No diving experience required to see incredible wildlife
The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi is launching a scuba diving experience that puts you right into shark territory. Get up close and personal with sharks, rays and hundreds of beautiful fish. Diving enthusiasts, animal lovers and adventure-seekers alike – hold onto your flippers because this is nature like you’ve never seen it before.
The National Aquarium in Al Qana is already the largest in the Middle East and a sight to be seen even when you keep your feet on dry land, but The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi is giving visitors a new experience of getting their feet wet with the fish – and no diving is experience required.
You’re scuba diving with only the sound of bubbles in your ears and colourful fish at your fingertips when a massive shark swims by. It’s a two-metre bull shark with a mouth full of jagged teeth. But don’t stress – that’s exactly what you’re here for.
Time Out Abu Dhabi was the first-ever group to dip our toes into the tank (apart from the staff) and even though we didn’t have any diving experience, we were in steady hands the whole time.
Ready to dive in? If you are not a certified scuba diver, you can choose the Discover Scuba Diving Experience for Dhs1,210, which needs no prior diving experience. Dives happen at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm and guests need to come two hours in advance for briefing, preps and skills practice. Want to make it a family activity? The experience is for kids aged 10 years and up.
The experience starts with a PADI-certified training session with a professional instructor who walks you through exactly what to expect on your first dive. You learn the basics of how to use the respirator, the hand signals you’ll need while underwater, and how to easily fix any problems you might encounter. This dive counts towards getting certified for scuba diving as a first exposure – and it’s likely you’ll want to get your license after this experience.
You’ll also have to agree to some safety rules: Don’t put your hand in the shark’s mouth, don’t swim away on your own and don’t try to corner the animals. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be perfectly safe, even with some of the most powerful creatures in the world swimming around you
Once you’ve gone through some basic training, you slap on your mask and climb into the tank. Keep an eye out for the friendly stingrays, who might come say hello while you descend, and then follow your instructor through the habitat. You’ll get the chance to feed the animals, take photos at different spots with help from the underwater camera team and watch the incredible wildlife.
If you are already a certified diver you can skip the training session and choose the Shark Dive package. After the friendly dive in the stingray habitat, you will move on to the tank with the big bois (hello, Bruce).
Wondering about The National Aquarium’s super snake? The seven-metre reticulated python lives at the Flooded Forest Zone so you will not see her on the dive.
The Shark Dive costs Dhs790 and is exclusively for certified divers. Ready to swim with hammerheads and sand tigers? Timings for this dive are 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and 7pm and you will need to come one hour before the dive to prepare..
The National Aquarium is record-breaking in more ways than one, being the largest aquarium in the Middle East and housing the largest tunnel, too. It’s home to more than 46,000 creatures and is located at the up-and-coming Al Qana area of Abu Dhabi.
And if you’ve already stood behind the glass and stared slack-jawed at the incredible wildlife at the aquarium, it’s time to pull on your wetsuit and get into the tank.
Dhs790 (Shark Dive), Dhs1,210 (Discover Scuba Diving). Timings vary; open to kids aged 10 years and older. The National Aquarium, Al Qana [email protected]