If you want to get your heart racing, Dubai has you covered with thrilling activities from high in the sky to the deep blue sea.
On (or in) the water
The warm waters of the Arabian Gulf are perfect for all sorts of watersports. Along with conventional pursuits such as diving and windsurfing, Dubai offers more adrenaline-fuelled excursions, such as flyboarding. Essentially a water-powered jetpack strapped to the feet, a flyboard lets the brave soar into the air and even – with a bit more practice – perform impressive acrobatics. Book your flyboarding session through Hydro Water Sports, next to the Ritz-Carlton Dubai hotel at Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR), among other locations.
If you prefer your high-pressure water adventures to stay nearer to the shore, jet-skiing is both easy to do and enormously fun. You'll find plenty of places to hire one in Dubai Marina, or at the city's leading seafront hotels.
For those in pursuit of a challenge, wakeboarding offers a combination of high speeds, a bit of a learning curve and some of the biggest thrills available. Being pulled on a board behind a boat sounds straight-forward, but once you master staying upright, you can ace fancy moves. Parasailing also involves being pulled by a boat – but with a large parachute-like sail attached to you. Here, physics does all the work, lifting you into the sky for stunning views of Dubai’s coastline. Both wakeboarding and parasailing sessions booked via Sky & Sea Adventures.
You can find more controlled water-based entertainment at Dubai’s waterparks. Laguna Waterpark at La Mer, a lifestyle destination in Jumeirah, has five high-speed water slides, as well as plenty of other fun activities suitable for all ages. The city is also home to other popular waterparks, where you can slip and slide on record-breaking rides.
Test out your head for heights
The tallest building in the world isn’t the only super high experience Dubai has to offer. XLine Dubai Marina is the world’s longest, fastest and steepest urban zipline: speed across the Marina at around 80km/h from a height of 170m – and enjoy it all over again thanks to the video recorded by a camera attached to your helmet. Sign up at the XLine desk in Dubai Marina Mall.
If a zipline isn’t high enough for you, then try jumping out of a plane. Skydive Dubai offers tandem skydives for just about anyone – as well as skydiving lessons or solo jumps for more experienced skydivers. Choose from their desert dropzone, or for an unforgettable skydiving experience, jump over the Palm Jumeirah for the absolute best view of the island and the cityscape.
Ready to roll? Take Dubai's best rollercoasters for a spin at the city's famed theme park destinations – Dubai Parks and Resorts and IMG Worlds of Adventures.
Dubai’s deserts and mountains
A desert safari into Dubai’s rolling sand dunes is always a dramatic expedition, but for those looking for something more, Platinum Heritage run several unforgettable desert experiences. From a tour through the exclusive Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, to falconry lessons, a private overnight astronomy session, or a hot air balloon ride at dawn, the desert offers endless adventures.
While the main part of the emirate of Dubai is flat, the Hatta region in the nearby Hajar mountains boast rugged beauty and impressive views. Enjoy an organised tour for the day with Arabian Adventures or other tour operators – or go further and try your hand at hiking or mountain biking through the peaks. Hatta Wadi Hub is also a centre for exciting activities, including waterslides, zorbing and mountain biking.
Between tennis, golf, rugby and horse racing, Dubai is a centre for international sporting events and this spirit of competition attracts plenty of visitors. Dubai’s Al Qudra Cycling Track has become a magnet for pros and novices alike, offering 86km of dedicated world-class track, complete with rest stations and stunning views of the city’s skyline. Bikes are available to rent at Trek UAE, so you can just take a taxi to Al Qudra and enjoy a day of adventure.
Faster thrills are on offer at Dubai Autodrome, where visitors can take an Audi TT or R8 V10 round the track, or try out a rally car. But to truly test your mettle, race your friends in the attached Kartdrome and see who can make it through its 17 challenging turns the fastest.
Enjoy indoor thrills
When the weather isn’t suitable for outdoor pursuits, Dubai has you covered: how many cities can offer skydiving, skiing and swimming with sharks, all indoors?
Ski Dubai, at Mall of the Emirates, is Dubai’s famous indoor ski slope. With five different ski tracks, as well as snowboarding and zorbing experiences, and the chance to play with penguins. You'll find it easy to spend an entire day here.
iFly in City Centre Mirdif is the answer to anyone who’s wanted to try skydiving, but without jumping out of a plane. Walk into a vertical wind tunnel – complete with protective gear – and let the power of a giant fan lift you up and give you the experience of free-fall, just a few feet from the floor.
And if that's not enough, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall offers visitors the experience of getting face-to-face with sharks. During a 30-minute dive – safely enclosed in a shark-proof cage – you can get up close with these fascinating creatures, see what a feeding frenzy really looks like, and learn more about sharks and their place in the ocean’s ecosystem.