Aquatic bliss awaits when you go diving and snorkelling in Abu Dhabi. This is the perfect place to channel your inner underwater explorer, with wonderful sea life to discover in warm, gentle waters.
You can gently snorkel your way around the archipelago at your own pace, or head to a dive centre for tuition to learn the basics. Charter a boat to spend your day diving off the deck to see what you can find.
At Yas Waterworld you can even enjoy a pearl diving experience – where trained instructors help you hunt for three oysters in a tank. Once you’re done, you’ll discover more about them and have chance to take some treasure home with you.
Abu Dhabi’s coastal location gives you access to an underwater world which has the perfect conditions for those who love to snorkel, dive and swim. Its many islands combine with the warm water and reefs to create conditions loved by fish, turtles, sea mammals and more great wildlife that makes its home here.
If you and your fellow travellers aren’t confident divers, there’s still plenty to discover with gentle snorkelling – or book a lesson from a local expert. Young children and absolute beginners can start their snorkel journey in the shallow waters off the Corniche.
At the likes of Sir Bani Yas Island you’ll find perfect snorkelling conditions and might spot the local hammour fish as well as sea urchins, bream, snapper and stingrays.
Yas Waterworld is famous for its rides and slides that offer family-friendly fun – but it’s also home to an unusual pearl diving attraction – the only experience of its kind in the world.
Pearl diving was once one of the most lucrative professions in the UAE and is an important part of the region's heritage, with pearls sourced here once some of the finest and most coveted in the world.
On your trip you’ll be guided by qualified instructors and shown how to descend and discover oysters with just a pair of goggles. It’s fun activity that can be done by anyone aged eight and over – so it is perfect for young explorers too.
Successful divers attend an oyster opening ceremony and can take home their pearl as a memento – or have it incorporated into their choice of jewellery.
There are several diving schools across Abu Dhabi, catering for all levels from beginner to expert. Book with one of them and even more of the UAE capital’s underwater treasures will be opened up to you.
Al Mahara Diving Centre has a team of PADI qualified instructors and each can teach you everything you need to know about diving in Abu Dhabi. Diving deeper will let you see rare turtles and dugongs, barracudas, black tip reef sharks, honeycomb eels and pufferfish.
Learn the basics, brush up on your existing skills or, if you’re an experienced diver already, join a night dive where you might spot rays feeding, turtles dozing and some of the rarer reef life.
There are wonderful beaches and diving centres all across Abu Dhabi. Here are three of the best places for getting underwater.
Corniche Beach is easily reached from all parts of Abu Dhabi, with the E10 linking up with its north-eastern end and King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St connecting to the southern tip, near Emirates Palace.
Yas Waterworld can be found on Yas Island. Get here from the west on the E12 – which passes through Saadiyat Island. From central Abu DhabI, head towards the airport on the E10 to connect to the E12 and Yas Island.
The main Al Mahara Diving centre is located at the Beach Rotana Hotel, close to Al Maiyani Street. It’s near the E10’s western end.
The islands that make up Abu Dhabi’s archipelago contribute to promoting sea life and diversity, with numerous spots for shallow and deep diving. At the same time, the lack of strong tides or currents in the area means that sand remains undisturbed and ensures the water clarity is higher.
This clear water occurs in both shallow and deep areas, while temperatures are warm and pleasant for diving, snorkelling, swimming and water sports. Average temperatures top 25°C all year – reaching above 30°C in the summer.
Pearls are rare gems that have played an important part in Emirati culture and traditions dating back centuries. Summer pearl voyages were a vital part of the calendar, with the shallow waters surrounding Abu Dhabi proving ideal for divers.
In 2019, it’s thought that the world’s oldest natural pearl was discovered off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The fascinating find is estimated to be an incredible 8,000 years old – and suggests that the story of these gems dates back even further than historians thought.
While you can dive on your own without a certificate, professional dive centres will want you to complete this paperwork before you take part in their activities to ensure your safety. You should pick providers who are registered with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) – and there are plenty of these in Abu Dhabi.
Diving companies will have all of the essential safety and breathing equipment you need as part of your package. You just need to wear appropriate clothing for water-based fun.
If you haven’t taken snorkelling gear with you to Abu Dhabi, many hotels often have some for you to borrow. Or, they will be able to direct you to beach and dive shops that sell it.
Yes, companies such as Al Mahara offer junior scuba certifications for ten year olds and over and many activities are child-friendly.
Start your day by heading straight for the serene waters of Abu Dhabi. Dives start as early as 8am at the Beach Rotana resort, for example. The warm, tranquil waters offer the perfect conditions for a mix of snorkelling and boat rides, for all ages and abilities.
A day is all you need to learn to dive, so beginners can take the chance to learn this new skill and start off a new passion they’re bound to love.
Alternatively, take the opportunity to head to Yas Waterworld for the afternoon to try out its pearl diving experience. You’ll learn a lot and get the chance to come away with your own piece of treasure as a memento.
End the day in style with a night dive where you can spot brittle stars, cuttlefish and batfish and colourful corals.
See unique flora and fauna in Mangroves National Park by paddling through in a kayak. You can also hire a kayak to row around the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Super sports activities await all across Abu Dhabi. Try your hand at jet skiing, paddle boarding and wakeboarding, and the latest craze, flyboarding.
Weave your way around islands and mangroves, discover beautiful off-shore sights or dine on a traditional dhow.
All imagery provided by © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi