A water Wonderland
With the calm waters of the Arabian Gulf, year-round sunshine and 800 kilometres of coastline, the UAE is the perfect place to jump aboard a luxury yacht and take in the magnificent sights from a different perspective. In Abu Dhabi there are more than 200 islands, an abundance of marine life and sandy white beaches to explore. Sightings of dolphins, turtles and birds are common and occasionally even rare dugongs are spotted. There is rarely a day that isn’t sunny and with calm seas and gentle breezes, there is no better way to spend your time in the emirate. There are many ways to enjoy the water in Abu Dhabi, whether it’s chartering a luxury yacht, setting off on a sailboat, joining a dinner cruise or an organised sightseeing trip. And for those who already have a yacht, the city’s marinas are nothing short of world class.
Charter a yacht
In Abu Dhabi, visitors can charter everything from a small motor yacht for just a few people to a 280-foot luxury vessel for up to 150 people, with 18 cabins and all the mod-cons one would expect, such as Jacuzzis, plunge pools, formal dining areas, bars and a fitness centre. Of course, there’s everything in between so all that needs to be determined is your itinerary, the number of guests, whether catering is needed and whether to include optional extras such as jetskis or snorkelling and diving equipment. Art Marine has yachts for charter for anything from one hour to one month and all that’s needed is 24 hours’ notice to arrange it. Guests can choose from a range of menus covering everything from soft drinks and snacks to canapés, or for a more personalised touch an onboard chef is available. Yachts, which vary in size from daytrip boats to large vessels, can accommodate two to 25 people. Art Marine is based at Yas Marina. Belevari Marine can organise charters on a range of vessels from luxury yachts to speed boats and even traditional Arabian dhows. Visitors can choose from a private charter where they dictate the itinerary, or join a group cruise to watch the sun set over the Arabian Gulf and take in the city skyline at night.
If the Volvo Ocean Race has you yearning for the sun on your face and the wind in your sails, then Abu Dhabi is the place to be. Nothing quite beats slicing through the water with the only the sound of the wind flapping the sails and the waves lapping the hull. There is no noisy engine, just a beautiful clear sky, fresh air and the wide blue yonder. If you’re joining a group day trip, or have arranged a crew to do the hard work, there is no need to pull up your sleeves and work up a sweat, but often that’s the best part. Abu Dhabi Charters offers three-hour trips aboard its vessel, Swan 42, with cruises setting sail in the morning, afternoon and sunset. Dusk in Abu Dhabi is particularly spectacular as the huge red sun dips behind the Arabian Gulf, painting the sky in a kaleidoscope of colours. Private charters can be arranged and allfemale crews are available.
There are several marinas in Abu Dhabi where yacht owners can pull in. Yas Marina opened in 2009 with 143 berths. With fivestar concierge services and berths adjacent to Yas Marina Circuit Formula One racetrack boasting unique views, the rich and the famous have made their way to this location to enjoy the annual Grand Prix. The marina can accommodate yachts up to 66 metres in length and up to 150 metres on the pontoon adjacent to the Yas Marina entrance. Abu Dhabi’s newest marina opened last year at Emirates Palace. Managed by Art Marine, Yachts Marina can accommodate up to 186 vessels, while yacht owners enjoy the facilities of the luxurious hotel including the gym, pool and spa. Members can take advantage of its prime location on the western side of the hotel in a private bay and are able to sail straight out of the marina and on to the open sea. There is also separate berthing for eight superyachts. Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club offers 170 berths on the Corniche, the perfect location for accessing the centre of the city, while the InterContinental Abu Dhabi Marina, one of the emirate’s most picturesque, has 191 berths, 24-hour security and a members’ car park. With more than 40 marinas expected to open in the emirate over the next two decades, ideal weather conditions and ample areas to explore, Abu Dhabi is well on its way to becoming a major sailing and yachting destination.