By Katie Ayers
When asked, what are my 5 favorites spots in RAK, my initial thoughts were “my kitchen, my bed, my couch, my friends couch, and the beach.” I look at the life people live in some countries and think everyday looks like an adventure and that my life here is pretty “vanilla.” For about half of the year it’s too hot to do much beyond going to the beach and pool if you want to be outside, or heading to the mall. I honestly don’t enjoy spending my time inside at malls so this leaves me at home more often than I’d like. In addition, because I live in a smaller Emirate, there is the small town effect of not much to do.
I make do, however, and 87.4% of the time I’m happy with where I live and the routine I’ve created for myself. I tried to keep this list of favorite spots specific to RAK, I do have other favorite places in other Emirates, but they have countless tourism blogs for Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Since I do spend most of my time in RAK I’m sticking with where I love in the North.
1. Box 1
One spot that I both love and hate is the gym that I work out at, Box 1. It’s a bit expensive (500 AED per month, approximately $135 USD) but it’s worth every dirham. It’s a class and personal training gym so they don’t have treadmills and a big free weight section but the classes are terribly awful. There are 4 classes a week that literally kick your behind. We do cross fit training, tabata, cardio boxing and sparring. Everyday is a different class. Blah, blah, too much talk about fitness.
The real reason this is one of my favorite places is it keeps me sane during the week. My job can be a bit stressful, working in general, plus being in charge of 20 boys in a school of boys can “wind me up a bit,” so doing something for myself for one hour per day is essential. I also get to be around people who are from somewhere other than my school. It’s also important to stay active when you’re stuck inside so much of the day, after all you never know when you’ll decide to book a trip for a expedition or a Mount Kilimanjaro Summit (DECEMBER!).
2. The Bay
My favorite place to hang out on the weekend, specifically Thursday nights is The Bay. It’s my favorite bar here, the seating area overlooks the golf course and when you’re here, you honestly do not feel like you are in a desert. Thursday nights they have happy hour (although, every night does- but that’s just a bad habit) and Thursday’s it leads right into ladies night, where you get three free drinks. We celebrate many birthdays here and dance the night away to the best DJ in RAK. He plays hits from the 80s to today, including some flamenco and bachata songs. Listening to his music makes me so happy because how often do you get to hear “I will Survive,” “YMCA,” “Havana” and “Lucille” all in one night?!
3. Jebel Jais
RAK is unique because we are in the middle of the desert, a 5 minute drive to the Gulf and at the base of the tallest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais. The drive up the mountain is beautiful, and the view from the top is awe inspiring. You overlook RAK and can see right out over the sea. The view of the sunset is unique and you get to wander around a mountain with goats as you're waiting for your BBQ to cook. RAK also puts on concerts at the top of the mountain, has a coffee food truck and this is where the start of the longest/fastest/most “world-recordy” zipline begins. I liked the mountain before these additions, when it was just a mountain, because I liked the natural ability to hike and search for spooky elements from the folk lore you hear out here. However, it’s still a relaxing weekend or after work get away.
*I’m giving an honorable mention here to the location where we ride quads- same vibe as Jebel Jais, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by natural elements*
4. Public Beaches
The gulf water here is extraordinary. The public beaches of RAK have not been developed, meaning it’s just the beach there aren’t bathrooms/showers/food. Although they are developing around one of them as we speak. That’s the thing about the UAE, what is true one day, is not the next. Regardless of beach facilities, to me it doesn’t matter a beach is a beach, I don’t need the frill (or the thousands of people that come with the frill). The water can get so warm and it’s pretty amazing how cold the water can get during the winter months. A lot of people choose to enjoy the beach by going to a resort instead of the public beaches. Or we head down to Dubai to Kite Beach or La Mer. Most of my weekends include at least one day outside at the beach.
5. The Family's House
My all time favorite place is what we lovingly refer to as “the family’s house.” Most of us live at the accommodation, but one of our close friends AKA family, lives in a villa 5 minutes from school. We have family meals, family hang outs, game nights, movie nights, everything. The family’s house is where we go to feel normal and get away from the chaos. I’m always so thankful that I live in a world where my favorite place has people from several countries and cultures and that we all come together in support of each other.
Quick note - these are my favorite places - I spend a lot of my time at restaurants and cafes as well [Read: Middle Eastern Meals - Dining Adventures with Katie Ayers in the U.A.E.]
A Chicago gal at heart and one of ITA's Alumni Ambassadors, Katie gained the travel bug in high school when she took a trip to Rome. Since then she’s been finding her way abroad whenever she can, two years ago she got that wish and she isn’t turning back anytime soon!
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- United Arab Emirates - Ambassador Corner
- Teach English in the United Arab Emirates - Country Profile
- Ras al Khaimah, U.A.E. City Fact Sheet
- Top Ways to Prepare Yourself to Live & Teach in Ras al Khaimah, U.A.E.
- [Instagram Takeover Video] Teaching English in Ras al Khaimah, UAE
- Top 5 Things That Surprised Me About Living in Ras al Khaimah, UAE
- Creating a Home Away from Home in Ras al Khaimah, UAE
- Classrooms Around the World: Teaching English in Ras al Khaimah, U.A.E.