Along Arabia’s east coast
The prosperous Khor Fakkan is Sharjah’s largest town on the east coast, found mid-way between Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn. Its curving corniche offers several jet ski hire huts, swings, volleyball nets and football goals dotted among the palm trees. A fish market at the southern end of the bay has an excellent cafe. Out in the bay lies Shark and Snoopy islands, popular destinations for camping and picnics as well as snorkelling and diving to spot turtles, manta rays and other coral marine life. The newly refurbished Oceanic Hotel is set to open in early 2012 and visitors to the area also stay in Fujairah which offers plenty of hotels including the Radisson Blu, through which, as with most major hotels, watersport activities can be booked.
Khor Fakkan is now becoming an important port for cruise ships, a needed boost to the local economy, with cruises stopping here weekly, passing through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and surrounding enclaves.
Just over 33km farther down the coast is Khor Kalba, home to the most renowned restaurant in the region, the Bent Al Nokhetha (Khor Kalba Main Road, south of the fishing harbour at the cornice; 9-710-507-399-723). A delicious Lebanese meal of grilled fish and fresh vegetables should be followed by the restaurant’s rich coffee and a stroll along the Gulf of Oman beneath the brilliant blue sky.
A few kilometres south of Kalba is Kalba Creek, home to Arabia’s oldest mangrove forest and a conservation area for endangered species. Keen-eyed visitors might spot two of the world’s rarest birds: the white-collared kingfisher and Skye’s Warbler. Canoeing is also very popular (try Absolute Adventure). These natural skyscrapers seem worlds away from their urban counterparts.