Dubai may get all of the credit, but there are some innovative, quirky and cultural things to do in Abu Dhabi at night. Here’s our round-up of the best for when the sun goes down.
Join podium dancers to dance in the rain at Liquid Rain & Foam Party at Mai Cafe, on the fifth floor of Aloft Abu Dhabi. Don swimwear and glow-in-the-dark bracelets and you’ll look the part as you dance under flashing neon lights on the rooftop dance floor. When the DJ hollers, “Do you want some rain?” prepare to get soaked – and that’s before you dive in the pool. The next party, which is Halloween-themed, is on 3 November. It’s free for women before midnight.
From Al Ghazal Golf Club‘s sand course to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club‘s coastal course, teeing off in Abu Dhabi is a special experience. If the sun gets too much, try the par-36, nine-hole garden course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club – the home of Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Floodlights illuminate it and tee times are up to 9pm, so you can play long after the sun’s gone down.
Leave the capital’s skyscrapers and traffic behind and join grey herons, jumping needlefish and flamingos as you paddle through inky waters under the stars on a Noukhada kayaking tour. Escape the city – and the heat – on a Sunrise, Sunset or Night Light tour, on which LED lights are fixed to your kayak so you can see fish beneath you. You can combine a tour with a barbecue or dinner at Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara or Yas Links. Experienced kayakers can join a full moon tour, camping trip or the Al Rahba tour, which begins and ends with an hour-long speedboat adventure that takes you deeper into the mangroves.
Captain Tony’s Moonlight Cruise is a family-friendly excursion aboard a traditional wooden dhow that cruises from Yas Marina along Al Raha Beach. Abu Dhabi’s past and present collide on a Sunset Cruise, which passes the iconic Aldar HQ – a circular, mirrored building – wild gazelles and an Emirati village on Al Samiliyah Island, and Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, which is illuminated with 5,389 LED lights.
Whatever your age, you’ll have fun in the fountains, wave pool and lazy river at Yas Waterworld. The waterpark also has a raft ride, a rollercoaster that leaves you soaked and the Liwa Loop waterslide – once you’re locked in, there’s no escaping the free-fall when the trapdoor is released. You can also try flowboarding – surfing against a continuous, man-made wave. On Thursdays from March to October the park is open to women only till 11pm; during summer it’s open till 8pm and the rest of the year it opens late for special events.
Al Ain Zoo is home to native gazelles, Arabian wolves, birds of prey and ibex, a mountain goat with curved horns. Closing times vary, but if you can, visit at night when the park is quieter. Nocturnal animals come out to play and you can spy on them in surroundings that mimic their natural habitat. The zoo also runs 4×4 sunset safaris at 6pm and night safaris at 7pm beneath Jebel Hafeet mountain.
For a memorable meal, dine al fresco under lantern-lit gazebos at BBQ Al Qasr, on the 1.3km private beach behind Emirates Palace – the capital’s grandest five-star hotel. The sea breeze keeps you cool as you tuck into steak and seafood.