Snorkeling and diving are among the best ways to experience the beauty and diversity of marine life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That’s why you need a guide to help you navigate these exhilarating activities’ requirements, equipment, safety guidelines, and etiquette. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable experience, including the stunning northernmost Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
Certification is an essential requirement for anyone looking to dive in the UAE. A diving certification from a recognized agency is a must whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver. This allows you to dive safely during adventure sports and access some of the best diving spots in the country.
To avoid any potential risks, be in great physical health, as diving can be strenuous. When the water is warm and visibility is good, that’s the best time to go diving or snorkeling.
This falls between October and May. Some of the most popular dive sites in the country include Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. Each site offers a unique experience, with various marine life and landscapes to explore.
Diving and Snorkeling Equipment
- Wetsuits: You can opt for full suits that cover your arms and legs or shorties that leave your arms and legs exposed.
- Masks: These allow you to see clearly underwater and prevent water from getting into your eyes.
- Snorkels: This is a tube that helps you to breathe while swimming on the surface of the water. Select one that fits comfortably in your mouth and is the right length for your face.
- Fins: Fins are like the propellers for your body, and allow you to move effortlessly through the water.
- Regulators: A regulator is a device that allows you to breathe compressed air from a tank while diving. It’s essential to have a good-quality regulator that is properly maintained and serviced to ensure your safety underwater.
- Tanks: These are the containers that hold the compressed air you’ll breathe while diving. They come in different sizes and materials, so choose the right one for your dive and check that it’s properly filled before use.
Types of Equipment for Advanced Diving
Dive computers: A dive computer is a device that helps you track and manage your dive, including your depth, dive time, and decompression limits. It’s a more advanced alternative to a traditional dive watch and can provide you with more accurate and detailed information about your dive. Some dive computers also include GPS and other features that can be useful for navigating underwater.
- Buoyancy Control Devices (BCDs): A BCD is a vest-like device that helps you control your buoyancy underwater. It allows you to adjust your buoyancy by adding or releasing air, which can help you stay at a steady depth and conserve energy.
- Dive lights: Dive lights are essential for exploring underwater caves, wrecks, and other dark areas. They come in different sizes and strengths and can be handheld or attached to your BCD. A good dive light can help you see more clearly and can also be used as a signaling device.
- Underwater cameras: If you’d like to capture the beauty of the underwater world, an underwater camera is a must-have. Some cameras are specifically designed for underwater use and can be used at greater depths than regular cameras.
- Dive within your limits: Never attempt a dive or snorkel that is beyond your skill level or physical ability.
- Buddy system: Always dive with a companion and keep an eye on each other throughout the excursion, so you’re assured of help in case of an emergency.
- Follow the dive plan: Ensure you have a clear plan in place, including the depth and time limits. Stick to the plan and communicate with your buddy throughout the dive.
- Watch your air supply: Keep an eye on your air supply and never exceed your limits. Ascend to the surface with at least 50 bars of air remaining in your tank.
- Check your equipment: Make sure that everything is in good working order and that you’re familiar with how it functions.
Exploring the Underwater Wonders of the UAE: Diving and Snorkeling Etiquette
Environmental Considerations – Protecting Our Oceans
- Coral reefs: As fragile ecosystems, coral reefs require our utmost care and protection. Exercise caution to avoid touching or damaging these underwater treasures, and refrain from stirring up sand or silt that may suffocate the reef.
- Marine life: Show respect to the vibrant marine inhabitants by maintaining a safe distance and preventing any unnecessary contact or disruption. Refrain from pursuing or disturbing aquatic creatures.
- Trash and pollution: Minimize the use of disposable items and plastics during your underwater excursions. Dispose of waste responsibly, and consider participating in beach and ocean cleanup initiatives.
Respect for Other Divers and Snorkelers
- Be aware of the space you take up and avoid getting too close to other divers or snorkelers. Respect their personal space and give them enough room to move freely.
- Communication is key to underwater activities. Proper communication is crucial to safe underwater activities. Learn and use the proper communication signals to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. For example, a “thumbs up” signal means “let’s go up,” while a “thumbs down” signal means “let’s go down.”
- Be considerate of other divers and snorkelers around you. Avoid making excessive noise or splashing, and be mindful of your movements.
Experience the Underwater Wonders While Snorkeling and Diving in the UAE
- Corniche Beach – A Diver’s Urban Haven: Abu Dhabi boasts an array of captivating diving and snorkeling locations, with Corniche Beach standing out as a prime example. Conveniently nestled in the heart of the city, this beach is a favorite among both locals and visitors. Its shallow waters teem with diverse fish and coral species, making it the perfect spot for snorkeling enthusiasts and shallow diving aficionados.
- Island Escapades – Adventures Await at Abu Dhabi Island: Abu Dhabi Island offers another exceptional diving and snorkeling experience. Crystal-clear waters encircle the island, providing superb visibility and a rich array of marine life, such as sea turtles, rays, and even sharks. Easily accessible by boat, this island is an exhilarating destination for divers and snorkelers of all skill levels.
- Zaya Nurai Island – The Epitome of Secluded Splendor: For a more private and serene retreat, Zaya Nurai Island is the ultimate destination. Situated just off Abu Dhabi’s coast, this island can only be reached by boat. Its pristine waters and abundant marine life create an idyllic setting for diving and snorkeling. Moreover, Zaya Nurai Island offers luxurious accommodation options for those who wish to extend their stay.
A number of esteemed dive and snorkeling operators in Abu Dhabi cater to those seeking to uncover the underwater treasures of the UAE. Popular establishments such as Abu Dhabi Divers, Al Mahara Diving Center, and Emirates Divers provide a range of packages tailored to divers and snorkelers of all expertise levels. From guided dives and PADI certification courses to equipment rentals, these operators have it all. They also arrange transportation to and from dive sites, ensuring a seamless experience for all guests. Prioritizing safety, these operators guarantee that every diver and snorkeler is well-trained and fully equipped before venturing into the water.
- Abu Dhabi Divers
- Phone: +971 2 643 7377
- Address: Abu Dhabi Divers, Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Website: https://www.abudhabidivers.com/
- Al Mahara Diving Center
- Phone: +971 2 643 7377
- Address: Al Bateen Marina, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Website: https://www.divemahara.com/
- Emirates Divers
- Phone: +971 2 556 6677
- Address: Emirates Divers, Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Website: https://www.emiratesdivers.com/
Ras Al Khaimah
- Al Jazeera Diving & Swimming Centre- An Aquatic Playground in the Northernmost Emirate: Venture beneath the waves with the Al Jazeera Diving & Swimming Centre, a scuba diving jewel in Ras Al Khaimah. As the only certified dive resort in the emirate, it has been setting the gold standard in diving experiences since 1997. With a stalwart commitment to environmental conservation and marine protection, the centre has made an art of blending adventure with stewardship. Yet, their offerings extend beyond diving — they also organize boat rides and snorkelling trips, ideal for those seeking a more relaxed aquatic escapade in the radiant Emirati sun. For seasoned divers, Ras Al Khaimah presents a playground of exceptional diving sites waiting to be explored. To embark on this aquatic adventure, visit aljazeeradivecenter.com or call on 07 244 5331.
- Shark Island – The Thrill of Diving Among Majestic Predators: True to its name, Shark Island is renowned for its shark inhabitants. Nestled off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, this island offers an adrenaline-pumping diving experience for those eager to observe these magnificent creatures up close.
- HMS Victoria – A Nautical Niche for History Enthusiasts: For history buffs, the HMS Victoria wreck site is a must-visit destination. The remains of a British battleship lie submerged in the waters off Ras Al Khaimah, and this site offers a unique diving experience for those interested in maritime history.
A number of reputable dive and snorkeling operators in Ras Al Khaimah provide a variety of services and experiences for visitors. Scuba Dive Arabia is one such operator, offering diving courses and excursions to several sites, including the HMS Victoria wreck site and Shark Island. Al Boom Diving is another option, catering to both novices and seasoned divers with an array of courses and trips. Additionally, Freestyle Divers offers diving courses, excursions, and equipment rentals, as well as snorkeling tours and other water activities.
These operators ensure that tourists receive professional guidance, top-notch equipment, and unforgettable experiences as they delve into the enchanting underwater realm of Ras Al Khaimah.
- Al Marsa Musandam
- Telephone: +971 7 242 1162
- Address: Al Rams, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
- Website: https://almarsamusandam.com/
- Divers Down UAE
- Telephone: +971 50 726 4430
- Address: Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa, Al Maareedh Street, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
- Website: http://www.diversdownuae.com/
- Al Boom Diving:
- Telephone: +971 7 243 3010
- Address: Al Hamra Village, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
- Website: https://www.alboomdiving.com/
- The Palm Jumeirah – An Underwater Paradise in Dubai’s Iconic Man-Made Island: The Palm Jumeirah, an awe-inspiring artificial island in Dubai, offers a remarkable diving and snorkeling experience. Crystal-clear waters envelop the island, teeming with diverse fish species, and even sea turtles. Easily accessible, the island features a variety of dive and snorkel operators catering to all skill levels.
- Dubai World Islands – A Unique Underwater Expedition Awaits: Another sought-after destination for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts is Dubai World Islands. Situated off Dubai’s coast, these man-made islands promise a one-of-a-kind underwater adventure, with azure waters and a wealth of marine life to discover. A selection of dive and snorkel operators on the islands provide excursions for divers of all abilities.
- The Burj Al Arab – Luxury Above and Beneath the Waves: The Burj Al Arab hotel not only epitomizes opulence but also serves as a popular diving site. The hotel’s artificial reef teems with marine life, making it an essential destination for diving and snorkeling aficionados. Numerous dive operators in Dubai offer trips to the Burj Al Arab, allowing you to get up close and personal with the reef’s thriving ecosystem.
Dubai is a prime location for diving and snorkeling, boasting a plethora of reputable dive and snorkel operators catering to visitors. Al Boom Diving, a well-established operator with over 20 years of experience in Dubai, offers a range of courses for all levels, as well as daily dive trips to popular sites like Dubai World Islands and the Fujairah wreck. Deep Blue Sea Diving is another notable operator, providing a variety of underwater experiences such as night dives and shark encounters. They even offer an underwater photography service, allowing you to immortalize your aquatic adventures. Other prominent operators include Divers Down and Scuba Dubai, which provide PADI courses and daily dive excursions.
- Al Boom Diving:
- Address: Al Wasl Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Phone: +971 4 3422993
- Website: https://www.alboomdiving.com/
- Deep Blue Sea Diving:
- Address: The Beach, Opposite JBR, The Walk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Phone: +971 4 456 4496
- Website: https://diveindubai.com/
- Divers Down:
- Address: Jumeirah 3 Fishing Harbour, Next to Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Phone: +971 4 295 5945
- Website: https://diversdownuae.com/
From the colorful coral reefs to the fascinating marine life, the UAE’s waters are truly a wonderland to explore. When you have a guide, you’re assured of having a fantastic time while helping preserve the natural beauty for future generations. Whether you go for the bustling city of Abu Dhabi or the tranquil shores of Ras Al Khaimah, you’ll be amazed by the stunning underwater world waiting to be discovered.