A Guide To Dubai's Underwater World

Mermiad under the sea
Mermiad under the sea | ©Mehgan Heaney-Grier / Wikimedia https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/09/MehganTheMermaid.jpg/1280px-MehganTheMermaid.jpg
Jessica Milek

The United Arab Emirates sits between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. There is an abundance of marine life living along the coasts as well as on land. Dubai offers exciting opportunities to explore the underwater world through its world-renowned aquariums, animal sanctuaries and unique diving experiences.

Sleep Under the Ocean

Experience the deep blue from the comfort of a 5 star hotel. At the ocean-themed resort Atlantis The Palm you can stay in an underwater room where the walls and ceiling act as windows to the sea. After you wake up, head to the Lost Chambers Aquarium for a relaxing yoga session with an unbeatable view.

Atlantis The Palm, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE, +9714 426 2000

Underwater room at Atlantis

Dine With The Fish

Take your loved one out for a romantic dinner at the Al Mahara, one of most expensive but also one of the best seafood restaurants in Dubai. Run by Michelin star chef Nathan Outlaw, this sensational restaurant is known for being an incredible experience. Overlook the Burj Al Arab aquariums, which have made international headlines over the years. One of their Zebra Sharks, Zebedee, is the first recorded shark to have virgin births for four consecutive years in a row. Be sure to keep an eye out for Zebedee when you visit the Burj Al Arab.

Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim, +9714 301 7600

Al Mahara aquarium

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Situated in the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. One of the largest indoor aquariums in the world, this 10 million litre tank is home to 140 different species and over 300 sharks and rays. The Dubai Aquarium offers fun experiences for the whole family. Ride a glass bottomed boat above the water, or walk through the tunnel and immerse yourself in the spectacular view. If you’re feeling daring, grab the kids and go for a cage dive or earn your PADI scuba diving license over the course of two days.

The Dubai Aquarium tunnel

Located a level above the aquarium, the Underwater Zoo houses animals from different ecological zones, including the UAE desert, the rocky sea shore, the ocean and the rainforest. When exploring the zoo, look out for piranhas, penguins, otters and crocodiles. Book an Encounter Package if you would like to get up close and personal to the animals.

The Underwater Zoo Ocean School offers educational programs for all ages – even toddlers. Program topics include animal survival, UAE heritage and the ecosystem, conservation and animal care. Tours and programs are offered several times a day.

The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, +9714 448 5200

Lost Chambers Aquarium and Ambassador Lagoon

Besides the Marine and Waterpark, Atlantis The Palm is also home to the Lost Chambers Aquarium and the Ambassador Lagoon – the largest open air aquarium in the Middle East region.

The Ambassador Lagoon is home to 65,000 creatures, and offers fantastical swims and dives that cater to all experience levels. If you don’t feel like swimming, try out the Aquatrek or take a walk in 3m high waters using a special helmet that will allow you to breathe underwater. All children over the age of 6 are welcome to join on the Aquatrek adventure. Feeling more daring? Opt for the Predator Dive, a close encounter experience that allows you to hand feed 14 different ray and shark species.

Modelled after the ancient ruins of Atlantis, the Lost Chambers Aquarium offers a tour on the Atlantean myth and the marine life that lives in the tanks. Interactive behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium upkeep and fish nursery are also available.

After an exciting day of swimming and learning, be sure to check if there are any live mermaid shows on. This special treat happens periodically.

Lost Chambers Aquarium and Ambassador Lagoon, Atlantis The Palm, The Palm Jumeirah, +9714 426 0000

Aquatrek at Atlantis

Saving Turtles

In an aim to care for and protect sea turtles, the Mina A’Salam and Burj Al Arab, in association with the Emirates Wildlife Protection Office, run a rehabilitation sanctuary for turtles – the only one in the Middle East. Every year the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project releases hundreds of turtles, many of which are then tracked for research purposes. If you would like to meet these reptiles, the pools at Mina A’Salam are free to visit on Wednesdays after 11am during the winter months.

Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Rd, +9714 366 8888

Sea turtle

Natural Waters

Go on an expedition and explore the indigenous marine wildlife of the United Arab Emirates in their natural habitats.

UAE map

Scuba Diving

The city of Dubai has several PADI licensing centres and lots of beaches to explore. If you would like to go on an adventure and discover the deep blue sea, the best dive sites are located in the Emirate of Fujairah. Stay at Sandy Beach and snorkel around Snoopy Island, then go to Dibba Rock, Martini Rock or The Pinnacles to explore marine life from the depths of the ocean. When you’re swimming in the Oman Gulf, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales.

Scuba divers with bottlenose dolphin

Underwater Park – Coming Soon

In the future, look out for the soon-to-be world’s largest underwater park – Pearl of Dubai. Designed by Reef Worlds, the 5 acre sustainable underwater park will be located at The World Islands. Based on the myth of Atlantis, the Pearl of Dubai will be a marine wildlife haven that offers unique diving experiences for snorkellers and scuba divers.

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