Dubai: the perfect place for water sports
Diving, sailing, jet-skiing … when it comes to marine thrills Dubai has it all. With more than 50km of coastline, water sports abound in Dubai. Making the most of the clear skies and temperate days, you can opt for a leisurely dusk sail, a high-speed tour on a jet-ski or something a little more daring like Flyboarding or the latest thrill, Seabreaching. Here’s a guide to who can give you aquatic kicks.
Sharks and shipwrecks
Dubai offers scuba divers warm waters, year-round diving and a host of five-star experiences under the water (including a wealth of shipwrecks to explore). Both the first-timer and the experienced diver are catered for at The Dive Centre, which has a qualified team of PADI Instructors. Located at the Dubai International Marine Club, between the Marina and Media City, the Dive Centre offers diving seven days a week as well as the opportunity to relax in the gardens or on the beach after your dive and enjoy sublime views.
At Aquarium Diving at Atlantis, The Palm, you’ll get to meet some of the 65,000 marine animals straight away. Something more daring? Try a Shark Encounter at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo with Al Boom Diving. You’ll be within touching distance of the sharks, protected by a cage, as the predators of the sea are hand fed by instructors just inches from your face.
The new marine thrills
The Seabreacher is a mini submarine in the shape of a shark with a powerful 260hp engine that can reach speeds of up to 100kmph. It even mimics the tail movements of a real shark and can jump up to 6m out of the water, hence the name. This is perfect for the more adventurous who want a unique adrenaline-filled moment. Try it at Rixos The Palm Dubai and get a private cabana, bucket of drinks, a burger, one-hour of paddleboarding and a Seabreacher experience when you book the Pro Surfer package for AED725 per person (minimum two people).
Flyboarding is the closest thing to flying on water. The one-person water-propelled hover board can shoot up to 9m in the air. A 20-metre hose is connected to a personal watercraft, with the output redirected to two jets on the bottom of the flyboard. An exhilarating experience, to say the least. Bring a trusty videographer with you to capture all the action! (AED300 for 20 minutes, Searide Dubai at Dubai Fishing Harbour).
Wakeboarding, tubing, paddleboarding and parasailing are also part of the Dubai water sports portfolio. For the uninitiated: Parasailing entails being towed behind a boat on a parasail that will lift you up to almost 150m in the air. An amazing way to get an even better view of Dubai and the Gulf. Tubing also involves being transported along the waves behind a boat, this time on an inflatable tube. Bumpy but fun!
Want to be a little more in control, and don’t mind a bit of a workout? Try Wakeboarding, a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing, or Paddleboarding (Stand Up Paddle Surfing or SUP). For this you need just a board and a paddle and a little bit of balance. Boards and paddles can be rented at Kite Beach.
Soar through the air on Fly Fish
When it comes to water sports these days, it’s all about reaching new heights. Not unlike a magic carpet, this multi-person inflatable ride zips along behind a speedboat, flying up in the air as passengers hang on for dear life before the speed is reduced and they're dunked into the water. Warning: you will get wet. What more could you want from a water sport? (AED 150 for 15 minutes, Seawake, next to Le Méridien Mina Seyahi).
Sail on by
The hub of sailing in Dubai is the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) at Jumeirah Beach which has myriad sailing activities over the sunny winter months, including learn-to-sail courses, youth sailing and racing. To hire a boat try Watercooled at Jebel Ali or Jumeirah, who have a good range of Quba, Feva, Vision, RS500 and Hobie catamarans for hire, with qualified instructors also available. If luxury yachts are more your style then try Royal Blue Coast for its range of yachts available - from a Majesty 44 (takes up to ten people) to a Majesty 50 (up to 19 people).
Sightseeing on a jet-ski
Have fun on the water and at the same time take in some of Dubai’s famous landmarks with a jet-ski session. Nemo Watersports and Dubai Jetski offer tours that takes in the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel and other sights from the water. Each tour is accompanied by a qualified instructor and you can go as fast or slow as you like, for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. The 30-minute tour takes in the Burj Al Arab while an hour-long session takes you onwards to Jumeirah Beach Residences. The deluxe two-hour version includes this, while also circumnavigating the famous Palm Jumeirah and stopping off at Atlantis.
Ride Dubai’s best waterslides
Whether it's the hair-raising rides at Jumeriah's Wild Wadi waterpark or the state-of-the-art facilities at Atlantis The Palm's Aquaventure, plummeting to earth is an art-form in Dubai. The highlight of Wild Wadi has to be the Burj Surj, a six-seater in which the inflatable tube is dropped into a whirlpool before being sucked down into a tunnel slide. Meanwhile, Aquaventure's Leap of Faith zooms through a shark-infested aquarium. Stay at either Atlantis The Palm or one of the Jumeirah hotels in the city and access to Aquaventure and Wild Wadi is free.
Kitesurf with the locals
If there were any doubts about Dubai's love for kitesurfing, all you'd have to do is visit its namesake, Kite Beach. It's on this patch of sand that both amateurs and pros attempt their hand at this extreme sport, which requires riders to grip onto a handle that is attached to a parachute, which you're then able to manoeuvre to increase your speed and change direction. Not only is it a wild ride, it's also a great full-body workout. (AED350 an hour for a private lesson, Dukite, Jumeirah Beach Road).
For more high-adrenaline action, try these family fun activities.