Zip across the desert sands on a dune bashing adventure. (Photo: Alamy)
Extreme sports in Abu Dhabi — sounds unexpected, right? But if you think a modern city like Abu Dhabi might not have the best infrastructure for extreme sports, you’re in for a surprise.
From desert sports to water-based adventures, Abu Dhabi offers an array of adrenaline-pumping attractions.
Book a tour with Abu Dhabi Desert Safari and buckle up for the ride of your life. Dune bashing takes you zipping across sand dunes at increasing and decreasing speeds in a specially equipped SUV. Your vehicle will do things you thought impossible. From cresting high sand dunes to zipping down them at high speeds, you’re in for the ride of your life.
But an adrenaline rush isn’t the only thing dune bashing offers. “As much as I love the thrill of the ride, it’s the view of the oasis that got me hooked. That split-second view of the oasis as you crest a dune … it’s breathtaking!” says Zareen Salman, a resident of Abu Dhabi and regular dune basher.
Desert Quad Biking
If you don’t enjoy the idea of taking a ride while someone else does the driving, then try a DIY alternative: desert quad biking.
You’ll be given your own quad bike — a large, four-wheeled ATV — and let loose on the sand dunes of Abu Dhabi for an hour. Tour operators abound, and while all tours are supervised for safety, you’re free to go as fast as you want and conquer sand dunes on your own. Consider booking a tour with Emirates Tours & Safari, where you’ll get behind the wheel, slip and slide down dunes, and even enjoy a respite at a Bedouin-style camp.
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, seek out a quad biking tour to Tel Moreeb — the hill of horror. It’s nearly 1,000 feet tall with a 50-degree incline.
Think you’re up for it?
Yup, you read that right. Whitewater rafting may be a river sport — and no, Abu Dhabi doesn’t have rivers — but that hasn’t stopped the city from embracing the activity!
Wadi Adventure in Al Ain has a 3/4-mile man-made whitewater rafting course with three rapids of increasing intensity. If rafting is your jam, then you can’t miss this experience. Even if you haven’t tried it before, don’t worry — there are instructor-led tours.
The folks at Wadi Adventure take their extreme sports seriously. They mandate safety and best-practice briefings before guests attempt any sport. The instructors teach you the basics and take you through the gentlest rapids first. Not interested in rafting? Wadi also offers kayaking and
If you love wind, water and speed, then kitesurfing just might become your next obsession. Abu Dhabi has a thriving community of kitesurfers who ride surfboards with large parachute-like contraptions attached. When a good breeze comes along, they cruise fast over the water, even catching air as they crest waves.
Drive on Sheikh Khalifa Highway on a windy day and you’ll see plenty of kites gliding along the city’s coastal waters. The most popular spots for kitesurfing are Yas Island and Al Dabayyah. If you haven’t gone kitesurfing before, check out Kitepro or Kitesurfing UAE for lessons before you hit the water.
Racing on a Formula 1 Track
Once you’re done with desert and water sports, it’s time to hit the road. Abu Dhabi lays claim to UAE’s only Formula 1 racetrack, Yas Marina Circuit.
Before hitting the track, take a venue tour, where you’ll get an inside look at the circuit typically only seen by drivers and their teams.
Next up, try the circuit’s passenger and driver experiences.
A passenger experience allows you to see the race track from the passenger seat of a racing vehicle. Choose from an Aston Martin GT4, Chevrolet Camaro or the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 safety car, and buckle in. You’ll be driven by one of Yas Racing School’s professional drivers.
Want to get behind the wheel? Yas Marina Circuit’s driving experience gives you complete control of your ride as you take a race car for a spin, drift and even drag.