If your New Year’s resolution is to try something that gets the adrenaline pumping and takes you out of your comfort zone then read on. We have rounded up 14 ideas to get you started.
The ultimate thrill for adrenaline-seekers is a tandem jump from 13,000 feet over the Palm Jumeirah. Although somewhat pricey, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the fee includes a video to help you remember all the bits that flashed past too fast to register.
The minimum age is 18 years, and potential skydivers must weigh under 100 kilograms. A tandem jump (with an instructor) costs Dh1,999 including the video. www.skydivedubai.ae
Although this takes a little practice (beginners usually need about 10 lessons to get going), once mastered this sport is for the fearless. With feet strapped onto a board, which is then pulled along the top of the water by a kite, it is as exhilarating as it is challenging. Already well-established in the region, Dubai even has a dedicated area, Kite Beach, while Abu Dhabi fans flock to their own Kite Beach on Yas Island.
A one-hour private lesson costs Dh350 with Dukite in Dubai and Yas Kite Surf in Abu Dhabi. www.dukite.com
Shopping is no longer enough excitement for some, so now The Dubai Mall allows those 10 years and older the opportunity to climb into the Dubai Aquarium with the thousands of fish, including sharks. Scuba training and equipment are included in the price.
The price for a non-certified diver is Dh1,050, or Dh750 for a certified diver. www.thedubaiaqaurium.com
The latest craze to sweep our shores, flyboarding involves being strapped onto a board that is blasted into the air with jets of water. Moving at up to 40kph, this is a high-octane rush. All that is needed is crash helmet (supplied) and a sense of adventure (bring your own). This experience is for those over 18 years only and costs Dh300 for 20 minutes. www.searide-dubai.com
For those keen to top up their shredding skills while shopping, head to the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai for the region’s only indoor ski slope. Offering skiing, snowboarding, zorbing (rolling down the slope inside an inflatable ball), and even a cuddle with penguins, there is something for all ages and abilities. There is even a little cafe to stop in for hot drinks when everyone’s hands get too hold to hold onto to the pommel lift.
Prices start at Dh210 for adults including all equipment. www.skidxb.com
Surrounded by miles and miles of sand dunes, hurtling over them in a four-wheel drive seems like the most obvious thing to do. The best way is with a company, whose highly skilled drivers will swing and roll the convoy of cars across the sand with a ballet-like grace. This is tremendously good fun, but be prepared to be thrown around inside the vehicle, so it’s probably best avoided by those who suffer with travel sickness.
Who doesn’t love getting soaked in a water park, especially when they have sweaty palm-inducing water slides too. In Dubai, WildWadi‘s Jumeirah Sceirah has a 30m drop that is enough scare the daylights out of most people. At Atlantis, Aquaventure‘s Poseidon’s Revenge drops the brave in pods at speeds of up to 60kph. It also has the Leap of Faith, which sends people down nine storeys through a shark tank. Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi goes one better with the Liwa Loop, the region’s first free-fall looping waterside.
Entry to Yas Waterworld costs Dh210 for children and from Dh250 for adults (www.yaswaterworld.com). Aquaventure prices start from Dh215 for children and Dh195 for adults (www.atlantisthepalm.com). Entry to Wild Wadi starts at Dh165 for children and Dh275 for adults (www.jumeirah.com/wild-wadi-water-park).
Living on the coast, there is no excuse not to dive in and enjoy the plethora of aquatic animals that surround us. The UAE waters teem with queen fish, barracuda, dolphins, sharks, whalesharks, seahorses, and even endangered hammour and critically endangered turtles, so scuba diving here can be a rewarding experience. There are several dive centres that which will teach you all the required skills and safety needed to enjoy the underwater world.
A Padi Open Water course with Ocean Dive Centre in Dubai (www.oceandivecentre.com) costs Dh2,400 including all equipment. In Abu Dhabi, Mahara Dive Centre (www.divemahara.com) takes out certified divers for Dh420 per dive, including equipment and tanks (excluding dive computer).
Ras Al Khaimah has launched the region’s highest and longest zipline. Called Via Ferrata (which means iron path in Italian) it is 470 metres long and runs along the side of Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE. Daredevils will have to prove their ability on two shorter lines at the site before being allowed on the big one. At 50m and 60m, these are still impressive distances if the full-length one is too daunting.
The Via Ferrata cost Dh400 and advanced bookings are essential. www.jebaljais.ae
Aquaventure has the Atlantean Flyer Zip Line, which flies 20 metres above the water park. The experience costs Dh75 for hotel guests and Dh100 for visitors. www.atlantisthepalm.com
Wadi Adventure in Al Ain has what it describes as an airpark, where visitors can try a 200m zipline and aerial obstacle course for Dh50 for one hour. www.wadiadventure.ae.
Practice makes perfect they say, so why not head to the cable park at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi to perfect your wakeboarding, water skiing, mono skiing, or knee boarding. Towed around a lake by a cable, it mimics the effect of being behind a boat, but being a circuit, it is easier to just join the back of the queue for another go. And cheaper too.
Prices from Dh30 for knee boarding www.alforsan.com
Those in Al Ain can head to Wadi Adventure, which offers cable wakeboarding for Dh50 plus a Dh50 general admission fee. The park also has pool surfing lessons for Dh150 for 55 minutes, and white-water rafting for Dh100 per hour. www.wadiadventure.ae
This activity is similar to skate boarding, but on a much longer board, which is ideal for using on roads as greater distances can be travelled, and faster speeds can be reached. Protective wear is therefore essential, with many riders wearing full leathers to protect them in the event of a high-speed fall on tarmac. Head to Mushrif Park in Dubai to practise your skills before hitting Jebel Jais on Friday mornings.
Search for Longboard UAE on Facebook.
Literally meaning “the way through”, parkour is the art of jumping, running and leaping around an urban landscape. Although seemingly impossible, with coaching and lots of practice, most people can do it. UAE Parkour runs free Friday training sessions, with the location announced through their MeetUp group. In Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Park is a regular hangout, while Adrenergy has weekly classes for kids and adults.
It seems somehow apt that a country that once earned its living diving for pearls should now offer free-diving courses. Free divers do not use breathing equipment, instead diving to the depths on a single breath. There are two types: static apnea, which involves holding one’s breath for as long a possible with one’s face in the water; and no limits, which involves holding one’s breath while descending and resurfacing. With no nitrogen narcosis (commonly called the bends) to worry about, the depths achieved are truly staggering. The current world record stands at 122 metres. For those keen to try this, and to experience the silence of the deep, there are lots of place here to train.
The one-day Level 1 Freediver Course costs Dh800, at www.freedivinguae.com. A free taster session is also available.
With several indoor and outdoor options available, there is no excuse not to give it a go. Indoor climbing is a fun way to spend the afternoon, especially during the summer months, and as climbers pick their own path up the wall, it can be made as easy or as hard as required.
Indoor climbing walls can be found at The Wall at the Dubai World Trade Centre (www.dorellsports.com) Dh60 a day or Pharaohs Club at Wafi Dh45 for day pass (www.cleopatrasspaandwellness.com) in Dubai, or The Club in Abu Dhabi (www.the-club.com) whose prices start at Dh2,300 for annual membership.
Outdoor enthusiasts can venture to the mountains at Dibba, Hatta or Jebel Hafeet, whose innumerable rocky outcrops will satisfy most. For the hardcore, however, there is the notorious Stairway to Heaven in Ras Al Khaimah. Known for its treacherous route, this is only suitable for experienced climbers. For all outdoor climbs, its best to go with a guided group.