Going on a boat trip in Dubai is one of the best ways to not only admire the city but also to explore the beautiful emerald waters of the Arabian Peninsula.
As a coastal city, Dubai contains almost every type of floating vessel imaginable- anything from luxury yachts to fishing dhows can be found. With so many different types of boats to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is the best boat trip to go on.
There are a few things to think about before you book a boat trip. During your trip to Dubai, you don’t want to waste your limited free time on a disappointing experience. To help you choose a boat trip, this quick guide provides some tips on what to consider before you book a boat trip in Dubai.
Type Of Boat
Once you know where you want to go on a boat tour, the next step is deciding on the type of boat you’re interested in. Boat trips in Dubai tend to be in one of three categories:
- Self-Drive Boats
- Passenger Boats
HERO OdySea is currently the only self-drive boat tour in Dubai. They do not require a boat license to operate and have a capacity of 2 people per boat. These nifty small HERO boats are untippable and are a safer alternative to other small vessels such as jet skis.
The guided boat tours are very hands-on, and allow guests to drive their own boat to some of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks such as Burj Al Arab, Atlantis and The World Islands. They reach speeds up to 50 kph (30 mph) and are an exciting way to see Dubai’s icons.
Many Dubai tour companies use medium-sized passenger boats for various sightseeing cruises. These boats can accommodate 10-100 people. For people who are content with larger crowds, this can be a great budget option as passenger boat tours are often the cheapest.
The trade-off with passenger boat tours is that they aren’t as interactive as other options. They’re mostly geared towards tourists who prefer a simple sightseeing trip, rather than a hands-on tour.
Large groups will sometimes book a yacht either for dinner, party or for fishing. These types of boats are typically very large and can have 20-100+ passengers.
Many yachts are booked on a shared basis, especially dinner cruises. Dinner cruises are great for foodies, as they’re oftentimes more focused on food than views.
One drawback of cruises is that they can be quite crowded. Before choosing a company, be sure to check reviews and look for mentions of capacity to ensure the cruise won’t be too packed.
Private charters are also an option, but they tend to be very expensive depending on the vessel.
Choose The Location
The location of a boat trip in Dubai is one of the most important factors to consider before choosing a tour. There are several popular locations for boat trips in Dubai, and understanding the differences can make it much easier to decide which one to go on.
The most common locations for boat tours trips in Dubai are:
- Dubai Coastline
- Dubai Marina
- Dubai Creek
Dubai’s coastline stretches approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) and is one of the most iconic in the world. With the stylish skyline in the backdrop and some of the most elaborate hotels situated close to the coast, the views of Dubai from the coastline are some of the best in the whole city.
Boat trips on the Dubai coastline tend to cover a large distance since the speed limit is much higher than in smaller waterways such as the Dubai Creek or the Marina. This allows tourists to visit several iconic landmarks such as Downtown Dubai, Burj Al Arab, The World Islands, the Dubai Marina, and Atlantis on The Palm. If you want a lot of photo opportunities, the Dubai Coastline is definitely an ideal location.
The rules for how close boats can get to famous attractions like Burj Al Arab are quite strict, but the smaller boats are able to get much closer than larger boats. This is one of the biggest benefits of our HERO tours. By using smaller boats, we allow guests the opportunity to drive much closer to the iconic landmarks that are usually viewed from far away.
*Choose this option if you are looking for a fun adventure combined with seeing Dubai’s famous spots up close. This option is better for people who are looking for something a bit more exciting; instead of just being a passenger, they can operate the vessel themselves.
The Dubai Marina is located approximately 25 minutes west of Downtown near the base of The Palm Jumeirah. Many people imagine the Marina as a collection of docks and vessels, but it’s actually a residential district filled with tall buildings and high-rise restaurants that all surround a wide channel of water.
The speed limit for vessels in the Marina is approximately 13 km/h (8 mph), so the boat tours that operate within it tend to be leisure cruises on yachts or dhows. These tours usually start in the Marina before going to common sightseeing spots like Atlantis and Burj Al Arab. Generally, these are relaxed tours that are available on a shared basis.
*Choose this option if you are looking for a slower boat cruise shared with other people. It is a good way to see the Dubai Marina and some of Dubai’s other landmarks, but make sure you check the route as some of these boat tours don’t visit all the other famous sights like Burj Al Arab.
The Dubai Creek is a man-made canal that stretches 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) from the Arabian Gulf to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
Just like in the Dubai Marina, vessels inside the Dubai Creek are not allowed to exceed approximately 13 km/h (8 mph). The type of boat trips available in Dubai Creek are very similar to those in the Marina, however, it’s much more common to see dhows rather than yachts. Dubai Creek can be fascinating to experience as it is located in the older and more traditional part of Dubai. Dinner on dhow trips along the Creek is very common in this location.
Similar to the Marina, boat trips in Dubai Creek are generally shared tours that are slow-paced. The biggest difference between boat tours in Creek and the other locations is the setting.
*Choose this option if you’re interested in a slow cruise, but want views other than the landmarks near the Marina. There are less modern landmarks along the Dubai Creek compared to the coastline and the Marina, however, it is a good opportunity to experience the older part of Dubai, while still admiring good views.
Price / Time / Value
Some companies try to market their tours based on the time spent on the water, but it’s important to know that time on the water doesn’t always equate to value. If the boat is overpacked and overpriced, extra time spent aboard doesn’t make it worth it.
Keep in mind that companies that operate in waterways with low speed limits can spend a lot of time just getting onto the open water. Once in open water, even more time can be wasted simply getting from one location to the next.
Other than the time spent on the water, consider other benefits that a tour can offer and whether it justifies the price. Things like meals and the number of locations visited should always be taken into account.
What Others Say
One of the best and more objective ways to find out about different boat trips is to read reviews left by people who have actually experienced it. You can get a good overall idea about the experience by reading opinions from previous guests.
What is the best boat trip in Dubai?
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when searching for the perfect boat tour. Having so many options to choose from can be quite overwhelming, but following these tips will make finding the best boat trip in Dubai much easier.
If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind boating adventure, where you can drive your own boat, see the famous sights, reach speeds up to 50km/h and feel safe, we hope to see you on our Signature Boat Tour or Sunset Boat Tour soon.