Why Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi must be on your list

Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi does not list on one's itinerary when travelling to the UAE and it is a pity because it is one of the very few experiences in the country that take you close to the rugged nature. As an outdoor enthusiast who loves adventure, I am quite surprised that I didn't get myself to experience this superb activity before, despite having lived in the UAE for over 7 years. This winter, when the weather began to improve, I decided to get myself out there to explore the amazing Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park in Abu Dhabi.

Although Dubai & Abu Dhabi are more popular for the desert safaris and cruises, what a lot of people do not know is that a unique marine ecosystem exists in this hidden part of the capital city, where kayaking in the calm lagoon waters, amidst a coastal forest, can be an extremely exciting, yet slightly challenging experience. Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi is a unique activity meant for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

What to expect when Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi

First of all, kayaking is an activity that requires a fair amount of arm strength, so be prepared for a good upper body workout! Even if you have not experienced kayaking before, I would encourage you to try it out. There is a short briefing session before the tour begins, which is a good introduction to the basics of kayaking - how to manoeuvre the kayak in a certain direction, how to signal your tour guide in case of an emergency, how to start or stop the kayak, or get yourself out of the swamp with ease. It is not rocket science, but it can be slightly challenging when the mangroves become extremely narrow with hardly any space to move your paddles.

Choose between tandem or solo kayaking: You have the option of taking a kayak entirely for yourself or with a partner. If you're not very confident of your strength and rowing capabilities, it is always better to choose a tandem kayaking tour. However, syncronising between the kayaking partners is a skill you'll have to learn to master if you want the kayak to move in the right direction, and with a good speed!

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

Pay attention to the briefing: The waters of the lagoon are fairly calm and thus easier to kayak in. However, make sure you pay attention to the briefing by the qualified instructors, as there are times that you may not be able to keep up with the entire group and might lose sight of the professionals. Enjoy the amazing views, kayak at a comfortable pace but be safe! Rest assured, the instructors will make sure to keep you within their sight at all times. Do focus on the safety instructions before you begin the tour.

The guided tour lasts for 1.5 hours: Although experienced kayakers can rent a kayak and explore the mangroves on their own if you're not very confident or do not know the area well, I'd recommend you to go for a guided tour. However, be prepared to kayak for 1.5 hours with only one short break (a visit to the island on your way back from the mangrove forests). It can be tiring but totally worth it!

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

The mangroves can get very narrow: Most of the tour will take you through a wide lagoon with mangroves on both sides but with ample distance to allow you to comfortably paddle the kayak. However, should you choose to explore the very interiors with the help of your tour guide, be prepared to paddle through extremely narrow inlets which aren't the easiest to manoeuvre in but are sure to give you a rush! The excitement is in finding your way amidst the low lying trees, the narrow waters and small marine wildlife. You can, however, choose to kayak only in the open, wider waters and not navigate the forests, if you're not comfortable. I'd recommend to get your adventure on, and go for it!

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

What to carry for Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi

You will most likely get splashed so I recommend you to be in swimwear or bring a change of clothes. A hat, some sunscreen, waterproof shoes or sturdy slippers and a wet bag to store your belongings would be a great idea. Drinking water is available on site and you can carry it in a bottle if you like. Also, a towel to wipe yourself later would help. Sunglasses are a great idea, especially if you're doing the afternoon tour. You would want to carry a camera or phone for lovely pictures but it is likely to get wet so its best to carry it in a protective waterproof bag. Lifejackets are provided.

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

How to book Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi

My tour was through Al Mahara Diving Centre that provides several options of Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi to choose from (such as sunset tour, full moon tour, etc). The guides are absolutely amazing and the tour group is usually kept small which provides a personalised, well-conducted experience overall.

I personally recommend their Sunset Tour as you'll get some really incredible views!

mangrove kayaking in abu dhabi

The prices: AED 160 per person for adults & AED 110 per person for kids for a guided tour.

For an unguided tour, AED 160 per tandem kayak rental and AED 110 for single kayak rental.

Disclaimer: Although my Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi was sponsored by Al Mahara Diving Centre, the opinions in this post are my genuine views on the activity. 

87 thoughts on “Why Mangrove Kayaking in Abu Dhabi must be on your list”

  1. I did not know that there are mangroves in Abu Dhabi and we can do kayaking there! You rightly said that the place is mostly associated with dunes and safaris. We have done boar riding through the mangroves and it was a surreal experience. I am sure kayaking would also be a great experience. Thank you for letting us know about this wonder in Abu Dhabi!

  2. I too agree that Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi is a beautiful thing to do though many people don’t know about it. I once went for kayaking in Abu Dhabi in a training camp and I really loved to learn something new during kayaking. As the waters of Abu Dhabi is calm and not very flowy it becomes easier to do kayaking here. Thanks for sharing all the tips about what to carry during this trip.

  3. One would never associate mangroves with Abu Dhabi…how interesting! My list of experiences for Abu Dhabi is growing longer. I think a trip is now in order…

    1. You could combine your trip to Abu Dhabi with Dubai. They’re 1-hour apart. You’ll have a lot to do!

  4. How interesting…I would never have thought of Abu Dhabi as a place to go kayaking. It looks like a nice way to get out and get some exercise as well as experience the natural side of Abu Dhabi.

  5. Ohhhh your post is a bit too late for me..Such a shame! I visited Abu Dhabi in 2015 and stayed for a couple of days. I read from mangroves somewhere but had no idea you could go kayaking. The heat was horrible and we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it in the afternoon especially. I would have loved to do that. Looks like a lot of fun and your pictures are beautiful with the pink sky. I am sure you had a great time and you mastered your skills very well with those narrow parts of the mangroves.

    1. The UAE can get very hot and humid during the summer. The best time to visit is November until March and that’s also the time when we get to do all these lovely outdoor activities. It’s a shame you missed out on it last time, but if you plan to return to this part of the world sometime, you can be assured to have a lot of new and unexplored things to spend your time on 🙂

  6. This sounds so fun! I hadn’t even heard of the Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park before but your pictures look great. The narrow inlets look like fun, maybe the tandem is the best way to go!

  7. I Did not even know there were mangroves in Abu Dhabi . Just shows there are surprises everywhere in this world. Kayaking is a perfect idea for exploring mangroves.

  8. A sunset tour sounds just perfect for me! I’ve only been to the UAE on a stopover flight, as I’m not keen on the glitzy side (!), so it’s so nice to read about a different type of activity! You’re so right about needing upper body strength, I was terrible when we tried it in the Bahamas, I left it all to my partner! Would love to try this if I ever make it out of the airport one trip!

  9. What a great way to experience something different and unique in Abu Dhabi. I’ve kayaked in mangroves in the Florida Keys and I’m glad to hear that this adventure is also available in Abu Dhabi. Going tandem is so tricky as you pointed out! It really helps to be able to coordinate movement. But I especially liked having someone to share the experience with. Thank you for the great memories.

  10. This looks like a beautiful experience. I love the time of day your tour was held. We have our own kayak and go out frequently in the mangroves around Florida. There is just so much to see and do on a mangrove tour. If your inexperienced you should definitely take a guided tour. Not all mangrove tunnels go through and your guide will know the optimal route through a fascinating and often confusing tunnel of trails.

  11. Fascinating, I had no idea there were mangrove watering areas to explore in Abu Dhabi. This would be my idea of adventure and exploring the local landscape in a new area.

  12. I love coming across such unexpected activities like this! Definitely something to check out if we ever make it the UAE! Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Wow I had no idea there were mangroves and places for kayaking in Abu Dhabi, this is amazing! I think I’d definitely need a tandem kayak as I have no upper body strength, but I would love to do it!

  14. This looks really amazing .. kayaking and mangrove forest and are we talking about Abu Dhabi here ? Hell yeah .. I mean wow ..never knew such place could exist there. .Definitely on my agenda to visit there now .

  15. Whenever I think about Abu Dhabi I think about the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque or the skyscrapers. Never did I ever think about kayaking through mangroves. This looks like a fun activity.

  16. You are right. If I was exploring Dubai or Abu Dhabi specifically, I would immediately think of doing a desert sand safari type activity. So doing something like Kayaking wouldn’t even pop up on my radar. But the Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi looks like a lot of fun and I bet it is a great way to get some exercise and escape from the sand and heat of Abu Dhabi!

  17. I have visited the Mangrove forests in Andamans and even in Koh Rong, Cambodia, but they were on a boat. Exploring the same on a kayak is an all together different experience. Looks like theres something that has to be added to my to do list in Abu Dhabi.

    1. I know what you mean, I’ve been to the mangroves in a boat in Sri Lanka as well but this was a very unique way to explore them, and the fact that we were in control of our kayaks, could take them anywhere we wanted, and required to really use our rowing skills to maneuver the kayak through the narrow forest areas, added a lot of adventure and excitement to the experience!

  18. Now this is a first….did not know about the kayaking adventure that you can do here . It seems fairly well organized and well priced too. I anyway enjoy this sport and to do it here in the seeming pristine waters…makes sense.

  19. When I saw your title, I was like ‘what?’ Abu Dabi and Kayaking! I have been to Abu Dabi once and to Dubai 5 times, and I didn’t know that. As you said most of the people know about the desert safari and cruising but not the national park and lagoon. I would try it next time when I go there and I might get the tandem one to share the hard work with my husband.

  20. You’re absolutely right! We had absolutely no idea you could go kayaking while visiting Abu Dhabi. I mean why wouldn’t we want to do that when it’s priced so fairly as well!

  21. First of all I was not aware Abu Dhabi had mangroves. Kayaking must be super exciting there. Great to see greenery there. If I get there I will do this.

  22. I did mangrove kayaking in Costa Rica once and loved it. I didn’t realize Abu Dhabi offered these types of experiences too. I would love to do the sunset tour. It sounds like it would be a fun experience.

  23. I would never have thought of kayaking in the desert. The area looks quite lush and beautiful. The sunset tour sounds quite perfect. Was it cool and refreshing by the water? Great option for one’s travels to the area.

  24. Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi would never have crossed my mind. The water is gorgeous and it’s such a unique thing to do, I’m adding it to my list

  25. This sounds like a fantastic experience and one that I’d love to try. I must say I’d definitely have to choose tandem kayaking! ? Haha but can understand why synchronising with your partner would be very important!

  26. What???? Abu-Dhabi has a kayaking experience?? I didn’t know of it all this while! But then yeah, it had huge coastlines! Somehow it never struck me! I always thought of the region as arid and desert!
    1.5hrs kayaking guided tour? That sounds super interesting! I’ll definitely take it up when I go there!

  27. I have been to Adbu Dhabi a couple of times but was not aware of this. I enjoyed my first Mangrove tour in the Philippines and it would such joy to experience this once again. To see nature as it is in the other parts of the world is something that worth our time. Will make sure to do this during our next UAE trip.

  28. Wow this is an awesome experience! Do they also host a mangrove tree planting while kayaking? That would be a cool addition to their services!

  29. I would have never thought there would be mangrove kayaking in the UAE! I always assumed that was the kind of thing to do in environments like Cambodia. Tandem kayaking is definitely an exercise in cooperation and a good test for a relationship! Glad to hear life jackets are provided. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s the thing – it is a real pity that it’s not one of the recommended activities by most people and travel agents. For me, it’s one of the best things you can do in Abu Dhabi!

  30. It was funny to see that mangrove kayaking was being recommended for Abu Dhabi. When we visited, this was not on the list of recommended activities. In fact. I would not have thought of Abu Dhabi for mangroves. But this looks like a great way to do something different in Abu Dhabi. It would be nice to do a guided tour. The narrow alleys between the mangroves look interesting. I would want to make sure I made my way out from the mangroves. A sunset tour sounds perfect!

    1. That’s the thing – it is a real pity that it’s not one of the recommended activities by most people and travel agents. For me, it’s one of the best things you can do in Abu Dhabi!

  31. I havent been to this part of the world yet but I could think that kayaking around here is a good way to cool down for a while? Am I right to say that?

    1. Sure, it’s one of the few options you have to get so close to nature and greenery. Otherwise, it’s mostly skyscrapers or the desert.

  32. Abu Dhabi for me is only about desert safaris. Thanks for sharing this one. I learned something new. Who would have thought there’s a body of water there at least a river. Btw, I so love this falling snowflakes on each photo, what app did you use for this?

  33. Wow… Mangrove Kayaking is a great idea for preserving them I think. In India, so many mangrove tracts are under threat by the developers. There is a need for some out of the box thinking like this.

  34. Woah! This definitely blew my mind. When I think of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it’s dessert safaris and lagoons. I had NOOOOO idea that there was even an option to go Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi! So interesting to learn that Abu Dhabi actually is home to a unique marine ecosystem. I totally would go with the tandem kayak as I know my arm strength is not great. If i have to kayak 1.5 hours by myself, I would struggle. Your recommendation on the sunset tour does sound lovely and the pictures look great. I think I would totally opt for this.

  35. I haven’t visited Abu Dhabi before but I would never even think you can do Mangrove kayaking over there! It looks like such an interesting experience. I’ll definitely keep it in my mind for when I decide to visit. I’m really glad I came across this article.

  36. Kayaking is one of my favorite activities and this looks like a dream! The photos of your tour almost look fake because it’s so serene and picture! I would definitely embark on the sunset tour, as well. I had no idea that Abu Dhabi had a national park devoted to mangroves. This is definitely on my must-see list when I visit! I also would choose a solo kayak. I struggle to paddle with others, ha!

    1. Haha, I know its a struggle to kayak with someone else. However, I knew I was going to get tired after a while so it was good that I had some help 😉

  37. I am very happy that I came across this post as I am going there soon. I was not even expecting that there are some mangrove forests and kayaking, so thanks for letting me know! After reading this I am putting kayaking on my list! The place really look worth it!

  38. This sounds such fun – I would never have thought mangrove kayaking was even an option in Abu Dhabi. I love the idea of the sunset tour and the price doesn’t seem too bad at all. Any problems with mosquitos?

  39. This sounds like such a great experience, escpecially the sunset tour. I am totally one of those people that wants to go to Abu Dhabi for the desert tour, but would love to try this. I had no idea there were mangroves, so this is great!

    1. The desert safari is great too, as is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. However, for adventure and nature lovers, this kayaking tour in the mangroves is a must try experience!

  40. I would never have even thought to have done Mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi so thank you for sharing this! I really want to go to Abu Dhabi badly as I’ve only ever seen it from the air when I’ve had a change over there (numerous times). Thanks for recommending the sunset tour it sounds amazing! I love your pictures

    1. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have a lot of transit flights – one can always extend the transit for a day or two to explore the city. In fact, we even have a transit visa now which is obtainable at the airport itself and is valid for 72 hours!

  41. I have never kayaked yet but I see that it is a nice adventure and it is worth trying this. If I am in Abu Dhabi I will definitely go to this place.

  42. Wow, whenever I hear about Abu Dhabi, this isn’t the kind of image that comes to mind. It’s great to discover that there is this kind of nature there and that one can go kayaking there. If I get to travel to Abu Dhabi, this is going to my top things to do 🙂

  43. This sounds such a fun and original thing to do in Abu Dhabi. I had a layover in Abu Dhabi so I could only do a quick visit but if I go back to the UAE I would definitely keep this in mind. Very very informative article!

  44. Kayaking through the mangroves sounds like an awesome experience. I’ve only done the boat rides through them and know how tight the areas are. Knowing my lack of coordination with paddling, I’ll probably end up stuck in a mangrove tree. Good thing there are guided tours available. This is another fun activity to add to the list when visiting Abu Dhabi.

    1. I was in a tandem kayak and we both struggled with the coordination as well, haha. It was fun, nevertheless!

  45. Whenever I travel to a new country I always look up kayaking. I have a goal to kayak in as many countries around the world as possible. As you mentioned, I have heard much more about desert activities in the UAE than water activities, so I am glad to know about the kayaking!

  46. Looking at the photos, I would have never thought that’s Abu Dhabi. I would kayak in wild water but these rivers look very peaceful and the mangroves are absolutely beautiful.

    1. That’s the thing, not a lot of people associate Abu Dhabi (and Dubai) with nature and wilderness. I was so lucky to find out of this activity!

  47. I’ve been to Dubai & Abu Dhabi multiple time and never heard of this hidden beauty! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I will surely do this next time I’m in town. I wonder how the moon tour is!

    1. I’m sure the moon tour would be quite amazing too! Personally, I love chasing sunsets so that was the best choice for me 🙂

  48. I would never have associated places like Abu Dhabi and kayaking together! Glad you discovered it though and looks like the tour was a hoot. With the sunset tour did you actually get to see a great sunset or was it just in the later afternoon? And did you have any issues with insects or mosquitoes? I just think low light, heat and mangroves don’t mix!

    1. The tour was for 1.5 hours and the last 15-20 min was during the sunset. It was incredible 🙂

  49. I didn’t know there is a mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi. I had done mangrove kayaking in Thailand quite a few times and I love it. In Abu Dhabi, I would love to do it too. Surely I will go for the sunset tour as recommended by you. Can’t miss the incredible views.

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