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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Exploring Ras Al Khaimah & Jebel Jais

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

When people speak of United Arab Emirates, you often hear about Dubai and Abu Dhabi and not much gets mentioned about the rest of the country. Therefore, during our time here we wanted to make sure that we explored some of these other parts of the UAE that often get overlooked by the big cities. Our first stop outside the cities was to Ras Al Khaimah in the northern part of the country, close to the Oman border. Here we got a better sense of the Emirati life – outside of the extravagance of the big cities. These our some of the highlights in Ras Al Khaimah, including Jebel Jais, during our two days in the area.


Drive to Jebel Jais in Hajar Mountains

Jebel Jais is the tallest mountain in the UAE and sits as part of the Hajar mountain range along the UAE/Oman border and we found it to be the perfect day trip from Ras Al Khaimah.


There are a variety of mountains and canyons/valleys (‘wadis’ in the Arabic term) as you drive through the area that offered spectacular views. However, I have to admit one of our favorite parts was seeing all the goats as we journeyed up. There were goats everywhere and they were amazingly nimble climbing on the side of the mountains and even jumping up on the highway barriers!


Road curving around the canyon walls in UAE at Jebel Jais.
Road through one of the wadis on the way to Jebel Jais, UAE.

As you ascend up the mountain there are several viewpoints that you can stop at to get views of the twisty roads below. We saw several local people camping at these lookouts or just hanging out for the day, as well as a variety of sport cars out for a weekend drive.

Road curves back and forth along the mountainside in Ras Al Khaimah in UAE.
Looking back on the twisty roads on the way up to Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah emirate.

We stopped at the Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park where from one side you could see the ocean and from the other you could watch people zipline across on the longest zipline in the world. There was such a variety of activity happening up here. It also looked like they were in the process of building a mountain side coaster as well. There was even a playground that the kids enjoyed playing on, and admission to this viewpoint was only 5 AED per person.


As we headed back down towards Ras Al Khaimah, we stopped at Donkey Path Trail which is a short loop trail in the area, known for goats and donkeys being on the pathway and going through a small little village. We started the hike around 2:30 p.m. but it was probably too early, as it was quite hot and not as much shade on the trail that we had hoped for. We got to an upper viewpoint lookout and then decided to just go back the way we came, instead of continuing on the loop, as the kids were getting cranky and hot. However, we did see several goats on our short hike, which was fun!


Kayaking to the Mangroves

Just past the Ras Al Khaimah harbor are mangroves that often are home to a wide variety of bird species, including a large flock of flamingos. We decided to rent some kayaks from AL RAS KAYAK on the backside of the Al Naeem Mall. They rented a variety of water vessels and had double kayaks for 80 AED per kayak ($21.75 USD/$27 CDN). The signage said it was that it was a hourly rate per, but after speaking to them about where we wanted to visit, they let us have the kayaks for that rate for about 90 minutes.


We headed out about 4:30 p.m. towards the mangroves in our kayaks and it ended up being the perfect timing to venture out. The sun was starting to set and the temperature had cooled significantly, so it was an enjoyable time of day to be out on the water. From the mall to the mangroves it took about 30 minutes to kayak there and then we had about 30 minutes to explore before having to head back before it got too dark out.

Little boy tries to paddle kayak in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.
Heading out in the late afternoon to the Ras Al Khaimah Mangroves in search of flamingos.

We saw a variety of cranes around the mangroves and even saw the flock of flamingos on the water. We tried to approach them, but either they got scared as we approached or the drone that was flying around scared them off; they flew away before we got any closer. However, it was still pretty amazing to see so many flamingos in the wild like this! It was also interesting to see that most of these flamingos were gray on the outside, and just had orange-ish/pink-ish wing feathers. Later we saw a solo flamingo out on his own swimming in the water, so we got a closer look at him.


Being out kayaking at sunset was absolutely perfect and one of our highlights of our time in the UAE so far.

Silhouette of mom & son in a kayak at sunset at the Ras Al Khaimah mangroves.
Heading back in on the kayak at sunset - Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

Beaches

There are a variety of sandy beaches to pick from in the area. However, on the day we had set aside for some beach time, the kids actually told us to they didn’t want to go. We decided to honor their request and instead spent some time at the hotel pool and a park. However, we received recommendations to check out Flamingo Beach as one of them.


Other General Information about Ras Al Khaimah

One of the biggest advantages of leaving the bigger cities was the cheaper food options and we found that in Ras Al Khaimah. Eating out in Dubai was quite expensive, so we prepared our own meals most of the time. However, in Ras Al Khaimah we found eating out to be quite affordable. We made our own breakfast & lunch, but dinner was about $12-20 USD/ $15-25 CDN for the three evenings that we ate out there – and we got a TON of food! Then we even found an ice cream shop that had ice cream cones for $.80 USD or $1 CDN! We felt like we were winning!


Accommodation was still quite expensive in Ras Al Khaimah though. Even looking at places on Booking.com and Airbnb we found that average cost per night to be easily over $150 per night (and sometimes much more!). We ended up finding that a hotel that was less expensive, but it was still over $100 per night. [We have stayed in hotels more often in UAE because Airbnb & Booking.com options don’t seem to be as widely available, especially in our price range.]


To get to Ras Al Khaimah, a rental car is needed, but the roads everywhere in the UAE are very nice and modern and it was quick and easy to get from point to point.


We really enjoyed our time in Ras Al Khaimah – it gave us the perfect opportunity to see more of the natural parts of the United Arab Emirates. If looking for areas outside of the cities, this was a great and affordable area to explore.

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