In the air
What better way to celebrate your girly getaway than by jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet? Skydive Dubai offers tandem jumps over The Palm or the desert, providing you with amazing birds’ eye views (and the ultimate adrenaline rush). Plus, you’ll all get a good giggle at the video of your wobbly cheeks and terrified shrieks.
If you’d rather see the sights at a more leisurely pace, how about a helicopter joy flight? Departing from Atlantis, The Palm, the chopper will cruise above the coast and past the world’s tallest building. Meanwhile, Seawings offers scenic seaplane tours over the city and surrounds in a nine-seat Cessna. There are a handful of 40-minute round-trips taking off and landing at Dubai Creek or Jebel Ali, or you can arrange a bespoke tour or private charter.
And if your girlfriends are earlybirds, they’ll love a hot air balloon ride as dawn breaks over the desert. After a 4:30am start, Balloon Adventures Emirates will take you up, up and away in a large group or private charter (it’s best to wear trousers, as you’ll need to clamber into the basket).
By the beach
Dubai is blessed with year-round sunshine, making waterborne activities its specialty. Relive your childhood at one of two world-class waterparks: Wild Wadi, in front of the Burj Al Arab, and Aquaventure at the Atlantis resort. Both parks have private cabanas so you can sunbathe between turns on gravity-defying speedslides, twisting waterslides and lazy river rapids. The Atlantis waterpark also has a zipline that whips around a 500-metre circuit with great views back over the Palm.
Marina Beach at JBR has all manner of waterborne fun, starting with the Arabian Water Park, a 50-metre inflatable playground made up of trampolines, slides and climbing walls. Trust us, you’ll have more fun on this than the kids. Beachside hotels have everything from windsurfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding to parasailing and banana boat rides. Just ask at the hotel’s sports centre.
Nearby at Umm Suqeim beach, Dukite offers introductory kitesurfing lessons, as does Kitesurf Club Dubai. Equally extreme is flyboarding. Attached to a board with powerful water jets, and with optional jets strapped to your forearms, you’re propelled into the air where you ‘fly’ above the water, dive like a dolphin or attempt some tricks. Try it with Searide Dubai, which also runs jet-ski tours from Jumeirah Fishing Harbour out to the Burj Al Arab and back (60mins) or a two hour round trip to the Palm.
If you’d rather be under the water, sign up for a PADI-certified scuba diving course with Pavilion Dive Centre at Jumeirah Beach Hotel or Al Boom Diving, while more experienced divers can explore some good wrecks several miles offshore.
On dry land
A 4WD desert safari is a must-do in Dubai. Go for a private tour with one of the many tour companies so you can pick ‘n’ mix what you want to do, from gentle off-roading across the dunes – or more vigorous dune-bashing – to henna painting, belly dancing and camel rides at an authentic Bedouin camp, topped off with a Middle Eastern meal under the stars. You can even try sand-boarding while you’re there.
You might not expect it, but Dubai also has a mountain range just a short drive away from the city. ‘Wadi bashing’ – a bumpy 4×4 drive through the wadis (dry riverbeds) is great fun – and isolated rock pools fill with fresh mountain water in the winter months. If you’re feeling really adventurous, camping under the mountain stars will make you feel at one with nature! Alternatively, you could try a more glamorous approach to camping. Some tour companies can arrange private desert experiences or camping overnight.
Want to get behind the wheel yourself? Take a spin around Dubai Autodrome’s indoor and outdoor go-karting tracks – the latter has a bridge, tunnel and 17 corners to navigate. You could even give it a go in a F1 style single seater car! Or try desert driving in a dune buggy or on a quad-bike with Dune Buggy Dubai. For something a bit more off-the-wall, camel polo is a truly hilarious experience. The Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club will teach you how to swing a polo mallet and ride and steer your new four-legged friend before you mount up for a match.
Finally, if the girls are into golf, Dubai is a fantastic place to tee off. Emirates Golf Club boasts two 18-hole courses: the Majlis, a challenging par 72, 7301-yard championship course, and the Faldo, which offers “nightclubbing” (floodlit golf). Al Badia Golf Club, meanwhile, is good for a group of mixed abilities. Four sets of tees are provided on each hole, so the course can be played from 7,303 yards for experienced golfers or down to 5,398 yards for newer players. Both clubs have spas where you can unwind after a round – or just head straight to the 19th hole for some bubbles!