Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the largest emirates in the UAE based on land area. They are also the country’s most important business and economic hubs.
These two emirates are also the most popular destinations for both domestic and international tourists.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have numerous beautiful human-made and natural attractions. So, if you visit the UAE for the first time or have arrived in the country recently, you will do well to drop by and explore these places.
Best Natural Attractions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi are known for their over-the-top human-made attractions, the two emirates also have several natural destinations that will delight all nature lovers.
Moreover, these two cities are separated by only 105 miles, around 75 minutes of travel time by road. Due to this distance, you can hop from one emirate to another to explore their top natural attractions
You can also traverse the two emirates by air through a scenic seaplane tour.
Besides the short travel time, you will see amazing aerial views of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s well-known attractions by going on a seaplane tour. Moreover, you will enjoy the utmost comfort on your private flight.
And if you want to visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s top natural attractions first, here are the six that you should put on the top of your list:
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Since arid areas surround the UAE, you can know more about its natural ecosystem by exploring the desert first.
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a protected area that aims to preserve the Arabian deserts’ wildlife.
The entire area covers about five percent of Dubai’s total landmass.
You can trek across the dunes aboard a 4×4 or on the back of a camel. While on the safari, you will be able to get a glimpse of local wildlife, such as the oryx, Brandt’s hedgehogs, caracals, and sand foxes.
While in the area, you can also try horseback riding, archery, and sandboarding. Take the time to watch the falconry presentations to know more about these large birds of prey.
End your visit here on a high note with a BBQ dinner at a campsite. You can also stay overnight here since you can rent a tent. At night, you will have excellent views of the clear starry sky.
Hatta is one of the most popular destinations among Dubai locals when the temperatures get too hot in the city.
This must-visit spot lies amidst the Hatta mountains, which means the weather here is a bit milder and the air a little fresher and more relaxed. It is the perfect destination to escape the usually hot and humid conditions of Dubai.
Moreover, Hatta Lake, another beautiful natural attraction with its clear, calm blue water, is located in this area.
Hatta is one of Dubai’s best spots for various outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and camping. If you want to do something more relaxing and calming, you can try kayaking and paddleboarding at the lake.
While doing these activities, you will see different colorful fish species and shellfish in the lake and several fascinating birds flying around.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most beautiful nature reserves and wetlands in the UAE. It serves as the home for many different species of migratory birds, foremost of the pink flamingos.
This nature reserve is also a widespread habitat of black-winged stilts, cormorants, great egrets, grey herons, ospreys, reef herons, sandpipers, and other avian species.
Because of this reason, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular destination of avid bird watchers.
Additionally, the wetland reserve also serves as a breeding ground for various crustaceans, mammals, and fish.
Ras Al Khor is located at the mouth of Dubai Creek, which means you can visit it easily if you’re in Dubai.
Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Formations
Abu Dhabi also has several desert tours you can go on, but if you want to see some unique sites, head to Al Wathba.
The Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Formations is a little-known attraction on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The area is home to sand formations artfully molded through the interplay of wind strength and sediment supply that consists of sand, salt crystals, and other minerals in the desert.
To get the best photos, visit the area during sunset. With the large setting sun in the background, you will feel like you are in Tatooine or any desert planet in the Star Wars films. Having a picnic in Al Wathba during the early morning hours is an experience you have to try as well.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
While in Al Wathba, visit the nearby Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. Locals go to this place whenever they need an escape from the daily grind and bustling city life.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve covers various habitats, including freshwater and saline lakes, dunes, shrubs, and trees, making it the perfect environment and home for different natural inhabitants.
Also known as Flamingo City, the wetland reserve attracts hundreds of flamingos annually. About 200 other species of migratory birds visit the area throughout the year too.
Al Wathba has different walking trails that will take you into the heart of the reserve as you explore the diverse ecosystems.
Mangrove National Park
Kayaking and paddleboarding through a mangrove are two of the best nature activities you can do in the UAE. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have conserved mangroves parks that are all worth visiting.
Abu Dhabi’s Mangrove National Park is one of the most extensive mangrove areas in the emirate. The ecosystem lies amidst clear, calm waters and is surrounded by grey mangroves and shrubs.
The park’s water is clear enough for you to see various species of fish and shellfish. If you’re lucky, you may also spot more giant creatures, such as turtles, blue swimmer crabs, and dolphins.
The national park is also home to herons and flamingos.
You can also opt for a boat tour to explore the mangrove park if you don’t want to go kayaking or paddleboarding.
These destinations won’t fail to amaze all nature-lovers. And whether you visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi, finding a place where you can stay won’t be a problem since there are numerous hotels and accommodation options you can choose from.
All that’s left for you to do is to immerse yourself in and explore nature.