HATTA , yes, that part of Dubai you probably haven’t seen or been to yet! Or maybe just like us, we didn’t even know that Hatta was actually part of Dubai at all! We were used to knowing a HATTA OMAN, not a HATTA DUBAI – most likely due to the fact that when you see Hatta on road signs around Dubai, it is immediately succeeded by the word Oman LOL!
It just so happened that we saw somewhere in Facebook this beautiful site called Hatta Dam that we began getting curious about Hatta – which after some research we discovered happened to be an exclave of the emirate of Dubai – meaning it’s a territory of Dubai which is separated from Dubai itself and is surrounded on all sides by different Emirates (namely Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah) and a different country (Oman) altogether!
Hatta being an exclave has been more or less ignored by most visitors or even residents in Dubai! Me myself have been residing here in the UAE for 5 years and it is only now that I’ve been to this hidden gem of Dubai! No wonder it is not mentioned so often on Dubai Travel Itineraries and most Dubai Tours miss this wondrous place!
That being said, we eventually decided to check out Hatta on the weekend to see what it’s all about.
HOW FAR IS HATTA FROM DUBAI PROPER?
The distance of Hatta from Dubai is approximately around 130 kilometers and the driving time takes about 1 hour and a half from the center of Dubai Proper.
HOW TO GET TO HATTA
It’s actually pretty simple and straightforward. From Dubai, just take the Old Emirates Road E311 and then exit at towards right when you arrive at the National Paints area of Emirates road towards Maleha Road S116.
Then just go straight until the road merges to the Sharjah-Kalba Road E102 (known to many as that direct road from Dubai or Sharjah to Fujairah).
From there it’s pretty much just a straight long drive for almost 80km till you see a road sign that prompts you to take a right exit towards Hatta and Oman.
Then once again you jut follow the road (I believe it’s Road 42) till it merges with E44 then you’re there at Hatta in no time!
Hatta lies within and high above the Hajar Mountains, the highest mountain range in the Eastern Arabian Peninsula! So the road going there is pretty scenic and amazing! Here you have nature’s skyscrapers, not the usual man-made skyscrapers that Dubai is famous for!
Petrol stations are very scarce and mostly can be found at the beginning of the the Sharjah-Kalba Road and at Hatta itself, so better fill up your tank beforehand – but I can guarantee you that it’s worth all the preparation!
DO WE NEED TO BRING PASSPORTS WHEN GOING TO HATTA?
No. Since Hatta is a territory of Dubai and the road going there is basically within the United Arab Emirates, there is no need to bring your passports as you will not be crossing any borders! Just to be on the safe side though, just bring proper identification just in case you might need it.
PLACES TO SEE IN HATTA
Even if you aren’t planning to see it, you will definitely pass by Hatta Proper when going to the other sights in Hatta. And if you’re like us who crave for simple things amidst grandiose settings, then Hatta Proper is a place to be.
A surreal, laid-back, peaceful municipality in a wide valley in between the Hajar Mountains! Just being there made us feel relaxed!
And because we went early morning on a Friday, most of the residents are still inside their homes (asleep?) and the road was particularly empty except for some lone cars and group of cyclists who traverse the mountain road!
Most shops were closed. It was pretty much silent and was a very good break from Dubai proper itself which appears to be bustling with activity 24/7!
The main reason for our visit to Hatta was the Hatta Dam, a dam constructed in the 90s to supply the area with electricity and water! Only a short drive uphill from Hatta Proper itself, it is easy to get there as road signs pointing its directions are available.
When I first saw it in pictures, I was in disbelief that such a place existed in Dubai!
You might be wondering why I’m fussing about this dam – you might think IT-IS-JUST-A-DAM!
I know right!
But what makes the Hatta Dam very special is the location where it was built – in a valley between parts of the Hajar Mountains!
So the result, a place so beautiful that you can’t imagine its in Dubai – a beautiful lake surrounded by towering rocky peaks that would remind you of fjords in Norway!
STUNNING is the word that I think would perfectly describe Hatta Dam!
It even has a small islet in the middle!
Access is free to Hatta Dam and there is a small parking lot for visitors at the end of a steep ramp/road going up to the dam walls.
Visitors to Hatta Dam can appreciate the scenery from the Hatta Dam Wall itself where you can walk its whole extent.
One of the biggest questions that we had was: Is it allowed to camp at Hatta Dam? Unfortunately, no. But for those who are fond of the great outdoors especially during the winter season, we saw a sign showing the way to the Hatta Camp Site right before we reached the Hatta Fort roundabout at the entrance to Hatta Proper.
It is not allowed though to go over the fence but fret not since for you guys who want to get up close to the lake – there’s an entrance to the lake shore towards a shop that offers kayak and paddle boat rentals for you to enjoy the pristine waters of Hatta Dam! When we got there though, the shop was still closed (on Fridays, they open at 8:30 AM – we were an hour and a half too early..sigh…).
The rental fee is actually reasonable: 60 AED for a kayak (accommodates one person), 120 AED for a paddle boat (that accomodates 4 persons; i think this is a better deal).
The great thing about it is, as I’ve read in TripAdvisor from previous visitors, that there is no time limit for the usage of the kayaks and paddle boats! So you can enjoy rowing around Hatta Dam the whole day if that’s you thing LOL! Apart from appreciating the scenery, this is the other activity you can do in Hatta Dam.
Swimming at Hatta Dam though is not allowed.
We wanted to wait for the kayak/boat rental shop to open but given that it’s summer, a few hours of sunlight means a big increase in temperature so it was getting hot even though it was just 8am – so after a few selfies and snaps with the family and friends who went with us on this UAE roadtrip, we decided it was time to proceed to our next Hatta destination.
HATTA HILL PARK
Just a short drive from Hatta Dam is the Hatta Hill Park.
At first, we thought that there was an entrance fee just like most parks in Dubai – but when we asked the guy at the entrance, we were delighted to know that access to Hatta Hill Park was actually free! Yay!
From the name itself, Hatta Hill Park is located in a hill that juts out of the valley in between the Hajar Mountains – and the great thing about it is there are stairways and cottages that you can use that goes up to the summit of the hill itself! There are also tennis courts and a play ground located at the foot of the hill.
We virtually had the place on our own (the rest of the towns seems to be asleep still at 9am in the morning) and we decided to make the most out of it! We climbed the stairs, bringing the food and drinks that we brought from Dubai and decided to take a break at the highest cottage at Hatta Hill Park.
Each cottage has built-in seats and a grill area – however there are no tables. Good thing we have with us our ever trusted portable picnic table with built-in seats!
Our cottage was literally a stone throw away from the watch tower that crowns the hill’s summit!
And once again, the view was STUNNING!!!
It made us wish that we had a balcony in our own homes which offered a view like this – a sprawling community in a wide valley with craggy rocky mountains on almost all sides!
And if this view wasn’t enough, you have the option to climb the watch tower of Hatta Hill Park itself and have a sweeping surreal 360-degree view of the Hatta landscape!
We stayed at Hatta Hill Park for two hours, just enjoying the time, exchanging stories and stuff, eating and the like. But once again, since it’s summer, the heat of Dubai was catching up (even though Hatta is on a higher altitude, it was still part of UAE), so we decided to call it a day and packed our things at around some minutes past 11am.
HATTA HERITAGE VILLAGE
The Hatta Heritage Village was originally part of our Hatta Travel Destination but the summer heat made us put a rain check on it. Maybe when we go back to Hatta, most probably on winter when the weather is much more pleasant!
HATTA ROCK POOLS
The main draw from previous tourists and visitors at Hatta were the Hatta Rock Pools – crystal clear pools in between boulders and rocks. Unfortunately, the Hatta Rock Pools are located beyond the UAE-Oman Border, at the side of Oman. It seems like expats were previously allowed to go there even without a visa but starting on the third quarter of 2016, only GCC National were allowed to do this. Hope to see this amazing gem once it reopens for expats/residents like us!
OVERALL HATTA ROADTRIP EXPERIENCE
All in all, our trip to Hatta was a very great one! With all of nature’s works of art around us and that perfect feel of a rural community, Hatta is a great day destination for everyone living in Dubai and the UAE. Hatta is one of the places that offer a brand new, refreshing experience for just a short drive from its main city/Emirate. It definitely a must see destination in Dubai and is great to enjoy with family and friends. The best time of the year to go to Hatta though, just like much of the places to see in the UAE, is during winter – and I have a strong feeling that we will be back come winter 2017!
Till then, see you again Hatta!!!
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