Dubai — a desert city known best for its skyline, luxury brands and decadent living. Having this information at hand, you could be forgiven for assuming that Dubai isn’t necessarily the best place to head for your water sports fix.
But the truth is, for any thrill-seeking water sports enthusiast, Dubai has it all covered.
Its 50 kilometer-long coastline, world-famous marina, incredible water parks and unique aquariums mean that the options are more than plentiful and that the watersports scene is buzzing here.
Here are 10 thrilling water sports you can try in Dubai, from the classics to the totally unique:
1. Aquarium Diving
Both experienced and novice divers can enjoy a closer look at the fascinating array of ocean creatures that reside in the Dubai Aquarium at Dubai Mall. The 10 million liter tank and neighboring underwater zoo are homes to thousands of animals (over 140 species).
They are also regarded as one of the world’s finest aquarium experiences, whether you are in or out of the water!
Visitors can sign up for their two-day PADI course to become certified divers — a great opportunity to learn the ropes in a unique setting. More experienced divers can also take specialty courses to further improve their skills.
2. Cage Snorkeling
For those who are not so keen on a full diving experience, there is an alternative option available at the Dubai Aquarium.
Cage snorkeling involves enjoying a unique underwater vantage point within the safety of a secure cage. Watch in amazement as sharks and rays swim close by. It’s the ultimate thrill!
For a more unusual way to appreciate Dubai’s famous skyline, parasailing is hard to beat.
This popular sport involves being attached to an open canopy and being towed by a motorboat. This means participants can be lifted slowly to cruising heights of around 200 meters above the water.
Adrenaline seekers should head to Dubai to take part in this exhilarating sport. Wakeboarding involves skiing across the water at high speed on a wide board towed by a boat.
The warm local climate and exquisite setting make Dubai a true wakeboarding heaven.
This more serene sport has seen a real surge in popularity recently, although its roots go back thousands of years.
To get started, you need to hire a generously sized board on which you stand and then paddle away to your heart’s desire. The board is wide, making it easy to balance on.
The calmer the water, the easier this sport is for beginners. Thankfully, there are lots of calm inlets in Dubai and plenty of places to hire the right equipment.
6. Tube Riding
This sport is great fun for a group of friends, although it can be done solo, too. You can try this at the beach or find a value-for-money beach resort offer in Dubai.
Tube riding involves being towed over the waves on an inflatable tube. It is the perfect way to cool off from the summer heat. It’s great for thrill-seekers, too.
This unique watersport has to be seen to be believed.
Participants are attached to a one-man hoverboard which uses jets of water to propel them up to 9 meters into the air. It’s possible to hover, twist, spin and somersault on the flyboard, so it makes for a totally exhilarating experience.
Imagine the incredible photo opportunity this sport brings, especially with a backdrop of iconic Dubai.
8. Jet Skiing
For a while, jet skiing in Dubai was off the cards after a local authority clampdown. The good news is that jet skiing in Dubai is back on the cards as long as you join a tour with one of the carefully selected number of fully licensed operators.
It means that even those who have never jet skied before can enjoy the finest views of Dubai with a unique tour of the sights from the water.
In sumptuous Dubai, there is no shortage of luxury yachts. Sailing in Dubai is an incredibly popular pastime for both resident businesspeople and royalty alike. Calm waters and a stunning skyline backdrop make for a very relaxing experience.
Hire your own yacht from Dubai Marina, some of which can accommodate up to 19 people, and enjoy breathtaking views of Dubai from the water.
Lastly, for novices or for those wanting to enjoy something lower key, you’ll find a range of sailing activities and courses in Dubai for all ages. Here, you can work on beginner or advanced skills, or try out racing, too.
Thomas Grundner is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain.