The UAE’s smallest and least traversed emirate, Ajman is making big strides when it comes to developing its tourism offering. From sporting events to stunning stretches of coastline, the tiny seaside town, spread over only 259 square kilometres, has undergone major development in the past decade and in spite of its size, offers a wealth of hidden gems. Here are 10 things to do and see in the emirate.
Kayaking at Al Zorah Nature Reserve
The best way to soak up the beauty of Al Zorah Nature Reserve is via kayak. The calm waters around the lush green mangroves also make it an ideal spot for beginners. Home to an abundance of flora and fauna, the area hosts 58 species of birds, including flamingos, egrets and herons. Aqdar Adventures invites visitors to take part in its mangrove planting initiative, which is a great way to experience the area's rich biodiversity, as well as a fun way to teach the little ones about the importance of wetlands to the local ecosystem.
Floating water park
The floating water park at Fairmont Ajman is a fun activity for the family, with a mix of bouncy domes, balancing beams and slides set along an obstacle course on the corniche. The park is open to hotel residents as well as non-residents and operates from 10am to 5pm.
Back for its fifth year this year, Ride Ajman takes place in December and is the emirate’s first competitive cycling race, with distances of either 58km or 115km. Looping around the smooth terrain of Al Zorah Marina, the race has helped put the emirate on the sporting map, attracting competitors from around the country. The Masfout Mountain Bike Challenge is another favourite for those preferring to compete on more rugged terrain out in the emirate’s rocky mountainous region.
One of the UAE's most picturesque golf courses, Al Zorah Golf Club’s flowing green dunes are surrounded by beautiful coastline and mangroves. Designed by Nicklaus Design, the company founded by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, and managed by Troon Golf, the course has an 18-hole championship layout with a breathtaking backdrop to match. The par-72 course features two lakes and 88 bunkers.
Hiking at Masfout
In the tiny enclave of Masfout, famous for its fertile agricultural lands, visitors can expect some impressive scenery. Surrounded by the emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, as well as neighbouring Oman, Masfout offers the perfect escape from the city. Masfout Canyon is only 90 minutes from Dubai and is located close to Hatta, which boasts higher altitudes and cooler climes. A trek up to Masfout Castle is also well worth the effort.
Heritage at Masfout Castle
The picturesque Masfout Castle, a mountain-top fort 120km south-east of Ajman city, is one of the few historical sites in the emirate. The 19th-century structure was restored in the late 1940s and reflects the architecture and construction methods of the time, which favoured stone, mud and timber. The small castle has just two rooms and a gate, and offers fantastic views from its defensive lookout.
A new watersports centre will open soon at Al Zorah, one of the best spots from which to enjoy the beautiful waters around Ajman’s eastern coastline. Whether you are stand-up paddle boarding or windsurfing, the emirate’s turquoise waters are one of its biggest assets. The local hotels along the corniche and on Al Zorah beach also offer a range of watersports options, even for non-residents.
Caravana Beach Resort Al Zorah is the emirate’s popular campsite by the sea, and veers towards the glamping side of things. Quaint little caravans of different sizes mean visitors can leave the sleeping bags at home. Facilities include barbecue areas, activities such as horse riding and an outdoor cinema. Also on Al Zorah is Bianky Beach Camp, another purpose-built site with facilities that include a swimming pool and activities such as fishing and diving, as well as live music. Bianky offers visitors chalets, villas and tents. The beauty of both is they are fully catered, with restaurants on site, making the stay totally hassle-free.
Licensed fishing fans can head to one of the best spots for the sport, near Ajman Hotel (former Kempinski) at the far end of the Corniche. Early mornings and a few hours before dusk are known to be the best times to try your luck. For a more adventurous excursion, deep sea fishing is also available through local vendors around Ajman with snapper, grouper and barracuda among the big catch to be found.
Serving as the ruler’s palace until 1970, the museum, also known as Ajman Fort, is now open to the public and displays a range of historical artefacts, from jewellery and ancient manuscripts to tombs and weaponry. There are also archaeological finds dating as far back as 3,000 BC. The 18th-century fort, located on the east side of the central square in the Al Bustan area, is testament to the small emirate’s big history. Cultural displays such as Emirati dance are also on offer at the museum, offering a window into the country’s Bedouin roots.