Whether you want scintillating solo thrills, fast-paced family fun or an unforgettable team-building exercise, a brilliant range of water sports await you in Abu Dhabi.
There’s something to suit every age and ability – from surfing big waves through to serenely gliding across the glistening waters of the Arabian Gulf – and plenty of great locations right across Abu Dhabi where you can find your perfect activity.
The UAE’s capital offers all your favourite water sports as well as plenty of chance to try something new – with a list of activities that includes white water rafting, wakeboarding, paddleboarding, kayaking and flyboarding.
Read on to discover what’s available and get ready to take to the region’s waters to explore a different side of Abu Dhabi.
Head to Al Bateen Beach for the chance to begin a jet ski adventure. Captain Sam’s Jet Ski Tours & Rentals lets you pick from a selection of top jet ski brands and head out on your own adventure.
You can jet ski solo or share one with a partner or family member. From here you can power past the gorgeous scenery of Al Hudayriat Island, cruising by the imposing Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental hotel and round to the Corniche.
Its team of experts are on hand for professional tuition if you’re a newcomer – and you can even book on a tour to see Abu Dhabi’s sights from the water. Flyboards, boats and yachts can all be rented from here too.
For a water-based workout that’s family friendly and a little lower in intensity, try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in Abu Dhabi. SUP is great for your core and cardio, while helping with focus and balance.
Captain Tony’s – which also provides boat trips and cruises – is a reputable provider and one of the many great places to pick up the basics if you’ve never tried this activity before.
Located at the Eastern Mangroves Marina, you’ll be on the water for up to two hours, exploring the beauty of the natural reserves of the mangroves. Guided tours provide expert insight into the area. Once you’ve mastered the art of paddle boarding, you can head off on a solo adventure by yourself or with your family.
Wakeboarding is one of the most exhilarating ways to take to the water – and the purpose-built Al Forsan Sports Resort is perfectly poised to let you experience the rush for yourself.
While most wakeboarding involves being towed on a rope behind a speedboat while standing on a board, Al Forsan uses an innovative cable system that can accommodate several riders at once, meaning you won’t be waiting for a boat to return for you.
There are beginners and pro lakes, meaning you can dip your toes in the water for the first time at the slowest speed, and graduate to the faster lakes to perform tricks and turns. Friendly and patient tutors are ready and waiting to help beginners, while experts can take straight to the lake.
Abu Dhabi’s huge variety of water sport locations is one of the reasons why it’s such a great place to visit. Here’s where you’ll find three world class venues:
Al Bateen Beach is on Khalifa Al Mubarak Street, which is off Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street. Head east on this road past Zayed Sports City to join the E20 and head towards the airport.
Eastern Mangroves Marina can be found on Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street (E10). From the E10, follow the exit for Sultan Bin Zayed The First Street and then follow signs for Dhafeer Street.
Al Forsan Sports Resort can be found at the intersection of 12th and 15th Streets in Khalifa City. The E10 runs to the north of Khalifa City, the E20 to the south.
Getting wet is all part of the fun of water sports, so dress in – or pack – swimming clothes, as well as a change of attire if you’re planning on going somewhere afterwards.
Providers may have towels for you to use – but check in advance just in case.
Sunscreen and sun hats are also important, as the water can magnify the effect of the sun.
If you’re planning on stand-up paddleboarding (or kayaking) among the mangroves, then try to arrange to go in the morning. Not only is the temperature cooler, but it’s also the best time to spot local wildlife. Look for a provider that offers an early start and begin with a healthy breakfast on an island. It’s a restful way to see the very best of the area.
At the other end of the day – look out for jet ski, yacht or boat tours that take to the waters at sunset. The beautiful skies will be an unforgettable backdrop to your water sports activity.
You don’t have to have experience to take part in Abu Dhabi’s water sports activities. Many providers have expert tutors on hand to help you to learn and perfect the basics. However, age restrictions may apply so get in touch with your provider if you have questions.
It’s well worth booking water sports sessions in advance to ensure you won’t miss out. Some activities are particularly popular at weekends. If there is bad weather on the date you’ve booked, you might be able to get a refund or reschedule your session.
Generally, you have to be 15 years old to take part in water sports – although this will depend on the specific activity. With most providers, those under 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult. Stand-up paddleboarding and single-person kayaking tend to have a minimum age of 12. Younger children are allowed in double kayaks with adults.
Get a head start on the rest of the tourists with an early morning paddleboard from the Eastern Mangroves Marina. The animals come out to feed amid the still of dawn, so this is your best wildlife-spotting opportunity. Go here early and you’ll have combined a sporty activity with birdwatching and marine mammal spotting before most people have risen for breakfast.
That gives you plenty of time for more adrenaline-fuelled fun. Get your blood pumping with some jet skiing. Book an action-packed hour where you can race across the waters and explore the city’s landmarks from afar before returning to your chosen marina for lunch.
Top off the day with your most exciting adventure yet. Flyboarding in Abu Dhabi lets you soar above the water with a jetpack that catapults you into the air. Book a session with a tutor to find out how it’s done.
From the wildlife amid the mangroves to the shiny modern dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi, head to the waters in a kayak for a new perspective on Abu Dhabi.
Explore the crystal-clear waters of Abu Dhabi with diving and snorkelling - you can hunt for pearls at Yas Waterworld or discover fabulous dugongs on the seabed.
Discover the Emirati passion for horses with rides and lessons. Trot through unforgettable wildlife parks or treat the kids to a pony ride they’ll treasure.
All imagery provided by © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi