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Do you think Dubai is all about luxury hotels, towering skyscrapers, and extravagant shopping malls?

Yes, the city boasts architectural wonders that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. And it definitely has it’s fair share of incredible luxury hotels.

But while many choose to relax in spas and shop for signature brands, there’s an increasing number of tourists who visit Dubai for the many outdoor activities it offers. Never one to be outdone, plenty of exhilarating adventures await you on land, sea, and in the air!

Things to do in Dubai for Adventure Seeking Thrill Seekers

Skydiving

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a bird’s eye view of the world’s tallest building, a man-made archipeligo, and the world’s largest dancing fountain? You can do just that with Skydive Dubai!

Plummet down these jaw-dropping attractions at unimaginable speeds. Head over to the top of the Dubai Marina, where you’ll be strapped to an instructor who accompanies you in this one-of-a-kind adventure.

A free-fall off a plane above the Palm Jumeirah should provide an adrenaline rush like no other! Take in views of the shimmering Persian Gulf, and a panorama of the spectacular city which is Dubai.

Spot international landmarks like the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel and the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) from the air, and gaze over acres of desert – more sand than you could possibly comprehend.

Kitesurfing and Wakeboarding

If you’re more of a beach person, then kitesurfing and wakeboarding are your best bet. While Dubai boasts a long coastline, many beaches are private property. Thankfully, many hotels are situated near public beaches.

In Umm Suqiem, for instance, you can have an enjoyable time at the beach and join some water sports activities. Beginners can take lessons, which are surprisingly affordable.

Be sure to check out what public beaches are near your accommodation as you find Dubai hotels booking online.

Desert Camping

With all the skyscrapers in Dubai, it’s easy to forget that the city is surrounded by sand. Why not spend one night away from your hotel room and set up camp in the vast Arabian desert?

Many locals bring tourists to sand dunes where different dune sports can be played. You can camp pretty much anywhere, which also makes for an exciting opportunity to stargaze come nighttime.

desert-africa-bedouin-footprints

Climbing and Hiking

There are many dedicated climbers who develop mountain trails to promote hiking both to locals and tourists. Each year, more tourists join climbing and hiking tours to explore the mountains and vast stretches of land of the Emirates.

One of the most popular is the Hajar Mountains, which rise to 10,000 feet. “Located a short day trip from Dubai, this splendid mountain range is the highest in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Reef and Wreck Diving

When it comes to water adventures, look beyond the Red Sea and try the underwater activities in the emirates. The coastline of Dubai offers some breathtaking wreck dives.

For one, you can see the Anchor Barge, which sunk in 1998. Further from the shore is Fujairah, where you can spot black-tipped reef sharks, moral eels, and parrotfish.

Diving Scuba RF

Off Roading

Some say that any trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete with an off-road adventure. You’ve probably seen tourists in a 4×4 ride, gripping tightly as expert drivers skid down steep sands at incredible speeds and uncanny angles.

You can even sit behind the wheel of a 4×4 and have a go at it yourself if you wish!

Sea Kayaking

The Arabian Peninsula is blessed with plenty of sea kayaking areas. On the west coast, the mangroves in Abu Dhabi and Umm Al Quwain can be accessed by kayakers.

The Khor Kalba on the east coast also offers plenty of attractions, as this 1,500-hectare mangrove forest serves as a home to local wildlife.

OUR FAVORITE DUBAI TRAVEL GUIDES. CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE↓

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    28 Comments

  1. Oh gosh my husband is so going to love this article! He’s all about the adrenaline rush (I’m so not!) and has been talking of Skydiving for a bit. The view from the top of Palm Jumeirah is absolutely amazing, look at that! I’m passing this over to him as well, it’ll help to bump Dubai up on our bucket list, thank you Meg!

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Danila, and I hope your husband can get some fun ideas from our list! Dubai is probably one of the most incredible places in the world to Skydive – with the Palm Jumeirah, the cityscape, and the desert, it’s quite the view!!

  2. Do in Rome as the Romans do, so in Dubai, I would choose Desert camping. I would be fun to sleep under the stars surrounded by golden sand all around. I wonder how it would be on a full moon night to see the layers of dunes. I missed one such opportunity in Wadi Rum in Jordan.

    Off-roading is another adventure that is worth exploring. It is really adventurous and the heart goes up and down as the vehicle goes up and down.

    • Very true! Spending time in the Desert is such an incredible experience, and you really can’t beat sleeping under the stars! Oh wow you’re right – I bet the dunes would look absolutely incredible on nights of a full moon!

      We combined off roading with our desert adventure – the drivers are pretty crazy lol which makes it all the more fun of course :D

    • Hi Anu,

      I would like to let you know you must be more than 4 people if you want to book the overnight desert safari. I personly work at safari camp and as far as I know, every company required at least 4 people for overnight safari. SO plan your trip accordingly.

    • Thanks for sharing your knowledge Usman – a very good tip!

  3. I would love to do desert camping – I imagine the sounds of the desert are eery and being able to look up at the stars without light pollution. I love the sound of reef / wreck diving to see Anchor Barge, although I’ve never dived before so would maybe start with snorkelling! I love the idea of skydiving over Palm Jumeirah, what a view of this unique man-made island – perhaps one day I’ll have the guts to do it ;-)

    • Sounds like you would love Dubai Hannah! I hope you do have the chance to visit soon – and a little trick I did with Skydiving was that I paid the day before haha that way I would go through with it not wanting to have wasted my money :D

  4. We loved our stay in Dubai. I remember sitting on the beach and watching the skydivers jumping out of the planes all day and thinking maybe next time! Anything in the sea is good as the water temperature is so warm. One thing we didn’t do and regret not visiting, is a trip into the desert.

    • It is actually quite fun to watch them in the sky coming down from a jump too. And true that the water is like bath water! Sounds like you have a couple of great excuses to plan another trip back to Dubai soon :)

  5. While this is a really nice list of adventurous things to do in Dubai Meg, there are a few I’d like to add to the list. These are not exactly in Dubai but not too far either, in the neighbouring Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah (another emirates) has recently opened the world’s longest zipline on Jebel Al Jais mountain and also, in Abu Dhabi, once can do Mangroves Kayaking which is quite cool. And although ‘shark diving’ in an aquarium isn’t the coolest thing in the world, it is also something one can do at the Dubai Aquarium, in Dubai Mall. Not to forget, Skiing on the artificial ski slope in Ski Dubai :)

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Medha, and thanks for the extra suggestions in the neighbouring Emirates :) The world’s longest zipline is definitely something I would make a day trip to do, and mangroves kayaking does sound cool too. I did see the indoor ski slope in Ski Dubai when I was there, though didn’t have time to give it a go. Will have to head back again soon!

  6. Sky dive is thrilling but I am not sure if I would have the courage to do it. Camping is something I would definitely enjoy. What about sand dune bashing? That too is an interesting activity from Dubai.

    • Sand dune bashing was probably one of my favorite activities in Dubai – I called it off roading in this post, but maybe I should edit it to dune bashing if that’s a term people are more familiar with :)

  7. My bestfriend recently went to Dubai and work for good, and I didn’t know there was really so much things and activities to do apart from the luxury hotels and shopping malls, which I was excited for.

    The skydiving experience could be best done here in dubai, I’m loving the view it could provide :))

    • Glad we could give you an overview of Dubai’s more adventurous side then Nathalie :) And with a friend in Dubai, it sounds like you have the perfect excuse to visit!

  8. Wow, I’m actually surprised there is so much to do outdoors in Dubai. I’m most facinated by the desert camping and hiking. I wonder if its unbearably hot, though. In any case, relaxing at a spa after any one of those activities, would be worth it. I’m glad to know there is more to Dubai than skyscrappers and shopping malls!!

    • Absolutely, Dubai has such a cool outdoor recreation scene – and you’re totally right, use the luxury spas as a great way to decompress and relax after an adrenaline high! Dubai it hot, but I didn’t find it unbearably so. More so when you’re in the middle of the desert, but the tours always seem to have cold drinks on hand to cool down :)

  9. I wouldn’t mind camping in the desert, but I am sure my daughter would be much more keen to try skydiving. Seeing all those massive manmade structures from above would be beautiful. And shipwreck diving would also be a treat. Black-tipped reef sharks aren’t at all dangerous to humans, are they?

    • The great thing about Dubai is that there’s something for everyone, so while you’re camping perhaps she can wave at you from the plane :D

      And no, the blacktip reef shark is not an extremely dangerous species – it’s pretty timid and skittish most of the time :)

  10. I would definitely try Reef and Wreck Diving and Camping in the desert. Skydiving is not for my stomach! Isn’t there a place where you can snowboard as well?

    • There is indeed – Ski Dubai has an artificial ski slope inside Mall of the Emirates; it’s the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and offers an amazing snow indoor activities :) I think it’s something like the third largest indoor ski slope in the world – super fun if you’re into snow sports.

  11. Have you tried overnight desert safari?I recently tried it and sleeping under under stars was a fantastic experience.

    Give it try next time.

    • Hi Shedi, we did an evening safari but haven’t done an overnight. Will have to try the overnight option next time!

  12. I would love to do desert camping – I imagine the sounds of the desert are eery and being able to look up at the stars without light pollution. I love the sound of reef/wreck diving to see Anchor Barge, although I’ve never dived before so would maybe start with snorkeling! I love the idea of skydiving over Palm Jumeirah, what a view of this unique man-made island – perhaps one day I’ll have the guts to do it ;-)

    • Absolutely, it’s silence like you’ve never experienced before when you’re that far removed from the city. Desert camping is my favorite, there’s just a sense of incredible stillness and calm :)

      You could maybe start with indoor skydiving as a way to get up the courage to try an actual plane jump. They seem to be popping up all over the place nowadays – super fun too!

      Thanks for reading Fatima :)

  13. Dubai is one of the Adventures places in the world.
    like Skydiving in Dubai at Desert Campus dropzone and Palm Drop Zone.

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