Spectacular coral reefs, magnificent mangrove forests, beautiful wetlands, lush oases and an abundance of incredible wildlife. This is what you can expect when exploring the breathtaking islands that make up Abu Dhabi’s exquisite marine protected areas. Working alongside Abu Dhabi Maritime and Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, these incredible marine protected areas have been opened up to tourists for the very first time...
The largest coral reef in the UAE and Gulf region, and one of the most important coral reefs in Abu Dhabi, the 55-square-kilometre Ras Ghanadah protected area is situated near Ghantoot, about 90km from the capital. Snorkelling fanatics and divers will delight in the treasure trove of coral species found in the magical underwater world at Ras Ghanadah. In fact, 40% of all coral species in the Arabian Gulf can be found here. You’re also very likely to spot turtles, dugongs, sea snakes and clownfish.
Saadiyat Marine National Park
Spanning a total area of 59 square kilometres, the protected Saadiyat Marine National Park can be found in the adjoining marine area of Abu Dhabi’s pristine Saadiyat Island. Marine life enthusiasts will love the abundance of beautiful animals, particularly the endangered Hawksbill turtles that nest on the island. Keep an eye out for dolphins, and make sure you don’t forget your phone because this spot showcases some of the UAE’s most beautiful sunsets. The Saadiyat Marine National Park is a haven for non-motorised watersports activities such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking and fishing.
Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve
Named the first marine biosphere reserve in the UAE and covering 63% of Abu Dhabi’s marine protected areas, the incredible Marawah Marine boasts 120km of immaculate coastline and over ten islands. The 4,255-square-kilometre reserve is home to essential marine ecosystems, including seagrass beds, coral reefs, macroalgae outcrops and mangrove forests. Marawah is also teeming with abundant wildlife, including the world’s second-largest dugong community, 70% of the UAE’s migratory birds, and over 150 species of fish.
Al Yasat Protected Area
The breathtaking Al Yasat marine protected area is located in the western region of Abu Dhabi in Al Dhafra and is a nature lover’s paradise. From recreational fishing to diving, kayak adventures to snorkelling and dolphin to turtle watching, the list of exciting outdoor activities is endless. Al Yasat is also a heritage and cultural attraction. It is made up of a group of islands of historical importance – including Al Ghagha Island, Al Qaffay Island and Al Yasat Island – and boasts several species of thriving coral reefs that play a vital role in the abundance of bountiful marine life.
Attractions and activities
The four exquisite islands that make up the marine protected areas in Abu Dhabi offer outdoor lovers an abundance of exciting activities such as day cruises, diving, snorkelling, kayak adventures and fishing, as well as dolphin watching and swimming, sea turtle and dugong watching. The set-up of mooring buoys – as opposed to anchorage – ensures the protection and conservation of these magical, never-before-explored marine islands.
Abu Dhabi Maritime Safety & Zoning Map
Excited to visit one of the Marine Protected Areas but not sure where they are? Want to know where you can go kayaking and paddle boarding? Planning a boat trip and want to find the best spots for island hopping?
Don't worry - we've got you covered! Just check out our interactive map - select the activity you're interested in or select the different area layers you want to explore - there's a wealth of useful maritime info right at your fingertips...
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Frequently asked questions about marine protected areas in Abu Dhabi.
What is the main objective of marine protected areas?
Marine protected areas aim to primarily protect threatened marine ecosystems and other undersea resources from intrusive human activity.
What are some of the marine protected areas in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is home to a number of marine protected areas, some of which include:
- Ras Ghanadah
- Saadiyat Marine National Park
- Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve
- Al Yasat Protected Area