Khor Fakkan, on the UAE’s east coast, has been named the best Arab tourist city for 2023.
The seaside town in the emirate of Sharjah — and surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah — was bestowed the accolade by the Arab Union for Tourist Media at travel trade show ITB Berlin.
Khor Fakkan has been undergoing a bit of a transformation of late and there's more in the pipeline, with an adventure park opening later this year and a host of new hotels headed to the coastal town.
The Sharjah enclave has plenty to offer travellers, from hiking in the mountains to golden shorelines. Here are nine things to do on your next visit.
1. Khor Fakkan Waterfalls
This man-made waterfall towers 45 metres high on a natural cliff overlooking the town's Corniche. It's thundering waterways carved out of the rocks makes for a worthy stopping point on any visit to the town. There are a few cafes and ample parking spaces nearby, and its right next to Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre — a sprawling Roman-inspired structure that’s become something of a local landmark. It’s also worth visiting the falls in the evening when strategically placed lighting illuminates the cascading water.
2. Al Rafisah Dam
Get out on the water at Al Rasifah Dam just off the new Sharjah-Khor Fakkan highway. Originally built in the 1980s, the dam has recently been upgraded and has a visitors' centre, a rest area and a whole host of watersports on offer. Go kayaking, head out on a pedalo or spin around the dam on a doughnut boat. It’s also a great place to enjoy a picnic with picturesque views of the sandstone mountain range and bright blue reservoir.
3. Shees Park
Shees Park is a relatively new addition to Khor Fakkan having opened in 2020 and is a great place to stop off on a road trip, or to take the family to during the cooler months. Nestled among the Hajar Mountains, its spread over 11,000 square metres and has a 25-metre-tall waterfall, an artificial lake, play areas, barbecue spots, an open-air amphitheatre and 500 metres of mountain walkways leading visitors to a main viewing deck with epic vistas.
4. Al Rabi Tower
Perched on a hill overlooking Khor Fakkan town is Al Rabi Tower. This stone structure was built in 1915 as part of the town’s defence network of watchtowers. Today, it’s also the start of a picturesque hiking trail. Winding through the hills, this 5.3km trail is well-marked and zigzags up to a 395-metre summit with fantastic views. Post-hike, head to The View by Wave — a boho-chic cafe with barista-art coffees and light bites served with amazing views from the outdoor terrace.
5. Al Suhub Rest House
Looking straight out of a sci-fi film, the flying-saucer-shaped Al Suhub Rest House is about a 30-minute drive from Khor Fakkan town. Perched high on a hillside, it’s a great place to go for ample views of the destination's mountains and coastlines. There's also service amenities and Fen Cafe & Restaurant, which serves up tasty bites alongside panoramic vistas.
6. Najd Al Maqsar Heritage Village
The restored village of Najd Al Maqsar offers a glimpse into life in a different era. Nestled on the slopes of the Hajar Mountains, it is made up of 13 mud and stone houses dating back centuries. Al Maqsar Tower is the village's 300-year-old fortress, perched atop the highest peak and constructed as part of Khor Fakkan’s watchtower defence network. Restoration work is ongoing at the village, with plans to turn the buildings into heritage hotel units and to add a terrace on the fort to make the most of its views over the surrounding valley.
7. Khor Fakkan Beach
As a seaside town, Khor Fakkan is famed for its golden shorelines and Khor Fakkan Beach is one of the town's highlights. Having recently been redeveloped, the 2.5km shoreline and corniche now includes an inflatable water play area, various food trucks, fountains, a skate park, play parks and even a beach library. History buffs should head to the southern end of the palm-lined Corniche to see the triangular Portuguese Fort which dates back to 1635.
8. Souq Sharq
Step back in time with a visit to Khor Fakkan’s old souq, designed in the style of a traditional heritage village. Souq Sharq is the place to shop for spices, herbs, handicrafts and more in this cluster of restored buildings. On-site there's also a traditional crafts museums that sheds more light on what life was like in the region in years gone by, and entrance is free.
9. Shark Island
A short boat ride away from Khor Fakkan bay's south-eastern side is Shark Island, a small rocky isle that’s a great place to visit for a day of beachside chilling. Huge shoals of coral surrounding the island make it a fantastic snorkelling destination and the island is also popular with scuba divers who come to spot blacktip reef sharks and other marine life.