Al Wathba Salt Lake

An emerald green stretch of water amidst the sandy dune-filled deserts of Abu Dhabi! This has to be a showstopper, all the way.   

No doubt, the Al Wathba Salt Lake, also famously known as the Al Wathba Long Salt Lake, has evolved as a key tourist hotspot in the last few years. For the natives too, it serves as a good weekend camping spot, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.   

Of late, pictures of the waterbody have been making rounds on social media platforms like Instagram, thanks to its eloquent beauty with the mushroom-shaped natural salt formations serving as a mystical spectacle.  

Keen to know more about this lagoon body? Read on for more details.  

Introducing the Al Watha Salt Lake

This is a stretch of water, emerald green in color, right in the center of the desert of Abu Dhabi and about a 40-minute drive from the city.   

This is a man-made lake but to a certain point. The underground infrastructure to channel the waterbody, like the pipes, etc., has been laid by man. These pipes feed the channel with water.   

However, salt formations here are natural. These come from ‘Sabkha’ or salt flats that is produced by nature due to the arid weather conditions of the coastal area. The formations that usually appear as mushroom-designed or lily-pad-shaped are gigantic accumulations of salt. In between the water, these pads make for interesting stepping stones, but these can break or dissimilate under pressure and weight at any time. The pads are slippery too.  

It takes eons for these pads to develop. Therefore, it is crucial to take care of the delicate formations, not try to break off chunks of salt. It can destroy the natural beauty of the place and harm the ecosystem.  

Formation of Salt Pads in the Man-made Trench

The aesthetic natural formation of salt pads is one of the key attractive points of the Al Wathba Salt Lake. It remains a mystery largely but some possible explanations have been given by geologists. This formation is a part of the desert’s underground geosphere. The brackish deposits had been washed away when the artificially water-fed channel cut its way through them when it was being constructed. This gave rise to these stunning white crystalline pads.   

Another gorgeous addition to the waterbody is the crystallized salt that forms a snowy-white border of the trench.   

Location & Directions to Drive Down

The waterbody is located along the Abu Dhabi – Al Ain Highway in the satellite city of Al Wathba. The lake is quite close to the popular Fossil Dunes in the Al Bihouth region, close to Al Wathba South. The best way to reach the place is to take either the E30 or E65 routes. While E65 is the closest road to the area, the ideal route is to take the turn from E30 just after the Al Wathba Wildlife Reserve. Hiring a cab or driving down, do ensure to follow Google Maps to reach the place on time.  

Entry Fees & Opening Hours

Entry to Al Wathba Salt Lake is free.   

The waterbody is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Activities Possible at the Long Salt Lake  

Overnight Camping

Many families from Abu Dhabi come here to camp for the night. It is an idyllic place to get close to nature, set up barbecues, and spend quality time with friends and family.   

Capture Memorable Moments

This is one of the best places in Abu Dhabi to click a few Instagram-worthy pictures. Amidst the beholding sight of the aquamarine water and the white lily pad salty structures, you can capture clicks that will fill you with excitement every time you see them in the future. An ideal place for selfies too!  

Swimming is not a possibility in these water-filled trenches due to the high salt content. All that you can do to beat the heat is float. Just like at the Dead Sea!  

A Visit to the Fossil Dunes

If you are planning to stay back or spend the entire day at the lagoon side, you can take a drive to the nearest landmark spot, the Fossil Dunes. The Dunes are another blessing from nature, but you need to look at them from a distance and not touch them. This can cause permanent damage to the nature-forged dune. As per geologists, these dunes are estimated to have been formed over four million years ago. They look formidable and stand tall against the ripping winds and the sand bed. The dunes are shaped by the speeding winds that work on the hardened sand when the moisture in the ground causes the calcium carbonate in the sand to solidify.  

Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

This is an ideal spot to watch the sun appear on the horizon early morning and then disappear in the evening.   


Pack up your picnicking bags and take your kids to the Al Wathba Salt Lake for a close-to-nature retreat. The entire day will be meaningfully spent with adults lazing around the kids having the best time of their lives, running, walking or hopping up and down the brackish formations.  

Visit the Al Wathba Reserve

The first wetland in Abu Dhabi, which is a protected area, is very close to the trenches. It is a man-made reserve and the best place to appreciate the natural fauna and flora of the place. Established in 1998, the Reserve is home to about 37 plant varieties, 250 bird species, and many marine species. You can catch sight of the migratory flamingos between September and April.  

Take a Desert Safari

The desert region of Abu Dhabi, which is close to the man-made trenches, is ideal for undertaking an exhilarating desert safari. Ensure that you book with a professional desert safari provider to make the most of the journey.  

Bird Watching

There are a plethora of desert bird species that are the daily visitors to the lake. Enjoy watching the sight as you relax by the lakeside.  

Places Worth Visiting Close to the Al Wathba Salt Lake  

Consider visiting these places close to Salt Lake 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Located at Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, it is one of the world’s largest mosques. It can accommodate about 55,000 worshippers at one go. It takes about 42 minutes to reach the mosque from Al Wathba Salt waterbody.  

Louvre Abu Dhabi

This is a museum dedicated to artwork, located on Saadiyat Island. It takes about an hour to reach the museum from the lakeside.  

Ferrari World

This Ferrari-themed Park features about 40 rides. The Formula Rossa roller coaster is supposedly the fastest one in the world. It is located on Yas Island, a 40-minute drive from the trench site.  

Yas Waterworld

This is also located on Yas Island, a water-themed park with 45 water rides and slides.   

Corniche Road

Take your kids to this play area that is about eight kilometers long with a cycling path, café, and scenic roads. It is a 40-minute drive from the lake.


Indeed, the Al Wathba Salt Lake is an aesthetically beautiful place to relax and rejuvenate with friends and family. It is unmistakably one of the must-visit places in Abu Dhabi.   


Can you drive to Al Wathba Salt Lake?  

Yes, you can drive to the lake. However, you need to be aware that the road even if not sandy is a bit of a rough patch. Both, small and big cars can be driven to the waterbody but the most advisable form of travel is using an SUV.  

Is Salt Lake Abu Dhabi man-made?  

Most parts of this lake is man-made.  

When is the best time to visit Salt Lake Abu Dhabi?  

The best time of the day for visiting Al Wathba Lake is between 05:00 hours and 08:00 hours. Else, one can visit the place after 17:00 hours.  

Is overnight camping allowed at Al Wathba Lake?  

Yes, the Al Wathba camp provides tents or RVs to tourists who wish to spend a night by the lake.  

What are the places of natural beauty worth visiting in Abu Dhabi?  

You can explore the Fossil Dunes or the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. You can stop by the Mangrove National Park,  Saadiyat Beach, Yas Gateway Park, Khalifa Park, Yas Marina, Dalma Island, and more.  

Are there one or two lakes in this region?  

There are actually two man-made waterbodies in this area, one on either side of the main road. The channel on the left is smaller, and the one on the right is much longer.