9 incredible island hopping and sea safari trips in Abu Dhabi

Seas the day…

Living in our gleaming towers and villa complexes, it’s easy to forget that the emirate of Abu Dhabi actually involves some fascinating geography. There’s the desert of course, and the mountains, mangroves, beaches, forests and then there’s the fact that the coastal is fringe is actually comprised of over 200 individual islands. The greater portion of Abu Dhabi – the city, is actually sitting on its own little island cluster, connected to the mainland with a series of bridges.

Which means that one of the best ways to explore this enthralling emirate, is to strap on the life jacket and getting a little bit nauti. Here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy Abu Dhabi adventures on the high seas.

Island hopping tours with Sea Safari

This nautical tour operating outfit is extending an invitation for you to live your very best Disney pirate life. Jump aboard one of their modern vessels for a six hour tour of Abu Dhabi’s islandscape, with barbecue (though you’ll need to bring your own food). It’s land ahoy with scenic stops at such enchanting sea-hemmed spots as Salt Island and Bahrani Island. Their boats come with music systems for stereophonic shanty support and soft drinks are included in the Dhs450 per person package price (private charters of up to eight are available for Dhs2,500, or Dhs3,000 for 15). seasafari.ae

Diving trips with Abu Dhabi Marine

Crooning crustacean, Sebastian the crab once famously sang,”darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter” and given the range of submarinal adventure offered by Abu Dhabi Marine, we might actually be on board with that assessment. You can take the plunge on trips fit for all ability levels, from snorkelling escapades (from Dhs150) and beginner scuba diving (Dhs350, for ages 10 and up) to more challenging dives and advanced PADI certificate diving courses (from Dhs1,500). Proof if any were needed, that watersports are “hotter under the water”.

Abu Dhabi Marina, next to Emirates Palace, Break Water, Tel: (800) 4386, abudhabimarine.ae

City sightseeing tours with Yellow Boats

They’ve been offering nautical tours of Abu Dhabi for the past 10 years, with insightful observations and inner circle local knowledge. The Yellow Boats Abu Dhabi have two brand new boats, both with a capacity of up to 20 people at one time. Adult prices for the these mini cruises-with-views start at Dhs239 for the 60 minute Corniche tour. Sight seeing highlights here include Emirates Palace, Corniche, Fishermen’s Village, Lulu Island and Heritage Village. Other loops are available, including a Yas trip and

Tours depart from Emirates Palace Marina and Yas Island Marina, book via the theyellowboats-abudhabi.com

Day-tripping on Dalma Island


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Dalma Island can be accessed via a ferry from Sir Baniyas ferry terminal, there’s a Dhs20 ticket to go on foot or you can bring your car for Dhs100.  Once you reach the island, you’ll feel a world away from any city. It’s a very quiet island, so don’t expect much in the way of iced lattes or multiplex cinemas — instead, find nature’s raw allure, laid bare with enchanting untouched scenery and a large population of nesting socotra cormorants.

Desert island camping with Seahawk

When Seahawk say they “know a place”, it’s worth listening. They routinely operate kayak and SUP tours through the mangroves, around Louvre Abu Dhabi and Reem Island. These experiences are run during the day as well as, for a different perspective on things, tours departing in twilight hours. But every now and again, they provide mangrove camping opportunities — usually focused around special activities like their recent Perseids meteor shower viewing evening.

To book your place on the trip, you’ll need to drop SeaHawk a message in their Insta DMs @seahawk.ae.

Gone fishin’ with Sea Safari

We’ve already name dropped Sea Safari above for their pedigree in plotting island hopping itineraries, but it’s worth mentioning they also dabble in a spot of fishing too. Whether you’re angling for a casual trip through the shallows or looking for something more deep sea and meaningful, they have charters available from Dhs1,800 which includes fishing gear, bait and refreshments. seasafari.ae

Standing tall on futuristic gadgets with Iron Waves

Iron Waves offers jet ski and flyboarding experiences from Dhs150 for 15 minutes. They have four locations in Abu Dhabi including Fairmont Bab al Bahr; Radisson Blu; Al Raha Beach and Venetian Village. ironwavesuae.ae

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Kayaking through a serene green wilderness at Jubail Mangrove park

Mangroves abu Dhabi

Jubail Mangrove Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore one of this region’s most fascinating natural habitats. Found nestled away on a quiet outcrop of Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi — the mangrove park became an instant hit with locals, residents and tourists. It features a meandering 2.3km boardwalk and sits in close proximity to the city. There are plenty of ways to explore this fascinating ecosystem including boardwalk meditation sessions (Dhs120) ranger-led, guided boardwalk (from Dhs50), kayak (Dhs100), and e-dragon boat tours (from Dhs80) of the mangroves.

Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, 8am to 7.30pm daily, Dhs15 for adult, Dhs10. Tel: (05) 63032423. park.jubailisland.ae

Dolphin spotting on Saadiyat Island

We all know Abu Dhabi has some pretty unique adventures on offer. It’s a city with more records under its belt than Paul McCartney after all, and usually that scarcity of experience is something to celebrate, enjoying these indigenous gems make us feel special, privileged. But there are some encounters we wish weren’t so rare. The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has calculated that the coastal waters of Abu Dhabi are home to approximately 700 humpback dolphins, which, sadly, makes it potentially the largest community of these endangered creatures in the world. Saadiyat is probably one of your best shots at seeing these magnificent animals in the wild, as their preferred feeding grounds stretch along the northern beaches and across to Jubail’s mangroves. Grab a pair of binoculars and head to one of the many hotels along that shorefront (including Jumeirah at Saadiyat and Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island) and get yourself a day pass. Or there’s the beach club, Soul for an affordable alternative to hotel flop-and-dropping.

Images: Provided/What’s On archives