Ras Al Khaimah is one of the world’s best kept family holiday secrets.
The most northerly of the UAE’s emirates, it shares the Arabian Gulf coast with near neighbour Dubai and sits in a similar magnificent desert landscape against the backdrop of the Hajar Mountains. But Ras Al Khaimah is relaxed and uncrowded, the skyline is defined by the four graceful minarets of Sheikh Zayed Mosque, its manmade islands win eco-awards and there’s as much green as there is blue and gold in the city’s natural colour palette. Families from Dubai come on holiday here to enjoy the resorts, beaches and wonderful weather of home just with more heritage, traditional culture and a gentler pace of life.
Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is 45 minutes by road from Dubai International Airport: the main transport hub of the UAE with direct flights daily throughout the year from London airports.
Close to Oman
RAK City is just over half-an-hour’s drive from the border of Oman and less than an hour by plane from the beautiful Omani capital, Muscat.
RAK is home to Jabal Jais, the highest peak in the Hajar Mountains.
From palaces to hill forts and traditional fishing villages, the region has many of the most historic sites in the UAE.
Resorts & spas
A wide range of accommodation includes family hotels in the city centre, luxury resorts on Al Marjan and opulent desert spas.
RAK is the only emirate where mangroves grow and the city’s parks and gardens are lush, shady retreats when it’s too hot for the beach.
Average temperature is 39˚C in summer and 28˚C in winter.
Where to go
Four beautifully landscaped islands floating in the Arabian Gulf are just as idyllic as they sound. Designed for living and playing, some of the region’s loveliest homes are in Al Marjan, along with a range of 5-star family resort hotels. Everything you need from sports to spas, gorgeous beaches, lush gardens and fun activities are in place and RAK City is half-an-hour away for shopping malls, museums, souks, mosques, local restaurants and markets.
Luxury family beach resorts, spa hotels and spacious self-catering apartments.
Just to the north of RAK City and within easy travelling distance of the desert fringe, Hajar Mountains and several impressive archaeological sites.
Wide range of activities, sea plane adventures, snorkelling and diving.
Close to Iceland Waterpark and RAK Markets.
Al Hamra Village
The ancient fishing village of Jazirat al Hamra lends its name to the luxury hotels, golf courses, beaches, restaurants and pretty gardens which make up Al Hamra Village. Overlooking the sea and less than 20 minutes from RAK City, this is a favourite resort area for sporty family holidays, interesting heritage and a lively atmosphere day and night.
International brands like Waldorf Astoria and Hilton have luxurious family resorts in Al Hamra.
Al Hamra Golf Club and Marina are in the village and Al Jazeera Dive School and Port are nearby to the north of historic Jazirat al Hamra.
Cinemas, shopping malls, fun places to eat, seafood cafés and a range of holiday houses are part of the Village too.
The old city puts you right in the heart of colourful RAK where you’ll find traditional souks and markets balanced by designer shopping malls and specialist stores. If you want local cooking, museums, monuments and a glimpse of sea-faring history, this area is perfect.
Good choice of accommodation from spa and beachfront resorts to value 3 to 4-star hotels and aparthotels.
RAK City is the area for Al Qasimi Corniche, National Museum, souks and markets, RAK Mall and Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
What to do
National Museum of Ras al Khaimah One of the Emirates’ best museums, this national collection is housed in Al Hisn Fort in the city’s old quarter and kids will like the balance of social and cultural history, eccentric artefacts and intriguing weaponry.
Dhayah Fort In the desert to the north of the city, this 16th century hill fort is the last remaining military lookout in the UAE and, naturally, it has spectacular views over the Arabian Gulf.
Hajar Mountains Driving the twisting, winding road up mighty Jabal Jais is thrilling. But the Hajar Mountains in RAK are just as incredible for walking, hiking, biking and exploring on one of the region’s excellent guided tours.
Awafi Desert Just half-an-hour from the coast, the Awafi Desert is where the annual Awafi Cultural Festival is held for three weeks in December. It’s also one of the most accessible areas in the region for quad-biking and dune-bashing.
Al Qasimi Corniche The corniche road which runs along the coast round the old city is one of best places for a long walk, it’s a good place to spot old wooden sailing boats on the creek.
Iceland Waterpark A huge and thrilling waterpark with white-knuckle chutes, slides and rides for older kids and slightly scaled down excitement for younger children too.
Al Wadi Equestrian Horse riding across the desert is one RAK’s unforgettable experiences and Al Wadi makes novices and young riders welcome.
Banyan Tree Al Wadi Falconry Banyan Tree Al Wadi is a gorgeous spa resort in the desert with loads of fantastic kids activities. But you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the falconry show.
RAK Track Go-karting at its most extreme is what to expect at this well designed track.
Sea Plane City Flights Fly by seaplane from Al Marjan over the Arabian Gulf.
Educational value for kids
Learn about the region’s ancient nomadic culture by spending an evening of feasting and entertainment in an enchanting Bedouin oasis.
RAK has several outstanding historical sites including the abandoned village of Jazirat al Hamra.
Pick up skills on the beach at dozens of water sports and dive schools.
From mountain bike expeditions to camel treks and hiking tours, the desert is an education in itself.
Visit the colourful souks and grand mosques in evocative Al Dhait North.
RAK is the site of the only known Islamic palace in the UAE. Dating back to the 13th century, ‘The Queen of Sheeba’s Palace’ – it doesn’t have any connection with the more famous Sheba, but has lots of other fascinating tales to tell.
Go see the ponderous ‘ships of the desert’ really move at the RAK Camel Race Track.
Getting about with kids in Ra Al Khaimah
Almost everyone in RAK drives so car-hire is the best way to get around and explore the area outside the city. Most resorts have transport to attractions and can arrange tours. If you want to walk, the best place is the Corniche or one of RAK’s many city centre parks.