Up the Creek with a paddle

Its taken me too long to get around to start exploring Dubai’s Creek in my kayak and it turns out I’ve been missing out. The first afternoon spent in the bottom section of the busy, bustling waterway was brilliant and I’ll be heading back to continue exploring asap.

Click for larger image

I put in from the car parking spaces on the Deira Corniche, I later found a better access egress point next to the Customs House on the East side of the creek thats accessed from the roundabout above where the Shindagha Tunnel dives underground.

Paddling up into the Creek the tide was obviously with me but this was completely by luck as I hadn’t checked the times. This trip worked out perfectly and judging by the flow I saw coming out when the tide turned it would be daft to get it wrong. You definitely want to be timing your trip to get to the highest point in the Creek at the top of the tide and glide back out on the ebb.

As soon as I rounded the Al Ras corner the hectic hustle and bustle of this busy water way hit me.

Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek Abra (Water Taxi)

I had to keep my wits about me as I paddled up the northern edge. This was suprisingly difficult as I was being bombarded with sights and sounds from around me, there was just so much to take in.

Trading Dhows
Bows of Dhows
Small Dhow

The dredging of the creek in the early 60’s is attributed as one of the more important factors in establishing Dubai a key staging post for world trade. To see it all ‘in action’ from the view point of my kayak was really quite something. This perspective from down on the water in amongst these traditionally styled working boats made a stark contrast with the surrounding high rise glitzy skyline with its banks and international brands.

Working Dhow Prow and Rolex Building

Something I found interesting was the way different people reacted to me kayaking there. The occasional tourist on an abra casually took a photo but the abra drivers and the dhow crews all smiled, waved and enthusiastically hailed a greeting. Were they just laughing at a crazy white guy sitting with his arse in a puddle or where they welcoming and acknowledging a fellow water traveller, a shared kinship perhaps. Of course I like to think the latter, it certainly felt that way.

Port Saeed Behind Me
Traditional Construction Below a Modern Skyline

As I got to Port Saeed just below Al Maktoum Bridge it was time for me to head back. While life on the water exploring under my own steam might be simple it wasn’t going to prevent my time on the parking meter running out so this exploration ended there. I still have to find out what delights there are above the bridge for the exploring kayaker to find. How far up can I get, will I be able to get past the floating bridge, what lays beyond that? Hmmmm, questions questions.

On the way back down I followed the southern bank, first of all past the palaces with their ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’ signs, then past some Gin Palace Yachts, dodged around a couple of very busy Abra Stations, past the restaurant dhows moored across the road from the British Embassy, down past touristy waterside Old Bur Dubai (hailed by Adam out showing his visiting parents around) and then out towards the sea on the outgoing tide before hanging a right for the short paddle back along the Deira Corniche to get to my pick up in time to catch the meter.

Trip Info: Dubai Creek – Deira to Al Maktoum Bridge

Distance / Time: 12km. 2 to 4hrs

Access / Egress: From Parking Bays on the Deira Corniche or from near the Shindagha Tunnel near the Customs House on the south side.

Tides: Basic tidal planning is crucial to avoid fighting strong currents.

Navigation: Very easy.

Difficulty: Medium. Its not an easy environment to paddle in, a bustling waterway like the Creek is full of hazards to avoid and is certainly not the place to go for a swim.

5 thoughts on “Up the Creek with a paddle

Add yours

  1. Ian!

    The creek was probably for me one of the favourite areas I explored while in the UAE. Not from as low in the water as your exploration, but from the Abra’s – brilliant – I could spend all day just crossing back and forth on the water taxi’s.

    Like you say the sights, sounds are mesmerizing and continually playing on the senses.

    All looking great.


  2. Hi Ian.

    Say, do you know of any areas around New Dubai (the JBR/Marina to Burj-al-Arab stretch) where one can get in on a kayak? Preferably without encountering sand, and with relatively calm waters? I tried Umm Suqeim open beach, but I had to go through a lot of sand to get to the water, and the water itself was kind of choppy. Sorry, I am kind of new to this.

    Looks like you had a great time in the Creek. I might try it myself someday when I get better at this.



  3. Sohan,

    Umm Suqeim beach is one of the best options for launching as its public and free and one I use a lot. The beach is pretty short in comparison with beaches I know back in the UK. There are lots of free launching options along this bit of coast from the access from the end of the walk of JBR all the way to the Mina end of the Jumeirah beaches. There are obviously lots of private sections too! A drive along the strip ducking down the various side roads will quickly reveal where you can and can’t access the water.

    To beat the chop have a look at this post https://ianganderton.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/a-reason-to-get-up-in-the-morning-because-the-surf-is-likely-to-be-better/ It details the reasons the wind (and the chop with it) picks up in the afternoon.

    Also look at the surf forcast http://www.surfingdubai.com/timetable.php to find out when there is predicted swell. Check it on a regular basis and you’ll start to see what causes waves etc.

    I hope the information helps, let me know how you get on especially if you find an ideal launch point 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ian.

      I will try again, in the morning, one of these days.

      I don’t suppose there’s any way to enter the Dubai Marina channel without getting dock access, is there? I scouted there too, but could not find any access point apart from the boat docks, which require access cards to get into. The Marina would be ideal, since there are no waves in it, and no sand to clean after.

Leave a Reply to Matt Thompson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: