Dust off the swimwear and get ready to chill on the sand
Emma Pearson and Melanie Smith
BEST FOR BUDDIES
Cove Beach Head to Cove Beach with your pals on a Friday for a day of paddleboarding or kayaking while enjoying gorgeous views of the Burj Al Arab. Alternatively, save your energy for the doggy paddle to the swim-up bar, and regain your strength as you reclinine in the stylish beach lounge, nibbling on tasty French food. By night, the party starts. It’s a hard life… Free entry. Open daily 11am-3am. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim, www.covebeach.com (800 2683).
Set within the picturesque Ghantoot Marina, La Cala is a beach bar offering a retreat away from it all. The vibe is laid-back and a DJ plays cool, Ibiza-esque club beats. It’s quite cosy, but there’s a bit of space to dance, though you‘ll mostly just want to chill and take stock. Prices vary. Open Sun-Wed noon-10pm; Thu-Fri noon-4am; Sat noon-1am. Ghantoot Marina & Resort, Ghantoot (050 151 8407).
Nestled at the far side of the Pearl Jumeira, with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf, lies the Dubai outpost of one of the world’s most popular (and slick) beach clubs. Nikki Beach features a pool, a swim-up bar, an open beach, cabanas aplenty and a four-level VIP terrace, if you’re really pushing the boat out. We recommend wearing all-white if you want to fit in with the swish interior design, and refuelling on the seafood and Mediterranean salads, if you happen to work up an appetite with all that posing. Sun-Thu: From Dhs150; Fri-Sat: From Dhs200. Open daily 11am-9pm. Pearl Jumeira, www.nikkibeach.com (04 376 6162).
BEST FOR FAMILIES
Club Joumana Human and peacock come together to enjoy the private beach, two pools and swim-up bar at Club Joumana. Granted, you might not find our feathered friends kicking back on the cabana next to you, but you will definitely see them parading through the resort at this family-friendly beach club. And if majestic birds aren’t really your thing, you can engage in the numerous watersports and activities on offer (for a fee) or go strutting along the pristine stretch of golden sand yourself. Sun-Thu: Dhs150 (adults), Dhs75 (kids); Fri-Sat: Dhs200 (adults), Dhs100 (kids). Open daily 9am-7pm. JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Jebel Ali (04 814 5029).
DUKES Dubai Beach Club Set at Dukes Hotel on the Palm, this one has plenty of activities for the little ones, including Dukesy kids’ club for children up to 12 years old. Once they’re happily installed in there, it’s time for the parents to chill out on the 200m of private beach, wallow in the infinity pool (which happens to be the largest on the Palm) or float away on the Lazy River. With inflatable rings and waterfalls it’s a fun and relaxed way to spend an afternoon. Sun-Thu:Dhs200; Fri-Sat: Dhs250.Open daily noon-midnight (beach access closes at sunset). DUKES Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 455 1111).
RIVA Ristorante, Bar & Beach Whether you’re looking to slurp up some poolside drinks, enjoy a beach day with the kids or get your game face on for a session of beach volleyball, RIVA makes for an excellent all-rounder. The beach club was revamped this summer and now the restaurant, licenced Gazebo bar and recently re-opened beach are operating in full swing. The brand-new, Mediterranean-inspired menu features dishes such as crab and avocado salad, grilled sea bass and charred lamb chops, and you can digest them all in glorious, beached-whale style on one of the many loungers while the clan take a dip in the kids’ pool. Sun-Thu: Dhs100 (adults), Dhs50 (kids); Fri-Sat: Dhs190 (adults), Dhs75 (kids). Open daily 7am-midnight. Shoreline Apartments Building 8, Palm Jumeirah (04 430 9466).
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa Kids can enjoy the numerous slides, activities and playground at the Amura Kid’s Club while the adults lay back by one of the many pools, or indulge in the 2,500-metre spa area (at an extra cost). The extensive range of food and beverage outlets mean that even the fussiest eater will be chomping at the bit, and the fun sports activities make this a hard destination to beat for families. Sun-Sat: Dhs250 (including Dhs180 voucher towards food and drink, adults); Dhs100 (including Dhs65 voucher towards food and drink, kids under 11). Open daily 8am-8pm. Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah, www.sofitel-dubai-thepalm.com (04 455 6677).
BEST FOR COUPLES
This luxurious beach club opened in August at Rixos Premium Dubai in JBR, and it offers style and sophistication with some seriously chilled-out vibes. It has an infinity pool equipped with private island beds looking out to the still waters of the Arabian Gulf and beyond. The view is stunning, especially at sunset, and as evening sets in, the on-site beach bar transitions seamlessly into a livelier venue in which to enjoy some drinks. Dhs300 (Sun-Thu), Dhs400 (Fri-Sat). Open daily 7am-7pm. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 520 0000).
The Island Beach Club
What better way to spend a day with the other half than by indulging in a bit of offshore action on a sun-soaked island? Catch the boat from Jumeirah Fishing Harbour and settle down for a day in paradise on Lebanon Island, the first offering on The World Islands. The venue boasts two beach fronts, with the south side offering panoramic views of the city. Chill out listening to the Balearic beats, or go head-to-head in a game of beach volleyball. Just make sure you’re not a sore loser, there’s only so much storming off you can do on a desert island. Dhs200 (adults); Dhs100 (kids). Open daily 11am-6pm. Lebanon Island, The World Islands, www.theisland.ae (05 617 6507).
The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
This pristine beach club is set between gorgeous bursts of lush greenery and a beautiful stretch of golden sand. Laze on a double-bed lounger in between cooling dips into the temperature-regulated pool, or glide through the still waters to fetch refreshments from the sprawling swim-up bar. When the sun goes down, the party vibe fires up, and a DJ takes to the wheels to get the beats pumping. Sun-Thu: Dhs350 (adults), Dhs200 (kids); Fri-Sat: Dhs500 (adults), Dhs300 (kids). Open daily 8am-7pm. The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, The Walk, opposite JBR (04 399 4000).
Al Mamzar Beach Park This park on the Sharjah border might seem like a bit of a mission, but it’s well worth the effort once you get there. With a choice of four beaches, along with a large lawn, sports pitches and a small skate park, there’s something for the whole family. Pack a picnic, claim a barbecue spot for a budget lunch or pick something up from one of the many outlets. The park has toilets and changing rooms, or you can even rent a chalet for the day from Dhs150 if you want to make yourself at home. Dhs5 per person, Dhs30 per car. Near Century Mall, Al Mamzar (04 296 6201).
Black Palace Beach
Dig out your binoculars and compass (or your GPS) and scout out one of the city’s so-called “secret beaches”. Black Palace Beach is one for the misanthropist – or just those who want to escape the hordes of rowdy holidaymakers for some peace and quiet. Straddled by palaces, and opposite the Palm, this beach offers a good amount of seclusion by Dubai’s standards. But as with any hidden gem, facilities are minimal as you stray from the beaten track. There are no kiosks, parasol hire, toilets or changing rooms, so make sure you arrive prepared with everything you’ll need for a day out in the sandy sticks. Free. Off King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street.
This beach is easily the busiest in Dubai, being a stone’s throw from Dubai Marina, but if you can get on board with being up close and personal with your fellow beachgoers (and can find a patch on which to pitch your parasol), then there’s a fantastic time to be had here. The Beach provides a huge selection of restaurants, ice-cream huts and other refreshment stops just a short skip over the sand. Plus there’s plenty of activities to entertain the whole family, including Aqua Park, the Middle East’s largest inflatable water park, and Splash Pad, a soaking-wet play area for little splashers. Free. The Beach, opposite JBR, www.thebeach.ae (800 637 227).
Jumeirah Beach Jumeirah Beach offers luxury for the thrifty beachgoer. The public part of this pristine coastline is shared with the Burj Al Arab, and is open to those whose hands don’t extend to their pockets when it comes to a room at this plush hotel. Alongside the white sands lies a lush green garden, and an array of cafés and shaded areas are right nearby. There are also areas where you can fire up the barbecue for a seaside feast, and a kids’ play area. The beach was also previously awarded Blue Flag status for its cleanliness. Dhs5 per person, Dhs20 per car. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2555).
This beach is absolutely teaming with activities including everything from skate parks to mini bungee jumping, high-rope courses to a running track. Watersports are also popular and include kayaking, paddleboarding and water-skiing to turn a lazy day into something much more adventurous. Not only is the beach packed with activities, it is also home to plenty of cafés (such as SALT and Jamba Juice) if you want to take a break before your next exertions. Free. Off Street 5a, behind Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim.
Open Beach Grab a book and head to one of the quieter stretches of sand in the city. Not only will you be able to enjoy your read in peaceful surroundings, there also won’t be much else to look at. The once-clear sea views have since been diminished by the development of Jumeirah Bay Island. If you’ve got a penchant for property, however, look in the other direction 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.
As the name suggests, this is the perfect spot to catch the sunset behind the world’s most famous hotel. Sunset Beach is the widest expanse of uninterrupted sand closest to the Burj Al Arab, and although facilities are somewhat minimal compared to Dubai’s more popular stretches, you’ll be able to get a smashing selfie here. Free. Near Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road (no number).
BEST FOR PARTYING
Barasti Beach Bar Barasti’s party atmosphere is legendary. By day you can laze in the sun on an oversized lounger, by night, it’s time to dance to live music. The Sugar Beach nights are particularly popular, attracting international DJs, while there’s always a queue at the Buns & Cows burger truck on a night out. It’s little wonder Barasti has won so many Time Out Dubai awards in the past. 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 (04 318 1313).
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 in 2012, and since then, music legends including Dennis Ferrer and Sven Väth have taken to the decks here. Well worth the trip down to Ghantoot for. Free entry. Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotels and Resort, Ghantoot (056 113 3400).
This is the second branch of El Chiringuito, the first of which is in Ibiza, and this outlet brings some of the White Isle’s spirit to Dubai. International DJs play regularly on weekends if you want to party, or you can chill out on the sofas or loungers by the pool. Dhs250 (Fri-Sat), Dhs100 (Wed-Thu). Open Wed-Sun 10am-midnight. Closed Mon-Tue. Rixos The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai (04 277 9180).
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 really comes to life once the sun goes down. Prices vary. Open Sun-Thu 11am-sunset; Fri-Sat 9am-sunset. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Zero Gravity One of Dubai’s best late-night venues also has a more chilled side, where you can stretch out on the golden sands and watch the more adventurous (or foolish) among us jump out of planes at Skydive Dubai next door. Tuck into a private barbecue during the day as part of a Killa Grilla package or hit the venue later in the evening for international music acts and events to remember. Sun-Thu: Dhs150 (Dhs50 redeemable against food and drinks, adults), Dhs250 (Dhs75 redeemable against food and drinks, couples), Dhs100 (Dhs25 redeemable against food and drinks, kids); Fri-Sat Dhs250 (Dhs100 redeemable against food and drinks, adults), Dhs450 (Dhs150 redeemable against food and drink, couples), Dhs175 (Dhs50 redeemable against food and drink, kids). Open daily 10am-sunset. Near Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 0009).
TOP FIVE SWIM-UP BARS
Areia Situated on the pool-side, this barbecue spot extends its bar for swimmers to take advantage of. Areia offers food as well including grilled meats, seafood and desserts to finish off. There are hops on tap along with other a variety of other beverages are available for you, too. From Dhs125. Daily 11am-midnight. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai - Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, opposite JBR (04 375 0999).
Bab Al Shams Head out to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, and enjoy pool access in tranquil isolation. For Dhs175 on a weekday and Dhs250 on Fridays you can spend a day in the water, soaking up some stunning views of the desert with a swim-up bar on hand. From Dhs175. Daily 9am-8pm. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Al Qudra Road (04 809 6194).
Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection swim-up bar
This hotel offers a swim-up pool bar to help cool you down. Keep the little ones busy on the kids’ water slide and grab a summer drink and chill out in the water. There’s also a range of deals at the neighbouring poolside eatery for when you’re ready to dry off. From Dhs150. Daily 8.30am-8.30pm. Habtoor Grand Resort Autograph Collection, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 399 5000).
This cool venue offers mixed drinks with nibbles and a stunning view of the sunset – if you stay long enough, which is recommended. Gaze across the horizon towards the Arabian Gulf, while you enjoy a daily offer of Dhs30 for hops, grape and other house beverages from 4pm until 8pm. Bargain. From Dhs225. Daily 8am-11pm. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 399 3333).
This classy venue at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai offers a swim-up bar, plus shisha served from 4pm and dishes from around the world. It’s a cool, casual yet altogether chic location to spend an afternoon. And, when it’s time to dry off, hop across the stepping stones and set up camp at one of the cabanas, get comfy and let the world drift by. From Dhs400. 11am-11pm. The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, The Walk, opposite JBR (04 318 6150).
TOP PICKS FROM THE REST OF THE UAE
Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Beach Club This place was built to make your jaw drop. The stunning infinity pool is bordered by cabanas, while the end of the pool eats into the nearby azure waters – simply gorgeous. Apart from pool access, a gym, Jacuzzi and plunge pool, you‘ve got an expansive beach to take advantage of. The Arabian Gulf waters are refreshing and you won‘t struggle to find a spot to settle in for the day. Sun-Thu: Dhs250 (single), Dhs100 (children aged 10-17), free (children under nine). Fri-Sat: Dhs375 (single), Dhs155 (children aged 10-17), free (children aged three-12). Open daily 9am-sunset. Saadiyat Island (02 656 3500).
Yas Beach With 400m of golden sands, this is a venue that caters for pretty much every need. The beach club has its own open-air DJ booth, a huge pool and five private chalets. There is also an abundance of loungers so you won‘t have to get there early to mark your territory. Sun-Thu: Dhs50 (adult), free (children under 12), Fri-Sat: Dhs100 (adult), free (children under 12). Open daily 10am-7pm. Yas Island (056 242 0435).
Ajman Kempinski Ajman This superb spot offers a long stretch of pristine, private, white sand and more than 250 sunbeds set up right by the Arabian Gulf, and it’s undoubtedly one of the finest beaches in the UAE. You’ll also be able to enjoy the sprawling pool and swim-up bar. As well as being a romantic, luxurious destination, and therefore great for couples, Kempinski Kids’ Club will take care of the little ones, too. Day rates: Sun-Thu: Dhs150 (adults), Fri-Sat Dhs200 (adults); Sun-Thu: Dhs50 (kids under 12); Fri-Sat Dhs75 (Kids under 12). Daily 7am-sunset (beach), daily 8am-9pm (pool). Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street (06 714 5555).
Fujairah Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort
Head out east and enjoy the pristine stretch of private beach by the crystal clear waters on the coast of Fujairah. As well as enjoying two private pools, one with a swim-up bar, there are also seven restaurants and bars to try out, as well as Spa Al Aqah and the Penguins Kids’ Club, making this a perfect option for all the family. Dhs150. Open daily 7am-sunset (beach), Sat-Thu 7am-7pm; Fri 7am-8pm (pool). Dibba Road, Al Aqah (09 244 9000).
Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa This is a family-friendly resort, with a large pool and separate kids’ pool. There are also two restaurants and several bars. A day pass provides access to the beach, pools and sporting facilities. Sun-Thu: Dhs120 (single), Dhs55 (children). Fri-Sat: Dhs150 (single),Dhs75 (children). Open daily 7am-sunset. Al Aqah Beach (09 244 9888).
Ras Al Khaimah Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort With a wonderfully romantic setting overlooking both the Arabian Gulf and the Hajar Mountains, this is a great spot for couples. As well as the long stretch of pristine beach, there are two swimming pools to enjoy and an 18-hole championship golf course. There’s also a pool and beach package including free-flowing beverages. Oh, and kids are welcome, too. Sun-Thu Dhs100 (adults), Dhs50 (kids aged five-16), free (kids under five); Fri-Sat: Dhs150 (adults), Dhs75 (kids aged five-16), free (kids under five); Couples: Dhs180 (Sun-Thu), Dhs250 (Fri-Sat); Including drinks from noon-6pm daily: Dhs160 (adults), Dhs80 (kids aged five-16). Daily 9am-sunset (beach and smaller pool), daily 8am-8pm (larger pool). Vienna Street, Al Jazirah Al Hamra (07 244 6666).
Waldorf Astoria RAK Spend time relaxing on the resort’s stunning 350m of pristine, private beach, between dips in the two swimming pools. And if you can prise yourself away from those beautiful surroundings, the hotel also has an 18-hole championship golf course to play and offers a number of watersports activities including fishing, parasailing, jet skiing, and diving. Sun-Thu: Dhs150; Fri-Sat Dhs100; free kids aged four and under. 8am-sunset. Vienna Street (07 203 5555).
Sharjah Al Khan Beach One of the emirate’s most prized stretches of public sand is a must for watersport fans. You can have a go at kayaking, kite surfing, parasailing, flyboarding and lots more here. But there are also plenty of sunloungers if you just want to spend the day relaxing, and a beachside café to keep you sustained. Dhs5 per person over six years, Dhs5 per car, Dhs20 (entry, sunbed and umbrella). Open daily 7am-8pm. Al Khan Street, Sharjah, www.alkhanbeach.com.
Umm Al Quwain Open Beach The main stretch of public beach at Umm Al Quwain is free to visit and close enough to the emirates retro-cool waterpark Dreamland Aqua park for when you’re done with relaxing and ready to take your daytrip experience up a notch. Free. Open daily 24 hours. Near Ras Al Khaimah boarder and Marjan Island (no number).