By Amanda Little
Dubai is known for going big, and that's still an understatement. The largest buildings in the world are in Dubai, as well as the world's only 7-star hotel. It's easy to get caught up in the glitzy lifestyle, but keep your head! There's more to do in Dubai than you realize.
Try out some extreme activities
Sure you can go skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping and more in Dubai, but you can do that almost anywhere there’s a bridge or a parachute. The real extreme sports that draw the adrenaline junkies here are indoor skydiving and flyboarding.
You can feel like you’re falling forever in the very safe tube with high-powered fans that let you float, or you can strap a water-powered jetpack to your back and cruise around like James Bond. Either way the adventurous are sure to get their kicks here.
Shut up and drive
Feeling the horsepower under your feet as ground disappears beneath you is a high most racers know, and now, you can too. Car enthusiasts can head to Dubai to tear up the track in Formula 1 cars. These incredible super cars let racing fans live out their dream of being on the track, even for just a little bit. Or, for those with a love of the lavish life, Ferrari, McLaren, and Radical cars are all available to test out too. Cruise in style along the same tracks that hosted the Grand Prix and FIA championships.
Discover aquatic life in the desert
Diving with sharks, swimming with dolphins, deep-sea diving, and even spending your nights underwater are all available to those looking for an oasis in the desert. The Dubai Mall Aquarium & Underwater Zoo hosts 300 sharks in a 2,642 gallon tank. Those willing can find the thrill of a lifetime facing down the largest collection of sand tiger sharks in the world.
Or, you can head to Dolphin Bay in Atlantis for more fun and less adrenaline and go swimming with dolphins at one of the most sophisticated dolphin habitats in the world. Even those who don’t know how to swim can enjoy the dolphins in the shallow side, or gear up in scuba equipment and bob along next to them.
Those with a bit of a higher budget can also opt to spend the night in the fantastic Atlantis Underwater Suite. Just 2 suites are available underwater, but those staying there can see any of the 65,000 marine creatures living in the water. Watch through your windows as fish flit by, or relax on your bed and watch as stingrays drift by the glass roof.
Treat yo’ self
Get in on some of the most luxurious spa treatments that Dubai offers. It isn't everyday that you have the option to be doused in chocolate or gold. Certain hotels offer chocolate spa treatments, like massaging chocolate into your skin, which is supposed to be nourishing, but is definitely relaxing. Or go for the gold, as in the 24 karat gold facial. Relax as the gold is applied to your face, and allegedly tightens skin, reduces sun damage, and infuses your skin with antioxidants. It’s even said the Egyptians used this style of facial, with Cleopatra leading the golden charge.
Or for a different kind of relaxation, you can head to Dubai’s Illumination Center, where everything from yoga to feng shui classes are held. The center is the city’s premiere holistic spot, and not only offers activities but counselling and therapy classes as well.
Shop ‘til you drop
In a city known for extravagance, how could anyone pass up the opportunity for a little retail therapy? Dubai is home to the biggest mall in the world, with over 120 cafes and restaurants, over 1,200 retail outlets, an Olympic-sized skating rink, and of course, the Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the month-long Shopping Festival, going to the Dubai Mall is a must. This festival attracts millions of shoppers from around the world, because the loftiest brands show off their best items and deals, raffles and cash prizes are held every day, and everything from electronicas to jewelry is on sale.
Dig into the cuisine
Where else in the world can you find an entire camel cooked as a delicacy? As it happens, nowhere. Those looking for good eats can always find it here. Since Dubai is about 15% locals and 85% travelers, tourists, and visitors, the cuisine ranges as widely as its population. Find niche restaurants serving up specialties from all over the world, or head to the luxury restaurants to dine in the highest finery at the expense of your wallet. But no matter your budget, Dubai is a foodie paradise.
Hit the slopes
Pack up the parka, snow boots, and skis, you’re going to Dubai! While that doesn’t quite sound right, it’s true! Seek out one of the most interesting attractions in Dubai, the indoor ski slopes, covered in snow. Kick up powder skiing or snowboarding down this man-made mountain to beat the heat of Dubai, or unwind in the cool air and play with penguins!
Of course, if you wanted to combine the activities, you can do that too! Head out to the sand dunes with your snowboard and some sunscreen, strap and, and fly down the sides of the dunes. Sandsurfing is a fun pastime, but lends itself more to surfing than snowboarding. In the sand, there is no need to slalom pattern your way down, its best just to point your board down and do your best to stay upright. The sand is an easy fall, and acts as a brake. You may want to consider goggles to keep the sand out of your eyes, and a head scarf to keep as much sand out of your ears as possible!
Stop and smell the flowers
Scorching temperatures are the norm in Dubai, but that doesn’t stop the city from having one of the most stunning and world-famous flower gardens. Any trip to Dubai should include a stop by the Dubai Miracle Garden. This ever-changing garden features sprawling blossoms covering giant buildings and mesmerizing fields. Wander among the flowers and take a colorful step into Wonderland as a respite from the bustling city.