Beach resort on Indian Ocean defies desert setting

Known for golden sandy beaches, mountainous emirate Fujairah is located on the East Coast of United Arab Emirates, on the Gulf of Oman which leads into the Indian Ocean.  Our destination was the Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa, a peaceful retreat shadowed by Hajjar Mountain Range.

Granted, it’s not your usual week-end jaunt, but my husband and I were visiting relatives in Dubai, and this popular getaway for locals was also our escape from the frenetic pace of city life.  After driving thru the desert with only scattered shrubs and trees, we arrived at a virtual oasis (even if it is manmade), lush with grass, palm trees, and colorful blooming flowers.

Fountains and water features everywhere have a cooling effect on the senses and trick your body into forgetting this is really desert with temperatures hovering at 100 degrees and humidity at 60 percent.  Landscaping is gorgeous, especially considering that heavy irrigation and constant attention are required for all these luscious plants.

Upon our arrival, we went to Sharkey’s, a beach-side bar, for a drink and a relaxing view of the sunset. Not far from us, a family of three was practicing Yoga on the beach.  Although the sun is hot, evening breezes come over the mountains and cool the water. For dinner at Waves, an al fresco fine dining restaurant, patrons can select fresh fish for their meal and watch as the chef grills, fries, or stir fries it.

The next morning we walked down to the beach where my sister had already staked out a shady spot with an umbrella.  Brunch was sumptuous: fruit selections,  pastries, crepes, Belgian waffles, muffins, cheese, cold cuts, cereal, omelets, juices, coffee—just a huge spread that filled us for the rest of the day.

When we kayaked, slight ocean currents carried us along, so little paddling was required.  We signed up for snorkeling and boarded a boat that took us to a large rock formation near Sandy Beach.  There we watched fish sprint in the clear water–large blue ones with yellow tails, blue and yellow iridescent fish, small skinny silver fish swimming in schools, and small black and yellow striped varieties.  Black spidery anemones with glistening eye-like spots reflected in the water.

Amenities at the resort include tennis courts, petanque, workout facility facing the ocean, kid’s club, two stores, two restaurants, water sports (kayaking, paddleboats, sail boats), snorkeling and scuba dive excursions (coral reefs and sunken wrecks are haven for marine life like sharks, turtles, and manta rays).  Massages and beauty treatments are available at the spa.  If you’re not a beach person, take refuge in the large pool with swim up bar and separate play area for kids.

Traveling back to Dubai along the beach route, we stopped at the 300-year-old Al Aibidayah Fort and Mosque, the oldest mosque in UAE, to explore and take pictures. From the top of the fort (on a hill), we had great views of the surrounding area, mountains in the background, and city in the distance.  This is an amazing land full of contrasts, as we had just experienced.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

For more information and special deals, click Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa Hotel