Grab your sunscreen and head for the city's best beach clubs
It’s official: now’s the time to hit the beach. Humidity levels are at their lowest, averaging at 55 per cent in April and dropping to 53 per cent in May, while sunshine levels are reaching their peak, with 344 hours of solid sun expected over the next month. Meanwhile, average temperatures are hovering pleasantly around the low 30°Cs throughout April and May – before the mercury reaches 40°C by July. Don’t just take our word for it: grab your shades, flip flops and plenty of sunscreen, and soak up some rays at one of these top beach clubs. On a budget? We’ve catered for you too with our guide to the best free spots. And relax...
Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa With a swim-up pool bar on one side and curling waterslides on the other, the Habtoor’s pool and beach caters to a range of interests, whether it be lounging in the sun, lunching at the nearby Italian restaurant Luciano’s, frolicking in the pool or taking to the waves for some watersports.
Facilities: Stroll down to the extra-long beach if you want some quiet, or relax in the temperature-controlled pool. There’s also a kids’ play area and two waterslides, plus a restaurant and swim-up bar (which pumps out plenty of lively tunes).
Availability of sun loungers: There are lots of places to bunk down for the day: we headed down on a Friday at about 1pm and found two loungers in the sun by the pool – result. People seemed to come and go throughout the day, so there was little trouble for others to find a space in the sun, and you can choose between the beach or the pool for added variety.
Highlight: We love the prime Dubai Marina location and the swim-up bar.
Best for: Great for families, as well as small groups of friends or couples. UAE residents Dhs400 (with 150 food voucher) and Visitors (Non-AUE residents) Dhs550 (With 150 food voucher). Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 408 4444).
Club Joumana Only 15 minutes from Dubai Marina, Club Joumana at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa is spread over a long stretch of beach and large gardens, so it’s more peaceful than most beach clubs, even on the busiest days.
Facilities: There are three pools, but it’s the brand new Watercooled watersports hut on the beach that is drawing the most attention. Try everything from a hair-raising Zapcat ride to a more relaxing paddleboarding session. There’s a pleasant beach bar/restaurant with good drinks deals, but lunch can be pricey.
Availability of sun loungers: They’re in plentiful supply, though get there early or the hotel visitors (who make up the majority of beach users) will have snapped up the prime sunbathing spots.
Highlight: The hotel boasts a long, luxurious private beach that reaches all the way to the sea (many other hotels have a private beach that then leads onto a public beach).
Best for: Families who are looking for a Jumeirah alternative. Sun-Thu Dhs180, Fri-Sat Dhs220 (children under 12 half price; kids under four free). Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa (04 814 5555).
Club Mina This huge beach club hugs the coast in front of the Barasti and the Westin, offering a haven for holidaymakers and UAE residents wanting to catch some rays.
Facilities: As well as the five pools (including an infinity pool, kids’ area, lap pool and a huge central waterway that winds through the gardens), there are tennis courts, a gym, volleyball, basketball, and watersports (you’ll have to pay extra for the latter). Adults can make the most of the three swim-up bars and Barasti for sundowners. And let’s not forget the 500m private beachfront.
Availability of sun loungers: You’ll need to arrive early to bag a prime place beside the pool, but the sheer size of Club Mina means there are always spare loungers to be found away from the main thoroughfares.
Highlight: Its size. Yet even at weekends it never feels crammed with people – you can still find peace and quiet among the gardens. Best for: Families, couples, teenagers, kids – all would be hard-pressed not to find something to love here. Sun-Thu Dhs175, Fri-Sat Dhs250. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 3333).
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa Despite its sprawling size, this club, located in Jumeirah 1, has a cosy village feel – bathers range from retired couples to chirpy families (there’s also a good kids’ pool here). The expanse of beach itself is a thin but pleasant wedge cut off from the rest of the world by a long jetty, and there are two well-stocked bars to keep you ticking over with refreshments.
Facilities: There are three pools, a gym, tennis courts, spa, kids’ play area and table tennis, plus beach and poolside bars.
Availability of sun loungers: Despite a busy vibe, there were more than enough beds to go round when we visited in the early afternoon.
Highlight: The club forms the centrepiece of a huge resort complex scattered with restaurants, so you can easily be entertained, fed and watered from dawn until dusk. Eat at Arabic coffee shop Al Khayma, Lebanese restaurant Al Qasr, Italian venue Capanna Nuova or the Thai Bistro, and drink at Cuban-themed Malecon, lounge bar Boudoir, relaxed Loca or hip hangout Sho Cho. Best for: Jumeirah and Satwa dwellers. Sun-Wed Dhs75 (Dhs50 for children), Fri-Sat Dhs125 (Dhs75 for children), Jumeirah (04 346 1111).
Nasimi Beach While not technically a beach club, at Nasimi you’re treated as if you’re at one – you can choose from a range of laid-back seating, including sun loungers, plush day beds and private cabanas. We recommend heading down on a Saturday, when the chilled vibe comes complete with the soothing music of DJ Clarita De Quiroz (who’s happy to take requests) and a free-flowing barbecue lunch with bottomless bubbles. If you’re feeling competitive, settle some scores (and decide who pays the bill) over a game of volleyball.
Facilities: As well as the bar and restaurant, there’s also a new shopping boutique and a volleyball net.
Availability of sun-loungers: Plentiful, depending on what time you head down, but getting a private cabana can prove a lot more difficult, so best to reserve in advance.
Highlight: If you’ve got the time, head to the Nasimi Beach Boutique – the collection of designer fashion, jewellery and accessories is well worth a look. Best for: Young couples and families that want it all – food, drink, entertainment – in a beach-tastic setting. Saturday BubbleQ event costs Dhs185- Dhs295. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
RIVA Beach Club Billed as Dubai’s first standalone beach club (ie not in a hotel), RIVA oozes blissed-out Café del Mar-style charm, with chillout music played throughout the slick, decent-sized clubhouse. With palm trees, sun loungers and luxurious day beds scattered around the pool, paradise-island bar and the private beach, by day it’s a place for kicking back, mixed drink in hand. Come sunset, twinkling candles turn RIVA into one of the Palm’s most romantic locations, perfect for sundowners and intimate dinner dates. While the club is unfortunately in the shade in the late afternoon – the sun blocked off by the Shoreline’s buildings – the beach remains sun-kissed for longer.
Facilities: There’s a large pool, plus a kids’ splash-about pool, outdoor bar and an outdoor à la carte restaurant, with a new indoor space soon to open.
Availability of sun loungers: Choose from more than 200 loungers, or go for a giant day bed, ideal for couples.
Highlight: The Ibiza-cool vibe on the Palm.
Best for: Couples looking to enjoy sundowners in a romantic setting. Sun-Wed Dhs100, Fri-Sat Dhs150. Palm Jumeirah (04 430 9466).
One&Only Royal Mirage Not really a beach club, per se, just a rather nice 1km-long private beach (which proves rather difficult to get access to when the hotel is at full occupancy). The lucky few who get in can enjoy the pool facilities as well as complimentary water and towels.
Facilities: It should be noted that there are no changing facilities available for walk-in guests. There are a number of water sports on offer, from water-skiing to speed-boat rides, but these cost extra (Dhs140-600).
Availability of sun loungers: Plentiful, providing you get there early.
Highlight: It’s near the Beach Bar & Grill and Jetty Lounge – two quintessential beachside hangouts.
Best for: Moneyed sun-worshipers. Dhs250 (prior reservation only). One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 9999).
Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Club This club offers a small but well-located area of beach, which is set back slightly from the water’s edge. And if sand in your toes isn’t your thing, there’s an extensive grassy area, as well as a pool and poolside restaurant.
Facilities: The Sheraton has a volleyball court on the beach, which often hosts full-on matches between more active guests.
Availability of sun loungers: When we arrived at 1pm there were still a few sunbeds available – but we’d advise an earlier start.
Highlight: The Sheraton occupies a prime spot on The Walk at JBR if you want to leave your lounger and pop out for a stroll.
Best for: Marina types who don’t drive. Sun-Thu Dhs100 (Dhs60 for kids aged five to 16); Fri-Sat Dhs180 (Dhs100 for kids); free for children aged four and under. Sheraton Dubai Jumeirah Beach, The Walk at JBR (04 399 5533).
The Pavilion Marina & Sports Club (JBH) Jumeirah Beach Hotel offers one of Dubai’s most well-equipped clubs, sprawling across 900 metres of private beach and appealing to an international crowd (on our visit, a group of Italians were randomly playing the accordion and singing, for that extra continental touch). Looking out to sea with the Burj Al Arab before you and the cries of those braving the Wild Wadi rides floating in the air, you’ll feel as though you’re right where it’s all happening. Just steer clear of the sea near the docked yachts to avoid floating diesel.
Facilities: Expect your towel to be laid out for you, and regular hand-outs of ice lollies, slushies and fruit. Choose from four different pools, or try watersports including banana-boating and windsurfing. Later you can hop on the climbing wall or play tennis on one of the seven courts. We also recommend a trip to Beachcombers for food.
Availability of sun loungers: There are hundreds, though for the sake of getting a parking spot outside it’s best to arrive in the morning.
Highlight: This is one of the city’s most prestigious and ‘quintessentially Dubai’ hotels. Best for: Families, and those who like to feel in among the action. Dhs250; Dhs150 for under 16s; free for kids under two. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 348 0000).
The Quay Club With 2km of pristine sandy beach and views of the Burj Al Arab, this is one of Dubai’s swankiest beachside spots.
Facilities: While it’s certainly not cheap, you get access to the two hotel pools (one at Mina A’Salam, the other at Al Qasr), towels, free kids’ beach toys, and a beach butler bringing fresh fruit and cool towels. There’s a great beach bar menu, and the entry price includes food and drink vouchers to spend during the day.
Availability of sun loungers: The beach is popular, but there’s never an issue bagging a sunbed. On our visit, we even managed to stake our claim on a coveted (and oh-so-comfy) cabana.
Highlight: Ultra-swanky: you’re waited on hand and foot. This is the Dubai people dream of before they move here.
Best for: Just like the Madinat itself, the beach at the Quay ticks plenty of boxes. You’ll see everyone here, whether it’s the glam set or families making the most of the shady cabanas and free kids’ buckets and spades. Dhs750 (Dhs250 redeemable on food and drinks), Dhs500 for kids (Dhs150 redeemable). The Quay, Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6821).