Ski Dubai Sure, there are sand dunes to be seen, but you can’t come to Dubai without checking out its phenomenal indoor ski slope, which now not only provides great runs for skiers and boarders, but is also home to a colony of penguins and the world’s coolest (literally) zip line. Better yet, they’re now doing a residents’ rate until June 15, with three hours of slope time for Dhs160. Snowpark access Dhs150 (adult), Dhs140 (child), ski slope for two hours Dhs200 (adult), Dhs170 (child), skiing lessons from Dhs125. Mall of the Emirates, www.theplaymania.com (04 409 4090).
Wild Wadi Dubai’s original waterpark houses 30 rides and attractions, all against the backdrop of the Burj Al Arab. Relax on the lazy river, feel your heart in your throat with a swirl down tantrum alley or laugh in the face of fear with a ride on the infamous Jumeirah Sceirah. Dhs245 (adult), Dhs185 (child under 1.1m). Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 348 4444).
Aquaventure Home to the world’s largest slide, this waterpark also boasts a flume that takes you through a shark tank, a thrilling zip line and river rapids that criss-cross the landscape. With residents’ rates of Dhs160 for adults and Dhs140 for kids, plus an impressive range of eateries, it’s a popular family day out for those not on holiday. Dhs250 (adults), Dhs205 child under 1.2m). Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000).
Desert Safari Popular local tour operator Arabian Adventures runs dozens of different types of excursions, both around the city and out into the desert, giving visitors a taste of both Arabian traditions and the emirate’s modern identity. The ‘Sundowner’ package is the classic all-inclusive experience, including a dune bashing session, falconry show, camel ride and belly-dancing performance, plus a buffet meal under the stars at a desert camp. Sundowner Dhs360 per person. Pick-ups across Dubai, www.arabian-adventures.com (04 214 4888).
Night safari Once the sun goes down and the air gets cooler, nocturnal animals in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve emerge from their daylight hiding spots to wander the dunes and weave between the shrubs. With its heritage night safari and stargazing package, Dubai’s poshest desert tour company, Platinum Heritage, provides guests with high-tech night vision binoculars to spot these creatures from the open-air, retro Land Rovers they’re riding in. Once you’ve explored the dunes, it’s off to the tranquil camp to have a snack and study the stars. Dhs395 per person. Pick-ups across Dubai, www.platinum-heritage.com (04 388 4044).
Big Red This 300ft tall sand dune, also known as Al Hamar, is popular with sandboarders, though best scoped out on quieter weekdays to avoid some of the more reckless visitors who tend to frequent the slope on weekends. Head over with a local tour operator to make sure you don’t get stuck or lost, unless you’re lucky enough that your hosts are familiar with the area and have a 4x4 convoy on call. Dubai to Hatta Road (E44).
Speedboat tours Experience the city’s skyline and manmade islands from the seas with a speedboat trip along the coast. Dubai Marina-based The Yellow Boats runs regular tours ranging in duration from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. From Dhs80 (adults), Dhs60 (kids). Dubai Marina, www.theyellowboats.com (800 8044).
Gold Souk Get more karats for your cash with a trip to the Gold Souk, where many visitors from overseas will be able to get their hands on a few new jewellery pieces at a fraction of the price they might normally expect to pay at home. For a personalised memento of their visit to Dubai, we recommend stopping in at Kanz Jewels (04 235 3530) to have a 22kt Arabic nameplate necklace made. Deira (no number).
The Dubai Mall Shop until your legs can’t take it anymore at the world’s largest mall. There are more than 1,200 shops inside, ranging from high-end designer labels to kiosks selling kitsch souvenirs, plus plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and replenish your energy levels mid-shop. Don’t miss the camel milk cappuccinos at The Majlis in the Souk Atrium area. Open Sun-Wed 10am-midnight, Thu-Sat 10am-2am. Downtown Dubai, www.thedubaimall.com (800 38224 6255).
Paddleboarding at the Palm Jumeirah Currently one of the city’s greatest waterborne loves, with Pilates and yoga versions springing up all along the coast, stand-up paddleboarding is a great, amateur-friendly way to get on the water. Top up your tan while you give your arms and legs a workout from Riva Beach Club on the Palm Jumeirah, where Ignite Surf School runs regular lessons as well as offering SUP rental rates for those already familiar with the activity. Board rentals from Dhs85 per hour. Riva Beach Club, Shoreline Apartments, Palm Jumeirah (055 601 097).
Diving with sharks Though you’re not guaranteed sightings out in the Arabian Gulf, a diving experience inside Atlantis The Palm’s Ambassador Lagoon will allow you to swim alongside reef sharks and hammerheads, as well as sawfish, rays and thousands more fish. Guests have the option to try a discovery dive (for beginners), an explorer session (for those with a licence) or even hire the entire aquarium for a private dip. For those who prefer to snorkel, there are also experiences that allow you to take in marine life from the water’s surface. From Dhs225 per person for the ultimate snorkel. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000).
Dubai Ice Rink Strap a pair of skates on and hit the ice at this Olympic-sized rink, which hosts regular disco nights and even hockey matches. Never skated before? Lessons are available for kids, individuals and groups (including a ladies’ only class). From Dhs55. The Dubai Mall, www.dubaiicerink.com (04 448 5111).
The Beach Take a stroll around JBR’s brand new mall and landscaped beach area, complete with outdoor cinema, playgrounds, jogging track and even computer pillars that let you take a selfie and email it to friends around the world. For a full rundown of what to see, do and eat, click here for our guide to The Beach