Swap the concrete jungle for the great outdoors by exploring these stunning natural attractions
1) The mangroves. A mega eco asset, the capital’s Mangrove National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, with lush mangrove forests, salt marshes, mudflats and algal communities to discover. In addition to its tropical vibe, the mangroves act as a natural windbreak, and guard against tidal surges, while the body of water helps remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara offers guided kayaking tours for guests. You’ll likely spot herons, foxes and turtles as you paddle and, if you’re really lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of dolphins.
2) Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. It may be famous for its pink flamingos, but there’s much more to these wetlands than pretty pink birds. More than 250 avian species, 37 plant species and a variety of dragonflies and damselflies call the five-square-kilometre landscape home. Break out the binoculars and explore on foot, or join one of the tours hosted by local nature fan and photographer Sultan Karrani.
3) Al Ain Oasis. Rewind some 4,000 years to when the people who lived here started taming the desert and you’ll get an idea of the historic significance of this sprawling oasis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, it is shaped by a complex shared water supply based on wells and falaj (the UAE’s traditional irrigation system), and you can wander through it under the shade of myriad date palms. Make it an educational experience by learning more about efforts to preserve the delicate ecosystem, and showcase traditional farming methods, at the Eco-Centre.
Main image: Abu Dhabi Mangroves.