The desert is the heart and soul of Arabian life in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. It’s the birthplace…
You need to spend weeks in Ras Al Khaimah to fully experience all this multifaceted destination has to offer, but if your visit is short, there are five ‘must-dos’ encompassing the best of nature, culture and adventure, plus some fun in the sun thrown in for good measure.
Here’s a run-down of the highlights, guaranteed to immerse you in all that makes Ras Al Khaimah so unique.
The star of the show is Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak, standing majestically some 1,934 metres above sea level. Prepare for an action-packed adventure, with the chance to experience the thrill of Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline and the Jais Sledder, a mountain toboggan ride like no other. Admire and photograph sky-high views at Jais Viewing Deck Park, one of Ras Al Khaimah’s most Instagrammed locations, and after all that adrenalin, refuel with a healthy or hearty meal at 1484 by Puro, the UAE’s highest restaurant, with endless mountain peaks as your backdrop.
Another icon of Ras Al Khaimah and one of its historic treasures, Dhayah Fort sits proudly in the mountain foothills and promises a step back in time, not to mention stunning views best witnessed at sunset. Built in the late 1990s and featured on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, this golden-walled landmark, the only remaining hilltop fort in the UAE, is a sight to behold, surrounded by lush date palms and Ras Al Khaimah’s rugged mountain landscape. Climb the 239 winding steps to the top and the vistas are spectacular; watch as the sun sinks over the emirate’s picturesque coastline.
Jazeera Al Hamra
The only remaining historic pearling village in the entire Gulf region, Jazeera Al Hamra preserves every element of a traditional neighbourhood, including a fort and watchtowers, an ancient mosque, souq and an extensive courtyard, home to a collection of houses made from locally sourced materials including fossilised beach rock, mangrove tree beams and date palm trunks. A prospective UNESCO World Heritage site, the village provides insight into a bygone era, dominated by a thriving pearl-trading industry.
Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi nature drive
Connect with nature and unearth the secrets of the Arabian dunes at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, a luxury desert retreat that not only offers secluded Bedouin-tent-style accommodation, but a chance to take a guided drive through the 1,235-acre protected desert reserve. Marvel at indigenous wildlife in their natural habitat, including the Arabian Oryx, Arabian Gazelles, and the recently introduced Blackbuck Antelope. You might even spot desert foxes among the ghaf trees during this four-wheel-drive exploration, which also immerses you in the reserve’s glorious flora and fauna. A fun activity for all ages, a knowledgeable guide will talk you through the desert wonders you encounter.
Marjan Island’s beaches
Just as beautiful as Ras Al Khaimah’s desert and mountain landscapes are its white sandy beaches, and some of the best stretches to sink your toes into are on Al Marjan Island, a leisure and lifestyle destination spread across four coral-shaped islands with some 23km of coastline. The emirate’s first man-made archipelago features world-class hotels and resorts with endless private beaches where you can relax in the sun – or the shade – try a multitude of water sports, or even dine on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. You are spoiled for choice with options, but for family friendly fun, the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island offers a 300-metre private beach, a popular beachside restaurant, and a kids’ club, while all-inclusive luxury resort, Rixos Bab Al Bahr includes all beach and water sports in its package. At Doubletree by Hilton Resort and Spa Marjan Island you can find your perfect sunbathing spot on the 650-metre private beach in a secluded shallow cove, or if an action-packed beach experience is more your style, hop on a flyboard, ride through the waves on a high-powered jet ski, or parasail above islands. Cool down afterwards at the beach bar where refreshing drinks and tasty snacks await.