Written By Ashton Fernandes (Guest Post).
Abu Dhabi is one of the top cities in the world that has managed to balance development and conservation.
The emirate continues to undergo development and urbanization for commercial, industrial, and tourism reasons. However, the city has also done a good job of maintaining and improving its natural resources.
As a result, Abu Dhabi has several natural attractions that range from deserts to wetlands and islands and shores that visitors and residents love going back to over and over again, even if it is a commercialized city.
All these places are worth visiting and exploring even if you are not a true-blue nature lover.
Abu Dhabi’s Top Natural Attractions
If you want to get into the heart of nature in Abu Dhabi, below are the top six natural attractions you should consider visiting first:
1. Yas Beach
With Abu Dhabi’s warm weather conditions, you can’t help but give in to the need to go to the beach where you can cool off while splashing around in clear blue waters, and relax on the shoreline.
Yas Beach is one of the most picturesque and serene beaches in all of the United Arab Emirates. It boasts powdery soft, white sands and clear blue waters.
Although the beach is home to a premier resort, the locals have managed to maintain its natural features. Because of this, the place is known for its various water activities and sports, including snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, banana boating, and volleyball.
Also, the beach has a mangrove park, which is also worth exploring. It is an excellent place to know more about mangroves and this fascinating ecosystem.
While canoeing or kayaking through the park, you will be able to see different species of fish, aquatic creatures, and birds.
2. Sir Bani Yas Island
Another natural attraction you can visit while on Yas Island is Sir Bani Yas Island.
Sir Bani Yas Island is home to a protected wildlife reserve, which was established by the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The wildlife reserve shelters and protects thousands of free-roaming animals that include the Arabian Oryx, gazelles and deer, giraffes, Somali ostrich, and even dolphins. The area also has hundreds of avian and plant species.
To explore the area, you can go on a history and culture tour, 4×4 safari, or mountain biking. You can also go kayaking and pearl diving while you’re here for an additional adventure.
If you want to get up close and personal with various species of flora and fauna in the UAE in a pristine natural environment, you won’t go wrong with visiting Sir Bani Yas Island.
3. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
Al Wathba is another natural gem in Abu Dhabi.
Also known as Flamingo City, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve encompasses different habitats, including dunes and freshwater and saline lakes. It is also home to a variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants.
All these natural features make the area the perfect home to different species of land, water, and air animals.
If you love birdwatching, you will love Flamingo City. Aside from flamingos, you will be able to spot dozens of endemic and migratory birds in the area.
Visiting the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a fun experience, too. You can take different walking trails that will take you into the heart of the area as you explore the diverse ecosystems.
4. Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Formations
While in Al Wathba, drop by the nearby desert, which has become popular in social media sites recently since it is eerily similar to the scenes and backdrops you will see in different popular science fiction films, including “Star Wars.”
The Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Formations boasts of artfully moulded sand structures.
These structures were formed as sand, salt crystals, and other minerals in the desert were interspersed and blown by the strong winds in the past years.
If you want to get the best photos while in the area, make sure you are here during sunset. The enormous setting sun amidst the unique, picturesque sand dunes makes for out of this world, eye-catching photos.
To capture images that could rival the best photos in the UAE, visit the area during sunset. With the large setting sun in the background, you will feel like you are in Tatooine or any desert planet in the “Star Wars” films.
Another option is to go early in the morning and enjoy a picnic or even just a cup of coffee as you watch the sunrise slowly.
5. Bu Tinah Island
Bu Tinah, a private nature reserve, is a cluster of islands and shoals that are joined or nearly so at low water. These landmasses range from two to three metres above sea level.
The small archipelago lies within the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, the country’s first and biggest UNESCO-designated marine biosphere reserve.
The nature reserve is heavily protected by local authorities, and as such, fishing and collecting turtle eggs are prohibited. Tourists are allowed to enter, but only in designated areas.
Some of the fascinating fauna you will be able to spot here are flamingos, ospreys, Hawksbill turtles, and different species of dolphins.
Bu Tinah Island is also home to the world’s second-largest population of dugongs or manatees.
6. Al Dhafra Beach
If you want to go on a desert adventure and head to a beach afterwards, Al Dhafra is an excellent place to visit.
Al Dhafra is one of the most popular campsites in Abu Dhabi. It covers up to two-thirds of the desert in the city, and as such, is one of the most expansive areas here.
The area is home to the “Empty Quarter,” a desert with over 250,000 square miles of undulating sand dunes. You can explore this vast wilderness through horseback riding, a 4×4 safari, and even cycling.
Some distance away from the “Empty Quarter” is Al Dhafra Beach. It is an expansive white sandy beach which is a popular camping site.
While in the area, you can also drop by or camp at Liwa Oasis. It has several beautiful sand dunes, eye-catching landscapes, and a variety of interesting wildlife.
Aside from camping, you can engage in several exciting activities here, which include sandboarding and dune bashing.
When you stay overnight here, be prepared to be awed by the clear night skies and the thousands of bright stars that won’t fail to take your breath away.
Abu Dhabi has plenty of places where you can get up close and personal with nature. Whether you are a resident or tourist, these natural attractions won’t disappoint you.
Feature Image Credit- Eurosets