Abu Dhabi may have much to offer in the way of luxury hotels, pristine beaches and tonnes of things to do. However, being a coastal city Abu Dhabi also offers fishermen and women a great opportunity to experience some of the best catches in the gulf.
Today we take a look into the history of fishing in Abu Dhabi as well as the best places to fish on your visit to the UAE Captial.
History of Fishing in Abu Dhabi
The history of fishing in Abu Dhabi and its people has come a long way. Fishing has always been a deeply embedded tradition in the Emirati culture. Prior to the petroleum era in the 1960s, the people of this region used to depend on fishing hugely.
Fishing was not just a sport back then but a strong means of survival and the naturally blessed Gulf area never disappointed the Emirati people. A good catch was almost guaranteed in this fish-rich creek area most days.
With the exponential growth in the size of the city along with its population, the demand of seafood has risen and so has the massive investment in the UAE’s fishing industry. With the new advances in the field, this industry is flourishing like anything before.
Fishing has also crafted a special niche as a celebrated adventure sport and pastime across the nation, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. With more than 500+ marine species, fishing is surely going to be a riveting experience for your Abu Dhabi tour.
The Best Places to go Fishing in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has got a string of fantastic fishing spots. All these places are visited frequently by professionals as well as fishing enthusiasts. Below are our favourites.
1. Al Aryam
Located off the west coast of the city, Al Aryam Island is the most celebrated and exceptionally rich fish-bed in Abu Dhabi.
Previously known as Bu Khushaishah, this fishing spot is insanely famous and no wonder why the island remains crowded with fishing-lovers from everywhere.
Al Aryam is known to the best spot to hook mackerels and breams. There are other fishes too but these two species dominate the water here. Apart from the enrich marine biodiversity, this island captivates visitors with its breathtaking view of the sea.
This is also the natural habitat for the majestic creatures, flamingos. Therefore, if you don’t have much time or resource in your hand to explore different fishing spots in Abu Dhabi, just head for Al Aryam. Both fishing and cherishing stunning natural elements go hand in hand when you choose this island to drop the bait.
2. Al Rahba
Al Rahba is fascinating spot in Abu Dhabi to go for fishing. Sitting close to Al Sheleilah Island, north of Ras Sadr, this fishing destination offers an elevating and rewarding experience with loads of catch. While fishing here, you can actually watch the tide gushing in. This is something rare to witness anywhere else in Abu Dhabi.
The stream is quite strong at Al Rahba and that’s what brings so many varieties of fish for you to catch. At the end of the day, you will be surprised by the variety that you have managed to catch here.
Apart from fishing, Al Rahba gives you an opportunity to behold the magical sunset along with the tidal waves in the evenings. This spot is primarily frequented by professionals but beginners can also try their luck.
3. Al Bateen Beach
Looking for a scenic fishing spot in and around Abu Dhabi? The city has got Al Bateen Beach for you. Located near Hodariyat Bridge, this fishing spot allows you to go with your pace without any hustling crowd around you.
Al Bateen Beach is a beautiful place to plan a laid-back fishing vacation but there are not many basic amenities here. It lacks benches and umbrellas on the beach. So, you may find it hard to continue with fishing particularly during the noon. This is why you will spot fewer people on the beach compared to other popular beaches in the city.
Thanks to nominal crowds, Al Bateen Beach is ideal for sport fishing in Abu Dhabi. Even this beach has recently secured the prestigious blue flag sustainability award from the Emirates Wildlife Authority.
With a permit, you can hunt for fishes like hammour, kingfish and stingrays at the beach. If luck favours, you can even catch the sailfish too.
4. ICAD II
Situated at the fringe of Musaffah South, ICAD II is a great spot to cater your need for a pleasurable fishing outing in the city. The spot is just off Taif Road.
As this spot is mostly visited by tourists and fishing enthusiasts, there are plenty of charter boats and camping companies available at your service.
To make sea fishing adventure days more promising, ICAD II features a campsite. Don’t forget to bring food and water for an overnight stay.
Staying at ICAD II after a satisfying fishing session can be really amazing if you plan well ahead of your visit. Booking your accommodation, boat and securing the food is all you need to do.
5. Hameem Beach
When you don’t want to visit the regular fishing spots in Abu Dhabi and more willing to have the best fishing experience in the area, Hameem Beach can be your best bet.
This secluded fishing spot is about a 21-minute boat ride from Musaffah South. This is also one of the most scenic and serene camping sites in Abu Dhabi where fishing comes as an added perk. The strategical location of Hameem Beach has turned it into a favourite picnic destination for families and friend groups.
Mackerels are the most common catch at Hameem Beach with little bit of other varieties of fishes. This place also looks ethereal at the dusk with all those vibrant sunset hues painting the sky.
6. Al Raha Beach
Located near the Yas Tunnel at the edge of the Al Zeina desert, Al Raha Beach is a small but popular fishing spot in Abu Dhabi. Travelling to this spot must be arranged from Yas Island with help of a boat rental.
Heading Al Raha Beach from Yas Island by water boat itself is a splendid experience. Fishing at Al Raha is both relaxing and satisfying as you don’t have to struggle at all with ditching the crowd. People visiting this stunning place is very few in number.
7. Yas Island
When you are looking for a wholesome family outing along with a hidden agenda of going on an outstanding fishing session, Yas Island is the best place we can suggest. This place is blessed with everything that one can imagine for a perfect fishing spot.
Yas Island is located a few minutes away from Stasio and Rysio beach. The fishing spot is positioned on Yas North where you can see the Iron Bridge. The island has arranged all sorts of fishing amenities along with exceptional camping facilities.
Come alone or bring your family, fishing at Yas Island can never leave you with a dull moment. During the fishing season, this place becomes the beloved playground for Barracuda and queen fish. So, catching them in huge number is quite common.
8. Eastern Mangroves
There is nothing more exciting when you get a scope to blend kayaking and fishing together? Fishing at Eastern Mangroves actually does the same for you. Sailing through the thick mangrove forests and exploring its enchanting biodiversity is a unique experience.
Sitting on the quieter side of the city, Eastern Mangroves area helps you shed off the daily burden of everyday life and leaving behind the hustle for a while. Water of this place is often considered as one of the most enriched because of the number and variety of marine creatures including the fish.
During your fishing session, you can catch a glimpse of birds, reptiles and some unusual plant species. Serene environment of Eastern Mangroves is one of its kind with lots of good chance to make your fishing trip extraordinary.
Do you need a Licence to go Fishing in Abu Dhabi?
Not just in Abu Dhabi, you must secure a licence to go fishing anywhere in the UAE. Don’t worry though, the process to obtain a fishing licence is simpler and quicker than you can imagine.
UAE fishing licences comes with a year-long validity which means you don’t need to reapply for it every time you think of going on a fishing trip. The licence allows you to fish with a hand-held rod or reel but not with a fishing net.
The best part is, tourists can also obtain the licence via a licenced vendor or an authorised tour guide. Such licence comes with short term validity but that’s enough for tourists to have a blissful fishing experience in UAE.
How to Get a Fishing Licence in Abu Dhabi?
You have to apply to the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency for a fishing licence. You need to be over 18 years of age to be eligible to get a licence.
If you are a part of a fishing excursion with a company, you don’t need a separate fishing licence as the company will already have a commercial licence to cover all participants.
Documents Required to get a Fishing Licence in Abu Dhabi
You need to submit the following documents to obtain a recreational fishing licence:
For Local Residents:
- A copy of the passport
- Your Emirates ID
- A boat license (if applicable)
- A photograph of yourself
For Non-local Residents:
- Proof of residency like Tenancy Contract or Ownership Certificate
- Electricity bill
- Job contract or Official Letter
- Work permit
Different Types of Fishing Licences in Abu Dhabi
Environment Energy Abu Dhabi offers different types of fishing licences to meet a variety of fishing requirements. These are as follows:
- Commercial Fishing Licence for professional fishermen
- Fishing Net Permit (Al Ghazal) for fishermen owning a speedboat and a commercial licence
- Weekly Recreational Fishing Licence for public to fish on Abu Dhabi beaches
- Annual Recreation Fishing Licence with one year validity of fishing on Abu Dhabi beaches
- Hadhra Fishing Licence, issued to traditional Hadhra fishermen
- Gargour Permit for commercial fishers owning large fishing launches
- Bohoor Permit allows traditional UAE fishers to do fishing in internal waters (Bohoor) and regional water in Abu Dhabi
- Dufara Fishing Permit for fishers using Dufara fishing net in shallow waters and having a registered boat
Consequences of Fishing Without a Licence in Abu Dhabi
Fishing without licence is strictly prohibited in Abu Dhabi. If you are caught in the act, a penalty of AED 2,000 will be pressed against you.
If you are a tourist in Abu Dhabi, then go through a licenced vendor or fishing tour operator to secure a short-term fishing licence to cover your vacation length.
Best Time to go Fishing in Abu Dhabi
What type of fishing you are looking for depends largely on the time of the year you are choosing to go fishing in Abu Dhabi.
During winter months, fish tend to come closer to the water surface and there you can catch lots of tuna, mackerel and kingfish in the shallow water. So, we recommend you to go fishing from November to March in Abu Dhabi.
Rising temperatures of summer days keeps fish away from shore so you need to go deep-sea fishing to catch them. June to August is the time for summer-day deep-sea adventures when you can catch giant trevally, shari, marlin, mackerel, grouper fish and many more.
Fishing Tour Operators in Abu Dhabi
The easiest way to go fishing in Abu Dhabi is to book a tour with any of the reputed fishing tour operators from the city. Here are few reliable tour operators with good reviews and impressive professionalism.
1. Abu Dhabi Fishing Tour
Abu Dhabi Fishing Tour is capable and experienced enough to offer an excellent fishing tour for you. The charges are AED 1500 per 3 hours with a maximum capacity of 10 people.
2. Arabian Drivers & Sports Fishing Charter
This company is operating in the field of sportfishing for more than 25 years and they have a capable team of professionals and all modern fishing equipment to make fishing fun and super satisfying.
3. Captain Tony’s
This charter company in Abu Dhabi allows you to go on a private fishing tour with maximum 5 people in the morning or in the late afternoon for a maximum time period of 4 hours. Cost is approximately AED 1,600.
Fishing in Abu Dhabi is one such experience that is favoured immensely by travellers and tourists. We have gathered all the essential information so that you can plan your fishing tours without any hiccup. Even if you are not visiting Abu Dhabi exclusively for a fishing tour, you will be amazed at how thrilling and fun this could be once you sign up for it.