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Ras Al Khaimah
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About Ras Al Khaimah
Travelling to Ras Al Khaimah is like a mini adventure; a long, sandy route through the desert, heading for a fertile, mountainous horizon. Very Lawrence of Arabia. Arriving into town might be a little disappointing - Ras Al Khaimah is dusty, and a bit run down, hardly up to the UAE's slightly glamorous reputation. But that lack of over-development pays off when you see the unspoiled beaches and views of the Hajar Mountains. It does make finding the best places to stay in Ras Al Khaimah a little bit tricker though, but there are a couple of very nice resorts nearby.
Many people travel to Ras Al Khaimah on the way to Oman's Musandam Peninsula, a particularly spectacular coastline of deep, rocky inlets, dotted with small villages. But it might be worth spending a couple of days here before or afterwards to relax and maybe do a spot of birdwatching, some diving, or try out a new watersport or two.
Ras Al Khaimah might look a bit battered, but it is a capital city, and it does have infrastructure. There's a waterpark and several golf courses for example. And the old city, with its souk and elegant mosque has plenty of charm.
Once you've unwound on the beach and marvelled at the dramatic desert dunes you might care for a day trip or two?
- The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah is housed in an 18th Century castle-fort, so as well as getting to look around inside the fort you also get to learn a bit more about the area.
- Ras Al Khaimah also has a pearl museum, charting the region's relationship with the treasures and the men who dived for them.
- If you're interested in the UAE of pre-oil days you'll probably find the abandoned fishing village of Jazirat Al Hamra fascinating. This spot was first settled in the 14th Century, its inhabitants surfing on fishing and pearl diving, but the entire population upped sticks in 1968, leaving everything spookily empty, but well preserved.
- And on your way to of from Musandam you might also want to stop in Sha'am, for its interesting old Wadi settlements and rock engravings.
- The Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach looks like a luxury Bedouin camp, with its huge tent-like buildings, and this really adds to the feeling of remoteness. Of course you'll also find every luxury - good food, a huge complex of pools and spas and its own beautiful beach - it's luxury on a small scale for the UAE.
- The Banyan Tree Al Wadi is similar but on a larger scale, and of course it's got a desert outlook rather than a beach one.
Best Hotels in Ras Al Khaimah
Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach 32 rooms from $339Ras Al Khaimah (Al Jazirah Al Hamra)
A Bedouin fishing village style luxury beach retreat in a remote setting. Rooms and suites filled with contemporary elegance and seaside romance. Excellent restaurant and spa, huge pools, and water sports galore. Luxury on a smaller scale than usual for UAE.Romantic BreakBeach LifeSpa - A complimentary shuttle will take you to the spa at Banyan Tree Al WadiViews - Superb views over the Arabian GulfRecommended by - Tablet
Banyan Tree Al Wadi from $599Ras Al Khaimah (Wadi Khadeja)
A veritable Bedouin oasis of luxurious exoticism. No expense is spared in this haven of bare-foot luxury in the middle of the desert. Honeymooners will be attracted by the private villas (the only accommodation type) with their own pools, and the private bbqs or sand dune evenings available.Spa - 10 treatment rooms, Rainforest hydrothermal experience with 15 different ‘stations’Honeymoons - A perfect honeymoon destination, especially in one of the larger villasSpa breaks - Banyan Tree spas are famed for their traditional holistic approachesRomantic BreakRecommended by - Tablet