The UAE, with its sprawling deserts, stunning coastlines, historic neighborhoods, and futuristic cityscapes, is a treasure trove for the intrepid…
You’ll be surprised at the array of free things you can do in Ras Al Khaimah. Here are some of the top finds!
The mountains are the first thing you’ll see when approaching Ras Al Khaimah. Their formation is something that has attracted scientists for decades; it’s one of the rare places geologists have a rare glimpse of the Earth’s crust. Jebel Jais boasts over 100 kilometres of breathtaking, sustainable hiking trails. Various trails can take anything from an hour to a couple of days and are suitable for different fitness levels. Explore the Jebel Jais mountains and discover remote communities, rare plants, mammals and birds.
Geocaching is by far the largest treasure hunt in the world, with over three million hidden caches in almost every country. There are ample geocaches in and around Ras Al Khaimah, from the beaches and deserts to abandoned buildings and the mountains. The global treasure hunt encourages you to explore new areas and join the movement of people looking for hidden stashes. The cache hiders can provide a series of clues, GPS coordinates and possible photographs. The physical geocache consists of a weatherproof container and a logbook for those that found it! Some caches might have fun ornaments for kids to swap around. Each cache will have a description and sometimes a potted history of the area. It’s a great pastime that keeps you out, about and active. You can enjoy Geocaching in your home country too!
Its inhabitants left Al Jazirah Al Hamra between the late 1960s and the early 1970s with the discovery of oil. It’s fun exploring the abandoned fishing village and discovering the mix of dwellings, from tiny, simple houses, courtyard homes, and two-storey buildings to the large courtyard residence that belonged to the wealthy pearl merchant. The structures were built traditionally using local materials such as coral blocks and fossilised beach rock, mangrove tree beams, date palm trunks, roofing, matting and ropes and layers of seashells for drainage. The open-air museum is unmanned, so precaution is advised.
The castle-like structure, Dhayah Fort, is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List and stands proud amidst the arid Jebel Jais mountains and fertile date wadis. The historical fort forms the heart of the lush oasis and boasts impressive views from the mountains, across the may date palms and the verdant lands that lead to the neighbouring Musandam Peninsula and down to the sea. The twin-peaked gold-coloured mud-brick fortress was built during the 19th century and restored in the late 1990s. Dhayah Fort is the only hill fort remaining in the United Arab Emirates dating back to the Bronze Age (1600 – 1300 BC), when locals used it for settlement and fortification. The fort is an important historical monument where the 1819 battle between British troops and local Qawasim tribes took place. It’s worth climbing the zigzagging steps to witness the spectacular views.
Take a trip north to find the old fishing village Al Rams. The slightly down-at-heel fishing village is home to the early Tanaij tribe, who were once fishermen, pearlers, traders, fishermen and mountain men. They occupy one of the most unexpected and beautiful locations in the entire Emirate. The village’s shoreline is shallow and calm and perfectly reflects its seafaring history in its waters. If you are a nature lover, you’ll appreciate the lengthy Rams beach and Saraya Island. The pristine waters are perfect for peaceful watersports like kayaking and paddle boarding. You’ll no doubt marvel at wild camels taking themselves for a swim to rid themselves of the desert sand and pesky bugs. Now and again, a pink lake appears, a phenomenon known as a sabkh or red algae.
Souqs are at the heart of any community across the region, and Kuwaiti Souq is no different. It’s a great place to people watch and learn a thing or two about the way Middle Easterners do business and shop; it’s not for the faint-hearted! You’ll soon find that prices are not fixed, so it’s a great place to hone your bargaining skills; the market’s shopkeepers expect you to try and haggle. At the market, you’ll find everything from herbs and spices, household goods, yellow and rose gold, souvenirs, fabrics and pashminas, colourful camel sculptures and arty nik-naks and trinkets. The best time to visit the souq is in the early morning or late afternoon so that you can hunt out a bargain or two. The market and its narrow streets have a slightly timeworn feel and are friendly and bustling. Round off your day with a fancy Arabian-inspired ice cream from Ashuk, a favourite local café.
Shopping in a foreign country is always an interesting experience. If you visit a supermarket like Spinneys, you’ll find all sorts of foods that you’ve possibly never experienced before and even dedicated areas for ‘foreigners only’. Whilst in Ras Al Khaimah, why not try some lactose-free camel milk? It’s rich and creamy and highly prized in the UAE. You’ll find delicious local dishes at the fresh food counter, such as hummus, ful medames, falafel, baba ghanoush and tabouleh. Across the Emirate, several world-class shopping malls have an interesting blend of Western and Middle Eastern stores. Pop into one of the many local tailoring shops and discover over 50 shades of white fabric that tailors handcraft into crisp white kanduras for Emirati men and hundreds of bolts of black fabric that will become abayas, the traditional dress for Emirati ladies. If you are lucky and your timings are right, you might find local dragon boat teams practising their skills on the water at the back of Manar Mall.
Locals will tell you that Corniche Al Qawasim is the most beautiful road in the Emirate. The three-kilometre waterfront esplanade is lined with luxury apartments, restaurants, local cafes, access to various water activities and a children’s play area. The wide walkway allows for unhurried families, walkers, cyclists and joggers. The corniche comes alive at night, so ensure to get there before the sun starts to set and enjoy the gloriously unique offerings that the promenade offers. The RAK Eye is a grand 37-metre Ferris wheel that boasts extraordinary views over the Grand Mosque, corniche, lush mangroves, and the city’s skyline to the Arabian Gulf. Take note of the mighty flagpole that proudly flies the Emirati flag 120 metres above the ground.
Another great place to stretch your legs is Al Marjan Island. Join other visitors and residents along the 2-kilometre corniche lined with palm trees and world-class hotels. The corniche is unique and has the Arabian Gulf on either side, affording you spectacular views as you practice your exercise routine. You can enjoy a healthy and sociable lifestyle by walking, jogging, running or cycling along the wide tracks. The track is especially popular during the cooler hours of the early morning or evening. Several expat groups regularly meet for a workout. If you are a runner, you could join one of the events such as Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon – the world’s fastest half marathon or Ras Al Khaimah Triathlon, which take advantage of the impressive route around Al Marjan Island.
With 64 kilometres of coastline, there is no shortage of spectacular beaches in Ras Al Khaimah, and many of them are public beaches meaning that you can paddle and swim for free! You can enjoy the shallow and calm bays that surround Marjan Island. A beautiful beach runs the entire length of Al Hamra Village and in front of Jazirah Al Hamra; it’s nice and shallow, so it is ideal for learning swimmers, paddlers and those wanting to play in the shallows. Further north is Flamingo beach which boasts shallow shores and a lack of currents making it the perfect place to play games, learn to swim or relax and while away an afternoon. There is a floodlit beach volleyball court so you can play well into the evening. The beach is easy to walk along with a maze of interlocked walkways allowing for easy access of prams and wheelchairs.
Al Hamra Beach