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Dubai's Great Outdoors

Surfing, Kayaking, and Other Water Sports
Dubai's Great Outdoors
It may be hot, but this city's locations between the Persian Gulf and the desert wilderness means extreme-sports enthusiasts, families, and playboys alike will all find something to lure them out of air conditioning and into the great outdoors.
By Baxter Jackson, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Ashley Cooper/age fotostock
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    Surfing, Kayaking, and Other Water Sports
    Surfing, Kayaking, and Other Water Sports
    When the swell is up and the waves are high enough, Sunset Beach is Surf City, UAE. Count on left-breaking waves at the Jebel Ali end and right-breaking waves at the northern tip of the beach. Between, expect a busy stretch of sand that's full of tourists, locals, and expats soaking up the sun. In the distance you can even glimpse the great sail of a building that is Burj Al Arab. At Public Beach (also called Umm Suqeim Beach), you can wait until the sun is down to hit the sand because two massive lights make nighttime swimming a refreshing possibility.
    Photo by Ashley Cooper/age fotostock
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    Family Fun in the Arabian Sun
    Family Fun in the Arabian Sun
    For family fun under the Arabian sun, Kite Beach offers the full package of activities oriented toward adventure lovers of all ages. Check out the Wire World Adventure Park or grab a meal by the seashore. Safa Park, too, is a favorite among local families for picnics and walks along the canal and the Dubai Miracle Garden, with whimsical topiary displays and thousands of fluttering resident butterflies, can keep children entertained far longer than most botanical gardens.
    Photo by Matz Sjöberg/age fotostock
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    Eating Alfresco
    Eating Alfresco
    You may not expect a desert city to have lots of alfresco dining options, but some locals and visitors take any chance to sit in the fresh air. Dubai has fully embraced the food truck craze—for proof, head down to Kite Beach to find Salt, a burger joint operating out of an Airstream. Salt's got a permanent parking spot these days, complete with shaded seating but it's still slinging the same fantastic sliders and shakes. Another food truck success story, Last Exit, now has four locations—at Last Exist, clusters of trucks and trailers serve a variety of fast food options from different cuisines and vendors. The welcoming roadside venue has picnic table seating, and hosts regular weekly performances by musicians and street artists.
    Photo Courtesy of Dubai Foodie
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    Nightlife by the Beach
    Nightlife by the Beach
    If the sea is calling and a pier just won’t do, flag a taxi to Dubai Marina for a kitschy and fun buffet dinner cruise around Palm Jumeirah on the Aisha Floating Restaurant—belly dancing included, participation encouraged. On Friday evenings, another kind of waterside entertainment takes place at Dubai Creek: South Asian pehlwani wrestlers and their fans gather for boisterous matches that are entertaining and give visitors an inside look at one of Dubai's many resident cultures.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    A Beach for Oil Sheikhs and Playboys
    A Beach for Oil Sheikhs and Playboys
    At JBR Beach, bikini-clad beachgoers and the athletically inclined hold court near the Persian Gulf, which is as warm and clear as a swimming pool. Camels led by turbaned men plod along the sand while skydivers spiral through the air overhead. Prepare to spend hours and hours at this beach and a host of nearby restaurants and cafés.
    Photo by Iain Masterton/age fotostock
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    The World's Largest Human Fish Tank
    The World's Largest Human Fish Tank
    Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah hosts not only the hottest beach party in Dubai but also the most insane snorkeling—in a 3-million-gallon fish tank, the largest open-air aquarium in the Middle East. The 11-yard-deep crystal cistern guarantees you’ll snorkel with guitar sharks, Napoleon wrasses, manta rays, and other marine animals indigenous to the Gulf. And if you've ever wondered what happened to the Lost City of Atlantis, it’s right there in the tank.
    Photo by Maria Breuer/age fotostock