Snorkeling In Dubai
by Karen Sweeny-Justice, Demand Media
The desert federation of the United Arab Emirates might be the last place you may think of when you think of snorkeling, but with the Persian Gulf lapping the shores of Dubai, water sports are readily available. Dubai, on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is the largest city in the U.A.E. The gulf's popularity with snorkelers and scuba divers builds on regional pearl-diving traditions that have been around for thousands of years.
Al Boom Diving (alboomdiving.com) offers snorkeling trips on speedboats scheduled three times a day. Transportation from Dubai to the Dibba port in Fujairah is just the beginning of a traditional dhow cruise off the Musandam Peninsula near the entrance of the Persian Gulf. Offered on Fridays, the full-day trip includes two snorkeling stops and a buffet lunch that serves Arabic cuisine. In addition to snorkeling and diving trips, Ocean Adventures (oceanadventuresuae.com) offers fishing charters ranging from four-hour trips to full-day adventures. Outside the city limits, Snoopy Rock, Dibba Rock and Musandam are popular snorkeling locations in the Gulf of Oman. Marine life that snorkelers and divers often see include friendly black-tip sharks, turtles and eels.
For Women Only
Divas in Dubai (divasindubai.com) gives women the opportunity to explore the waters without the presence of men. In conjunction with the Dubai Ladies Club (dubailadiesclub.com), instruction and float trips begin on the club's private beach and are open to members and non-members. On Mondays and Saturdays, only women and children are allowed into Jumeirah Beach Park (jumeirahbeach.org). Open daily, with five manned lifeguard stations, the sandy beach is close to hotels, dining and shopping. Ladies day at Al Mamzar Park (no website; Al Mamzar Creek, Dubai; 011-04-296-6201) is Wednesday.
Hotels and Beaches
With luxurious high-rise hotels lining the shoreline, beach snorkeling is never far away. The Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel and Suites (marriott.com), Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Dubai (fourpointsdowntowndubai.com) and the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort (hilton.com) are just a few of the many resorts that mention snorkeling as an area attraction specifically in their listings; many have private beaches for guests. The Atlantis Palm, Dubai (atlantisthepalm.com) has two private beaches: Royal Beach and Aquaventure Beach. The resort's Kids Club Summer Camp introduces children ages 3 to 12 to snorkeling.
Summer in Dubai is the hottest season, with temperatures in the triple digits. Foreign travel to Dubai coinciding with Islamic holidays is not recommended; during Ramadan, eating and drinking in public areas is not allowed between early morning to early evening. An international driver's license is required when renting vehicles in the United Arab Emirates. While no swimwear dress codes exist in Dubai, Westerners should acquaint themselves with local customs regarding decency. Equipment rentals are available for those who do not want to travel with equipment.