Rediscovering Abu Dhabi | Jalboot

Jalboot Marine offers a wonderful way for residents and visitors to explore the waters of the Arabian Gulf and to see the capital from an entirely new perspective. Using a fleet of luxury ferries, Jalboot take guests on a sightseeing journey  through Abu Dhabi’s complex network of waterways, passing iconic man-made structures and natural marvels along the way.

From mangrove forests, to the only hotel in the world to span a Formula 1 circuit – don’t you think it’s about time you rediscovered Any Dhabi?

With daily departures from Abu Dhabi Mall at 12pm and 4pm. We recommend you take the earlier boat and use it as a hop-on/hop-off service to further explore one of the four marine docks around the capital (Abu Dhabi Mall, Etihad Towers, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and Yas Marina).

The trip begins with guests being whisked away on golf carts from the front of Abu Dhabi Mall. Soon arrive at Jalboot’s main jetty that struts out to sea next the Le Meridien Hotel and offering panoramic views over Al Maryah Island. Which although undergoing extensive development, will soon turn into Abu Dhabi’s financial centre and transport hub.


The boat itself is more luxurious that we expected. Offering 40 comfortable leather seats (business class style), air conditioning, complimentary wifi (for all your social media needs) and a booming sound system. The Jalboot fleet is  supported on board by a friendly crew and (more importantly) reasonably priced snacks!

After  watching a brief safety video… we’re off! Cruising along the ocean waves the experience is a lot smoother than we’d come to expect. Thanks in part o Jalboot’s purposely designed fleet, utilizing high speed jets and twin engines to minimize waves and avoid disruption to Abu Dhabi’s collection of diverse marine life.

Zooming past the modern metropolis of Reem Island and under the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge, connecting Abu Dhabi Island to Saadiyat. One of more than 200 islands in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat is a luxury destination and cultural hub and we soon encountered the Louvre Museum. An architectural wonder designed by architect Jean Nouvel. A structure that’s near impossible to access via land (it’s not scheduled to open until next year). Much like its counterpart in Paris, the Louvre here in Abu Dhabi will contain a multitude of artworks, all housed under an intricate ceiling of geometric openings said to create a shifting ‘rain of light.’

The Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Jalboot ferry travels at a steady pace but this is a tour aimed at those who wish to take their time and relax. The complete circuit of Abu Dhabi takes an impressive four hours, so ensure you bring toys for the kids and perhaps a book for those rare occasions when there isn’t much to see. Fully appreciating the laid back pace of the tour, it allows guests to decompress and actually take in all of the sights that surround the city.

Passing the traditional wooden dhow boats of Mina Port our tour takes us along Abu Dhabi’s stunning corniche. An image of the capital that is ever present on television and print media, though there is nothing quite like seeing it in the flesh. As azure waters give way to clear white sands, before being engulfed by a cityscape of steel and shining glass. Keep your eyes peeled for the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid, the tallest tower in Abu Dhabi (housing 92 floors at an elevation of 381m) and the sand dune crested LuLu Island that slides past on the starboard side.

With panoramic windows and glass ceilings, there really is no bad spot to be on the Jalboot boat,  with 360 degree panoramic views offered to every guest. Taking the afternoon tour, the sun was beginning to set in the sky, silhouetting Abu Dhabi’s newest landmark the Marina Eye. You’ll also note the impressive flag pole next to the National Theatre which is said to fly the largest flag in Abu Dhabi, sitting proudly on the breakwater close to Marina Mall.

Looping past the gleaming white facade of the Presidential Palace. Our first stop appears on the horizon, a collection of five skyscrapers known as the Etihad Towers. A residential complex and luxury Jumeriah hotel, famous for being featuring in the film Furious 7. 


The boat docks next to the location of ‘Pearls by Michael Caines.’ The building once home to a celebrity chef’s restaurant, is now derelict (hopefully soon to transform into the next ‘must visit’ dining destination) but disembarking the boat and following the boardwalk offers visitors an exclusive glimpse into the hotel – a private beach and elevated swimming pools.

Each stop on the Jalboot tour is for just ten minutes, providing guests just enough time to stretch their legs and get a feel for each destination. If you’re on the morning tour, you can always hang out for four hours and pick up the later boat. This may not be something you’ll necessarily do at Etihad Towers but it’s certainly an option for the later stops.

Again we are offered a unique vantage point from the ocean that allows us to see things that are impossible from land. Next to Etihad Towers are two new hotels. The recently opened Bab Al Qasr with it’s glimmering bronze glasswork and the soon-to-open twisting structure of the Grand Hyatt. Which thanks to a sneak peak from the Jalboot boat, is likely to have one of the best infinity pools in the capital (you heard it here first)!

Departing Etihad Towers, the cityscape gives way to more natural surroundings. On the port side we sail past Abu Dhabi Island, while located on the starboard side are uninhabited desert islands. With the sun dipping towards the horizon, the city takes on a different feel and as twilight approaches a distinct sense of tranquility descends on the boat.

Traveling towards the mainland, the boat pass under Hodariyat Bridge (also known as the bridge to nowhere). A multi-lane bridge that ends abruptly after crossing the waters close to Al Bateen Beach. The world’s further leaning tower (leaning an impressive 18 degrees westwards) the Hyatt Capital Gate, sits on the horizon. Like a cobra ready to strike, while her glass panels glisten like scales against the setting sun. Getting to witness some of the offshore private homes is also a real eye-opener! With their large palace-like structures, impressive waterfront views and sweeping manicured gardens.

Within moments, the iconic image of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque appears. As we move into Khor Al Maqta, the narrow channel of water that separates Abu Dhabi Island from the mainland. We dock at the Fairmont Hotel just as the remaining rays of sun turn the sky a vibrant pink. By night it’s a great spot to be, as the lights from the mosque illuminate the dome and minarets and jet skis zip across the calming waters. The Fairmont is a good place to jump off – if you’re on the earlier tour – allowing you to visit the mosque, Souk Qaryat Al Beri or perhaps lunch at one of the spectacular restaurants in the Venetian Village (Punjab Grill, Inakaya, BarFly or Todd English’s Olives).

Passing the historic Al Maqta Fort (a 200 year old structure once used to guard the city) we travel in complete darkness up the coast. Whizzing past the residentual communities of Al Bandar, Al Muneera and Al Zeina. The only thing we can see out of the windows is Aldar HQ, the world’s first circular skyscraper. Looking like a huge coin rising up out of the waters of Al Raha Beach.

Arriving in Yas Marina at 7pm the canopy of the world’s only hotel to span a formula 1 circuit – the Yas Viceroy – is on full display. Projecting a rainbow of dazzling colours across its modern exterior and acting like a beacon in the darkness. In all honesty we wholly suggest you disembark the boat here. If it’s daytime, use the four hour layover to visit the leisure attractions of Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld for some thrills and spills. Or perhaps grab some retail therapy at Yas Mall. If visiting on the evening tour then why not stop off for dinner at one of Yas Marina’s many interesting dining outlets or perhaps grab a drink at Cipriani or Iris before cabbing it back to the city.

Viceroy 03

For us, we felt as though the timings of the boat trip may be slightly off. If the cruise started an hour earlier (say 3pm), guests would still get to enjoy the sights and the sunset but as things stand now, darkness descends around half way through the tour. Meaning that for the last hour (between Yas Marina and Abu Dhabi Mall) there is little of interest to see. If it was an hour earlier though, there would still be some light and although you’d miss the illuminations of the Viceroy, you’d instead get to see the plentiful mangrove forests that flank the Eastern side of Abu Dhabi.

Aside from that, our only other criticisms stem from the lack of hot beverages on board (us Brits do love a hot drink) and we suggest that perhaps the addition of a sightseeing video or tannoy could be utilized. Explaining to guests on board, exactly what it is that they’re seeing and perhaps providing some history or interesting facts.

Minor issues aside. The four hour cruise from Jalboot is a fantastic way to explore the capital. Having never bene enamoured by the Big Bus Tour, Jalboot does seem like the better option for exploring Abu Dhabi. The beauty of being on the ferry means that it’s smooth sailing and you’re not open to the extreme elements of the desert sun (though you’re welcome to venture out on deck at anytime).

Jalboot’s new campaign is to rediscover Abu Dhabi and this is exactly what you get to do. Seeing parts of the city you’ve never experienced before and getting a better idea of the layout and geography of the capital and it’s multitude of tiny desert islands.

The all day pass from Jalboot costs 195 AED per adult, 95 AED per child or 495 AED for a family of four.

Jalboot also offer the following trips:

Sunset Cruise: There’s nothing like watching the sun go down on Abu Dhabi and seeing the city come alive as the stars come out. One hour tours depart from the Hiltonia Beach Club Jetty at 6.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Adults 95AED, children 45 AED.

Yas Marina Lunch Experience: Enjoy a truly memorable lunchtime cruise over to the stunning Yas Marina. Select from a range of exclusive options for your two hour Jalboot experience at this iconic location. For further details click here:

Jumeriah At Etihad Towers High Tea: Cruise up to the impressive Jumeirah at Etihad Towers for a two hour visit to take in this landmark hotel and its surroundings. Thursdays and Fridays, more details here:

Zaya Nurai Island Experience: Cruise across to the incredible Zaya Nurai Island for exclusive adults-only access to the luxury facilities of Smokin’ Pineapple Beach Club. Thursdays and Fridays.

Location: Jalboot Jetty, Abu Dhabi Mall, Tourist Club Area, Abu Dhabi 
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Hours: Daily departures at 11am and 4pm

Phone: 04 870 6636

We were invited on our Jalboot sightseeing cruise.  All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE