51 outdoor Dubai adventures

Land, sea and air adventures to try in and around Dubai

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What are you doing next weekend? Heading to a friend’s birthday dinner/leaving do/hen or stag party (delete as applicable)? Planning to hit the malls, or just grab a slice of cake with a friend? Or perhaps not – perhaps you’re going to use your precious time out of work doing something rather remarkable: something you would never do back home, something that will get the adrenaline pumping and remind you that you’re really alive! (Sorry, we got a little carried away there). To help inspire your wild side, we’ve rounded up 51 adventures, all possible in Dubai or the UAE, and geared towards varying courage levels. Come on: as an expat it’s well-known that you’re already a more daring type, and the weather won’t be this pleasant forever – well, not even for three more months. All together now: Geronimo!

Air

Outdoor skydiving
Fear Factor: 10/10
Hurl yourself out of a plane at 13,000ft for a spectacular aerial view of the Palm Jumeirah. We’ve done it (and loved it) – now see if you have the guts.
Dhs1,750 per person for tandem jumps with a videographer. Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina (050 153 3222).

Hot Air Ballooning
Fear Factor: 6/10
What better way to see the morning sun rise over the desert? Balloon Adventures is the most experienced balloon tour group in town.
Dhs950 for adults, Dhs800 for kids. Minibus pick-up/drop-off from various locations around Dubai, www.ballooning.ae (04 285 4949)

Parasailing
Fear Factor:
5/10
Launch into the air by parachute from a boat and get pulled along while attached with a rope.
Dhs250 for 30 minutes on the boat and 10 minutes in the air. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 399 9005)

Hop in a seaplane
Fear Factor:
5/10
These cute nine-seater planes fly all over Dubai, and require you to take your passport. Book 30 days in advance and you get a free Dhs350 dinner at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
Dhs1,225 per person. www.seawings.ae (04 883 2999)

Microlighting
Fear Factor: 
7/10
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Ras Al Khaimah from the cockpit of a tiny lightweight aircraft, or cut your teeth as a pilot by learning to fly one.
Dhs150 for 15 minutes. Flights by appointment. Al Jazira Aviation Club, Umm Al Quwain-Ras Al Khaimah Road, www.jac-uae.net (07 244 6416)

Power- parachuting
Fear Factor:
8/10
Parachuting with a twist: pilots sit in a small caged cockpit attached to a huge fan. Rev up the engine, the fan inflates the parachute and off you go. Aspiring power-parachutists can learn to fly these quirky contraptions at Al Jazira Aviation Club, or you can enjoy a ride with an experienced pilot and take in the sights and sounds of sunny Ras Al Khaimah. Trust us – it’s ridiculously good fun.
Dhs150 for 15 minutes. Flights on appointment. Al Jazira Aviation Club, Umm Al Quwain-Ras Al Khaimah Road, www.jac-uae.net (07 244 6416).

Indoor skydiving
Fear Factor:
7/10
Okay, so it’s not as loftily ambitious as real outdoor skydiving, but it makes up for it in adventurousness. Introduced to Mirdif City Centre last year, iFly involves being lifted into the air by a huge fan, with winds reaching speeds of up to 200kph.
Dhs165 per person off-peak. Mirdif City Centre, www.iflyme.com (800 534 7873)


Water

Kiteboarding
Fear Factor:
7/10
A mix of surfing, wakeboarding and kiting, the wind propels you over the water on a board. Fastest kiteboard speed ever? 55.6 knots. Yee-ha!
Dhs300 per person per lesson. Kite Beach, off Jumeirah Beach Road (050 226 5134)

Surfing
Fear Factor:
8/10
Dubai’s surf season runs from October to April, and the waves are ideal for beginners. There are two schools that will teach you how to rip.
Lessons from Dhs150 per hour. Umm Suqeim Beach, www.surfschooluae.com, www.surfingdubai.com

Windsurfing
Fear Factor:
6/10
It’s hard to stand up (you need core strength), but it’s worth it – Dubai boasts onshore winds of up to 15 knots almost every afternoon.
Dhs100 for one hour at Club Joumana (club entrance fee Dhs180 on weekdays, Dhs220 on weekends). Jebel Ali Hotel (04 814 5555)

Waterskiing
Fear Factor: 6/10
It’s exciting stuff when you’re being dragged along by a speedboat with skis attached to your feet. Even more exciting? Barefoot skiing – when you have to travel faster.
Dhs150 for 15 minutes. Dubai Watersport Academy, Dubai Marina Walk (04 366 3538)

Free diving
Fear Factor:
7/10
Possibly the most serene extreme sport there is. British freediving instructor Sara-Lise Haith will teach you to dive to great depths without a scuba tank.
Free trial session. www.divasindubai.com (050 436 8696)

Paddleboarding
Fear Factor:
6/10
Dubai’s calm waters are perfect for this sport. Apparently it started when surf instructors needed to patrol their classes. Paddlesurfing is a derivative of paddleboarding.
Private lessons from Dhs175. Surf Dubai, Umm Suqeim 3 (050 504 3020)

Dragon boating
Fear Factor:
5/10
Great fun and great fitness. There are several dragon boating teams around Dubai that welcome men and women of all standards.
www.dubaidragonboat.com

Speedboating
Fear Factor:
5/10
Whizz around the Palm Jumeirah with five friends. It’s the most fun you’ll have had in a long time (expect to get wet and windblown).
Dhs1,200 for a two hour trip for six people. Arabia Horizons (04 294 6060)

Wakeboarding
Fear Factor:
6/10
Invented in the ’80s by surfers without available surf, Dubai’s waters are great for beginners. Master the ‘half-cab’ (that’s a switch-stance frontside 180, of course).
Dhs140 for 15 minutes. One& Only Royal Mirage (04 399 9999)

Deep-Sea Fishing
Fear Factor:
4/10
Fishing from land in Dubai requires a licence; luckily, the best action happens 10 miles out. Ask to do ‘troll’ fishing to catch barracudas.
Dhs2,500 for four-hour group fishing trip. Xclusive Yachts (04 432 7233)

Scuba diving
Fear Factor:
8/10
Dive with whale sharks in Musandam, then learn how to explore like an underwater scientist on the National Geographic course.
Dhs550 for an open-water discovery trip, Dhs1,400 for Nat Geo. Al Boom Diving, Al Wasl Road (04 342 2993)

Sailing
Fear Factor:
7/10
Want to sail the ocean? Beginners start with the Royal Yachting Association two-day course, during which you’ll learn nifty manoeuvres like jibbing (sailing downwind).
Dhs1,500 for two-day course. Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, www.rya.org.uk, www.dosc.ae

Kayaking
Fear Factor:
5/10
You can paddle across to the Palm from the Hilton at JBR. But how does kayaking differ from canoeing? The kayaker’s sitting position and the number of paddle blades. So there.
Dhs100 for one hour. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 399 1111)

Skimboarding
Fear Factor:
3/10
Run along the beach, drop your board in the shallow water and ‘skim’ along the surface, doing skateboard-style tricks. There’s a free open day at Black Palace Beach on Al Sufouh Road on March 19, noon-4pm.
Call Simon at ACT Marine (050 672 1351)

Waterparks
Aquaventure
Fear Factor:
6/10
There are dolphins, sharks, flumes, restaurants and the 27.5m near-vertical Leap of Faith – and don’t forget the 7km beach.
Entry Dhs140 for UAE residents. Atlantis, The Palm (04 426 0000)

Dreamland aquapark
Fear Factor:
2/10
Try out old-school rides before scoffing nachos and sipping drinks (this is the UAE’s only licensed waterpark) in a moat. Seriously.
Entry Dhs135 per person. Umm Al Quwain (06 768 1888)

Iceland waterpark
Fear Factor:
5/10
This vast park stretches across more than 100,000 sq m and claims to be the largest in the world. Ice Land certainly has a ‘wow’ factor, with attractions including a full-size water football pitch, a man-made waterfall complete with caves, plus an Olympic-sized lap pool for serious swimmers.
Entry Dhs225 for adults, Dhs175 for kids under 1.2m tall, free for kids under 0.8m tall. www.icelandwaterpark.com (800 969725)

Wild Wadi
Fear Factor:
7/10
Brave the new Tantrum Alley downhill waterslide: your raft shoots up 180 degrees before plummeting down and catapulting you up the other side. Mind-blowing.
Entry Dhs205 per person. www.jumeirah.com (04 348 4444)


Alternative

Paintballing
Fear Factor:
7/10
You don’t have to trek to Sharjah to paintball! Just beware of ‘bouncers’: a paintball that makes contact but doesn’t break. Ouch.
From Dhs85 per person. Paintball Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 4755)

Archery
Fear Factor:
4/10
Test your skills on a target or field range with these local enthusiasts. Fact: the Archery World Cup final was held in Dubai in 2007.
Dhs80 per person. Dubai Archers, Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club (04 314 5555)

Laserquest
Fear Factor:
5/10
Dubai Laserdrome offers a combat game using lasers (think paintball without the pain), set in a 400 sq m medieval castle complete with Day-Glo decor. Time Out tip: make sure your guns works before you start.
Dhs80 per person for 15 minutes. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City (04 367 8700)

Skateboarding
Fear Factor:
7/10
It isn’t just for the kids: Rage Skate Bowl is great for those who know how to skate, but adult lessons are also on offer. They also run events (many, curiously, called ‘Hammertime’).
Dhs25 for two hours, adult lesson Dhs100. Rage, Skate Bowl, The Dubai Mall, www.rage-shop.com (04 434 1549)

Snowboarding
Fear Factor:
7/10
Go snowboarding in the desert in a giant fridge: Ski Dubai’s freestyle zone has jumps and rails that change on a regular basis, plus fortnightly freestyle nights. Join for three months for Dhs2,500 and get discounts on all sorts of snow-related stuff.
Dhs180 for two-hour slope access; Dhs150 for a discovery lesson. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, www.skidxb.com

Skiing
Fear Factor:
6/10
Ski Dubai is great for beginner lessons in a controlled environment, but can get repetitive for ski bunnies. There were rumours of a ski resort opening in Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Jees Mountain back in 2008, though we haven’t heard much about that lately.
Dhs150 for a group lesson, Dhs595 for one-on-one lesson, Dhs180 for two-hour slope access. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (800 534 7873)

Ice skating
Fear Factor:
6/10
When the heat is on, hit the ice – Dubai has three rather good ice rinks where you can skate for fun or learn how to be the next Michelle Kwan… or Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory.
Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha: Dhs70 per lesson (04 337 1234). Dubai Mall Ice Rink: Dhs150 per lesson (04 448 5111). Galleria Ice Rink, Hyatt Regency, Deira: from Dhs15 per session (04 209 6550)


Motor

Quad biking
Fear Factor:
8/10
Four-wheel desert biking is addictive, but surprisingly dangerous (bikes weigh about 110kg, and it’s possible to fall under your wheels) so book at this reputable spot.
Dhs349 for 45 minutes, including pick-up and drop-off from Dubai. Desert Rangers, various locations (04 357 2233)

Dune-bashing
Fear Factor:
8/10
You’ll drive deep into the desert near Big Red – a huge sandy hill that sits prominently on the horizon. Ask your driver to go full throttle and you’ll fly over the dunes, coast down hills at 45-degree angles and possibly experience the most nail-biting journey of your life.
Dhs200 per person. Oasis Palm Tourism (04 268 6826)

Karting
Fear Factor:
6/10
Live out your boy- (or girl-) racer fantasies at the Autodrome’s kart track. Racers who complete the course in under 1 minute 14 seconds are allowed to drive the super-speedy RX250 karts.
From Dhs100 for 15 minutes. Dubai Autodrome, near Arabian Ranches, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).

Blokarting
Fear Factor:
8/10
Think of blokarting as landlocked sailing. Powered by a large wind-catching sail fixed to the back of an engineless go-kart, a blokart can be assembled in a matter of minutes and fits into a rucksack the size of a bodyboard, meaning you can blokart wherever there’s a breeze.
Dhs550 per couple per hour. Dreamdays (800 2080). Buy your own blokart from Go Sports at Ibn Battuta and Mall of the Emirates from Dhs8,000 for a full starter kit

Powerboating
Fear Factor:
5/10
The difference between a powerboat and a speedboat? Powerboats simply have more power: they’re more streamlined and faster. Do a course to learn the rules of the sea and how to control one.
Dhs2,500 for a two-day course. www.marine-charter-concept.com (055 960 3030)

Jet-Skiing
Fear Factor:
7/10
Hurtle around on a scooter of the sea at speeds of up to 70kph. It’s not legal to hire them in Dubai, but you can in Ajman (now there’s a slogan!).
Dhs150 for 20 minutes. Kempinski Ajman, www.kempinski.com (06 714 5555)


Exploring

Climbing
Fear Factor:
7/10
Dorrell Climbing’s The Wall is the tallest in the UAE, at just over 15 metres high – and it’s right in the city centre, at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Dhs75 for an intro lesson. Dorrell Climbing, www.climbingdubai.com (04 306 5061)

Off-road cycling
Fear Factor:
6/10
Despite the car being king in Dubai, the city has a great cycling scene. Local bike group Hot Cog holds weekly rides around the region, though only experienced riders should apply.
Free (riders must provide all equipment). web.mac.com/lavadesign1/hot-cog-mtb, andy@lavadesign.biz (056 170 8087)

Canyoning
Fear Factor:
9/10
Master the art of scrambling through canyons via whatever means possible. Try 100m-high ziplines through Via Ferrata Snake Canyon, or abseiling 150m into Oman’s Grand Canyon.
Dhs300 per trip. www.holiday-in-oman.com (050 3289 642)

Hiking
Fear Factor:
7/10
Join a guided tour to trek the two secret staircases built into the cliff faces at Wadi Khab Al Shamsi and explore the old settlements at the top. Fascinating.
Dhs350 per person, minimum two people. Absolute Adventure, Dibba (04 345 9900)

Camel Polo
Fear Factor:
7/10
A minimum of eight players can hop on a camel (each!) and play polo. As it’s now race season, the company requires a minimum two weeks’ notice to book a field.
Dhs690 per person. Gulf Ventures (04 404 5918)

Snorkelling
Fear Factor:
6/10
Fujairah’s Snoopy Island holds the local crown for watery wonders, including turtles and (harmless) reef sharks.
Dhs75 for entry to Sandy Beach Hotel beach. www.sandybm.com/diving (09 244 5555)

Horse riding
Fear Factor:
5/10
The friendly Mushrif Park Equestrian Club in the mammoth, amazingly green park offers a relatively affordable way to learn to trot.
Dhs150 for a 30-minute lesson. Mushrif Park, Mirdif (04 257 1256)

Swimming with dolphins
Fear Factor:
7/10
Spend 30 minutes in Atlantis’s shallow waters playing ball with captive dolphins.
Dhs790 per person. Dolphin Bay, Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 1030)

Falconry
Fear Factor:
5/10
Learn how to train and fly these powerful predators of the sky. Dating back 3,000 years, it’s still a firm part of Arabic culture (we’ve even heard that certain airlines provide falcon stands in business-class flight cabins).
Dhs1,000 per lesson. Shaheen Extreme, near Al Ain, www.shaheenxtreme.com

Camping
Wadi Madbah, Oman
Fear Factor:
5/10
Plunge into the wadi’s deep pool, fed by a waterfall in this rocky nook. Pick a route and hike your way through wadis and gorges.
190km from Dubai, close to the UAE border

White Beach, Oman
Fear Factor:
7/10
The coastline from Muscat to Sur is spectacular, and the blue ocean is ideal for snorkelling. Drive your 4x4 onto the beach and pitch a tent anywhere.
Between Quriyat and Tiwi (west of Muscat)

Khor Kalba
Fear Factor:
6/10
When this mangrove area’s tide is low, it’s possible to explore the mud flats on foot; when it’s high, Explorer Tours offers kayak trips. Take a dip at sunrise.
Dhs300 per adult, including transport. www.explorertours.ae (04 286 1994)

Dhaid
Fear Factor:
6/10
You need a 4x4 to get to Fossil Rock at Jebel Maleihah – 90 minutes from Dubai, it’s primed for camping, quad biking and dune bashing.
Exit 9, Sharjah Airport Road, www.discovernomad.com (050 885 3238)

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