Kalba, Emirate of Sharjah
Kalba has much to offer the nature lover, with several diverse habitats for its size – mountains, plains with acacia forests, mangroves, beaches, lakes, marshes and palm groves. It has long been one of my favourite places to visit in the UAE and I visit often.
Things are changing, though, in a good way, and the tranquil and picturesque enclave of Sharjah is now also an up-and-coming family and ecotourism destination in the UAE.
It is the furthest south of the Sharjah Eastern Region enclaves and home to a large nature reserve, which includes the Al Hefaiya Protected Area and Mountain Conservation Centre and Kalba Bird of Prey Centre. Just a few kilometres away is another nature reserve, which includes Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre.
There is also lots of stunning architecture to see in mosques, local government buildings, souqs and attractions.
There are plenty of fabulous places to visit and things to do in Kalba, so let’s take a look. You can also see more of these locations and more in my Instagram guides.
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Khor Kalba Mangroves
Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre
The mangroves were closed to the public around ten years ago to rescue them from damage that was occurring. However, you can now visit them within Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre.
The centre is a wonderful place to visit and learn. An outdoor play and picnic area in Kalba Mangrove Park has stunning views over the mangroves, the creek and the mountains. See more of Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre.
Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre opening times: 9am-6:30, Saturday 11-6:30, Friday 2-6:30, Monday closed.
Khor Kalba Mangrove Center entry fee: Adults AED 15.50, children under 12 free. Senior Citizens 60+ and People of Determination free with one carer.
Kalba Kingfisher Retreat
Treat yourself to an overnight stay at the Kalba Kingfisher Lodge, the first eco-retreat in Sharjah. Activities are also available from here, such as kayaking in the mangroves. Book Mysk Kingfisher Retreat Kalba.
The photo above shows the bridge to the boats that take you to the Mysk Kingfisher Resort Kalba. In the background are the luxury tents. Each tent has a private infinity pool. The resort is part of the conservation area and wildlife roams the island.
Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Centre and Kalba Bird of Prey Centre
These two centres are inside Kalba Conservation Reserve and very close to each other.
See more on Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Centre and the Bird of Prey Centre. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos.
Kalba Ghail Dam
Kalba Ghayl Dam (also known as Kalba Dam) has water all year round, although the level fluctuates. Ducks live there permanently and are always happy with anyone who takes them some treats!
There’s a small area to sit on the dam side but you can walk around to the opposite side and find a quieter spot overlooking the water.
Kalba hiking trail has two starting points: the dam and the parking area near the lake. Two high hills sit on either end of the dam and the graded trail goes up one, back down, along a connecting path and up the other. There is also a flat path going in the valley between the two.
You can do part or all but the entire route is around 8km. This hike is an excellent choice for sunrise, but late afternoon is also lovely. I’ve seen some lovely sunsets there.
You can do this hike with children as long as they have a bit of stamina. For more family hikes, see Hiking in the UAE.
You can access Al Ghail Dam from the ring road. Take me to the map.
Kalba Parks and Beaches
The city has several parks, including Kalba Corniche Park and Al Sidra Ladies and Children’s Park, with play areas, facilities, etc. The Corniche Park, also known as Kalba Park, sits between the road and the beach and is very popular with local residents.
Kalba Beach has amusements for children, such as bouncy castles, trampolines and go-karts. The sand on this stretch of beach is similar to that of its neighbour, Fujairah, so it’s darker.
Although you used to be able to camp at the beach, it’s not permitted any more. If you like to fish, you can do that here if you have a licence.
If you are a UAE resident, you can get a licence at the Fishermen’s Cooperative at Kalba Fish Market or any relevant locations in the Emirate of Sharjah. (If you want to go deep-sea fishing here, look up East Coast Fishing Charter.)
Further south is the new corniche development at Khor Kalba Beach. New cafes and restaurants are also opening along both sides of the beach road. Tamm Coffee serves Turkish food but you can also pop in for a coffee with a view of the Oman Gulf. The beach is mostly white but the sand is darker near the water.
Al Hafiya Picnic Park
Al Hafiya Picnic Park is a beautiful spot with a hide overlooking the protected area and a great play area. It has recently reopened after a long closure. It has wooden slides, houses, etc keeping it in harmony with the environment. There are toilets and the park is well-maintained.
Al Hifaya Picnic Park Opening Times: Sun-Weds, 9am-9pm, Thurs, 9am-11pm.
Al Hifaya Picnic Park Entry Fee: AED 5, free for two and under
Buy Exploring the Emirate of Sharjah – Walking and cycling tours and itineraries in the city and Central and Eastern Regions. Includes Kalba tours and itineraries.
Corniche Walk is further south on Kalba Lake and opposite the local government buildings. Again, there are plenty of grassy areas to sit on with a view of the water, mangroves and mountains.
You can walk or cycle from the flagpole around the lake to the mangrove centre. Then, if you’re feeling energetic, you can continue to the new corniche. For children, there is a play area near the flagpole and a public gym near the mangrove area
Pedal boats, doughnuts and kayaks are popular Kalba attractions available for hire at Kalba Kayaking at very reasonable prices.
Next to Starbucks, you can find a couple of captained boats that can take you out for a ride on the lake. The scenery is stunning, so try one of the boat options to enjoy it even more.
From the new Kalba Waterfront, which sits at the head of the lake, you can book the floating cafe for you and your family or friends. It’s an excellent option for a special event like a birthday or anniversary.
There are also several lovely cafes and food trucks along the corniche, depending on the time of year. We’ve spent many an evening sitting out enjoying the evening view over the lake and mangroves one one side and the mountains on the other.
Gardenia Cafe and Starbucks are near the flagpole. A branch of Gardenia Cafe is also in Kalba Clock Tower and has a great view. You may need to reserve at peak times.
Kalba Clock Tower
Opened in the spring of 2022, the Clock Tower offers fantastic views over the town, lake, mangroves, sea and mountains. There is a viewing deck on the 7th floor and Gardenia Cafe on the 5th. In the basement is a gallery of old photos which you’ll pass through as you enter. The clock tower sits amidst small but lovely gardens that you can walk around during your visit.
Kalba Clock Tower opening times: Daily, 7am to midnight.
Kalba Clock Tower entrance fee: 5 dhs, free for children under 13, People of Determination, senior citizens 60+, and one carer. Park on the corniche as the entrance is via an underpass/subway from there.
The area has a rich history, and the fort and Bait Sheikh Saaed bin Hammad al Qasimi, which are currently undergoing restoration, will reopen soon. The fort will contain a museum. The photo below was taken before the current restoration and it now looks slightly different.
Al Ghail Fort
Al Ghail Fort is open to visitors and is situated inside the Bird of Prey Centre. There is no additional entry fee. Even if you don’t visit the Bird of Prey Centre, you can see the fort from the ring road and the E102.
Khor Kalba Fort
Archaeological sites in the area date back to the Bronze Age. Although the areas are fenced off, some are still easy to see if you walk around the outside.
A new site was recently discovered, which is thought to be the remains of a Portuguese castle. You can see the larger fort behind, which has also recently been restored.
A rock art site at Khatm Al Melaha will soon be open to visitors. You can learn more about the history of the area and the other Eastern Region enclaves at Al Hisn Museum in Khor Fakkan.
Kalba Waterfront Mall
The Waterfront Mall sits at the head of the lake and the outdoor terraces have a fantastic view over the water, mangroves and mountains. By night, the reflection of the corniche lights, majestic government buildings and mosques and the flagpole glimmer on the water.
The mall is newly opened, and until now, only a few shops are operating but there are some restaurants and cafes open with indoor and outdoor seating.
An indoor play area is at one end and a Geant supermarket will open at the other. Apart from the long terrace, there is a small shore on the waterside.
Around Kalba City
Near Kalba Fort is a beautiful mosque in a simple but stunning white and gold. Next to it is a small, newly developed souq built in traditional style with tailors, perfume shops and cafes.
New cafes with a sea view are on the opposite side and next to Sheikh Saaed bin Hammad al Qasimi House. Park your car and have a wander around. The fish market is currently there, too.
A little further north, you’ll come to Soor Kalba and see the new souq with its Moorish design in white and deep blue. On the other side, another new souq is under construction. This will soon house the various fresh food markets.
The old Kalba Ice Factory is now an art space belonging to Sharjah Art Foundation and there are occasional exhibitions, such as during Sharjah Biennial.
Finally, below are a few photos of mosques, Sharjah government buildings incorporating Arabic architecture styles, fish laid out to dry in Al Ghail, the harbour and a few other scenes.
Many exciting projects are under development, bringing new Kalba attractions, including a water park, a family park, an outdoor theatre and new hiking trails. It’s definitely a place to add to your list if you haven’t been yet! If you’ve been a long time ago, go back and see what’s new.
Unfortunately, there are no hotels at the moment. You can book Mysk Kingfisher Resort for an eco-friendly glamping experience, or book a hotel in nearby Fujairah, just a short drive away.
You can also see more of Kalba in my Instagram guides.
Now you don’t need to wonder what to do in Kalba anymore. With all these wonderful options, it’s time to start planning your trip!
Don’t forget to buy Exploring the Emirate of Sharjah – Walking and cycling tours and itineraries in the city and Central and Eastern Regions. Includes Kalba.
Here are some other great places you can visit near Kalba:
- Al Hayl Fort
- Fujairah Adventure Park
- Ahfra Hiking Trail – see Hiking UAE
- Fujairah Grand Mosque
- Umbrella Beach, Fujairah
- Wadi al Helo
Take me to the Glimpses of the UAE Map
This page was last updated on 5 March 2023.