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From kayaking through peaceful mangrove forests to exploring the city’s underwater world without any diving equipment, here are five adventures our Forbes Travel Guide editors feel are not to be missed during your trip to Abu Dhabi:
1. Mangrove Tour. When you’ve seen enough of the city’s congested streets and taken in plenty of views of its modern, rapidly changing skyline, take an eco-friendly break from the urban jungle by paddling your way through the natural mangrove forests that are just a short ride away from the city center. Guided tours are available by the hour from a number of different companies – ask your hotel concierge for recommendations and assistance booking a tour – with most offering the opportunity to squeeze some fishing into your trip as well as to visit a crab habitat.
2. Dhow Cruise. Plan to spend at least one evening cruising the UAE coastline aboard a traditional dhow. Lasting at least two hours and often including dinner and live entertainment, these cruises are one of our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ favorite ways to take in the Abu Dhabi cityscape and the surrounding islands.
3. Yas Marina Circuit. Racing fans can satisfy their need for speed by booking one of the exhilarating driving experiences available at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. The Yas KartZone is open to would-be Formula 1 drivers aged 8 and up, while daring adults can take it a few steps further by getting behind the wheel of a real race car for a few spins around the race track.
4. Desert Safari. No trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without embarking on a desert safari, which starts with a thrilling, super-bouncy ride through sand dunes on a 4x4 vehicle. Once you reach your desert camp you’ll enjoy a belly-dancing performance, short camel ride, falconry displays and a buffet of local cuisine served in a large tented area complete with a pit fire.
5. Snorkeling and Diving. In addition to kayaking through mangrove forests, snorkeling and scuba diving are two of the other most popular activities available in the waters surrounding Abu Dhabi. Ever wondered what it’s like to explore aquatic depths without the assistance of an oxygen tank? Free-diving, when divers hold their breath for anywhere from 2 – 5 minutes while swimming with the assistance of a single fin, is one of the most extreme ways to see marine life, but this is one activity that’s obviously not for the faint of heart – and one you’ll need some training for.