Gripping on tightly to my seat, the engine fired up and the noise reverberated loudly around the empty seaplane. Glancing across to the pilot sitting next to me, he looked cool and calm as his hands flicked switches and adjusted dials on the dashboard at an alarmingly fast rate. As we gathered speed I suddenly felt helpless at what was about to happen. I’d never seen a plane take off from the cockpit before, which I imagine is quite thrilling, and seeing only open water ahead definitely tickled my nerves.
Suddenly, and very smoothly, we were rising higher and higher. I hadn’t even noticed the seamless transition from water to air as the marina started to shrink behind us.
I had less than 15 hours in Dubai on my layover so I looked for a different and unique way to get an overview and see all the sights. Booking onto a seaplane tour with Seawings was the best decision I made. The morning ‘Abu Dhabi Snapshot‘ flight was a 40 minute round trip from Abu Dhabi Yas Marina. This meant that I could still visit the The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque when it opened before my flight.
Unfortunately I got a call the day before saying that my flight was cancelled and that I could choose another flight instead …but they were only running in Dubai that day. Typical.
Not one to let things get the better of me, I decided that this would be a new adventure. They arranged the transport from Abu Dhabi and back for no extra cost. The next thing it seems, I was stepping into a nice black air conditioned car on my way to Dubai.
My driver was very chatty and knowledgeable about the cities and their histories, which made the two hour drive fly by. Once at the Seawings office, I checked in then waited for the other passengers to arrive, whilst studying the ‘Dubai Seaplane Adventure’ route on the wall map.
No one else came.
I was taken by golf buggy from the Seawings office in the Dubai Jebel Ali Hotel to the jetty where I watched the seaplane taxi in before meeting my pilot and crew.
Since there was no one else to board there was zero contest for the co-pilot seat in the cockpit.
The pilot talked me through everything he was doing which was fascinating! The take off and landings were a little nerve wracking, but exciting.
I soon forgot my nerves as the flight path took us over the Palm Jebel Ali, the Palm Jumeirah where the famous Atlantis The Palm Hotel perched at the edge and The World islands. All of which are man-made archipelagos made through land reclamation and are incredible sights to see from above. We flew past the iconic Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and the Burj Al Arab (the sail-shaped building) before landing smoothly in the Dubai Creek. Once safely at the dock, I had the opportunity to sit in the pilots seat before I disembarked. I’d had been very lucky on my flight since it was pretty much a private charter.
My driver met me to ensure I got back to Abu Dhabi safely.
This was an absolutely exhilarating experience, and did mean that I got to see as much as possible, without the crowds, in such as short amount of time. Perfect. I would definitely recommend trying a seaplane tour over this beautiful metropolitan city. Seawings went above and beyond to ensure that my experience was seamless (after the initial cancellation) and took care of me whilst travelling between my destinations.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think about some different opportunities to the usual tourist options. If you would like any more information, visit the Seawings website.
Thank you to Seawings for hosting me, however my opinions are always honest and my own.
Last modified: 20th September 2016
I’ve always wanted to get into the cockpit of a plane. This looks like so much fun!
Wow! You did pack in a lot into your day! Next time I have a layover I’m going to see if I can stay longer to see some of the city! Thanks for the inspiration.
Private charter (sounds very cool) and sitting shotgun (also very cool). I think I am jealous of your trip!! Thanks for sharing.
I suffer from real bad sea sickness, was it rocky? As I’d like to try this.
Sign me up! But seriously I am going to Dubai soon so I’m going to look into this!
We did this on our vacation in Abu Dhabi last year. Really was a highlight for our family and we still talk about it sometimes.
I saw this advertised but didn’t get a chance to go when we was there. Kicking myself now!
I stumbled across your article when looking for things to do in Dubai…I’m so glad I did! I booked a flight and it was amazing! I felt exactly the same as you on the way up and down but I had a wonderful time. I didn’t get to sit next to the pilot though.
Yay! I’m glad it wasn’t just me who felt apprehensive on the take off and landing. Sounds like you had a great time, hope you got some good photos!
Hey! Just thought I’d say thanks for the heads up! I took the plunge and went on the flight. Was AWESOME! I also went skydiving (you’ve inspired me)
That’s AWESOME! Thanks for the update. How was skydiving? I didn’t get a chance to try it when I was there 🙁