On a tiny bit of land in the Persian Gulf, rich Dubai is a great base for exploring everything Musandam and Fujairah have to offer under the surface.
As the mecca of opulence in the Middle East, Dubai’s coastline has suffered from recent development. Because of this, visibility is often poor and biodiversity is lacking directly off the coast. With that said, there are lots of technical shipwrecks nearby and plenty of interesting sites within a day’s trip of the city.
The easiest areas to access are Fujairah and the Dubai World Islands. Fujairah is located on the east coast and is home to brilliant coral reefs. The Dubai World Islands, on the other hand, are artificial islands on the west coast. The ecosystem here is just budding, but in a few years, these islands will be a major attraction to divers.
Finally, the Musandam Peninsula is a worthwhile excursion from Dubai. This piece of Oman offers the best overall diving in the area. Consider a liveaboard trip to make the most of your time.
When to Dive Dubai
During the winter months, the water is cold whereas the summer months have high air temperatures. Pick fall or spring for the most comfortable holiday.
November to March are the winter months in Dubai. At this time, the water temperatures fall to approximately 70°F (21°C). Most divers in the area will wear either a 7mm wetsuit or a drysuit. In addition, visibility decreases dramatically to 30 feet (10 meters) or less.
However, November to March is low season for scuba diving. If you don’t mind a bit of cold water, come during the winter to snag the best deals.
June to August are the hottest months in this desert climate. Air temperatures regularly see 120°F (50°C). Being on the boat between dives becomes nearly unbearable during these months. Furthermore, the water temperature is nearly 90°F (32°C) so you won’t find much relief in the water.
Keeping the above information in mind, the best time to dive in Dubai is between summer and winter. April, May, September and October are the most comfortable months both above and below the surface.
Where to Dive in Dubai
Diving directly off the coast of Dubai is advisable for technical divers only. Recreational divers will want to head for the east coast or Musandam.
The West Coast
Recently impacted by the construction of Dubai’s infrastructure, the best dive sites off the west coast are wrecks such as the MV Dara and MV Ludwig.
The east coast of the United Arab Emirates is a 90 minute drive from Dubai, but the colorful coral reefs in the area make the day trip advisable.
Technically a part of Oman, the Musandam Peninsula offers the best diving within a day of Dubai. Coastal mountains create protected and biodiverse bays.
Dive Sites in Dubai
Those who wish to stay as close to Dubai as possible, should explore the MV Dara and the Cement Barge. Both are wrecks from the 60’s and 70’s meaning they remain relatively in tact yet form fascinating underwater ecosystems.
On the west coast, Sharm Rock and Martini Rock are pinnacles that sometimes break the surface. Here you’ll find amazing table corals teeming with tropical marine life. The Inchcape 1 is also a must-dive in the area. This purpose-sunk wreck attracts large schools of fish and resident moray eels.
If you are heading to Musandam, make sure the walls of Ras Lima and Ras Saria are on your list.
Snorkeling in Dubai
Because of poor visibility, snorkeling in Dubai is limited. Operators in the city offer day trips to the Dubai World Islands and Fujairah where snorkelers will be treated to colorful fish and outstanding table corals. Most nearby waters are current-free making snorkeling a pleasant excursion.
What to See in Dubai
Because Dubai sits at the confluence of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, there is plenty to see beneath the surface.
On the west coast, divers have reported eagle rays, barracuda, guitarfish, stingrays, snapper, clownfish and the very rare whale shark near the recreational wrecks of Dubai.
The east coast is home to slightly more biodiversity. Trevally, moray eels, scorpion fish, parrotfish, pufferfish, pipefish, reef sharks, rays and sea turtles call this region home. The occasional whale shark passes by. Soft and hard corals also create a habitat for interesting macro creatures and a plethora of tropical fish.
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. Because Dubai is a founding member of the country, the Sheikh of Dubai is also the leader of the UAE. Historically, Dubai is a Muslim country, but today’s population is heavily multi-cultural.
Since the formation of the UAE, the Sheikh has heavily invested in public infrastructure, making Dubai one of the most advanced countries in the world.
Today, Dubai is a major tourist destination and a home to millions of people from around the world.
Getting to in Dubai
Daily flights arrive to Dubai International Airport from nearly every continent. It’s also possible to enter the United Arab Emirates from Oman and Saudi Arabia if you have the correct documentation. Once in Dubai, visitors can use taxis, buses or the slick metro system to move around the city.
Other Attractions in Dubai
As a major tourist destination, there is plenty to fill your time above the surface. Watch a show at the Dubai Fountains or take the elevator to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. You can also complete a skydive to take in the city skyline. Don’t miss the chance to take part in Dubai’s world-famous shopping culture at the Dubai Mall. Several water parks and Ski Dubai can help you cool off in this desert climate. Nature lovers will also want to take a 4WD tour to the sandy desert around Dubai.
Good to Know
47 countries are provided with a 30-day visa on arrival at Dubai International Airport. All others need to apply for a tourist visa in advance. Visitors to Dubai should check local laws before traveling. Drug laws in the UAE are strict and even a minor offense can result in a 4-year prison sentence.
Images of Dubai