Dubai is famed for its opulence, but did you know it’s also a great place to try new sports and get active? Jennifer Ratcliff explores ways to plan a trip with a difference.

Best sports and activities to try in Dubai


Golf offers so may health benefits including stronger joints, increased strength, healthy lungs and cognitive function. It’s hard not to be tempted to give it a go. Dubai has a wealth of golf courses and attracts many enthusiasts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a perfect destination for a beginners or someone who simply wants to have a little go.

I tried a lesson at The Leadbetter Golf Academy located within the JA The Resort Golf Course. I was apprehensive as I have never so much as held a golf club. I need not have worried though, as the area we were taken to was tucked away from the experienced golfers and the instructors were relaxed and approachable. Our lesson focused on the basics of how to hold and swing a club. It was a great intro to the sport and could be a fun one-off activity, or an indicator of whether it’s something you might enjoy in future.


Dubai is hot, so very hot, so if you are looking to get active what better way to do it than in the clear blue waters. If there is a watersport you are interested in they will do it in Dubai and there is something for all levels. I decided to give stand up paddle boarding (SUP) a go as everyone I know who has tried it loves it. It took a little practice to get used to it, but after a few minutes of kneeling on the board I was ready to stand. I envisaged myself repeatedly falling off, but I was amazed how quickly it felt natural. The conditions were perfect, the sea was calm and the water was so clear that I could see lots of fishes.

SUP offers a great upper body and core workout, but while you are out there you don’t notice. It never felt hard work, but I could certainly feel it the next day. I can see why so many people get hooked.

Adrenaline highs on the Xline Zipline and roller coasters!

If you are looking for an active break then why not add a boost of adrenaline to the mix? Dubai is perfect for this because of their love of making things the biggest and the tallest! I am drawn to activities with a fear factor so I decided to try the Xline Dubai Marina Zipline. The launch pad is located at the top of a residential building and is a massive 170-meters high.

The adrenaline starts to build as you are led onto the roof where you get to watch other people take off. Once it is your turn you are fastened into your harness and you lay face down whilst you are attached to the line. For me the scariest bit was being posted, face first over the edge where you wait for a few seconds before whizzing off at 60kmph. It’s a great way to see the Marina and Downtown Dubai, just try to keep your eyes open!

  • Tickets cost from £137 per person

If rollercoasters are more your thing then Dubai Parks and Resorts is a must for you. Housing three separate theme parks and more than 100 rides this is a dream for a ride enthusiast. Motiongate was the park for me as I love movie-themed rides and once I saw there was a DreamWorks section there I was sold. For an adrenaline-fuelled highlight head to the Capitol Bullet Train, if you are a Hunger Games fan then it’s even better.

  • Tickets cost from £33 per person

Head to Hatta

Tucked away in the mountains, Hatta is a little over an hour away from central Dubai and could not offer a greater contrast. Rugged mountains, untouched terrain and a sense of calm replace the tall, shiny skyscrapers and hustle and bustle of the city. Hatta is a great playground for those looking to get active, try new things or plan a mini adventure.

Mountain biking is one of the best ways to explore and clearly marked trails make it easy. There are routes for all experience levels, from beginner to advanced, so don’t feel intimidated if like me, you haven’t been on two wheels since childhood! It is worth planning an early start to avoid the midday sun.

I am a water baby so I was excited to try Kayaking on Hatta Lake. The tranquil location surrounded by mountains and feels so far away from reality that it offers great escapism whilst you explore the nooks and crannies of the lake, spotting local wildlife and enjoying being no the water. If you are looking to boost your mindful quota then this is the place to do it.

Trip information

JA Resorts – JA Hatta Hotel, Rooms cost from £200 per night

JA Palm Tree Court At Jebel Ali, Rooms cost from £354 per night