From left: Surfing, formula driving, rock climbing and skydiving are just some of the activities you can do in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied pictures

Shark diving

Danger factor: 7
Skill level: 8

There's nothing quite like that heart-racing feeling when you come face to face with the most powerful creatures in the ocean - sharks. UAE waters offer the rare chance to see black tip reef sharks in their natural habitat with no glass or cages to block your view. If you're really lucky you may even see a whale shark - the nine-metre beasts have previously been spotted in the area.

Price: Dh350, with kit hire.

Details: Dive at Fujairah's Dibba Rock or Snoopy Island, a hot spot for black tip reef sharks, with Al Boom Diving, 04-342-2993, www.alboomdiving.com

Rock climbing

Danger factor: 8
Skill level: 8

The UAE offers one natural high you'll experience in few places - desert climbing. Decent routes are available in the region and come in the form of limestone faces as high as 500 metres. Once you've mastered the basics at a climbing wall, try one of the country's popular climbing spots including Hatta crag, Wadi Sharjah and Wadi Ghalilah in Ras Al Khaimah for amazing views.

Price: Dh62 per hour session.

Details: Indoor lessons at the Cleopatra Fitness Club on 04-324-0000, www.uaeclimbing.com

Hot air ballooning

Danger factor: 5
Skill level: 1

Hear the burners roar and hiss and feel the vessel gently rise more than 600 metres, with nothing but a wicker basket and fabric balloon stopping you from crashing to the ground. As you hover over desert landscapes, rarely touched by foot, you'll silently sneak up on grazing gazelles and falcons hunting their prey. The rush, however, comes during landing - which is not as easy as the pilots make it look.

Price: Dh995 per person.

Details: Flights last approximately one hour and take off from a desert oasis north of Al Ain. Daily flight times vary depending on sunrise. Contact Balloon Adventures on 04-285-4949, www.ballooning.ae


Danger factor: 6
Skill level: 7

Surfing isn't dangerous in the UAE, so Dubai is the perfect place to develop your skills and still take on world-class breaks. The sport can be as extreme as you make it. On one hand, professional surfers ride faces as high as 30 metres and surf waves surrounded by harsh currents and razor-sharp coral, and on the other, parents push their kids onto mellow waves. Either way, whether you're a pro or a beginner, the euphoric feeling is the same - once you catch your first wave you're hooked and the quest for bigger and better rides begins.

Price: Dh175 for a private express surf lesson, including 20 minutes instruction, board rental and one-hour free rental.

Details: Surf lessons take place on Umm Suqeim Beach, contact Surf Dubai to book on 050-504-3020, surfingdubai.com

Dune buggying

Danger factor: 5
Skill level: 5

These off-road go-karts make for a thrilling (and fairly safe) morning scramble over the dunes. They come with all-terrain tyres, a full roll cage, bucket seats and safety harnesses, meaning you can jump dunes, race and fling yourself about to your heart's content. Those confident at navigating can lead a convoy and explore the desert spots that are awkward to reach by 4x4.

Price: Dh500

Details: Hire vehicles for morning or afternoon session from Desert Rangers by calling 04-357-2233, desertrangers.com  


Danger factor: 5
Skill level: 5

Snowboarding meets skateboarding meets sand in this sport invented in the Eighties, which has evolved to include ramps, slalom, grabs, 360s and back flips. Absolutely anyone can sandboard (it doesn't hurt when you fall off), but be prepared to get a workout climbing back up the sandy hills.

Price: Dh250

Details: Cruise into the desert by 4x4 then climb the dunes and strap on your board. Book a driver and gear with North Tours by calling 04-357-2200, www.northtours.net


Danger factor: 9
Skill level: 7

Dubai's winter winds and turquoise seas are the ideal conditions to try this exhilarating outdoor sport, which uses only a kite and a board to propel the rider along the ocean's surface, while they attempt to flip and jump in the air. This adventure sport, derived from wakeboarding, surfing, paragliding, and windsurfing, looks pretty tame, but get these power kites into strong winds and one wrong move could launch you hundreds of feet into the sky, causing you to splat onto the surface below.

Price: A one-hour lesson costs Dh300 per person (or Dh200 per person per hour with two people in the group).

Details: Lessons take place on Nessnass Beach, behind Sunset mall in Jumeirah. Here students learn how to fly a power kite and ride on the water. Contact White Water Sports on 050-226-5134 to book.



Danger factor: 10
Skill level: 10

Daredevils should try zooming across the desert by motorbike this season, and experience one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. Motocross riders are infamous for breaking bones, but they keep coming back for more because the sport is such an adrenaline rush. The UAE's sizable desert mounds are a professional biker's dream, but if they're a little intimidating for you as a beginner on two wheels, start out at the 1,600-metre Motocross Park in Jebel Ali, complete with drop-offs and tabletops, where you can practice manoeuvres and jumps.

Price: A one-to-one lesson costs Dh500, bike hire costs a further Dh500.

Details: Tailor-make a private lesson to your riding ability and choice of terrain with Sandstorm, call 04-339-5608 to book.

Formula Driving

Danger factor: 8
Skill level: 7

This single seater experience at Dubai Autodrome is as close as it gets to the real deal. They'll strap you into a 180bhp car and set you loose on the circuit, where you'll experience 0-100kph in four seconds and smell rubber as you crank the car around the track.

Price: Dh875.

Details: Instructors will kit you out in racing gear and a helmet, brief you, and line you up to race for 20 minutes on the track. Call 04-367-8700 to book, dubaiautodrome.com


Launch yourself from a small plane and plummet towards The Palm Jumeirah from 4,000 metres in the air. First-time jumpers will experience the ultimate rush strapped to a professional skydiver, who'll pull your chute after 20 seconds of free falling. After the ride of your life, you'll gently hover down to the drop zone and probably want to go right back up and do it again.

Price: Dh1,750

Details: Fly tandem from 4,000 metres and get a video, photographs and a certificate for free. Call 050-154-2992 to book, skydivedubai.ae