Dubai, one of the most fascinating cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a popular holiday spot for travelers from many corners of the world. However, this city has much more to offer than just five-star hotels: from sandboarding in the desert to skiing in the Mall of Emirates; they know how to get the pulses of active souls racing. Here is our pick of the best sports activities to stay fit while traveling in Dubai. We have selected these five outstanding activities; as we found them most exciting (and most active):
- Sandboarding in Dubai
- Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates
- Excursion to Hatta
- Cycling in the Desert of Dubai
If you like to stay active while exploring Dubai, there are great options. So let us dive in.
Dubai is a city located amidst the sandy desert; no surprise, sandboarding is one of the best outdoor sports in Dubai to indulge in. Sandboarding is an adaptation of snowboarding to the desert sands. However, instead of the snow, sandboarding is done on the sand, as the name suggests. Though sandboarding is possible on loose sand, it is best done in the desert, which has the perfect terrain for sandboarding with varying heights and slopes. A specially-designed board is securely fastened to your feet during this activity. All you have to do is maintain control and balance as you slide down.
Sandboarding does not require a lot of skill or training. Anyone can do it without any safety concerns. And if you fall on the sand, the fall will be softer than falling on the snow. Overall, sliding and gliding down the sand dunes is a thrilling experience. Sandboarding can be booked with Viator and takes between 4 - 7 hours. The 5-star rating of this activity is from more than 2.900 customers. An equivalent on GetYourGuide has a rating of 4.9 from more than 22.600 customers (as of October 2022).
Would you rather like to refresh yourself during your holiday in Dubai, and are you longing for something 'cool'? How about skiing! You must be surprised to see skiing listed here, but it is true. Nothing is impossible in Dubai, and yes, they even have an indoor ski resort inside the Mall of the Emirates. Artificial snow, lifts, chalets, you really feel like being in an authentic ski area. You can race down the 400 m snowy slopes, even with the world's first indoor black run.
You will find five slopes of different levels that even experienced skiers can find challenging. And of course, all equipment (skis, boots, helmets) and clothing are provided as probably no one brings their ski equipment to Dubai. Time to visit GetYourGuide and book your next ski adventure. This indoor skiing activity is booked for 2 hours ($59.90, or AED 220) or the entire day ($87.12, or AED 320). Make sure to check on the gloves; they are maybe only included in the full-day ticket.
The most loving sport of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is also the most thrilling in Dubai; it is a fun and easy way to play on the water. You can paddle anywhere from oceans to lakes and rivers with minimum equipment – no waves required. Unlike most water sports, a paddleboard is gentler and perfect for those who want to try watersports but do not want too much. The board is spacious enough, so balancing will not be too troublesome either.
Paddleboarding, also known as Stand Up Paddle (SUP), offers a fantastic full-body workout and is becoming a favorite cross-training activity for bodybuilders, skiers, snowboarders, and other athletes. And since you are standing at your full height, you will enjoy excellent views of everything from sea creatures to what is on the horizon. Exploring the Palm Jumeirah area with the paddleboard takes around 1 hour. Book your paddleboard activity with Viator (a Tripadvisor company) or GetYourGuide. Both offers include paddleboard and Life West; remember to bring your towel.
Hatta is around 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Dubai. Dubai's Hajjar mountains alone make a trip here worthwhile. The red-grey ledges make an absolute postcard motif in the beautiful landscape with deep blue waters. In addition, the lovingly designed museum village Hatta Heritage Village allows an insight into the everyday life of ancient times.
In Hatta, there are different types of activities waiting for you. For example, with its reservoir, the Hatta Dam is suitable for a boat trip, kayaking, or just relaxing. Just remember to bring your swim gear to be ready. There is also an attraction called the Hatta Wadi Hub. Multiple slides into a plunge pool, allowing you to reach heights of 15 meters and speeds of 40-80kmph. And for cyclists, there are many opportunities to explore the Hajar Mountains on mountain bikes. There's a dedicated 52 km mountain biking trail to tackle here, with four different levels to consider based on your skills and abilities. Last but not least, you can also explore the mountains on foot and enjoy a hike. Hatta hiking trails currently span a total of 32.6 km. Discovering Hatta by foot is probably the best way of truly experiencing Dubai's largest national park.
You can check the options on Viator (a Tripadvisor company). Be aware, the optional tours, such as kayaking might be charged extra.
My personal favorite and highlight from Dubai is cycling in the desert. Away from the bustling city center are two perfect cycling paths. With great weather from October right through to May, cyclists are drawn to the city's varied terrains and state-of-the-art cycling tracks. The 18 and 50-km loops are ideal for middle-to long-distance riders. It opens up both the breathtaking landscape of the dunes and the five-star Bab Al Shams resort, where you can stop off for refreshments en route. The best part? You can easily hire a bike right on-site at Al Qudra from Trek Bikes.
You rent the bikes on-site in the Trek Bicycle Store for 2, 3, or 4 hours or a full day. The price (as of May 2022) for this activity starts at $25 (AED 95) for 2 hours; however, you might want to consider going for 4 hours which costs $35 (AED 132). Two insider tips: Ensure to take enough water with you; sounds obvious, but you might want to add another bottle. And second, get the number of a taxi driver to organize your way back. Often simple communication using WhatsApp is possible.
BONUS: Kitesurfing in Dubai
Kitesurfing has become very popular, and as Dubai has winds and water, of course, there are options. There are two (2) designated beaches allowed for kitesurfing: Dubai Kite Beach (Fazza beach) and Dubai Kitesurf Beach (Nasimi Beach). At Kitesurf Beach, kitesurfing freestyle competitors Lewis Deaves started Kite Surf Dubai to offer kitesurf and paddleboard lessons. It takes around eight to nine hours to learn kitesurf, and the average price per hour is 350 AED ($95) in Dubai. If you are experienced and want to rent kite equipment, you first must obtain a license, not to be confused with an international certificate from, e.g., IKO. For this, you need to become a member of a kite school in Dubai. The cost for the rental will be around 300 AED ($82) per hour.
When to go? The best chance for strong winds up to 20 knots is between December to March, usually during the afternoon (between 2 pm - 5 pm). Unfortunately, there are no more ideal wind conditions between April to November. However, you might want to check out Al Masirah in Oman, which has become popular among kitesurfers in this area. You like kitesurfing? Check our new blog post about the best kite surfing holidays.
In Dubai, you will experience attractions that seem almost unbelievable. From the flower dream to the snowy paradise - everything seems possible. Although Dubai is known for luxury and wealth, there are some activities you can do to burn calories and entertainment. And this makes Dubai the perfect city for many fitness activities with a lot of excitement.
Not sure which hotel to choose in this fantastic city? Check our blog post on the best hotels with gyms in Dubai.