From the boundless dunes of the Empty Quarter through the lush palm groves of Al Ain Oasis to the mangrove forests of Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi is home to wildly contrasting areas of extraordinary natural beauty. At the northern end of Jubail Island, the recently opened Jubail Mangrove Park features a boardwalk of three routes that wind through the wetlands, allowing visitors a close-up view of the sanctuary.
The first thing that strikes you as you take to these wooden paths is the noise – or lack of it: birds rule the airwaves here. Jubail Island is home to upwards of 90 bird species, including herons, cormorants and greater spotted eagles. You wouldn’t know that you’re a 20-minute hop from the bustle of downtown Abu Dhabi. The trees, with their gnarled breathing roots and sun-dappled leaves, draw you in. Peer into the clear water and you may spot a crab – there are several species clawing a living here – along with schools of fish. A platform with a net-covered aperture provides closer views.
Jubail Mangrove Park is not a strenuous hike – the paths are 1km–2km long – but the splendour and solitude invite you to linger. There are friendly and knowledgeable rangers on hand, too, who will be more than happy to fill you in on the plant and animal life around you. You’ll also want to pause at the viewing tower, or the beach platform, where you can dip your toes. You can even rent a kayak for a truly – though not literally, we hope – immersive experience.
And if you’re craving a little man-made activity after all this, nearby attractions include Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World and Saadiyat Cultural District – home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Jubail Mangrove Park is open 8.30am to 6.30pm daily (high tide is best for wildlife spotting). This is an ecological preserve – so no eating, smoking, fishing, swimming or souvenir hunting along the trail.