Watch: 5 ways to get the best out of Jubail Mangrove Park
Going green is easy at Abu Dhabi’s stunning new nature spot
After many months of anticipation, Jubail Mangrove Park finally opened last month in January 2020. A huge new boardwalk through Abu Dhabi’s National Mangrove park offers visitors a new, free-to-see opportunity to get a little closer to nature in our capital city. We took a trip across to its home on Al Jubail Island to nail down the sanctuary’s best bits.
Here are 5 ways to get the best out of Jubail Mangrove Park…
Need to nodes
The Qurum boardwalk over the mangroves is completely free to tread, and allows you to get right into the botanical maze of salt-tolerant trees. Along the way, there are several viewpoints and resting nodes, for a paused applause of the natural beauty. We were big fans of the floating platform, where a cotch-friendly cargo net was strung over the glassy blue water below, the viewing tower and the salt collectors (where our editor, Laura, set a new standard for the #saltbaechallenge).
Get to the kayak
You can get a much more intimate look (and a pretty tidy workout for your guns) by jumping into one of the rentable kayaks on site. Secure an hour’s tour for Dhs150 (adults) or Dhs100 (for kids) including the guide. If you book two hours, you can even squeeze in a bit of island hopping to the shores of a neighbouring private island.
One of the main reasons for visiting the site is the chance to commune with the UAE’s native wildlife. Make like Attenborough and creep up on an impressively diverse list of animals including fish, crabs and 88 species of bird. We spotted a couple of herons, and a modest ‘razzle dazzle’ (shhh, that is the correct group noun, we checked) of flamingos whilst we were there. We’ve also been reliably informed that the mangroves provide a vital protected habitat to the greater spotted eagle, which sadly is classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Easy seeing green
OK, hands up if every time you travel back home you say “oh, I forgot how green it is here.” The reality is, of course, that there are plenty of green spaces in the UAE, but few natural ones that are as entrancing as the mangroves. It’s a landscape that evokes imagery of America’s Deep South bayous, immersed in soulful pale blue waters that look straight out of the Maldives brochure palette. The trees here are all ‘grey mangroves’ (after the colour of their branches and roots). The little upward pointing woody stalactites you’ll see are called ‘breathing roots’ – enabling the plants to store oxygen during high tide.
Refresh and recharge
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If you’ve spent an hour or so exploring this island idyll, you’ll have earned the right to snack. There’s a café on site, and currently – two food trucks. Abu Dhabi-based coffee brand Crane caters for those in need of a caffeine hit, with specialty brews from Dhs16. There are gourmet milkshakes from Dhs35 (including lotus biscuit flavour – swoon) and sandwiches from Dhs25. Live for the ‘za? There are more substantial carby bites on offer from Pidzza with prices starting around Dhs35 and you can enjoy your snacks from one of the multi-coloured beanbags strewn across the grass.
See it for yourself
Our verdict: A trip to Jubail Mangroves is a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and spend a few hours reconnecting with nature. The location is perfect for adding on a trip to the wild leisure life of nearby Yas Island or some culture cramming at Saadiyat.
Pro tip: you’ll get the best views and Insta shots at high tide, which varies from day to day, but you can track the flows and lows on this handy website.
Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, 8am to 6.30pm daily, closed for the summer season, free entry. Tel: (05) 63032423. park.jubailisland.ae
Images: What’s On