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Top Holidays

Things to do in Abu Dhabi: Adventure holidays edition

  • Published 29 April 2021

Abu Dhabi is an incredible destination for all types of holidays. The emirate tops wish lists for everything from group and business travel to honeymoons and family trips. While the city and beach resorts offer indulgences-a-plenty, it’s the superb natural surroundings of the desert landscapes and amazing wildlife that are a beacon to adventurers at heart, not to mention the incredible facilities and theme parks designed to get hearts racing. Abu Dhabi is a location that provides the ‘best of both’; by day you can set out on a quest, put your skills to the test, challenge your nerve and experience thrills like no where else and by night enjoy all the comforts of a luxurious five-star hotel. 

It is also worth noting that you don’t have to be a pioneering buccaneer to opt for the excitement of the UAE. In Abu Dhabi you will find adventure to suit all levels of cravings or boundaries. From dune bashing to cultural exploration, camel rides to calming sailing experiences, adventure comes in many forms and is adaptable to meet all comfort levels. Here is our run down of some of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi for the experienced adventurers down to the budding explorers amongst you. Bucket lists at the ready…
 

OFF THE SCALE: FOR NATURAL EXPLORERS AND KINGS OF ADVENTURE

Experience Indiana Jones Level Thrills

Desert cowboy

The Rub’ al Khali, better known as the Empty Quarter, is the largest uninterrupted area of sand in the world. Due to its size, it is possibly one of the most unexplored regions on the planet, hence the magnetic pull to thrill seekers across the world. What better way to experience this otherworldly setting then by the traditional methods of horse or camelback riding? Saddle up and take on Abu Dhabi’s desert wilderness, explore the rolling dunes, watch out for free roaming wildlife and soak in the tranquillity of the landscape. This is an opportunity to really turn off from the outside world - you will be feeling like an adventurer of days gone by in no time.

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Off road

This experience is straight out of an adventure movie. If conquering the desert on horseback doesn’t get your pulse racing enough, dune bashing in a 4x4 surely will. Strap in for a bumpy ride in the Abu Dhabi desert, with a skilled driver at the wheel. Prepare to speed over loose sandy ridges before freewheeling into the valleys below. Interestingly, lots of the tours available will also give an all-rounded desert safari experience alongside the 4x4 thrills, providing guests with a chance to get a deeper understanding of ancient Bedouin traditions and Arabian hospitality. Where else on the planet can you speed across sandy terrain before experiencing authentic desert BBQ dining with shisha smoking and traditional belly dancing entertainment?

Rough and ready

This sporty activity is perfect for those who are not afraid to get down and sandy in the desert while working up a sweat. Sandboarding is an extreme sport, whereby you practice riding sand dunes in the same way a snowboarder would ride the mountain slopes. It is certainly not for the faint hearted and will put your balance and agility to the test. Do you have what it takes? Unlike the slopes in a ski resort, the only way to the top of the dune is to walk, so a degree of fitness is required. If you are a beginner, choose a smaller dune to start with and have fun riding down at your own pace. Either way, be sure while at the top of the peaks to pause and take in the breath-taking views! 

Aerial views

Bold and dramatic; nothing really screams adventure more than a helicopter tour. You will almost hear the dulcet tones of the James Bond opening theme playing as you ascend into the sky. Why waste time treading the land below to witness the sights and landmarks of Abu Dhabi when you can do it all from the comfort of a luxury helicopter? Take in the awesome vistas of the famed Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the beautiful Corniche, not to mention Saadiyat Island, Yas Island and the world-renowned Formula1 racing track. Those that like to document their travels – this one’s for you. Cameras at the ready!

Safari nights

Sir Bani Yas Island is a haven of adventure. Situated just off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the whole island is an established wildlife reserve that provides a secluded sanctuary to free-roaming animals and an incredible array of birds. Adventure safaris are on the menu here, and unlike anything you will experience anywhere else. Choose between kayaking, mountain biking, hiking or an open-top Land Cruiser among others and venture into the Arabian Wildlife Park to explore the savannahs or take to the surrounding waters with a local guide. Catch a glimpse of the beloved and endangered Arabian Oryx, or perhaps you’ll spot ostriches and giraffes roaming freely. Any budding David Attenborough’s will find this one hard to resist.

Take this experience to the next level and stay overnight at one of three five-star resorts based on the Sir Bani Yas Island, including Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort. Imagine waking up to witness giraffes and even cheetahs strolling freely just outside your luxury villa in a savannah setting. Indulge in breakfast on the terrace or delve into your private pool as you take in the amazing view and wildlife on your doorstep all from the comfort of your secluded accommodation. 

MERCURY RISING: FOR THRILL SEEKERS AND ADRENALINE JUNKIES


Need for speed

Modern theme parks were designed for the adventure hungry, those that pursue their next hit of adrenaline in the form of a breath-taking ride. If that sounds like you, head to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi that’s home to the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa. Taking guests to an almighty height of 52m before dropping at speeds of 240kmph, prepare to feel the G-force in the best way possible - and that is only one of 40 thrilling rides and experiences on offer!

Experience Top Gun Level Adventures

Need for speed

Modern theme parks were designed for the adventure hungry, those that pursue their next hit of adrenaline in the form of a breath-taking ride. If that sounds like you, head to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi that’s home to the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa. Taking guests to an almighty height of 52m before dropping at speeds of 240kmph, prepare to feel the G-force in the best way possible - and that is only one of 40 thrilling rides and experiences on offer!


Pedal to the metal

If you yearn for the thrill of being in the driving seat yourself, opt for a visit to the world-famous F1 track, Yas Marina Circuit. Step into a supercar of your dreams and cross the finishing line at top speeds of up to 275km/h. This is one of the ultimate exhilarating experiences for all petrol heads out there. Choose between a swoon worthy Ferrari, super light sports car or a single seat racing car, all are lining up to be a high-speed adrenaline drive of a lifetime. This is closest most people will ever get to feeling like a professional F1 driver.

Pedal to the metal

If you yearn for the thrill of being in the driving seat yourself, opt for a visit to the world-famous F1 track, Yas Marina Circuit. Step into a supercar of your dreams and cross the finishing line at top speeds of up to 275km/h. This is one of the ultimate exhilarating experiences for all petrol heads out there. Choose between a swoon worthy Ferrari, super light sports car or a single seat racing car, all are lining up to be a high-speed adrenaline drive of a lifetime. This is closest most people will ever get to feeling like a professional F1 driver.


Wet and wild

The calm blue waters off the coast of Abu Dhabi are a playground for all sorts of water sports, with everything from paddle boarding and jet skiing to scuba diving on offer. For the more adventure-spirited traveller, it will be hard to resist the temptation to try something new. How about a spot of windsurfing or a parasailing excursion with your significant other? Or better yet, try some flyboarding in the waters just off the magnificent Corniche. Thrusting you up to heights of 22 metres, you are sure to catch a fantastic view from this vantage point. Alternatively, dive into the glittering waters and explore under the waves.

Wet and wild

The calm blue waters off the coast of Abu Dhabi are a playground for all sorts of water sports, with everything from paddle boarding and jet skiing to scuba diving on offer. For the more adventure-spirited traveller, it will be hard to resist the temptation to try something new. How about a spot of windsurfing or a parasailing excursion with your significant other? Or better yet, try some flyboarding in the waters just off the magnificent Corniche. Thrusting you up to heights of 22 metres, you are sure to catch a fantastic view from this vantage point. Alternatively, dive into the glittering waters and explore under the waves.


Flight school

Prepare to be blown away – quite literally! If you haven’t yet built up the courage to jump from a plane on your travels, a dive in the world’s biggest indoor skydiving space will help to build your courage. The chamber at CLYMB, Abu Dhabi’s ultimate adventure hub, has a record-breaking height of more than 30 metres. This unmatched size means you won’t get a closer sky diving experience without having nerves of steel to do real thing itself. Expert instructors are on hand to lead you through your flight, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that whatever your level of experience you are in safe hands. Under the same roof, you can also master your climbing skills, with a range of free climbing walls on offer including the SUMMYT the region’s tallest climbing wall, that stretches to a height of 43 metres.

Flight school

Prepare to be blown away – quite literally! If you haven’t yet built up the courage to jump from a plane on your travels, a dive in the world’s biggest indoor skydiving space will help to build your courage. The chamber at CLYMB, Abu Dhabi’s ultimate adventure hub, has a record-breaking height of more than 30 metres. This unmatched size means you won’t get a closer sky diving experience without having nerves of steel to do real thing itself. Expert instructors are on hand to lead you through your flight, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that whatever your level of experience you are in safe hands. Under the same roof, you can also master your climbing skills, with a range of free climbing walls on offer including the SUMMYT the region’s tallest climbing wall, that stretches to a height of 43 metres.


Mangrove madness

You will find the Mangrove National Park located just on the edge of the city. Known for being inhabited by a plethora of bird and plant species, this is now an area of ecological conservation that has protected status in Abu Dhabi. Those keen to discover the natural landscape of the emirate, will enjoy exploring the boardwalk that snakes through the weaving roots and luscious forest. For the ultimate viewpoint of this environment take to the water, where you can look out for mottled crabs beneath the surface and flamingos flying low through the trees. Choose a kayaking adventure or opt for a small boat and enjoy exploring the landscape and getting back to nature.

Mangrove madness

You will find the Mangrove National Park located just on the edge of the city. Known for being inhabited by a plethora of bird and plant species, this is now an area of ecological conservation that has protected status in Abu Dhabi. Those keen to discover the natural landscape of the emirate, will enjoy exploring the boardwalk that snakes through the weaving roots and luscious forest. For the ultimate viewpoint of this environment take to the water, where you can look out for mottled crabs beneath the surface and flamingos flying low through the trees. Choose a kayaking adventure or opt for a small boat and enjoy exploring the landscape and getting back to nature.


A world of water

Yas Waterworld is quite possibly the UAE’s ultimate water park experience and will be loved by both the adrenaline hungry and fun seekers alike. Self-named as ‘Water’s Greatest Playground’, Abu Dhabi’s largest water park is spread over 37 acres and is home to more than 40 rides from daring drops to river rapids. Only the courageous take on the Dawwama, the world’s largest six-person tornado slide. And labelled as a fall with a view, the Jebel Drop is the region's tallest speed slide which requires a leap of faith like no other. But be sure to keep your eyes open, else you will miss the epic views of the park from this amazing vantage point.

A world of water

Yas Waterworld is quite possibly the UAE’s ultimate water park experience and will be loved by both the adrenaline hungry and fun seekers alike. Self-named as ‘Water’s Greatest Playground’, Abu Dhabi’s largest water park is spread over 37 acres and is home to more than 40 rides from daring drops to river rapids. Only the courageous take on the Dawwama, the world’s largest six-person tornado slide. And labelled as a fall with a view, the Jebel Drop is the region's tallest speed slide which requires a leap of faith like no other. But be sure to keep your eyes open, else you will miss the epic views of the park from this amazing vantage point.


To reside amongst all the action on Yas Island check out the brand-new Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island hotel, located directly on Yas Bay Waterfront and offering spectacular views out over the ocean. Newly opened in 2021, this hotel also offers an amazing concierge service that can help to arrange any last-minute excursions for you during your stay. Or if you want to be even closer to the fast-paced action of the F1 circuit, check out W Abu Dhabi which offers an unparalleled perspective of the famous Yas Island Marina Circuit.

To reside amongst all the action on Yas Island check out the brand-new Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island hotel, located directly on Yas Bay Waterfront and offering spectacular views out over the ocean. Newly opened in 2021, this hotel also offers an amazing concierge service that can help to arrange any last-minute excursions for you during your stay. Or if you want to be even closer to the fast-paced action of the F1 circuit, check out W Abu Dhabi which offers an unparalleled perspective of the famous Yas Island Marina Circuit.

FANNING THE FLAMES: ADVENTURERS IN THE MAKING

Experience Goonie Level Exploration

Breakfast time

Perfect for the animal lovers and the wild at heart. Emirates Park Zoo presents the opportunity to not only observe the various animals on-site but to also get up close and personal to a selection of herbivores and big cats at mealtime. Let it be noted this is not just any regular feeding experience, but an opportunity to sit and share a meal together. Guests are invited to enjoy breakfast as giraffes or a leopard roam around you. Ask all the questions you have and learn about the different species from the environmental tour guide - budding wildlife experts will love this opportunity.

An arty adventure

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is an incredible attraction for all visitors who visit the region, but simply admiring this spectacular structure from dry land is not always enough for budding adventurers. Instead, you may be tempted to go the extra distance and enjoy kayaking on the water around the Louvre to get a much better perspective on the standout architecture. This is possibly one of the most fun ways to admire the city vistas while still being active and feeling adventurous. All tours are guided by a professional and last 60 minutes, so if you are new to the sport, it is a great way to familiarise yourself with the paddle. For an extra special taste of Abu Dhabi, book a sunrise or sunset timeslot to get the bonus of ‘golden hour’ on the picture-perfect views.

Step back in time

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and step back into a different millennium with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Ain Oasis. Here an ancient irrigation system has amazingly supported the growth of greenery in this desert destination and created a delicate ecosystem which is now protected. Take one of the meandering pathways that’s shaded by the palm canopy above and explore the thriving metropolis that still functions as a farming and market town. Prepare to feel like a budding explorer who has just happened upon this glorious ‘Garden Ciy’. With the Hajar mountains standing tall beyond the city walls, you couldn’t feel further away from the modern city you left behind. To delve deeper into the history of this unique oasis you can also visit Al Ain National Museum and Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum which are also situated here.

Tomb explorer

This is an activity any promising adventurer won’t want to miss. Discover Jebel Hafit Tombs, located in the foothills of Abu Dhabi’s tallest peak, Jebel Hafit. Like a scene from Star Wars or Indiana Jones, it isn’t a spectacle you are likely to forget in a hurry. Take a guided hike, mountain bike, horse or camel ride through the area and witness hundreds of ancient beehive-shaped tombs that are more than 5,000 years old and dotted along the base of the mountain. These fascinating archaeological structures tell an unforgettable story of the area’s ancient history.

Sail away with me

Perfect for the more laidback adventurer. What better way to embrace Abu Dhabi’s traditions and customs then by setting sail and taking in the sights from a traditional dhow boat? The calm waters of the Persian Gulf are a striking contrast against the vibrant and modern city skyline. Feel the wind in your hair as you sit back and enjoy the amazing panoramic views and make lasting magical memories with your travel companions. To elevate the experience further, opt for a larger dhow boat dinner cruise and discover Abu Dhabi’s iconic vistas by night, as you set sail out from the marina at sundown and spot the city’s landmarks by moonlight, while sampling a delicious Arabic feast. 

For the ultimate adventurous stay in Abu Dhabi, check out Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Dripping in luxury this resort is fully equipped with a wide range of five-star amenities and incredible excursions that really maximise your experiential stay in the Empty Quarter. Guests can make the most of the activities available from the hotel before returning to the resort to enjoy a spot of pampering in the spa, a delicious meal at one of five on-site restaurants, before getting a good night’s sleep in one of the resorts beautiful rooms or suites that offer every comfort and convenience imaginable. 

For all other questions or enquires, please do not hesitate to contact one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 or alternatively fill in an enquiry form today one the team will be in touch with you via email shortly. 

Tagged: Abu Dhabi
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