Hatta, Pools, Big Red Dune Hatta

Hatta and its Pools UAE

Hatta is a very refreshing place to visit, and it's not just because of the mountain scenery. The major draw of the place is Hatta Pools, a miniature canyon full of rock pools and waterfalls. Overheated Dubaians make regular trips to enjoy a day's cooling off there. The Hatta Pools are actually to be found in Oman, but access is from Hatta itself.

Dubai day trippers don't just head to Hatta for the water, though; another big attraction is "Big Red" (as it is affectionately known). This is a very large sand dune, over 300 feet high. Its red glow, which is eerie or delightful depending on your point of view, comes from the iron oxide in the sand. Sometimes it seems that the UAE motto is: "if it's sandy, drive up it," and Big Red is no exception to this rule. Visitors indulge their mania for 4x4s here, which is an excellent reason to avoid the place on Fridays and public holidays, as the dunes will be crawling with vehicles and the road there may well be jammed. If you can't resist joining in the motorised fun, you can hire a quad bike from a couple of nearby places. It will cost you just over five pounds (over ten US dollars) for half an hour, but don't accept the price you're initially offered without haggling. You can also hire a 4x4, but never go off road with just one vehicle. You should always be accompanied by friends in another vehicle, with the means to tow each other out should you get into difficulties, as well as a plentiful supply of water. Tour operators run dune tours.

Though you wouldn't know it from the proliferation of cars, Hatta is quite possibly the oldest village in the emirate of Dubai. You can celebrate its history at the Heritage Village, a recreation of a traditional village containing a genuine restored fort. Admission is free, and despite the unpredictable opening hours, it is well worth a look. However, this celebration of the past often gets forgotten in the scramble for the pools and the dunes.

The distance from Dubai to Hatta is roughly 65 miles. Be warned that to get there, you will have to go along a stretch of road (about thirteen miles) which is actually part of Oman. There is no border control to worry about, but you should know that you will probably not be covered by your insurance should you have an accident on this part of the road, as it is outside the UAE.

Buses leave Dubai for Hatta every hour from around 6am to around 9pm. They go from the Deira bus station. The return journey leaves from the bus shelter near the Hatta Mountains Restaurant, and it is also hourly from 6am 9pm. This is the cheapest way to go, but you could also get a taxi from Bur Dubai bus station.

Hatta Fort Hotel is really the only place to stay in Hatta. It isn't a budget option, but the chalet accommodation and gardens are very pretty. It contains the Jeema restaurant, serving high quality but expensive French cuisine. The price of a room is higher on Thursdays and Fridays another reason to avoid Hatta on Fridays.