The desert is the heart and soul of Arabian life in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. It’s the birthplace…
There’s nothing more liberating than packing the car up and hitting the road, stopping where and when you fancy, and in attraction-packed Ras Al Khaimah, you are spoiled for choice with places to take an extended pit stop.
Here are two one-day whistle-stop itineraries to consider when road-tripping from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah, encompassing the best of the emirate’s activities and terrains.
The family friendly road trip
With Ras Al Khaimah just one hour from Dubai there’s no time for the kids to ask, “are we there yet?” Before they know it, they’ll be out of the car having fun. Grab a quick breakfast to get on the road by 8.30am, taking the E311 (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road) from Dubai to the UAE’s northernmost emirate.
Your first stop is the small fishing village of Al Rams, the gateway to the unique Suwaidi Pearls experience. Here you jump on board a traditional pearl-fishing boat to visit the Middle East’s only floating pearl farm, an intimate and interactive experience where you will learn about the UAE’s fascinating and centuries-old pearl-fishing history. Kids have the chance to re-enact a traditional dive and to peer inside an oyster shell to see if a precious pearl is waiting inside. The boat tour is scenic, taking in mangroves and sand islands where wild camels roam.
On your return to Al Rams, jump in the car and head to the mountains, the UAE’s tallest, Jebel Jais, to be exact. Your history lesson and thrilling mountain drive will mean you’re hungry, so lunch at mountain-top restaurant 1484 by Puro is a good call. Dine on the outdoor terrace with the mountains as your backdrop, take plenty of family photos, and tuck into healthy and hearty dishes, with the 1484 Burger our recommendation! Be sure to make a reservation as it’s a popular spot.
After re-fuelling it’s time for adventure, and a family favourite is the Jais Sledder, a thrilling toboggan ride that hurtles around the mountains at speeds of up to 40kph. Take in the spectacular panoramas as you cover 1,840 fun-filled metres of hairpins and curves. Passengers must be 105 cm or taller and tickets can be purchased on arrival.
It’s then time for brave mum, or dad, to step up to the plate, or rather the mountain’s edge, to experience the world’s longest zipline, the 2,830km-long Jais Flight. Soar across jagged mountain peaks and swoop through deep ravines at hair-raising speeds of up to 160kph. This three-minute once-in-a-lifetime ride will make you a superhero in the kids’ eyes.
When you’ve recovered, travel back down Jebel Jais to the equestrian centre at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, a luxury desert retreat. With horses and camels entrenched in Middle Eastern culture, you can hop on either for a casual family ride or even a group lesson, with all ages and skill levels catered to. Finish off your trip with dinner at The Farmhouse, a steakhouse overlooking the resort’s lake, choosing dishes from a farm-to-table inspired menu featuring meats, fish and locally sourced produce.
You’ll drive back to Dubai with your appetite satisfied and a head full of fun memories.
The cosy couples road trip
Couples can make the most of the dynamic destination on their doorstep in a one-day road trip where dining, adventure, sport and culture are all on the agenda.
The best time to visit the UAE’s tallest mountain, Jebel Jais, is first thing in the morning, so leave Dubai by 8am and take either the E311 or E611, depending on traffic, to Ras Al Khaimah. Then, follow 30km of spectacular chicanes, switch-backs, hairpin bends and steep camber roads to the peak.
Activity one, the Jais Sky Tour, is not for the faint hearted. Situated at 1,600 metres above sea level, in takes brave-hearted explorers through a complex route of six ziplines that range from just 337 metres to more than 1km. The ziplines give you an extraordinary bird’s-eye view as you fly 5km through the Hajar Mountain range wearing a specially fitted harness that provides the least wind resistance, traveling at an average speed of 60kph.
The entire experience takes approximately two hours as you navigate seven platforms connected by six ziplines, so when you’ve finished, you will be ready for lunch at mountain-top restaurant 1484 by Puro. Tuck into dishes, from small plates and salads to heftier mains, on the outdoor terrace, with breathtaking views of the rugged terrain. Book in advance to avoid disappointment – and hunger pains!
A 30-minute drive down to the mountain foothills will take you to one of Ras Al Khaimah’s historical highlights,Dhayah Fort, dating back to the Late Bronze age. The only hill fort still standing in the UAE, fully restored in the late 1990s, it features on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Architecturally stunning, this monument is defined by its twin peaks and yellow bricks, so don’t forget your camera. Climb the 239 zig-zagging steps to the top to witness the remarkable 360-degree views of arid mountains, palm trees and even neighbouring Oman, which are definitely worth a photo or two.
Late afternoon is the time to experience life offshore, and Al Marjan Island, with its multiple resorts, is the place to enjoy some watersports and mocktails as the sun sets over the Arabian Gulf. One option is Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island where a spectacular 300-metre private beach awaits and there’s even a floating waterpark, the largest in the UAE.
Round-off your day at Ula (meaning ‘sea jewel’), the resort’s glamorous beachside restaurant, specialising in Mediterranean cuisine and freshly caught seafood. Drive home all smiles after feasting all the senses in one glorious day.