5 of the Best Water Parks in the UAE
Wild Wadi Waterpark
Wild Wadi regulars mourned the loss of the epic Jumeirah Sceirah earlier in the year, which was torn down to make way for new attractions. Details of the latest ride, tentatively scheduled to open after summer, are scarce, but our park insiders tell us it’s one for extreme adrenaline junkies and is even ‘Sceirah-er’ than the original, which gave riders a terrifying thrill as they descended at 80 km/h down the super-steep 33 metre descent.
Joining attractions like the chilled out Lazy River, which stretches 360 metres, and the Tunnel of Doom, a pitch black slide with plenty of sudden twists and turns, are two relatively new rides that were unveiled last year. The Burj Surj consists of two large sections of downhill waterslides and two looming ‘bowls’, while Tantrum Alley incorporates downhill slides and tornadoes.
Ahlan!’s Fave Ride: The Wipeout Flow Rider – surf this artificial wave (or if you’re more of a novice, body board), which was the first barrelling wave to be built in the world.
BEST for: Relatively tame aqua action, but Wild Wadi is sure to up the fear-factor stakes with the opening of the new mystery ride later this year, making it perfect for adrenaline junkies.
INFO: Dhs215 for adults and Dhs175 for children below 1.1 metres, Dhs2,000 annual pass for adults, 10am to 7pm in May and 10am to 8pm until the end of August, Wild Wadi Water Park, Dubai, 04 348 4444, www.jumeirah.com.
One of the oldest and largest water parks in the UAE, the waterslides aren’t quite as sophisticated as some of those in Dubai, but they are a lot of fun. We highly recommend not restricting your day to the water though – check out the mini zoo where you can spot peacocks and other animals, or have a hit of tennis. We especially love the swim-up pool bar (the largest in the UAE!), that serves very reasonably-priced cocktails. It’s a bit of a drive to get to from Dubai, so we recommend staying overnight. Go ‘glamping’ in air-conditioned cabins set in the park’s lush grounds, or pitch your own tent for a more authentic camping experience.
Ahlan!’s Fave Ride: Rope in your mates for the raft ride, where you can all jump into a huge circular raft that then zips down a waterslide.
BEST for: Those who like a mix of relaxation and excitement.
INFO: Dhs135 for adults, Dhs85 for children below 1.2 metres, get two free passes when you buy three during May, 10am to 6pm (weekdays), 10am to 7pm (weekends), Dreamland Aqua Park, Umm Al Quwain, 06 768 1888, www.dreamlanduae.com.
The newly opened Wadi Adventure is the Middle East’s first man-made facility where you can white water raft, kayak and surf. Pretty much anyone can navigate well over a kilometre of rapids by kayak or raft, but we recommend only strong swimmers give the surf pool a go. Three metre high waves are generated every 90 seconds, ideal for surfers frustrated by the lack of conditions on the UAE coastline, but perhaps a little challenging for surfing novices like us!
Not just a water park, there is also a climbing wall, rope course and a zip line that has incredible views of the Jebel Hafeet mountains.
Ahlan!’s Fave Ride: The surf pool. We may have wiped out but we love the cred you get when you can tell your mates you’ve been surfing all day (even if you didn’t actually manage to stand up).
BEST for: Plenty of thrills on and off the water for extreme fun seekers.
INFO: Dhs100 for adults, Dhs50 for kids, 12pm to 12am, Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, 03 781 8422, www.wadiadventure.ae.
The largest water-themed attraction in Dubai uses a massive 18 million litres of fresh water to power seven waterslides, a 2.3 kilometre river ride with tidal waves and pools, water rapids and white water chargers. Aquaventure uses 750,000 litres per minute to create surges and waves, with swells reaching almost a metre high as you power through, safe and sound in your inner tube. The Ziggurat is the centrepiece of the park, reaching 30 metres high and featuring seven heart-pumping water slides including the Leap of Faith, which has a 27.5 metre near-vertical drop that propels riders through a clear acrylic tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon. If you loved Wild Wadi’s Jumeirah Sceirah, this one’s for you!
Ahlan!’s Fave Ride: Shark Attack spins riders on one- or two-person inner tubes into complete blackness before emerging through the shark-filled lagoon at a leisurely ‘shark-viewing’ pace. A great way to check out the creatures of the deep up close but danger-free!
BEST for: Those who like the top of the thrill scale – think Leap of Faith!
INFO: Dhs200 for adults, Dhs165 for guests below 1.2 metres, Dubai residents get annual membership for Dhs3,000 for adults, 10am to sunset, Aquaventure, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, 04 426 0000, www.atlantisthepalm.com.
Going to Iceland is like stepping into Ice Age, minus the crazy squirrel. The rides aren’t as modern or adventurous as in the Dubai water parks but the park has a great atmosphere, and the best thing about it is there’s a bar! A large shaded terrace overlooks the wave pool and you can sit and chill out with a drink – which means the age range of guests tends to be older than at other water parks. Iceland is a bit of a mission away but the crazy décor and beverages make up for it!
Ahlan!’s Fave Ride: The aqua soccer is a guaranteed laugh.
BEST for: Kids, as the rides tend to be entertaining rather than extreme for adults.
INFO: Dhs150 for adults, Dhs100 for guests below 1.2 metres, 10am to 7pm on Thursday and Saturday, 10am to 6pm on Friday, 10am to 6pm Sunday to Wednesday, Iceland, Ras Al Khaimah, 07 2067 888, www.icelandwaterpark.ae.
We’ve got our togs ready and waiting for the opening of the UAE’s latest water attraction, which is set to happen by the end of the year on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The park will have 43 rides (some of them world-firsts), and was recently described by a global water park expert (yep, a job that really does exist) as having the potential to be one of the top five water parks in the world!
The FlowBarrel 10 Double will be the first and largest sheet wave surf ride of its kind, the Water Bomber Roller Coaster will zoom riders around at 55 km/h, and the Aqualoop will spin riders 360 degrees around in a loop. Sounds like it won’t be for the faint-hearted! Watch this space for more details...