Perhaps the most natural and unique setting in the UAE is the desert. Every single one of the country’s seven Emirates has long stretches of sand and dunes, with natural desert fauna and flora that will help people better understand life during the time of the Bedouins. The best way to check out the desert is by booking a desert safari, which is available through several different travel companies around the country.
The Green Planet
Who would have guessed that one of the country’s most intricate ecosystems was actually located inside of a dome? The Green Planet, located in the middle of urban Dubai, is Dubai’s very own tropical rainforest. With more than 3,000 species of plants, animals and birds, this green oasis is a sanctuary of exotic flora and fauna. Aiming to educate guests about the important role the tropical forest plays in the future of our planet, The Green Planet exposes Dubai to another world within its glass dome. Responsibly sourced species include sloths, snakes, spiders and a vast array of birds. Appealing to visitors of all ages, this spot is perfect for a family outing. The bio-dome is made up of four levels: the Canopy, the Midstory, the Forest Floor and the Flooded Rainforest. Each level discusses the role and the importance of every part a rainforest plays.
Only around an hour’s drive from Dubai, but still inside the Emirate, the Hatta Dam is a serene spot away from the buzzing city of Dubai that features stunning turquoise waters and rugged mountainscapes. It’s part of the Hatta Mountain Conservation Reserve – the only refuge in Dubai for endangered animals endemic to the mountain environment. The reserve also holds significant historical importance with ancient pottery found in the valleys.
Drive your car along the dam, hike a bit between photo stops, and spend some time soaking up the natural beauty of the mountainous area. Visitors can also admire the landscape from the water and burn some calories by kayaking or paddleboarding. Looking for something different? Hop on a floating donut boat with your friends or partner up to enjoy tandem bike-boating. This is the perfect spot for all nature-lovers to get a bit wet and try different water activities, such as stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Although the Dubai Miracle Garden is manmade, it is still one of the most beautiful places in the country for nature-lovers to visit. The garden consists of several large floral arrangements, including the largest one in the world, as per the Guinness World Records. This takes the shape of an Airbus A380 and is a jaw-droppingly massive structure. For those who love flowers and want to take some epic pictures, this is the right spot.
Al Zorah Nature Reserve
Located in the Emirate of Ajman, the Al Zorah Nature Reserve is one of the most unique in the country. The spot is home to several pink flamingos, giving color to the natural mangroves there located. With nearly 60 different species of bird, this is an ideal spot to birdwatch, as well as finding a natural haven a little bit away from the UAE’s most popular cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sir Bani Yas Island
Sir Bani Yas Island is the dream place for UAE visitors who wish to stay in the midst of nature. Travelers can book a stay at the Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resort, which is a plane or boat ride away from Abu Dhabi, and they will find themselves right next to the Arabian Wildlife Park. The park is home to over 13,000 animals and visitors can go on safaris in order to see the vast variety of species living there. The animals roam around freely and undergo successful breeding programs, making this an ideal place for animal lovers.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
Located on the edge of Baniyas, this natural reserve is situated in an off the beat, blink and you’ll miss it, location. The wetland reserve is also known as Flamingo City and is totally worth finding if you want to experience a whole other side of the UAE. It is one of the few undisturbed wildlife areas in the country and is also very remarkable and known for being home to hundreds of flamingos, which you’ll be able to watch from a designated hide. The area is also beautiful when you simply just want to take a long walk through proper woodlands and shrubbery. It will feel like a well-needed escape from the usual bustling city life.
Mangrove National Park
Mangrove forests can be found all over UAE, but the closest to Abu Dhabi is the Mangrove National Park, a slice of peace and nature away from the bustling city. Modern constructions have ravaged a huge chunk of mangrove population here, bringing a negative ripple effect on the biodiversity that the trees support. Conservation efforts have been made to restore the balance, including opening the park up to the public to spread awareness. Visitors have the options of kayaking, paddle boarding, or boating tour to explore the area. The water is clear enough to witness life wriggling between the roots, but you can also make a game out of spotting slightly larger animals, such as turtles, blue swimmer crabs, and even dolphins.
Bu Tinah Island
Abu Dhabi has a large number of islands, offering visitors everything from extreme sports to luxury. However, one of the most important islands in the capital is Bu Tinah Island. The spot does not have any touristic structure but is known for being the first and largest UNESCO recognized reserve in the region. The island earned this prestigious title for being home to an endangered species of turtle, the Hawkbill turtle and is one of the most stunning spots for nature lovers.