Best camping spots in the UAE part 2 | Hatta

Hatta has recently emerged as one of the best day trips from Dubai not only for camping but also for adventure enthusiasts. About 1.5 hours away from the bustling city lies this really cool spot which not only offers the visitors a chance to enjoy some peace and calm amidst the rugged mountains but also an opportunity to indulge in activities such as kayaking, boating, archery, hiking, zorbing and what not! It qualifies as one of the best camping spots in the UAE because of several reasons - ample overnight camping options, beautiful landscapes, exquisite sunrises and a wealth of activities that can keep you busy and entertained for an entire day!

While Jebel Jais is yet another camping location that takes the trophy for one of the most iconic places to pitch the tent if you're a fan of mountainous landscapes and adventure activities (after all, its the highest mountain peak in the UAE), what it lacks is access to a water body and this is where Hatta out ranks Jebel Jais. Hatta is home to the popular Hatta Dam which is built over a lake where one can kayak/ boat. Apart from that, there are smaller artificial lakes so if you're a fan of lakeside camping, you will not be disappointed. With several designated spots where you'll find ample camping enthusiasts barbecuing into the night, camping in Hatta not only makes sense but comes highly recommended!

Camping in Hatta

The best time to visit Hatta is between November - March, when the weather is just about perfect to pitch your tent. The UAE is one of the safest countries in the world so one need not be worried about that aspect. Although a little far from Dubai city, Hatta is still a part of the same emirate so you're not crossing over into another emirate (this is important to know because sometimes, different emirates have different rules with respect to camping, alcohol consumption, bon-fires etc). The temperatures here are slightly lower than in the heart of the city but be prepared for a warm / hot afternoon even during the winter due to the intense sunlight in the day time.

Camping in Hatta

With camping spots strewn across the little town, I chose a specific one which was a little far from the crowded part where most tourists go, yet it was very scenic, next to a small lake, nestled in the mountains. I found it on google maps under the name BBQ and Campsite and what attracted me about it was that it seemed a little off-route, almost on the border of Oman. You can park your car and pitch your tent right next to the lake, and while I didn't see anyone taking a dip in the cool waters, it may not be a bad idea to do it, given that the lake is quite shallow and the water seemed very clean & clear.

The camping area is free of charge but one of the cons of this camping site is that there are NO toilet or shower facilities on site. While there are built-in barbecue pits & ample parking spaces, one might need to walk over to the trees in the area behind the lake, to relieve themselves when nature comes calling. This camping spot is meant for the truly adventurous - there are no food trucks or shops in the vicinity so one must be well-prepared with their complete camping gear, enough water & food if they plan to spend the night here.

If you are looking for a more organized camping experience in a place that offers comfort in terms of facilities, Hatta Wadi Hub is a good option. Although chargeable (AED 199 on weekends), the camping site is replete with food trucks, cafes, barbecue areas, toilet and shower facilities and ample parking spots. This could be a good option for families or for those who feel that taking a leak in the open nature is not their idea of fun!

The Hatta Green Lake itself does not have any camping spots on the shores of the lake, so if you're keen on camping by a water body, the BBQ & Campsite area is a great option. You would also save some money by bringing your own barbecue grill, marinated food (easily available at Lulu Hypermarket), coal & lighter fluid. Alternatively, you could bring some ready-to-eat meals or enjoy a nice meal beforehand at Cafe Gazebo at JA Hatta Fort Hotel, which is not too far from the camping site.

Some things you need to keep in mind while camping in Hatta:

  • Be prepared for a rocky terrain; bring along your sleeping bags and additional mattress / duvet to soften the surface even more
  • Stock up on water (and food) and it may not be easy to find it late at night
  • Bring a light jacket as it can get cold at night
  • A GPS so that you can find the camping sites easily; the road signs are not necessarily helpful; especially if you're looking at one of the offbeat ones
  • You do not need a 4x4 vehicle to get to this area so you need not worry about that
  • Make sure to carry a garbage bag with you; keeping the area clean and not littering are a very important part of camping in the outdoors
  • Be prepared to watch mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets!

  • Some people in the camping sites can be very noisy; I had to put up with loud music until 3 am because of a very insensitive, young group of college students who did not sleep the night
  • Hatta is still a part of Dubai, so they're a lot more relax and open in terms of the rules on carrying/ drinking alcohol in public spaces; this means you can carry your own and drink while you are there, but make sure not to create any problems or issues which could bring attention to you else the cops may reprimand you for it

Adventure Sports & Other Activities in Hatta

Hatta is slowly becoming the adventure capital of the UAE. One of my favourite things to do here is kayak at the Hatta Green Lake. At AED 60 for single kayaks and AED 120 for double, it is certainly not cheap but the experience is worth it. The views from the dam above are nothing short of spellbinding but the quiet waters are best navigated in a kayak or paddle boat. Don't underestimate the size of the lake though, it can get really tiring to go from one end to the other. However, if you do land up in the middle of the lake, to tired to paddle your way back, just signal for the coat guard and help will be on its way!

There are a lot of other adventure activities in Hatta that you can try out. Not far from the Hatta Dam (or the green lake) is Hatta Wadi Hub and here are some really cool activities you can experience here:

  • The 'Hatta Drop-In': be prepared to land into a plunge pool after sliding down/ tubing from a height of 15 meters (don't forget to bring your swim wear for this)
  • The 'Cannon/ Slingshot': It's the ultimate adrenaline rush to be catapulted at a speed of nearly 100 kmph; the perfect activity for adventure junkies
  • Zorbing: This is probably the only outdoor zorbing experience in the UAE
  • Other activities like Axe Throwing, Archery, Trampoline

Another cool thing to try out is a hike to the Hatta Sign. For hiking enthusiasts, there are several options to choose from.

Coming soon - Hatta Cable Car!

I remember mentioning to a friend while camping in Hatta that the upcoming destination is missing only one thing - a cable car. And viola! In January this year, the plans were announced for a 5km + cable car right above the Hatta Dam that will transport people to the Um Al Nesoor summit. I can only imagine how gorgeous the views of the green lake will be from the cable car. With three intermediate stops, which will offer viewing platforms, cafes & restaurants, and recreational facilities, it's one of the new projects in Dubai that I cannot wait to experience!

21 thoughts on “Best camping spots in the UAE part 2 | Hatta”

  1. I love Hatta! But it’s been temporarily closed.

    We still tried to go in the open BBQ and Campsite over the long weekend but the road going to that spot has been closed as well and there’s a watchman that will advise to go to Wadi Hub instead if you want to camp. I guess that previous spot isn’t free anymore. 🙁

    1. I am surprised because I literally just went there last year; no reason for the camping site to be closed!

      1. Thanks for this wonderful post and great information! I was curious if you’ve heard anything else regarding this campsite, and whether it’s open or not?

  2. This is amazing and most adventure. This is the best place who are seeking for adventures and relaxation. Thanks for sharing

  3. Camping? Say no more and we are in for this kind of experience. Never thought you could camp in the UAE and never heard of Hatta but it looks fantastic. Seems like a more offbeat experience to take and would definitely be on our radar when we visit. We just love destinations like which are more adventurous and out in nature.

  4. I didn’t realize that camping was a thing in the UAE. I knew about the tent camping in the desert as part of an excursion. but how cool to just be able to go camp. Love that there’s no charge to camp!

  5. We are certainly sorry we missed a day trip to Hatta when we were in Dubai. But I am sure an overnight stay would be something to plan when we return one day. I love the remoteness of the spot you chose to camp. Although the lack of facilities might be a challenge for me. I can certainly see why kayaking in Green Lake is one of your favourite things to do.

  6. Thanks for sharing this beautiful places to make our camping more interesting in the UAE Hatta. Would love to around these amazing places. Thanks again for sharing such good spots for camping.

  7. I’m not sure camping would be my first choice for lodging if I were to visit UAE. Like you say, some of these campers are noisy and inconsiderate to their neighbors. But I have to agree the location of the campsite in Hatta is truly beautiful and it sounds like there are a lot of great activities around.

  8. Hi there,
    I never even knew camping was a thing in the UAE! I think if I were to camp there, Hatta Dam as it looks to have many activities:) Lots of water activities to cool down in. Nikki

  9. I love that there are so many adventure things to do while camping in Hatta! The view is beautiful, but having experiences close by just makes the camping experience in my opinion. Would love to camp around the UAE one day as I learn of all these wonderful places!

  10. I’ve never heard of Hatta before but it looks amazing. I love places where I can do my usual water sports: kayaking and SUP. With the right people, I might also consider doing the more adventurous activities like the slingshot. Zorbing sounds fun too!

  11. Great to know camping is safe and the best camping weather is November – March. I love the recommendation of Hatta Wadi Hub due to the available food trucks and cafes. Sounds like there are a lot of great activities. I’m not brave enough to do the slingshot, but it would be fun to try zorbing. Thank you for the recommendations

  12. I never heard of Hatta in the UAE and now seems it has to be done when I eventually get to the country. I am learning about new places to hit up away from the cities and as I love the mountain/rugged terrain, this seems to be my sought of destination. Would love to see if there are hiking trails in the area but if I go with my young kids, I am sure they would love to have fun on the water. Hatta….we soon come (once Covid goes!).

    1. There are several hiking trails in the area. It’s one of the upcoming destinations that has something for everyone – adventure, kids activities, relaxation & nature walks.

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