The best UAE camping spots are:
- Fujairah beach
- Liwa, Abu Dhabi
- Acacia Forest
- Al Qudra Lakes, Dubai
- Umm Al Quwain beach
- Wadi Sana
You can park up at the beach just before the Sandy Beach Hotel and Resort and pitch your tent right by water. It can get busy at weekends so it’s a better option for a weekday camping trip.
Having the hotel next door means if you wake up and need a proper breakfast, you don’t have to drive to find one. You could also buy a day pass for the hotel and use its facilities. Go to Fujairah beach for the best camping in UAE, hone your skills before you venture further into the desert or higher into the mountains.
Directions: One of the best camping near Dubai sites, take the Al Dhaid road from Sharjah towards Masafi. When you hit the T-junction turn left and follow the route around the mountains and back towards the sea. Follow signs to Sandy Beach Hotel and Resort.
Liwa, Abu Dhabi
Camping in the “Empty Quarter” is definitely an authentic UAE camping experience, but not one you should do unless you’ve prepped properly. If you’re going to drive into the desert, you should do it with an off-road vehicle (hire an SUV with four-wheel drive if you don’t have one) and make sure you pack a compass, shovel, full tanks of petrol and plenty of water.
It’s easy to take a wrong turn or lose your sense of direction so take a map. If that hasn’t scared you off, Liwa should definitely be on your UAE camping bucket list. It is one of the world’s most beautiful deserts and filled with wildlife. If you drive far enough into the desert (again, use your compass and proper map) you will be rewarded with complete seclusion (hence the name Empty Quarter) and some of the best sunrises and sunsets in the world.
Directions: Head on the E11 from Dubai to Abu Dhabi then take the E45 towards Madinat Zayed al Al Gharbia towards the border with Saudi Arabia. You’ll need a proper off-road map once you hit the E90 at Mezairaa and head into the desert.
Read More: Don’t fancy a camping trip? Why not check out the best hotels in Dubai to suit all budgets.
This is nestled in the mountains of Musandam, approximately 10km from Khor Najd. It’s not the most luscious forest but it’s a nice alternative to the desert or beach camping spots. There is a military firing range in the area so keep your eyes peeled for the “No Entry” signs.
Don’t be surprised to wake up and find dozens of goats munching on fallen branches around you. You could camp at Khor Najd itself but only if you have an SUV vehicle (with four-wheel drive) as the windy roads can get quite steep with loose stones in parts. You’ll need some good map reading skills to find these locations and it’s best to do it in a convoy of at least two cars.
Directions: Drive through Ras Al Khaimah to the Musandam border (take your passport and car documents), then continue along the coast for around 50km to Khasab. Drive through Khasab to Wadi Khasab then follow the signs to Dibba and Wadi Sal Al A’la. The forest is approximately 5km into the wadi.
Al Qudra Lakes, Dubai
Sadly, this nature reserve is no longer much of a secret and there have been a few complaints about litter. But as long as you camp responsibly and take all your trash with you, it should remain one of Dubai’s best camping spots, especially if you want to camp with children.
Pitch your tent by one of the many lakes and wake up to the sound of dozens of species of birds waiting to be fed, or head a bit further into the desert and have a bit more privacy. It’s pretty close to the city and near the Al Qudra cycle track so you can always nip out for some last-minute supplies if you’ve forgotten anything.
Directions: Head to the end of Al Qudra Road away from Arabian Ranches and follow the tracks to the lakes.
Umm Al Quwain beach
Camp either to the north or south of Al Rafaah but look for signs of high and low tide before pitching your tent. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and camp away from the water. Many a camper has been woken up with the sea flooding their tent! Spend the following day at Dreamland Aqua Park which is one of the country’s best family activities, even if it does feel like you’ve stepped back a little in time.
Directions: Either drive to Umm Al Quwain through Sharjah along the E11 or take Emirates Road (E611) and cut across towards the sea once you hit Umm Al Quwain, following signs for Dreamland Aqua Park.
If you want to camp away from the sea, take the Masafi-Dibba road and turn off towards the small village of Sana. You’ll find a mountain track that winds up to a plateau where you can sit, relax and enjoy a cold drink looking out onto the beautiful scenery below. The ground is rock, rather than sand, so you’ll need more than just a layer of sleeping bag if you want a restful night. There’s some excellent cycling and hiking in Wadi Sana so you could combine the camping trip with some outdoor activities for an action-packed weekend.
Directions: Turn off the Masafi-Dibba Road towards Sana then drive for approximately 3km up the mountain to the plateau.
Published January 2019. Prices are subject to change.