Wadi Shawka

The swimming pool at Wadi Shawka
The swimming pool at Wadi Shawka

I mentioned in my last post that we spent some time recently at Wadi Shawka.  I’m not sure exactly how to spell it because I’ve seen it spelled multiple ways including several different variations on signs in the village by that name you pass through to get into the Wadi.  The best Wadis all seem to be in Oman but Wadi Shawka in the UAE has some great things about it.  For one, it is very easy to get to from Sharjah and our home at the American University of Sharjah.  The drive is only about an hour from AUS.  You’ll want a little SUV to drive right up to the wadi but a car can easily make it within a few short kilometre hike to the pools. GoogleEarth-Shawka-Map  You can practically drive right up to the first of the permanent pools.  The first pool is an algae filled swamp but right around the corner is a beautiful little pool perfect for swimming.  The rock around the pool looks brittle and sandy but in reality its much like cement.  This makes for some fun climbing and bouldering.

This second pool is really the only one worthy of a swim but a little hike deeper into the Wadi presents some interesting views and some good fun.  The easiest way to get past that first pool is to swim across but you can climb over the rock face to the right.  This is a pretty easy climb, in our first trip out with folks from AUS there were 4 year olds climbing over it.  For those afraid of heights though there are a few tricky parts.

Boy Jaron
Jaron relaxing in a rock hammock soaking up some sun.

You can easily spend hours around this natural pool, swimming, jumping from the rock faces, bouldering around the outside of the pool or just plain relaxing.  There is a tiny bit of graffiti and as usual a little trash.  The next time we go out we will take a few garbage bags and spend an hour or so combing the place.  Surprisingly, compared to other places we’ve been and considering how accessible this spot is, the trash is at a minimum.  It may have something to do with the large sign at the entrance to the Wadi proclaiming large fines for littering.  Somehow I doubt that though.  I expect a few locals spend a little time taking care of it.  So, “thank you” to whomever works to keep this place an enjoyable spot.

Shawka Pools Panoram

Camping is possible close to the pools but you’ll only find space for one or maybe two small tents.  We had a much larger group.  We setup camp under that no littering sign which is about 3 kilometres from the wadi.  It has plenty of room for many tents and its right off the gravel road so you can pull right up.  Wood is sparse so you have to bring your own for a campfire.  We found a hollow 4 foot chunk of palm tree that we got started with a little lighter fluid.  It burned beautifully and for hours.  It took a while to really get going and we actually rolled it away from our fire pit because we thought it was only going to smoulder.  Then we ended up dragging it back.

Lisa took enough video that I thought I’d see what I could do with iMovie.  So here is a little video of our fun.

9 responses to “Wadi Shawka”

  1. so awesome! Nice video James!


  2. Wouldn’t that be nice in your own backyard!


    1. It sure would! Wait it kind of is 🙂


  3. […] down them.  You do end up with a lot of sand in your pockets though.  We also go looking for swimming holes in Wadis.  Wadis are riverbeds.  Mostly they are dry but dad says when it rains they get really flooded. […]


  4. […] off I’d put together a little video of our fun at Wadi Shab – like I did recently with Wadi Shawka. I tried to increase the quality of the video from the last one hopeful that the file will not be […]


  5. Hi there

    Looks awesome
    How can I get to those pools? Do you have the coordinates or any landmark I can put on the GPS?



    1. James MacDonald Avatar
      James MacDonald

      To get to the pools follow Maliha rd east to the Shawka village turn off then left at round about to go under the highway and straight through the round about on the other side. Follow the road for a couple kilometres turning right just past the second radio tower. Follow this paved rd past the Shawka medical centre where the road turns to dirt (stay right). Follow this dirt road for a couple kilometres until you get to the dry river bed (there is a large dumpster and a sign that says not to litter). At this point if you go left it will take you to the dam you want to go right and up the wadi bed.

      From here follow the dirt road (you’ll want at least an all wheel drive). Stay constantly to the right – you’ll have an option to go straight/left but keep to the right and you’ll go all the way to the pools. You will need a 4×4 to drive all the way into the pools. Without a 4×4 you’ll have to walk in a kilometre or possibly 2.


  6. Hi, just a question. Is the pool filled with water all year round? any ideas?


    1. From my experience the pools filled with water all year long. However, at some points the water level is much lower than at other times. Oddly enough I’ve been in the heat of the summer to find the water flowing and the water levels high – so its not just a seasonal thing. I’ve also been in the winter to find the water levels low and the water far from inviting. Its worth exploring.


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