Nothing like a rejuvenating camping journey can clear your head and drain all the anxiety to make room for the energy you need for resuming normal life. When it comes to camping in the UAE, you’ll get to choose from a vast array of beautiful spots; from mountains and beaches to deserts and oases. In this article, we have prepared a list of the best UAE camping spots for you to set up your tent.
Camping in the UAE
Life in the United Arab Emirates is unique in many aspects. It is famous for its opulent hotels and grand resorts though the expansive urban infrastructure has not deprived the region of its natural beauties. True, you can have lots of fun in UAE’s gorgeous hotels but there are many who are willing to exchange the roof of a hotel room for a roof made of a clear sky painted with myriad stars.
Fortunately, UAE’s enchanting camping sports are as diverse and as attractive as its hotels and shopping centers. If you want to leave all the hustles and bustles of the city life behind and find the purest serenity in an alluring untamed environment, UAE can offer you some of the best camping spots in the whole world. Camping is one of the best ways of spending a holiday in the UAE. In the following section, we are going to introduce to you 20 of the UAE’s refreshing camping spots. You can also check out our list of the UAE public holidays for 2022 and plan how you want to spend your days off in advance.
Best Camping Spots in UAE
From remote deserts to refreshing beaches, the UAE offers a wide range of unique camping spots thanks to its unique geographical region. When in the UAE, you can camp in deserts, on shorelines, in the wilderness, or at opulent resorts.
UAE’s Most Beautiful Desert Campsites
Deserts are signature camping spots of the UAE. You can enjoy a night sky full of stars while lying down on a bed of fine sand in the tranquility of the desert. Here are some of the most popular deserts for camping:
Liwa, the Most Famous Desert Among Campers
Those who live a busy city life often find solitude to be one of the most precious gifts in life and that’s why Liwa is one of the most cherished among UAE’s camping spots. Located amidst the Rub Al Khali, meaning the empty quarter, Liwa greets its visitors with one of the purest experiences of desert camping. The deeper you delve into the dessert, the more beautiful it gets. Liwa is also one of the best places for conquering the extensive dunes basking in unforgettable moments of stargazing.
Keep in mind though that it’s easy to get lost in the middle of all the sand, so don’t forget to carry a GPS and bring along power banks to recharge your phone. Camping in Liwa requires lots of preparation. Aside from tents, sunscreen, and jackets to keep you warm during the cold desert nights, it’s good to include compasses, shovels and plenty of water in your supplies. Also make sure to fill the tanks of your vehicles with fuel. You’ll come across a plethora of dunes on your way to Liwa so it is recommended to travel in 4x4s.
When in Liwa, you will also be close to the village of Hamim (roughly a 50-kilometer drive away depending on your location). Along the road to Hamim, you’ll come across a spectacular motor museum which is a must-see. It is owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, also known as the “Rainbow Sheikh”, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family (if you’re curious to know more, read our thorough guide to the royal families of the UAE).
Al Qudra Lakes, an Artificial Oases to Camp in
Need a quick getaway from the liveliness of Dubai? One of the best camping experiences in all of the UAE is sitting an hour away from the city waiting to rejuvenate you. The artificial lakes of Al Qudra are surrounded by dunes; giving rise to a beautiful man-made oasis.
Al Qudra lakes might not be a life-long journey away from the city, but they are far enough to reward you with a sky full of stars at night. The banks of the lakes serve as perfect spots for a barbecue setup and you can explore the waters after sunrise for a refreshing morning experience. If bird watching is your hobby, you’ll be thrilled to know that Al Qudra lakes are home to 360 species of birds among which almost half are migratory.
You don’t need off-road cars to visit Al Qudra lakes unless you want to explore the nearby dunes. Don’t forget to bring your own BBQ box since setting up campfires on the ground is not allowed.
Fossil Rock, a Camping Spot From the Old World
In the middle of a desert just a one-hour drive away from the city of Sharjah, a giant piece of rock bulges out of the sand. The rock bears some wonderfully-preserved fossils of ancient marine invertebrates and that’s why it is called the Fossil Rock. The presence of this rock has turned its surrounding areas into spectacular camping spots.
You can set up your camp near the rock and hike it to be rewarded with a spectacular view of the surrounding desert. The area is also a paradise for off-roaders thanks to its numerous dunes. Overall, the Fossil Rock area is a great spot for families and those who are new to camping.
Al Dhaid Desert
Al Dhaid desert, which is home to the oasis town of Al Dhaid, is located roughly 60 kilometers east of Sharjah city. You can take the E88 road from Sharjah and drive straight to the desert. Al Dhaid is pretty expansive and its vastness makes it hard for visitors to find the right camping spot. However, you can keep driving along the E88 road and eventually, you will come across an open space which is a great spot for setting up your camp.
You can also pay a visit to Sharjah Desert Park on your way to Al Dhaid Desert. It is a preservation facility for endangered desert species; both animals and flora. There is also a petting farm inside the park where children and their families get to spend time with domestic farm animals.
UAE’s Coastal Campsites
Don’t be tricked by the UAE’s expansive deserts because the region packs several fine beaches too. If you’re in the mood to go camping near the sea, consider the following beaches and coasts:
A relatively isolated beach only a 25-minute drive away from the city of Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, the Shipwreck beach is a popular camping spot that allows you to enjoy the clean waters of the sea while gazing at the Rub Al Khali in the background. Don’t expect to find any facilities in the area since it’s untamed and remote and bring along all the supplies and camping equipment you need.
The waters near the beach are pretty shallow and won’t get any deeper than knee-height, so feel free take a walk along the shore and get your feet wet.
Shuweihat island offers one of the most picturesque coasts in all of the UAE. This stunning island is located just off the coast of Abu Dhabi and is decorated with beautiful rock formations. These formations alongside the rugged train near the beach make some spectacular frames for your camera to capture. The water is also perfect for swimming so make sure you include it in your camping schedule.
Shuweihat Island is a remote piece of land in the middle of the sea, so if you are planning to go camping there, you should go well-prepared. Make sure you bring along all the supplies and equipment you need for your camping trip. There is also a UAE military facility on the island, so be careful not to get too close to the base.
White Sands Beach
If you plan to go on a camping trip on a budget, White Sands Beach, located between the Fins and the Wadi Shab, can be a suitable spot for you. You can camp at the White Sands Beach and purchase all the supplies you need for a reasonable price. The cliff overlooking the beach is a great spot for setting up your camp.
When on White Sands Beach, you have the option to engage in a variety of water sports such as paddle boarding, snorkeling, and diving. You can also bring along your fishing rod and do some fishing. Stay alert though and avoid the sea urchins that frequent the waters.
Al Aqah Beach
Al Aqah Beach is one of the most popular camping spots in Fujairah and is three hours away from the city of Dubai. The beach is located close to the Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort. This means you’ll be able to find plenty of restaurants nearby and won’t have to worry about running out of food. There is also a wide range of water sports you can take part in for a quick boost of adrenaline.
Snoopy Island, a Camping Spot Straight out of the Fantasy
Jazirat al-Aqqa, commonly known among English speakers as the Snoopy Island (because it resembles Snoopy, a cartoon character), is another popular camping spot in Fujairah. This small rocky island is just off of the Al Aqah beach. Keep in mind though that the island is really small (only 100 meters in length) and considering its popularity, you might not always be able to find an empty camping spot. However, the experience will be quite memorable so it’s definitely worth a shot.
Al Rafaah Beach
Al Rafaah beach is one of the best camping spots that the Umm Al Quwain emirate has to offer. In order to get to Al Rafaah, you’ll need to hit the E311 road, also known as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed road, and head towards Ajman. Take the Dreamland Aqua Park exit and from there, the signs will guide you to Al Rafaah.
If you plan to go for an overnight camping trip on the Al Rafaah beach, we recommend setting up your camp a bit further away from the seashore. You wouldn’t want to get wet when the sea level rises at night! One of the major attractions of the Al Rafaah beach is the mangrove trees scattered along the coast. These peculiar trees are a sight to see and you can kayak your way between them and enjoy the beautiful coastal vegetation. Al Rafaah beach is also a good fishing spot so don’t forget to bring along your fishing gear.
Al Dhafra Beach, Where Turtles Camp Too
Al Dhafra beach, located just outside Abu Dhabi, is one of the best camping spots to relax and enjoy the company of friends, family, and… turtles! Al Dhafra beach is pretty vast so you wouldn’t need to worry about finding an empty spot. However, if you are planning to go camping here, you have to bring all the necessary supplies and equipment. It’s also good to pack a wetsuit since you’ll have the option to take part in several water sports such as kayaking and snorkeling.
Camping in the Wilderness of the UAE
Camping in the UAE is not all about sand. If you are in the mood for hiking, there are some rough terrains around the you’ll find quite to your liking:
Acacia Forest, a Remote Spot for Campers
If you explore Dubai’s mountainous terrains well enough, you’ll be able to find a soothing campspot; the Acacia forest. The forest is 10 kilometers away from the Khor Najd in the mountains of Musandam. Acacia forest is a bit hard to find and it’s best to go there with other campers that have explored the area before. Traveling in camping convoys is good for keeping track of the roads and not getting lost.
You will find the tranquility of this beautiful forest quite charming, especially at night. If you want to set up campfires, don’t forget to bring your own firewood cause you won’t be able to find any in the forest. There is also a military firing range in the area so pay attention to the signs and be careful not to cross the perimeter of the military base.
Hatta mountains offer a complete camping package so keep in mind to set aside enough time and not to rush your experience. There are numerous camping sites in Hatta mountains; each having their own unique perks to offer and coming with several attractions and facilities.
You can venture out in the wild and set up your tent in the middle of the desert or take part in a number of recreational activities available such as kayaking. Oh and don’t forget to visit the famous Hatta Dam and enjoy its turquoise waters. If you want to explore the wild, we recommend you travel in a 4×4 cause you might encounter rough rocky terrains.
Wadi Sana is a camping trip destination that enchants you from the moment you begin your journey. Driving along the road between Dibba and Masafi, you’ll get to see the transition of the scenery from sandy deserts to rocky mountains and eventually, you’ll find yourself on a highland with spectacular views to the terrains below.
When camping in Wadi Sana, you can enjoy the scenery during the day or hike the mountainous terrain. You can also bring a bike and enjoy this camping spot to its full potential since Wadi Sana offers some of the best mountain-biking tracks in all of the UAE.
If you are planning to go camping in Wadi Sana, you’ll need a 4×4 to navigate through its rocky terrain. Also, make sure you bring along enough blankets and a suitable sleeping bag since your camping spot is technically an enormous rock!
Jebel Jais, a Campsite Close to the Civilization
If you are in the mood for a camping trip but still not ready to lose the city vibe, Jebel Jais can serve as a great camping spot for you. Mount Jais features rough terrain and a spiral road that climbs its way to the mountain top. As you are driving along the road, you can watch the scenery and pick your spot on the way. And don’t worry about finding a spot; you will come across plenty of camper-friendly wadi beds along the winding route and at different heights of the mountain.
Jebel Jais gets cold at night and strong winds add to the chill, so make sure to bring along extra blankets and enough firewood to stay warm during the night. Keep in mind though that lighting a fire on the ground is prohibited and we recommend you to use a fire pit or a barbecue grill.
UAE’s Resort Camping Sites
If you are not yet ready to go full adventurer mode and leave the convenience of city life behind, there are several camping resorts in which you’ll get to taste the desert life without cutting ties with civilization.
If you want to get a taste of traditional desert life and get well-acquainted with Arabic culture, Bedouin camps in the Ras Al Khaimah desert are the perfect spot for you. Inside the camp, you will be accommodated in traditional desert tents and you’ll be provided with everything you need for a memorable camping experience including coolers, cushions, bonfires, barbecues, bars, and shishas (hookahs).
In addition to everything that a desert camping experience has to offer, such as soothing solitude and a night sky full of stars, the camp guides can take you on a desert tour; giving you insights on the history and attractions of the area. You also get the chance to try authentic Arabic food in Bedouin camps. The fun does not end here though; you’ll get to see the falcon trainers at the camp and you also have the option to go on a bumpy desert ride.
Bianky Beach Camp
Al Zorah beach in the emirate of Ajman offers one of the most popular camping spots among tourists and locals alike. Located on this famous beach, Bianky Beach Camp caters to its residents with tents and coastal wooden gazebos; perfect as a getaway site for those who are tired of the hustles and bustles of city life.
If you want to satisfy your inner adventurer, consider spending an evening in the Mleiha camp in Sharjah. Mleiha Archaeological Center features a fully-equipped camp set up in the middle of the desert. In order to reach the camp, you’ll have to embark on a desert journey on foot. Stargazing with proper equipment provided by the camp starts in the evening and is followed by a fun barbecue party. The camp also serves breakfast in the morning.
Hatta Sedr Trailer Camp
As mentioned above, Hatta offers a wide range of unique camping spots. However, Sedr Trailer Camp is so special that we decided to introduce it to you separately. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Dubai and offers you an unforgettable camping experience thanks to its cozy trailers.
You don’t need to bring any special equipment if you plan to reside in Hatta Sedr Trailer Camp because you will have access to all the necessary facilities there. Moreover, each trailer comes with a beautiful gazebo-like terrace featuring lights, comfortable chairs, cushions, and a small table. You’ll have access to free wifi, TV, air conditioners, and mineral drinking water too. A food truck is also parked onsite to cater to you whenever you are hungry.
Arabian Dreams Desert Camp
If you want to get a taste of life in the desert, the Arabian Dreams desert camp is the right spot for you. The camp can be described as a traditional desert hotel and is one of the best spots for overnight camping during summers. It comprises 8 tent houses each offering proper bedding and the necessary sanitation facilities. The camp also offers its guests camel rides and desert safaris. Don’t forget to bring your own tent and proper clothing for the nights.
Now that you have learned about the best UAE camping spots, you can plan a camping trip and create yourself an unforgettable memory alongside friends and family. Thanks to its unique climate and geographical location, the UAE offers a wide range of camping spots; from untamed deserts to sandy beaches.
Getting a taste of the fun the UAE can offer, you might decide to spend your holidays in this region more frequently. If so, purchasing a house in Dubai or buying a property in Abu Dhabi and other emirates of the UAE would be a great idea. This way, you will rest assured knowing that you’ll always have a place to stay during your holidays and you will also be able to receive the UAE citizenship under certain conditions thanks to the new UAE nationality law.