Kalba is a small city of Sharjah located on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Enjoying coastal access to the Gulf of Oman and beautiful waterways to mountainscapes, the city is separated from Sharjah by the Emirate of Fujairah. It is one of the UAE’s most prominent eco-tourism spots though little is often shared about Kalba.
With the news that Kalba has just become far more accessible to the country’s main cities via a new 1280m mountain tunnel (the longest in the Middle East!), it’s time to throw the spotlight on this tiny Sharjah exclave.
We covered some of the highlights of Kalba back in our family guide to Fujairah, but let’s see exactly what there is to enjoy in Sharjah’s east coast exclave:
How to get to Kalba
The new Kalba Wadi Al Helou tunnel opening in autumn 2020 will see driving times from central Sharjah to Kalba slashed to just 60 minutes, taking the E102 freeway Sharjah-Kalba Road.
We await news of public transportation that will now run along this route. Previously, public transport was limited to the E700 Intercity bus service to Fujairah City which runs every 1 hour and 30 minutes. Onward connections were needed to Kalba, which sits 12km south of Fujairah City.
There is a border crossing into Oman south of Kalba, although this crossing point has been shut since international borders into Oman closed due to COVID in March 2020. Learn more about Oman border crossing here.
Sitting on the east coast of the country, over the Hajar Mountains and facing the Gulf of Oman, Kalba can experience temperatures several degrees cooler than the main Emirate and city of Sharjah.
Like most of the UAE, the best time to visit to get the most out of your experience is over the cooler winter months from the end of October through to the end of April.
Things to do in Kalba, Sharjah
A town that can be dated back several centuries, Kalba was once known as Ghallah, captured by the Portuguese back in the 16th century. By the 1920s, it was a recognised Trucial State by the British. The territory was in dispute for much of the 20th century, with an agreement being reached in 1972 and Kalba being included in the United Arab Emirates under the rule of Sharjah Emir Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi.
Celebrating its role in UAE eco-tourism, the highlights of Kalba revolve around its opportunities to connect with nature.
Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre
Run by the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority, the Hefaiyah Mountains Conservation Centre is spread over a 12 sq km area at the foot of the Hajar Mountains.
A place to enjoy the rich biodiversity of the region’s mountain habitats, visitors can experience over 30 different species across landscaped outdoor enclosures, as well as an indoor nocturnal habitat. Some of the more popular exhibits include the Arabian Leopards and numerous snakes.
There are golf carts available for families with small children and guests with mobility problems. Open from 9:30am to 6:30pm (Friday’s 2pm; Saturdays 11aml Closed on Mondays). Entry is 25AED for adults an free for under 12’s. For more information visit epaashj.ae here.
Kalba Bird of Prey Centre
The nearby Kalba Bird of Prey centre celebrates the Bedouin tradition of falconry which is still very popular today. The centre has free-flying demonstrations (4pm daily but do check beforehand) as well as aviaries housing owls, eagles, buzzards, vultures and falcons.
Within the grounds, you’ll also find the restored Al Ghail Fort which includes an impressive weapons store display and well sign-posted displays in English and Arabic (a previous rare sight in this country)
Open 6 days a week 9:30am to 6:30pm; Fridays from 2pm and Saturdays 11am – closed Monday’s. Adults 15 AED and children under 12 free. For further details visit epaashj.ae.
Khor Kalba Conservation Reserve
Offering visitors the opportunity to get in amongst the mangroves, the Khor Khalba Conservation Reserve (Kalba Creek) is now an internationally recognised wetland of the UAE by Ramsar. Many areas are restricted but kayaking tours are possible with organized groups. We believe more opportunities will open soon to explore this area after conservation works have taken place.
A 7km long strip sitting adjacent to the Khor Kalba Conservation Reserve, a tranquil spot where native Hawksbill turtles nest and many of the country’s rare species including the Arabian collared Kingfisher can be spotted, though primarily it’s a local fishing beach.
It is certainly not as beautifully manicured as some of the Arabian Gulf beaches but a true nature spot of the country not to be missed.
Wadi al Helo
Wadi al Helo – or “sweet valley” in English provides visitors with some scenic hiking options. This protected area is home to not only endangered birds, reptiles and rodents, you will also find an important archaeological site and a restored Islamic watchtower giving you 360-degree views across the mountains.
You can look up adventure companies such as adventure.ae for organized tours and mike experiences.
Bait Sheikh Saeed bin Hamed Al Qassimi museum
The restored hisn (fort) was originally built between 1898 and 1901 and used to serve as a royal residence for Sheikh Saeed and his family. (Temporarily Closed).
Tourism is still developing in Kalba and the new freeway link will only make this a more accessible corner of the country. We look forward to bringing you more news as Corniche redevelopment and Lagoon works complete.
Kalba Hotels – Where to stay in Kalba
The most prominent accommodation option in Kalba that will appeal to families is Mysk Kingfisher Retreat. Set on the waterfront, enjoy tented luxury with your own private plunge pool. The 3-bedroom tent is perfect for families, a true taste of UAE luxury glamping and connection with nature.
Kalba is most commonly visited as part of a road trip through the north-east, with most staying in one of the nearby resort areas of Fujairah. You can find our complete guide to family accommodation in Fujairah here.
NB being part of Sharjah Emirate, please note Kalba is dry, no alcohol is sold nor brought into the Emirate.
Other Sharjah Exclaves & Enclaves
Kalba is not the only exclave of Sharjah. You will also find along the east coast Khorfakkan and Dibba al Hesn. And not forgetting inland Nahwa, known as a counter-enclave it sits within the Omani enclave of Madha. It’s certainly a fascinating geography lesson travelling through the eastern side of the UAE!
Learn more about the UAE
There is so much more to the UAE than just the big cities.
During this winter when international travel is challenging, we encourage our readers resident in the UAE to get out and explore the Emirates more. You may find these guides helpful to plan your next family adventure.
- Ultimate UAE staycation planning guide
- Fujairah Family Guide
- Ras al Khaimah Family Guide
- Sharjah Family Guide
- Ajman Family Guide
- Umm al Quwain Family Guide
- All our articles on Dubai
- Abu Dhabi staycations guide
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