Activities in Abu Dhabi for Adventurers

Melinda Healy

It’s got world-class museums and a fascinating culture, but Abu Dhabi also has an adventurous streak. Whether you want to ascend the third-highest peak in the Emirates, dive for pearls or go wakesurfing, the UAE capital is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Here are some exhilarating activities you can try in and around Abu Dhabi.

Kayak in the mangroves

Weave your way through Mangrove National Park in a kayak and discover the dichotomy of the landscape. There really is no better way to experience this beautiful forest, home to more than 60 bird species, plus marine mammals, turtles and shellfish. Sea Hawk Water Sports offers guided two-hour kayaking tours, which means you won’t miss the sometimes shy and hard-to-spot mangrove residents. Low tide is the best time for a mangrove expedition, and there’s a swimming/photo break halfway through the tour.

Bag yourself a pearl

Experience a tradition that’s been part of local culture for thousands of years – you might even snag yourself a precious memento. Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey runs an hour-long adventure on a dhow sailboat that dives deep into the life of a pearl hunter. Treats will keep you going – sip locally made gahwa (Arabic coffee) and sample chewy dates – as will the promise of prising open an oyster using a maflag (traditional oyster knife) to reveal the treasure inside.

Wakesurf in Ghantoot

Anything is possible in the desert, even surfing. Xtreme Wake at Ghantoot Marina has you covered, just bring your swimsuit and the rest will be taken care of by the Xtreme team. Picture yourself riding behind a boat flying along at speed – it’s the ultimate all-round cardio workout… with an adrenaline boost thrown in. Professional instructors will guide you through the experience and ensure you’re riding high by the end of the session.

Hike up Jebel Hafit

This craggy 1,250m (4,100ft) peak takes about four hours to conquer and affords hikers some of the most spectacular views of the green oasis that is Al Ain below. Bordering the UAE and Oman, Jebel Hafit is best tackled in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Although a relatively challenging trail, it is well worth it for the otherworldly landscapes that accompany you from start to finish. Please note that government approval is required to undertake this trail, so if you’re planning on hiking this incredible mountain, make sure you go through the appropriate channels beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Race a go-kart

Satisfy your need for speed by racing around the adrenaline-inducing kart track at Al Ain Sportplex. No matter your driving experience or ability you’ll put the “go” in go-karting as you whizz around and traverse the various configurations on offer. Besides karting, the Al Ain hobbies club – as it’s sometimes called – offers paintball, drifting, radio-controlled flying and an educational traffic city called Al Ain Tiny.

Tackle the F1 track

Yas Marina Circuit hosts the crème de la crème every year – The Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the final race of the F1 season. But when the engines are cut and the competition is done, tourists and residents can jog, cycle or walk around the track. Visitors are offered bicycles and helmets, at no cost, if needed. Walkers and runners venture clockwise while riders go in the opposite direction. If you’re keen on a more ramped-up track session, there are also Les Mills workouts to join. And if you want to try your hand at F1 racing, that’s possible too (for a fee).

Images courtesy of Prod Antzoulis, Alamy, Stocksy, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi

Immerse yourself in Abu Dhabi heritage. Check out Visit Abu Dhabi for more information and to book your adventure today.

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