Al Rafisah Dam.
Khorfakkan is the largest town in Sharjah's East Coast. According to Visit Sharjah the coastal town is situated 137 kms east of Sharjah, about halfway between Dibba and Fujairah. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Wondering what to do with your family during the long summer break? How about taking a short road trip down to Khorfakkan, a beach town on UAE’s east coast.

In Khorfakkan, you can experience the rugged Hajar Mountains and pristine beaches and enjoy visiting many places that bring you close to Nature for free.

1. Al Rafisah Dam

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or Nature lover, then Al Rafisah Dam has to be on your travel checklist this summer. The water reservoir is surrounded by the Hajar mountains, green landscapes and a man-made waterfall.

Originally built in the 1980s, the dam had an upgrade with a new visitor centre and rest area. The dam holds the waters of the Wadi Shees, a river that trickles down through the Hajar mountains, according to Visit Sharjah, the official tourism website of the emirate.

The travel to Al Rafisah Dam only takes one hour from Sharjah City, if you take the Sharjah-Khor Fakkan highway.

You will also find a rest area, a mosque, outdoor play areas for children, a parking lot, a supermarket and a restaurant with a lake view.

 Al Rafisah Dam.
Al Rafisah Dam is a water reservoir surrounded by the Hajar mountains, and also includes man-made waterfall. Image Credit: Visit Sharjah

4 things you can do at Al Rafisah Dam

- Kayaking
While visiting the dam is free of cost, you can also choose to kayak, or take pedal boats or doughnut boats. The cost is Dh30 for a single-person kayak and Dh250 for a family. While kayaking, you can spot exotic birds and a lake teeming with fishes and also enjoy views of the Hajar mountain range.

- The Walk
Visitors can also enjoy a walk around the 730m walkway, lined with palm trees and picnic areas, which leads to the mountain edge.

- The Waterfall
The waterfall located in Al Rafisah Dam is man-made and there are also several benches nearby, for visitors to relax.

- The Castle
Just a short climb up the stairs located along the side of the mountain is a castle, offering panoramic views of the dam and lake area.

2. Shees Park

Located in Wadi Shees, Shees Park is nestled between the Hajar mountains on the east coast of UAE. The area is directly accessible via Khorfakkan Road S142/E55.

The Wadi and the surrounding Hajar Mountain are represented by narrow mountain tracks. This area is best tackled with a 4x4 car, and along the way, you will find rocky outcrops, traditional settlements, farmland and date palm plantations.

The park area spans 11,300 square kilometre and includes a children’s play area, dedicated barbecue pits, shaded benches, and a man-made 25-meter-high waterfall.

Those looking to venture beyond the park can follow one of the tracks to Shees Valley for a scenic hiking trail. However, there are no rest spots on the trail, so visitors are advised to bring water, food, and appropriate footwear, according to Visit Sharjah.

Shees Park in Khor Fakkan, Sharjah.
Located in Wadi Shees, Shees Park is nestled between the Hajar mountains on the east coast of UAE. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

3. Khorfakkan Beach

From fishing and diving to parasailing and kayaking, this three-kilometre crescent-shaped beach hosts several water sports activities. You can explore the water on a relaxing swim or with a boat and jet ski, which you can rent from private operators at the corniche.

Just a short boat ride from the beach is a tiny island called ‘Shark Island’, where you can scuba dive and snorkel. These activities are carried out by private tour operators on the Khorfakkan beach.

Khorfakkan beach
Off the coast of Khorfakkan public beach, is a tiny island called ‘Shark Island’. Image Credit: Visit Sharjah

4. Al Suhub Rest Area

Al Suhub Rest Area is 600 metres above sea level, and offers a stunning panoramic views of the city. It includes a two-floor flying saucer-shaped building, with a diameter of 30 metres.

The ground floor includes a restaurant and a café and the rest area also includes a children’s play area and parking spaces.

To reach the top, you must first drive down S104 (Rugaylat Road) along the city’s coastline. You will see the route leading to the Al Suhub Rest Area between the Beach Park and the Khorfakkan Waterfalls.

The length of the road leading to the Suhub lounge is 6.5 km and includes two lanes for ascent and one for descent. The incline is not too steep, making it a safe and enjoyable drive.

Al Suhub Rest Area
According to Visit Sharjah, Al Suhub Rest Area is the highest point in Khorfakkan. Image Credit: Twitter/@KhorfakkanAmph

5. Khorfakkan Amphitheater and Waterfall

Inspired by Roman architecture, the Khorfakkan Amphitheater was inaugurated in 2020. It covers over 1,700 square metres and can accommodate over 3,500 spectators.

It was designed with a state-of-the-art cooling system, making it an ideal outdoor venue for events. The entire amphitheatre is lit up in the evening, and from the top, it offers sweeping views of the Khorfakkan Corniche.

Adjacent to the theatre, is the ‘Waterfall Cave’, which is a 45-metre-high waterfall. Although the waterfall is man-made, it was carved out of natural rock and is illuminated at night. The waterfall, too, was built with viewing windows at the top, which are open to the public. From there, visitors can watch the water flow down the rocks.

Amphitheater in Khor Fakkan
The Khorfakkan Amphitheater is inspired by Roman architecture, and can accommodate over 3,500 spectators. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News