Family Vacations to Ras al-Khaimah

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Ras al-Khaimah – Family Vacation Guide

Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) 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 its neighbor Dubai and sits in a similar magnificent desert landscape against the backdrop of the Hajar Mountains.

But RAK 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 color 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.

Why Go

  • Getting there

    Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) is 45 minutes by road from Dubai International Airport: the main transport hub of the UAE.

  • 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.

  • Spectacular mountains

    RAK is home to Jabal Jais, the highest peak in the Hajar Mountains.

  • Historic sites

    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.

  • Lush spaces

    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.

  • Warm climate

    Average temperature is 100˚F in summer and 95˚F in winter.

Where to Go

Al Marjan

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 five-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 favorite 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.

RAK City

The old city puts you right in the heart of colorful 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 three and four-star hotels.
  • 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 artifacts 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

  • 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 Around in Ras al-Khaimah

Almost everyone in RAK drives so renting a car 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 parks.

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