Dubai may be known for its luxury hotels, size-breaking shopping malls and maze of air-conditioned attractions to keep you out of the desert heat. Yet the Arabian Peninsula is fast becoming a destination for adventure travellers and adrenaline junkies. Whether you need an action-packed stopover or a week of desert adventure, here is the low down of high energy activities to keep you occupied in Dubai.
Up In The Air
Jumping out of a plane is definitely the best way to take in the incredible skyline of ultra modern Dubai. You’ll take off from Dubai Marina and float down over Palm Island to the purpose built Palm Drop Zone.
Dubai’s city coastline has become very popular with kite surfers in recent years. Head to Umm Suqiem, a public stretch of beach in front of the Burj Al Arab hotel, where you can take an introductory lesson. If wakeboarding is more your style, you can learn to do this here too.
In The Water
Not well known in the diving world thanks to a lack of natural reefs, Dubai’s coastline does offer decent wreck diving. Both the Mariam Express, sunk in 2006 and the Anchor Barge, sunk in 1998, offer diving sites a few miles offshore. A couple of hours drive from the city, however the Gulf of Oman and Fujairah emirate both offer abundant reefs to explore.
Discover sea turtles and flamingos, isolated beaches and mangrove forest on sea kayaking adventures on the east and west coast of the Arabian Peninsula. From easy routes near Khor Kalba that take in endangered local wildlife in protected mangrove forests to more challenging multi-day trips around Dibba, there are kayaking options to suit all levels.
On The Dunes
Off-road adventuring and sand dune sports
The desert dunes around Dubai are a 4x4 lover’s dream destination. Lower your tyre pressure and head overland to explore some of the world’s most impressive and accessible sand dunes. While you’re there you can try your hand at Dune Buggying, Quad Biking and even Sandboarding to see which gives you the biggest adrenaline rush.
When you’re all adventured out from the above activities, you can sleep under the stars by camping on the dunes. Join a tour or hire the gear yourself. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never feel cramped when camping in the desert.
In The Mountains
The Hajar Mountains are the go-to for all mountain-based activities from Dubai. Rising up to 3,050 metres, the mountains offer challenging hiking routes and it’s recommended that you go with an experienced guide. Ras Al Khaimah is the best place for hikers to set off from.
If hiking isn’t quite adventurous enough for you, the Hajar Mountains also offer challenging climbing and bouldering routes up limestone crags and cliffs. Near Dibba, climbers can challenge themselves with deep water soloing – cliff climbing above the ocean.
Those who prefer two wheels to two feet will find a labyrinth of difficult bike trails to take on. These are not for the novice bike rider however, covering some 70 kilometres of tracks winding through the mountains.
A hybrid of go-karting and windsurfing, these little buggies can go up to 30kph with decent winds and are a hell of a lot of fun. If you’d prefer the engine version, gokarting is also available, and the karts can get up to speeds of 55kph.
F1 passenger ride
Not quite adventure in an explorative, physically demanding sense, this will certainly get your adrenaline pumping! Jump into the passenger seat of a specially converted Formula 1 race car and brace yourself to be driven around Yas Island’s race track at speeds of up to 300kph.
The budget traveller’s alternative to the real deal, iFly is the next best thing. Suspended in the air by a 200kph gust of wind, you will feel both the thrill of floating and the rush of falling back down!
It might not be the first activity you seek when visiting Dubai, but you can in fact snowboard and ski in the desert. Ski Dubai is a huge indoor snow field, with five runs of varying difficulty to suit all levels. Seasoned riders can hit the slopes straight away, or beginners can take lessons with instructors.