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Welcome to Ras Al Khaimah, the up-and-coming northern emirate of the UAE that offers diverse landscapes, architectural wonders, luxurious hotels and miles upon miles (…upon miles) of unspoilt, golden beaches.

Luxury and adventure? Tick, and tick.

Where is Ras Al Khaimah?

Ras Al Khaimah is at the very top of the United Arab Emirates.

It borders neighbouring emirate Umm Al Quwain to the South, and Oman to the North and East. The entire West cost of Ras Al Khaimah shores the Arabian Gulf, boasting 64km of glorious beaches and coastline to explore.

Is Ras Al Khaimah close to Dubai?

Yes. Ras Al Khaimah is around 112km away from Dubai (that’s about 74 miles to us Brits). Just over an hour away by car, it’s a cracking drive along the coastline if you take the E11 – and it’ll take you right through neighbouring emirates Umm Al Quwain, Al Hamriyah, Ajman, Sharjah and Al Mizhar too. Pretty much all the emirates, then. Carry on along that wonderful coastal road for another hour or so to reach the capital, Abu Dhabi, and you can tick all of ’em off your list!

Is Ras Al Khaimah a good holiday destination?

Yes!

It’s a haven for outdoor lovers, offering tons of glorious mountain trails and challenging hikes. Naturalists have a real treat in this geographically-diverse emirate too: Ras Al Khaimah’s terrain ranges from barren salt flats to golden deserts, and from rocky mountains with hidden oases to swampy mangroves.

Back in the city, you’ve an array of leisure activities, shops and experiences to explore – and it’s calmer than the hustle and bustle of Dubai too. You get more here for your hard earned cash here aswell – without scrimping on the opulence that the UAE is world-renowned for.

Things to do in Ras Al Khaimah

Hiking

Ras Al Khaimah is famous for its hiking. Jebel Jais, the mountain peak of the Hajar mountain range, towers over Ras Al Khaimah and provides an endless list of hiking opportunities, from short, easy walks to more challenging treks over hairpin bends and rocky scrambles. Whichever route(s) you take, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views across Ras Al Khaimah and rolling desert – even the Arabinan Gulf, if you brave it up to the 2km high summit!

We especially love the so-called ‘Stairway to Heaven’: scramble and scale the once-treacherous route through the Jebel Jais mountains, past tiny villages and craggy paths, to Ras al Ghash, the village at the peak of the summit. This is a serious trek, so stick to the right bank trail (the slightly easier and shorter of the two routes) if it’s your first time.

Khatt Springs

Let’s face it, you’ve earned a rest after all that trekking. So take a visit to Khatt Springs, a lush oasis nestled in the mountains. The high mineral content of these natural hot springs is said to have health enhancing properties, so it might just sort out any aches and pains you’ve earned!

Al Jazirah Al Hamra + Suwaidi Pearls

The ancient pearl farming village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra is well worth a visit. The once flourishing pearl farming village is now abandoned and eerie, and even home to a mosque that’s said to be haunted.

After exploring the village at your leisure, head to the Suwaidi Pearls – the only Arabic pearl farm in the world – in the small fishing village of Al Rams. Here you can learn about modern pearl farming practices and how they stem from the ancient profession, or take a sunset paddleboarding tour.

Jas Flight

No list of things to do in Ras Al Khaimah is complete without mentioning Jas Flight – the world’s longest zipline.

Taking you on an exhilarating, high speed flight through the Jebel Jais mountainscapes, on Jais Flight you’ll literally fly over the rocky terrain and deep ravines at up to 100mph! It’s the closest to being Superman you can get. This is three hair-raising minutes that’ll give you serious bragging rights.

Jazirat Al Hamra Beach

The only public beach in Ras Al Khaimah, Jazirat Al Hamra is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It’s usually pretty quiet, so it’s the ideal place to lie back, relax, and soak up the sun. This is the best snorkelling spot in Ras Al Khaimah too – so you can enjoy the views both over and underwater!

Bear Grylls’ Explorer Camp

With programmes designed by Bear Grylls himself, this is the place to put your survival skills to the test through carefully designed experiences. You’ll wild camp in the mountains and learn dynamic skills and techniques to build on your survival knowledge and abilities.

If that all sounds a bit too intense, don’t worry – the courses are designed for novices and wilderness lovers alike. Children ages 8 and over can give it a go too!

Manar Mall

You won’t be stuck for things to do here! Manar Mall is home to a cinema, huge food court and 120 retail stores.  Hit the shops, enjoy a bite to eat, or take a stroll along the waterside promenade. Let the kids run riot in Tridom, an indoor play area home to exciting arcade games, inflatable zones and the Middle East’s tallest drop tower.

Discover Desert Living

For an authentic Ras Al Khaimah experience, look no further than the wild, expansive desert and it’s secret hidden gems.

If you’re curious about how tribes have lived here for more than 3,000 years, a visit to the Bedouins is a must. Discover their nomadic lifestyle and get back to nature. Feast on delicious meals cooked using traditional methods as you relax on gigantic cushions in a shiqaq (that’s fabric made out of goat hair!) tent by a roaring campfire.

Wander along the bygone paths the Bedouins have used for centuries. You’re sure to encounter local wildlife too – desert foxes live here, and if you’re especially lucky you may catch a glimpse of a desert cat.

Dune Bashing

Take a 4×4 at high speed and race over the swooping dunes of the desert. Skid along the sand and put your driving skills to the test over the dunes (or get someone else to take the wheel).  It’s pretty challenging terrain, but it’s also amazing fun. Definitely one of the best things to do in Ras Al Khaimah.

Just enjoy your hotel

Never mind exploring all the wonders that Ras Al Khaimah has to offer – what if you fancy a relaxing day lounging around the pool? Ras Al Khaimah hotels are up there with the best hotels in the UAE, boasting beautiful views, exclusive locations, luxurious accommodation and a whole load of things to do.

And it’s not just Dubai that’s home to man-made islands -Al Marjan Island is Ras Al Khaimah’s own man-made peninsula, home to several five-star hotels with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf.  There’s the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa with a whopping five pools and a pirate- themed park, Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island (that’s the world’s largest Hampton by the way, with 515 rooms), and the mega luxe Rixos Bab Al Bahr, not just all-inclusive but ULTRA all inclusive – that means literally almost everything is included in the price, from dining to drinks to entertainment to watersports to spa sessions…the lot.

Best activities for families in Ras Al Khaimah

Planning for childrens’ activities is often a major part of your holiday planning. Whilst most of the activities we’ve mentioned above are suitable for children as well as adults, we’ve also gone and gathered some more things to do in Ras Al Khaimah especially for the kids – from tots all the way up to teenagers.

Desert Horse Riding

Trot through the desert with an equestrian experience in Ras Al Khaimah. Sitting aside a handsome Arabian horse, you can explore the beautiful dunes and golden sands of the peaceful Al Wadi desert. And you don’t need to be an experienced rider either! The centre caters for all ages and abilities. Children can enjoy feeding the animals and gentle pony rides, whilst beginner and experienced riders can embark on a variety of treks.

Falconry

Children can discover the majesty of falcons in an interactive Falcon and Owl show at the Ritz-Carlton in the Al Wadi desert. They’ll get the chance to hold a falcon themselves, and discover the history of these beautiful birds in Arab culture. You can even book private falconry lessons for a one-to-one experience.

Al Rams Beach

Al Rams beach is free to access, and offers a expansive space to relax, build sandcastles, splash in the sea or partake in some gentle watersports. Get up close and personal with a myriad of tropical fish in the shallow, calm waters of Al Rams Beach and Saraya Island – it’s perfect for snorkelling here – or just jump on a kayak or paddleboard  and while away the hours in the azure waters.

If you don’t fancy the water, take a stroll through the sands on foot or horseback and – if you’re seriously lucky – you might just see a sabkh, a phenomenon in which a pink lake appears on the shore.

National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah

With ancient trade routes, ethnological artefacts and countless antiquities, Ras Al Khaimah has an impressive and eventful history dating back to 5000 BC – and you can discover it all in the emirate’s National Museum.

Housed in the Husn, a traditional fort, this historical site has been lovingly and sympathetically maintained and restored so you can discover the traditional coral block and stone houses, the original Old Tower, and lush gardens.

Flamingo Beach

Take a wander through the meandering paths of flamingo beach and bask in the glorious sunshine. We recommend visiting at sunset, when you can take a seat and bask in the glorious view. This entire area is pram and wheelchair friendly, so it’s ideal for a multigenerational visit.

There are no real flamingos here, sadly – besides the two statues at the entrance – but you may encounter a camel or two taking a dip! The sea here is lovely and shallow, so it’s perfect for little legs to paddle and splash around while the grown ups relax (and maybe even grab forty winks).

Visit the souks

Let’s not forget that one of the best things to do as a family while you’re on holiday is just to have a walk and live like a local. Ras Al Khaimah is brimming with history and culture – and one of the best places to discover this is in the local souks, or markets. You’ll be greeted with warmth by the locals, but do expect to barter – and make sure there’s space in your case for the journey home!

When to visit Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah gets seriously hot in the UK’s summer months – we’re talking 40 degrees Celsius and higher. The hot season lasts from May to September – so holidays are cheaper due to the extreme temperatures. Even the locals take it easy during this season!

The best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah is during the winter months, from November to March, when temperatures are cooler and much more pleasant.

To avoid the winter crowds, the best time for a quiet visit to Ras Al Khaimah is in April, September, and October, before and after the intense summer heat.

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