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The town on the east coast of the UAE offers several options to visitors to unwind. Image Credit: Mubashshira Khilji/Gulf News reader

A nine-day break calls for an adventure, so how about exploring the mountains of the UAE? The Hajar mountains are a great place to visit, even if you are not a seasoned off-road driver. This is because all popular tourist locations are catered to with well-built roads that give you the perfect experience for a road trip.

Khorfakkan, an exclave of Sharjah on the east coast of the country, is a great place to visit during the Eid Al Fitr break, because it offers some newly built tourist attractions, lots of rest areas enroute that make it suitable for families with children, as well as hiking trails and off-roading options for those seeking an adventurous experience.

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Make the most of your public holiday by packing your supplies and heading down to Khorfakkan.

Which road should I take to go to Khorfakkan?

Shees rest house

Khorfakkan Road – S142 – is the best route to take so that you can stop at all the top tourist attractions in Khorfakkan. If you are coming from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you can get on the S142 from E611 – Emirates Road – right after you pass the iconic Sharjah mosque to your right.

If you are coming from Sharjah city, Ajman or the other Northern Emirates, get on to Al Dhaid Road, E88, which will connect you to S142, via the E611 exit.

Once you are on S142, you will need to drive straight for 70km, to get to your first stop in Khorfakkan.

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1. Shees Rest Area

The Shees Valley, or Wadi Shees, has recently been developed to offer several family friendly options to visitors. At the Shees Rest Area, which will be your first stop in the valley, you can visit the newly opened market to enjoy fresh produce and local delights, such as lugaimat and regag. The rest area also has a free children’s play area and an outdoor theatre.

Take the exit from Shees Rest Area and you will head towards Shees Park, which spans 11,300 square kilometre. From play areas, to dedicated barbecue pits and a man-made 25-metre-high waterfall, it’s a great place to relax with family and friends.

Once you’re done with the visit to the park, get back on the mountain terrain and drive further down to Wadi Shees. If you have a four-wheel drive, you can even enjoy driving down the mountain trails.

2. Al Rafisah Dam

The Al Rafisah dam is another place that will give you the perfect shots for your next social media post. You need to drive down for around 15 minutes from the Shees Rest Area to get there. Originally built in the 1980s, the dam had an upgrade recently, with a new visitor centre and rest area. This location also has a play area for children, kayaking options for visitors, an island where you can explore wildlife, as well as shops and cafes.

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2. Najd Al Maqsar Heritage Village

Another four minutes of driving from the Al Rafisah dam will take you to your next stop – the heritage village of Najd Al Maqsar, which you will be able to spot from the dam itself. This charming little village on top of the Hajar moutains has historical monuments dating back to 2000 BC, giving you a chance to explore the UAE’s heritage. Within a short walk, you can reach the top of the mountain where the upper fort, which used to defend the village some three centuries ago, was located.

4. Al Suhub Rest House

Once you have taken a trip down the UAE’s history, how about heading to the highest point in Khorfakkan? The Al Suhub Rest House is a 15-minute drive away, and the drive itself can be a great experience, as you wind around the mountains, heading towards the peak.

The ‘cloud lounge’, which is part of the Al Suhub Rest House is a mountain-side rest stop, at the highest point in Khorfakkan, 583 metres above sea level. Once you are there, you can enjoy the views of Khorfakkan from the top or visit the restaurant there.

5. Al Rabi Hiking Trail

If you are up for exploring the mountains on foot, you can visit the Al Rabi Hiking trail, for which you will need to get closer to the coastline. Just head back to the road you came from – the Khorfakkan Ring Road – and from there, connect with the Al Rabi Hiking Trail Road, and you will find the start of the hiking trail to your right.

The trail extends up the mountain path for 1,600 metres and once you reach the mountain top, you will be able to explore the Rabi tower, which was built in 1915 as part of a network of defencel systems used to protect the city, and also enjoy mountain and beach views.

6. Khorfakkan old market – Souq Sharq

Once you are back in your car, a great stop to go to next is Souq Sharq, which is just a seven-minute drive away and allows you to start discovering spots along Khorfakkan’s pristine coastline.

The market has been restored to provide visitors with the experience of shopping, as if they were in a market many decades ago. The market has many shops that bring back professions from the olden days, from a carpenter and pearl merchant, to a blacksmith and baker.

The market is located just off S104 (Corniche Street), near the heritage museum.

7. Khorfakkan waterfalls and amphitheatre

A great way to end your road trip is to visit the stunning Khorfakkan Waterfalls, which are a 10-minute drive down from the souq, along the coastline.

The 45 metre-high waterfall is located right next to the Khorfakkan Amphitheatre, which is inspired by Roman architecture. The amphitheatre covers over 1,700 square metres and can accommodate over 3,500 spectators and also has restaurants and cafes nearby.

Both these locations offer a great place to take pictures and call an end to your road trip.

Even if you don’t visit all the spots listed above, Khorfakkan offers many options to just unwind and relax – from lighting up a barbecue with friends or enjoying water sports at the beach.