An unmissable stop in Abu Dhabi for nature and outdoor enthusiasts is kayaking in the Mangroves National Park.
A designated national park and protected area on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi island, you’ll find several tour boat operators along the promenade in front of Anantara Eastern Mangroves, including kayaks for hire.
What are the Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi?
The Eastern Mangroves are the gateway to the Mangroves National Park. A truly unique part of the inner city of Abu Dhabi, this protected area makes up around 75% of the total Mangrove area found in the UAE.
A biodiversity hotpot, the mangrove forest is home to many species of marine wildlife including crabs, herons, flamingos and many species of fish. The area is protected by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), so no jet skis, fishing or other sports are permitted in these waters.
Let’s take a detailed look now at how you can explore deep inside the Mangroves.
Kayaking Tour Operators at Eastern Mangroves
Several local tour operators are licensed to provided guided kayak tours, as well as kayaks and other water equipment you can hire by the hour.
What does Eastern Mangroves Kayaking Cost?
This will vary a little by operator and what sort of equipment you want to hire.
Generally speaking, the cost of a 2 hour kayak tour is around 160 AED for adults and 130 AED for kids. You’ll want to allow 2-hours to get into the heart of the mangroves and explore some of the smaller channels.
There are plenty of options though when it comes to kayaking from Eastern Mangroves. The price will vary on length of time you want to hire the kayaks for, whether you are hiring a single or a double kayak and time of day you are heading out.
You may also find some deals paired with meal vouchers from the restaurants around the Eastern Mangroves Promenade.
Night tours and sunset spots tend to go at a premium to day hire spots. The cost with/without a tour guide is fairly negligible so we suggest if its your first trip, go with the guided tour.
If you really want to learn more about the mangroves, choose a designated eco tour where you’ll be able to hear your guide speak more about the native species.
As a rough guide, these are the pricings for Mangrove tours (as at March 2022).
|Tour Operator||Adult||Child||Other Options||Discounts|
|Sea Hawk||2-hour tour 168 AED||2 hour tour 147 AED||Hourly rentals, SUP, Sunset cruise & BBQ, Night Light Tour||Entertainer 2-4-1|
|Noukhada||2-hour tour 160 AED||2-hour tour 130 AED||Eco Tour, Sunrise/sunset Tour, Nightlight Tour, BBQ Trip|
|Mangrove Adventures||From 130 AED||From 100 AED||SUP, Glow Night, Water Bikes|
All tour operators will include life jackets.
What should you take with you Kayaking in the Eastern Mangroves?
Its recommended that you wear something you don’t mind getting wet in.
Although its unlikely you will fall out of your kayak, do expect that the seat can get wet and splashed from your paddle. You will also have an opportunity to stop for a swim.
You can take anything you want with you on the kayak in a wet bag, though note your tour operator will provide you with water bottles, so there’s really not more you need to take with you.
Taking a smartphone/camera? we recommend you buy an easy waterproof pouch to keep it around your neck and dry.
If you want to take a change of clothing and a towel for after, these can be left securely in a water tight bin at the entrance to the kayaking jetty. You can securely leave your handbags and shoes behind too.
Don’t forget the obvious like sunscreen, sunglasses and hat while you’re out on the water. For the most part, its quite exposed and you’ll want that extra sun protection.
When should you go kayaking on the Eastern Mangroves?
Although most companies operate year round, in summer you will only want to take your kayaks out early morning or late afternoon.
Most operates will take you throughout the day at set times during the cooler winter months.
Another newer option to consider is night tours of the Mangroves for a unique Abu Dhabi experience, you’ll see the marine life in a completely new way.
You can visit the mangroves at both high and low tide, though at low tide some of the narrow pathways through the thickest of the mangroves will become too shallow.
How to get to the kayaking at Eastern Mangroves
From Dubai direction, or anywhere “off island” such as Yas Island, you will take the E10 over the Sheikh Zayed Bridge, then after just a few kilometers on Abu Dhabi island, take the first second exit ramp that will be marked to Anantara Eastern Mangroves. It should take you just over an hour from Dubai, depending on your departure point.
If you’re coming from downtown Abu Dhabi, you take Al Salam St and exit for Eastern Mangroves. This can take 15 to 30 minutes depending on your exact location and traffic.
Plentiful free car parking can be found during the day, though evenings can be a little more congested, especially in the winter peak you many prefer to take a taxi.
Dining & Entertainment in Eastern Mangroves
Eastern Mangroves is a beautiful laid back area of town to enjoy before or after your journey out on to the water.
Some favourite dining spots on the waterfront to try:
- Carluccios (Italian)
- Peppermills (Indian)
- Cafe Blanc (Lebanese)
- Flooka (Seafood)
- BOA Steakhouse
Where to stay visiting the Eastern Mangroves
If you’d like to stay overlooking the serene Eastern Mangroves then the only waterfront hotel here is Anantara Eastern Mangroves, a beautiful and surprisingly affordable 5-star luxury offering.
They also have a beautiful spa here, great if you need a rub down after all that hard work out on the water!
More to Explore Along the Eastern Mangroves
If you’re not feeling too confident on the water, or perhaps you wish to extend your trip to the Eastern Mangroves a little longer, you can head to the Al Gurm Corniche.
Stretching 4 kilometres from Anantara Eastern Mangroves all the way down to Dolphin Park (19th Street), the newly redeveloped Corniche offers a safe promenade adjacent to the main freeway into the city.
From here you’ll get a birds eye view of the Mangroves National Park, with several little nooks, rest stops, educational sign boards and restrooms along the way.
More Frequently Asked Questions about Kayaking Eastern Mangroves
There is no enter fee to the Eastern Mangroves, but if you want to get up close, you’ll need to either hire a kayak, paddleboard or join and eco boat cruise, all which have a hire fee.
If you live in Abu Dhabi and have your own equipment you can launch here for free.
This will depend on what size kayak you’d like to hire and which tour operator but expect to pay about 170 AED for a 2-hour experience. As mentioned above you can get this discounted if you have saving vouchers and children are cheaper.
Yes there are quite a few places now in the city where you can rent kayaks. Eastern Mangroves remains the most popular spot but you’ll also find kayaks at places such as Reem Island, Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island and Jubail Island.
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Your tour operates will be able to assist you with visiting from sunrise to sunset, and sometimes on specially arranged night tours too.
If you don’t want to put in the light to moderate elbow work needed for kayaking, or perhaps you’re travelling with young kids or elderly in your group, there are several other ways you can still have an up-close experience in the Mangroves.
An easy-to-operate Eco Donut Boat is a great choice for a leisurely group tour. You can hire your own to navigate or hire a larger boat with a skipper. They start from 200 AED for 30 minutes.
Many of the companies we’ve mentioned above also offer guided boat cruises in additional to kayaks at set times during the day or for private charter.
Before you go… Important things to consider planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack as well as top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Check the most up-to-date COVID entry rules for Abu Dhabi.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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