Arabia Outdoors organises hikes in the UAE and Oman every month. The day starts at 7am, when participants meet at a central point in Dubai. They then drive in convoy to the hike site and set off for a few hours of hiking with a guide, then travel back to Dubai by mid-afternoon. These outings are family friendly and cost Dh150 per person, not including snacks and water. The hikes are suitable for beginners, but they offer more challenging treks throughout the year.
Go further: This month, Dorell Sports (www.dorellsports.com) has started offering hiking tours with experienced trekkers in and around the UAE – check their website for details. Alternatively, try canyoning where your trek takes you through rockpools and rivers; Absolute Adventures (www.adventure.ae) offers canyoning trips to Wadi Wurayah for Dh350 per person. If you enjoy it, combine hiking and travel with a tailor-made adventure trip to Nepal with Dubaibased company Mountain Quests (www.mountainquests.com).
The UAE’s long, flat, empty roads outside of the cities are perfect for long trips on a thin-wheeled road bike. There are multiple groups that meet up weekly to do group rides, as well as events, competitions, social groups and training. Dubai Autodrome (www.dubaiautodrome.com) opens its doors on Wednesday evenings for CycleSafe
Dubai. For three hours, from 6pm to 9pm, people turn up and cycle (or jog, or Rollerblade) around the track. Dh20 for adults, free for children.
Go further: For something a bit more sociable, Dubai Roadsters (www.dubairoadsters.com) meets on Sunday and Tuesday evenings at 6pm at Nad Al Sheba for training rides and Friday mornings at 6am for long-distance rides (80km, 120km, or 140km). They also arrange regular rides around the emirates and their popular Coast to Coast Challenge (225km), which they run twice per year. Their regular rides are free – you just need your own equipment. Check their website for details of insurance requirements.
Start off by signing up for a beginners’ climbing course. Pharoah’s Club at Wafi (www.pharaohsclub.ae, 04-3240000) has an indoor climbing wall, and charges Dh62 non-members, or Dh50 members, for a 60-minute class. Once you have done some classes, it’s Dh40 to climb. The Wall (04-3065061, www.climbingdubai.com) at Trade Centre Apartments is an outdoor climbing wall. Dh90 for a 60-minute introduction, or Dh650 for eight classes with a maximum of three climbers. Once you’ve built up some experience, it costs Dh60 for a day pass, or Dh500 for ten climbs.
Go further: Arabia Outdoors organises climbing trips every month (Dh450 per person). For something a bit different, try Deep Water Soloing (DWS) where you climb a coast rock face without ropes... when you can’t go any further, you drop into the water. Musandam in Oman is a popular venue for DWS excursions. Hook up with climbing enthusiasts at the climbing walls to find out about informal climbing and DWS trips.
While Dubai itself is pretty boring for mountain bikers, other emirates – especially Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah – offer lots of opportunity for exciting mountain biking routes to challenge all levels. Absolute Adventures (www.adventure.ae) organises various mountain biking trips (prices start at Dh350), varying in difficulty level from moderate to extreme.
Go further: If you’re keen, sign up to a mountain biking group’s Facebook page, for example Dubikers, to get updates on group rides arranged over the weekends. If you want to invest in a good bike, try AdventureHQ (www.adventurehq.ae), Wolfi’s Bike Shop Dubai (www.wbs.ae), Trek (www.trekbikes.com) and Ride Bike Shop (www.ridebikeshop.com).
Surf Dubai (www.surfingdubai.com) offers private classes, group classes, couples classes, board rentals, birthday parties for kids and more. Classes start at Dh125 for a Group Express Surf Lesson (20 minutes of instruction followed by an hour board rental), or Dh175 for a Private Express Lesson. For something a little different you can combine surfing with fitness and sign up for the Girls Go Surfing course, which runs every Friday from 8.30-9.30am (Dh125 per session, or Dh400 for a month) and involves a mix of surfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and lifeguard training techniques.
Go further: Wadi Adventure (www.wadiadventure.ae) in Al Ain has a surfing pool where the waves can be changed to suit your skill level. Dh100 entrance and Dh100 for a 55-minute session in the surf pool.
Like diving but without an oxygen tank, freediving is growing in popularity globally. Divas In Dubai (www.divasindubai.com) offers freediving courses – prices start at Dh950 for the 1 Star Course, which gets you to a depth of 10 metres.
Go further: There is a growing freediving community in the UAE. Together they arrange regular freediving trips and outings as well as trips abroad and opportunities to learn under experienced freediving champions. Sign up to Freediving UAE (www.freedivinguae.com) to stay updated on what’s happening on the freediving scene.
There are many diving companies to choose from. One of the best is Pavilion Dive Centre (04-4068828) at Jumeirah Beach Hotel (www.jumeirah.com). To find out whether you like diving or not, try a Discover Scuba session (Dh325), which includes 90 to 120 minutes at the beach with a diving instructor, where you get to try out the equipment and diving in the shallow water off the beach. Available most mornings.
Go further: If you enjoy it, sign up for the Open Water Diving Course (Dh1,850 plus Dh130 for online learning). This involves three practical sessions in the swimming pool and two sessions in the open sea. It takes three to five days to complete the course. They do leisure and shipwreck dives for qualified divers, which cost Dh500 for two dives, including equipment and lunch.
If being pulled behind a speedboat while standing on a board is something that gets your heart racing with excitement, sign up for some wakeboarding lessons – Dh600 for a 60-minute class from Mark Andrew Kite School (www.markandrewkiteschool.com).
Go further: Although there doesn’t seem to be an active wakeboarding community that newcomers to the sport can join, ‘liking’ the Facebook pages of other water sports and adventure groups in the UAE is a good way to keep updated on any wakeboarding days planned that you can join.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
For a more chilled out (and much easier) version of surfing, try SUP where you stand on the board and use a paddle to propel yourself over the water. It’s becoming increasingly popular and you can rent SUPs from Kitesurf Beach near Al Manara Street for Dh35 per hour. If you would like a lesson first, Surf Dubai (www.surfingdubai.com) offers classes, starting at Dh175 for a Private Express SUP Lesson and Dh150 for a Group Express Lesson. Also, the Abu Dhabi Stand Up Paddle Club (www.abudhabisup.com) offers classes for Dh300 for a private
class, Dh250 for two people and Dh200 for a group.
Go further: Find the Dubai Stand Up Paddle Group on Facebook for details of fun SUP events, such as SUP-ing in fancy dress and SUP around the Burj Al Arab to raise money for charity.
Not one for the faint-hearted, kitesurfing is fast, furious and looks very dangerous. There is quite a social scene involved and it is undoubtedly one of the best workouts around. Lessons at Dubai Kitesurf School (www.dubaikitesurfschool.com) start at Dh250 per hour for a class with two people, or Dh300 per hour in a private lesson. Most lessons will take two hours. You can hire your kit for Dh350 per hour.
Go further: Invest in a kitesurf set: around Dh3,500 to Dh7,000 for brand-new, or around Dh1,500 to Dh2,500 for second-hand. Then hit Kitesurf Beach near Al Manara Street in Umm Suqeim, which is popular with kitesurfers.