1,100 metres in length and perfect for rafting and kayaking.
Families and friends will love it here, but it's also great for team building and corporate events. Sports professionals from around the world regularly visit the park, which also provides training programmes and complete packages, including accommodation and airport transfers.