Kick off those flip-flops and whack on the sun cream as we bring you our rundown of Dubai’s best beaches
BEACH CLUBS Best For Ibiza Vibes
Barasti Beach Bar From its humble beginnings as a beach shack back in 1995, this vast venue has evolved into a Dubai institution. Its party atmosphere is legendary, especially at weekends when sunseekers flock to grab one of the oversized beds. The Sugar Beach nights are particularly popular, attracting top international DJs, while the addition of an ice bar and burger truck have also gone down a treat. Free entry. Open Sat-Wed 11am-1.30am; Thu-Fri 11am-3am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, www.barastibeach.com (04 399 3333).
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE Every weekend, this beach club turns into a packed nightclub as it brings the spirit of the original Blue Marlin, in Ibiza, to the shores of the UAE. It first opened up in 2012, and since then, music legends including Dennis Ferrer and Sven Väth have taken to the decks here. Free entry. Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotels and Resort, Ghantoot, www.bluemarlinibiza-uae.com (056 113 3400).
Nasimi Beach This Atlantis The Palm venue is one of Dubai’s biggest beach clubs and has hosted artists including Avicii and Basement Jaxx over the years. During the day, there are cabanas to lounge on and a beachside restaurant, but it comes to life once the sun goes down. Prices vary. Open Sun-Thu 11am-midnight; Fri-Sat 9am-1am. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
BEST FOR BUDDIES Cove Beach If you’re taking a break from brunching, head to this beach lounge on a Friday with your besties. Cove Beach has stunning views of the Burj Al Arab and 360°, and its own private swim-up bar. You can rent kayaks and paddleboards for the day, and nibble on French food. Don’t miss the quinoa salad with pumpkin and goat’s cheese. Free entry. Open daily 9am-3am. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.covebeach.com (800 2683).
Nikki Beach With uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf (and no construction crane in sight), this Dubai outpost of one of the world’s most popular beach clubs is where you want to be seen. The chic, all-white design of Nikki Beach features a pool, a swim-up bar, cabanas aplenty (including VIP ones), an open beach and a four-level VIP terrace, if you’re in the mood to treat yourself. As for grub, the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is full of fresh seafood and salads. Free entry. Open daily 11am-9pm. Pearl Jumeirah. www.nikkibeach.com (04 376 6162).
BEST FOR FAMILIES Club Joumana The two pools and private beach dedicated to JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel are part of the facilities offered to day guests of Club Joumana. As well as the peacocks that strut through the resort, guests will enjoy the numerous watersports and activities on offer (for a supplement). Chill on the stools at the swim-up pool bar, on the pristine stretch of golden sand or in the Arabian Gulf. It’s a great option for all the family. Sun-Thu: Dhs180 (including Dhs100 F&B voucher, adults), Dhs90 (including Dhs25 F&B voucher kids aged five to 12); Fri-Sat: Dhs250 (including Dhs100 F&B voucher, adults), Dhs110 (including Dhs25 F&B voucher, kids). JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Jebel Ali (04 814 5029).
RIVA Ristorante, Bar & Beach An excellent all-rounder, Riva makes for an equally good beach day whether you’re a group of friends, a family or just looking to soak up some rays solo. There’s a licensed gazebo bar poolside, an excellent kids’ pool, a spacious stretch of beach with plenty of loungers and nice tranquil lagoon water, and watersports (at an additional cost). There’s also a volleyball court for more active beachgoers. If you’re after a more relaxed afternoon of pampering, there’s an on-site beauty salon. Sophie’s café serves a variety of fresh juices and healthy dishes, and Riva Ristorante offers a great selection of Italian fare, indulgent pizzas and burgers, and all the gelato and sorbet you need to keep cool. Sun-Thu: Dhs115 (adults), Dhs60 (kids); Fri-Sat: Dhs190 (adults), Dhs100 (kids). Shoreline Apartments Building 8, Palm Jumeirah (04 430 9466).
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa Numerous pools, slides, and the well-resourced Amura Kids’ Club is what clinched this hotel the Time Out Kids Best Beach Club award this year. Add to that the extensive collection of food and beverage outlets, superb service and plenty of fun sports activities, and it’s a hard sport to beat for families. Sun-Thu: Dhs250 (adults); Fri-Sat: Dhs300 (adults), Dhs100 (kids aged four to 15), free (kids under four). Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah, www.sofitel-dubai-thepalm.com (04 455 6677).
BEST FOR COUPLES The Island Beach Club If you love a bit of offshore action, hop on a boat from Jumeirah Fishing Harbour and settle down for a lazy afternoon on Lebanon Island. At this first offering on The World islands, you have a choice of two beaches, the southern one being more popular due to the panoramic views of the city you’ve escaped for the day. Dhs200 (adults). Open daily 11am-6pm. Lebanon Island, The World Islands, www.theisland.ae (04 447 2240).
The Ritz-Carlton Dubai Lie in the lap of luxury (quite literally) at this pristine beach club set between bursts of lush greenery. Laze on one of the double bed loungers at the foot of the pool between dips to cool off. When the sun sets, the DJ plays the beats and the party vibe sets in. There’s a cool swim-up bar and fresh fruit and refreshments to enjoy. Guests who really want to make a day of it should head over on a Friday and enjoy the sophisticated brunch, too. Sun-Thu: Dhs350 (adults), Dhs300 (kids aged five to 12); Fri-Sat: Dhs500 (adults), Dhs300 (kids aged five to 12). The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 399 4000).
Zero Gravity It might have primarily made a name for itself as a late-night venue, but flop onto a sun lounger or cabana during the day and see how the times have changed. There’s plenty of room to stretch out here and the option to have a private barbecue or picnic as part of the Killa Grilla package. Lie back and let your troubles ebb away as you watch the skydivers land next door. From Dhs150 (adults, with Dhs50 redeemable against food and beverages). Near Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.0-gravity.ae (04 399 0009).
PUBLIC BEACHES Al Mamzar Beach Park With a choice of four beaches, along with large lawns, sports pitches and a small skate park, this place provides a fun day out for all the family. Pack a picnic or nab a barbecue spot for a cheap lunch before working off your food with a stroll or a ride in one of the pedal karts for hire. It might seem like a bit of a mission, being as it is on the Sharjah border, but we promise you, it’s well worth the effort. The park has toilets, changing rooms and food and beverage outlets. For extra privacy, you can even hire a chalet for the day from just Dhs150. Dhs5 per person, Dhs30 per car. Near Century Mall, Al Mamzar (04 296 6201).
Black Palace Beach One of the city’s so-called “secret beaches”, Black Palace (aka Al Sufouh Beach) is ideal if you want to escape the hubbub of the more popular stretches of sand filled with hordes of holidaymakers. Straddled by palaces and opposite the Palm, this beach offers a good amount of seclusion and although the facilities are minimal – there are no kiosks, parasol hire, toilets or changing rooms – if you come prepared, you’ll enjoy some rare peace and quiet. Pack the snorkel, as this is a great area for some underwater exploration. Free. Off King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street.
JBR Beach Easily the most popular beach in Dubai, you might be hard pushed to find a pitch with more than a few feet either side of you. However, we say don’t be shy and embrace the sense of seaside solidarity. With a huge array of restaurants, ice-cream huts and other refreshment stops just a flip-flop trot away, you certainly won’t go hungry here. There’s lots to entertain the whole family here, too, not least Dubai Aqua Park, the Middle East’s largest inflatable waterpark. And a refreshing 90-second shower at the end of the day will cost you a mere Dhs5. Free. The Beach, JBR, www.thebeach.ae.
Jumeirah Beach The public part of the coastline shared with the Burj Al Arab is open to all those who can’t or won’t splash out on a room at the seven-star hotel. Although Jumeirah Beach Park has been shut since work in this section of the Dubai Canal began in 2014, the venue, with its lush green garden and array of cafés and shaded areas, will be back in business in November. Other attractions include a selection of barbecue areas for a DIY dinner, a kids’ play area, plus all the other facilities you’d expect. The beach was also previously awarded Blue Flag status for its cleanliness. Dhs5. Re-opening in November. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2555).
Kite Beach Thanks to an extensive, well-thought-out overhaul, Kite Beach has become a vibrant American-style hangout with a range of cracking food trucks catering for those who have built up a hunger splashing about in the sea. Beach tennis, volleyball and various watersports are among the draws for athletic types not enticed by a burger from Salt or some frozen fruit from Wanna Banana. Although the kitesurfers might have headed up the road, this place is still very much thriving and has all the beachy facilities you’d hope for. Free. Off Street 5a, behind Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim.
Open Beach One of the quieter spots to hang out, by virtue of the fact that the clear views out to sea have long since been diminished by the development of Jumeirah Bay Island (still known as Daria Island on Google Maps). Its value comes in looking in the other direction, however, where you’ll see some of Dubai’s most stunning villas backing directly onto the golden sand. Free. Near Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road.
Sunset Beach The widest expanse of uninterrupted beach closest to the Burj Al Arab is, as the name suggests, the perfect spot to catch the sunset behind the world’s most famous hotel. Facilities are minimal, although the recent upgrade of the corniche and running track has elevated it somewhat, making it more of a hub for large groups. Oh, and watch out for the paddleboarders from The Surf House Café nearby. Free. Near Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road.
FIVE TOP SWIM-UP BARS Highlights We’re big fans of Rixos The Palm, even more so now that it’s gone all-inclusive. However, if you haven’t got a weekend to spare for some staycation action you can still live the dream with a beach package. As part of your day pass you can make the most of Highlights, the laid-back swim-up bar. The friendly bar staff will happily rustle you up one of their signature beverages while you swing your legs from the stool and pretend you’re a permanent part of the furniture. From Dhs175 (beach package). Highlights open daily 9am-6pm. Rixos The Palm Dubai (04 457 5454).
Mai Bar With its gorgeous Thai design and welcoming staff, there are plenty of reasons to grab a cooling beverage at this bar named after the Arabic word for water. Enjoy views over the Arabian Gulf and pick some light snacks from a bar menu that includes paninis, salads, burgers and taquitos. The seahorse fountains should keep the children entertained, if, that is, they’ve decided to tag along. From Dhs250 per person (day pass). Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah (04 567 8304).
Palazzo Versace We all need a little luxury in our lives now and again and few hotels cry luxury more than the opulent Palazzo Versace. Overlooking the Creek, guests are never too far from a drop of good old H20 when they stay in this grand venue, but for true water babies, the draw of the superb swim-up bar near Giardino restaurant will be huge. Head there for the Friday brunch and you’ll be given pool access as well as lots of international fare. Brunch from Dhs350 (adults). Fri 1pm-4pm. Culture Village, Al Jaddaf (04 556 8888).
Oasis Pool & Bar Living up to its name as an oasis on the doorstep of Dubai International Airport, this spacious pool is the perfect place to kick back, even if you’re not a plane-spotter. Let one of the bar team rustle you up a refreshing beverage from the extensive drinks menu (happy hour is Sunday to Wednesday 4pm-8pm), or chow down on some bar bites as you enjoy the laid-back beats that form the bar’s soundtrack. We’re not sure if repeated requests for Wonderwall will go down well, though. Just saying. Dhs85 (Sun-Thu), Dhs115 (Fri-Sat). Millennium Airport Hotel, Garhoud (04 702 8888).
Swim-Up Pool Bar The sheer size of Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah’s pool would be enticing enough (it measures a whopping 1,200 square metres), but add to that the fact that it has a quality swim-up bar and you really are onto a winner. Take in the views of the beach and palm-lined gardens as you enjoy some refreshments. The pool also has some rather nifty Jacuzzi loungers and a shaded kids’ area so the little ones don’t turn as pink as the mocktails you’re sipping. Dhs300 (pool and beach access for two, Sun-Thu). Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah (04 444 2000).