It’s long been a sporting truism that swimming is one of the most holistic forms of exercise around. Whether you’re putting on your water wings for the first time or you’re an aspiring Atlantean, the capital has swimming facilities ready for you, and they’re not all found in grimy leisure centres like you might remember from your younger days back at home. So, from golf clubs to diving centres, and from five-star hotels to, well, five star hotels, here’s a selection of our favourite places to swim in Abu Dhabi...
Abu Dhabi Golf Club
If you’re a natural in the water, it can be hard to imagine reaching adulthood without knowing how to swim. Not everyone is so fortunate to take like a duck to water, however, so to cater for those keen to learn as grown-ups, Abu Dhabi Golf Club is the unlikely setting for swimming lessons for adults. Laid on by Advantage Sports UAE, there’s a 17-week course – and separate classes for the little ones, too.
Various times and prices. Sat-Thu. Sas Al Nakhl (02 679 2156).
Al Mahara Dive Center
Already a water baby and fancy pushing yourself a little more? The Al Mahara Dive Center has all manner of classes, courses, and, ultimately, challenges for people who feel right at home in the water. As well as PADI certification for those who want to learn to drive, it offers courses for kids not quite old enough to be qualified, lifeguard training and advanced swimming courses for all age groups.
Various times and prices. Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort, Channel Street (050 111 8125).
Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana
It might not have the traditional shape of an Olympic version, but the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan has one of the largest swimming pools in the capital. It also runs programmes for swimmers of all abilities, including for teens who are hoping to become competitive. Kids and people who just fancy a dip have a separate pool so as not to disturb those looking to take it a little more seriously.
From Dhs75 (day pass). Open daily 7am-8pm. West Corniche (02 657 0000).
Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche
Given the breadth of water-based experiences offered at the newly rebranded hotel’s beach club – everything from aqua-cycling to fishing – it’s perhaps no surprise that it has swimming comprehensively covered, too. As well as offering the chance to wade out into the warm waters of the Gulf, there are three pools to choose from in one of the capital’s oldest beach clubs, which has now been given a new lease of life.
Call for prices. Abu Dhabi Corniche (02 692 4205).
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
At 1,600sq m, the Ritz-Carlton’s pool is one of the largest anywhere in the UAE. With so much space, there’s plenty of room for swimmers of all abilities, but if that somehow doesn’t feel like enough, you can always just walk out to one of the property’s two beaches and go for a dip in the canal just outside. Better news: the hotel’s grounds are so vast that while you might never have it all to yourself, you probably won’t have to worry about swimming into kids’ inflatable unicorns while there.
From Dhs210 (day pass). Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8888).