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Kayaking in the Middle East… Really?

November 6, 2017 17 Comments

One of the few goals I had when I started this blog was to dispel some myths about the Middle East. It’s been over a year since I started doing just that and even though the nature of the myths I’m dispelling has since changed, here I am still using my words and photos as weapons to challenge perceptions!



One of these perceptions that people have is that landscapes in the Middle East consist of one of two things:

Towering, dazzling skyscrapers that frame the horizon

Dry and dusty desert dunes shaped by the scorching sun

Of course these two sceneries do exist- all over the Middle East- in abundance. But of course, there is more than meets the eye (if you know what to look for). Like this beautiful sunset:


Oh yes, greenery and blueness exists. It’s just a matter of uncovering this beauty.


Over the weekend one of the Expat Felines and I headed out to explore Mangroves National Park by kayak in Abu Dhabi. It was a 15 minute drive from our island but seemed like a world away!

We booked our kayak through Hydro Marine Sports although there are lots of water sport companies along the promenade and after the briefest of instructions with a perfunctory glance at a map, we were in our tandem kayak and off we went!


I should mention that Expat Lion- my trusty kayaking partner- was stuck sitting behind me and doing most of the hard work since this Panda was busy taking pictures with one phone and three cameras (BLOGGER LIFE). So thanks Lion!

She is awesome (Like all my friends).


The sea mirrored the sky above, both of them the kind of blue that colours those impossibly bright tourist brochures. The breeze that ran unchecked over the rippled surface blew my curls away from my eyes and brought colour to Lion’s pale cheeks. The sweet winter air was fragranced with the mangroves that circled the water, growing so close that some had toppled in and others dangles cobra-thick roots into the water.




Looking through the water was like peering though perfect glass, unsmudged by the sticky prints of small children. I inhaled slowly. Peace. My little piece of heaven in the urban jungle.



We picked the perfect time to kayak- just before sunset. Abu Dhabi sunsets are well known to be spectacular and the view from the water didn’t disappoint.




The yellow ball of fire changed to hues of orange, and then almost tangerine. The sea merged with the sky, like juice-mix dissolving in a glass of water. The trees became silhouetted  cotton-candy, as though they blushed at the warm touch of the sun. Flocks of birds flew home across a sky that was now magenta; and the sun was half into the water, but its reflection in the sea made it look complete. The mauve of the dusky sky intensified, and in just a while, we had to start paddling back furiously because we didn’t want to be stuck on the water after dark!




Was it difficult to navigate? No. There is simply one path to follow.


Was it beautiful? Absolutely. This is maybe the most lush scenery I have seen in the Middle East since I was in Oman last December.



Was it worth doing? HELL YES. Whether you’re with your romantic partner, bestie or kids, this is one of those activities that absolutely has to be done when you’re in Abu Dhabi to see a different perspective of this emirate.



– We booked our kayak with Hydro Marine Sports. They can be found INSIDE the entrance to the Eastern Mangroves Resort (follow the signs to the promenade), park your car and walk through the building toward the water. Hydro Marine is on the left of Boa and Flooka. Do not be fleeced by other operators insisting that you need a guide (you don’t- unless you want one).

-The price is 160AED for a double kayak (for 2 hours) and 110AED for a single kayak (for 2 hours). SO worth it!

– I don’t see a way that you and your stuff won’t get wet in a kayak (especially if you are sitting in the front). I was so glad that I took my waterproof backpack so pack accordingly and dress in swimwear.

-November to February is the ideal time to enjoy this- and many other outdoor- activities in the UAE!

Honestly this may have have become my new favourite way to spend an afternoon in the UAE.



What is your favourite way to spend an afternoon where you live? Let me know in the comments below!




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  • chloevsworld November 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Wowww this looks like so much fun. The sunset is STUNNING. Thanks for sharing, have a good week 🙂

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

      It was fun and relaxing with exquisite views! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  • Pri November 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Lovely sunset and the place looks beautiful and lush!

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Thanks Pri, it was a magical view and great experience!

  • A Gypsy's Tale by Brooke Breazeale November 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I loved getting to be a part of this stunning adventure. Your writing was a perfect compliment to the exquisite colors and mesmerizing sunset.

    Thank you for sharing your talents and this beautiful treasure!

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words Brooke! It really was a gorgeous and enjoyable experience! 🙂

  • josypheen November 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    This is gorgeous and so, so lush! You really do share the best things Ms Panda!

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:54 am

      I think I am just fortunate enough to be able to visit so many lovely places that I feel compelled to share their beauty with the world! Thanks for your compliment 🙂

  • JerseyGirl November 6, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Wow wow wow. Beautiful experience & photos to boot as always capturing the perfect moments and dispelling misconceptions

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:54 am

      Ah thanks so much! It’s nice to see something different in this region for once!

  • Stewie Overseas November 7, 2017 at 5:28 am

    So cool. Mangrove kayaking looks like a lot of fun. And a very interesting view of the city.

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:52 am

      I just like to see different landscapes once in a while… and unlike Japan or other other countries, the Middle East in general doesn’t offer a distinct change of seasons or landscapes so this was a treat!

      • Stewie Overseas November 7, 2017 at 9:13 am

        I bet it was 🙂 It must get tiring being hot in the desert all year. Having four distinct season does let you appreciate each one of them.

  • phoenixraay November 7, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Wow this looks amazing!

    • Expat Panda November 7, 2017 at 7:51 am

      It was an amazing experience 🙂

  • frannnelli November 8, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Such a nice change of scenery! I’m used to seeing the usual Middle East desert pics! wonderful 🙂

    • Expat Panda November 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Thats exactly why I wanted to share this experience… to showcase something out of the ordinary 🙂

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