The Creek alternative to a Dubai desert safari has entertainment, a view and food from a reputable hotel chain. All of this means you can cram a lot into a night on the Radisson Blu’s traditional dhow dinner cruise. The all-you-can-eat buffet features mainly Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Enjoy the ever-changing view of the coastal inlet at night. Dhs185.
The Creek dinner cruises that have been popular with tourists for many years have crept into Dubai Marina, too. The Alexandra is a 90-foot adapted dhow that operates among the high-rises every night. As well as the international buffet, expect entertainment in the form of a live vocalist and a dervish dancer to spin a smile onto tourists’ faces. The real star, however, is the Marina itself. Lit up and towering on all sides, this cruise is an opportunity to really revel in the wonder that is one of Dubai’s most popular neighbourhoods. Dhs160.
Never mind that the anchor is dropped and this dhow has a permanent home at the Mina Seyahi port – it’s still very much a boat dining experience, and one that serves up plenty of giggles. True to its name, you’ll be handed hammers and an apron when you arrive. The hammers for smashing up bucketfuls of crab and lobster and the aprons to assure you don’t end up wearing the food on your clothes. Its nautical theme is fun and although you don’t get to experience a soothing sail, there is something extremely therapeutic about smashing your food to smithereens before scoffing it. Priced à la carte.
Walk on the banks of the Creek at night and you’ll be surprised at how many floating restaurants there actually are there. But it’s this glass-panelled barge that can most accurately be described as a fine-dining restaurant on the water. You are as likely to order sous vide duck with pumpkin purée as you are roast beef rossini with truffle mash. In other words, it’s a serious eatery, and one that sails up and down the Creek, giving you twinkling views of Old Dubai at night.Dhs415 (soft drinks), Dhs520 (unlimited house beverages).
You’re in charge of both navigating your own boat and cooking your own food on the BBQ Donut, a circular seafaring craft that you sail up and down the Creek. Before boarding, you can choose between chicken, burger, steak or lobster packages for your barbecue, while grabbing accompaniments, too.Donut hire per person: Dhs180 (30 minutes), Dhs300 (one hour), Dhs500 (two hours), additional Dhs180 per half hour. Food packages from Dhs145.
Arriving at a restaurant such as Pai Thai by private abra is just the way we like to start our meal, but why not go for a private dining experience on board one of the abras instead? With just one seating a day, it must rank as one of the most exclusive dining options in Dubai, and if you book the couple’s meal, you can enjoy an afternoon tea as you sail up and down the pretty canals. Dhs750 per couple.
At the very furthest point on the western crescent of the Palm Jumeirah is a private marina belonging to One&Only The Palm, where you’ll find one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. It serves high-end food, but its beachside setting lends it a casual air. 101 offers yacht hampers to take away, too, so you can feast on your own private vessel.
Simplicity is the key to great beachside dining. That’s why we love the new-look Shimmers at Mina A’Salam. Its extensive renovation doesn’t overcomplicate the tried and tested formula and although there are all-new textiles, furnishings and other touches, it’s the location that you will remember. It’s close enough to the water to almost taste the salt in the sea and feel the spray of gently breaking waves. The kitchen offers up similarly simple Mediterranean food with cool lounge music and a notable absence of worries.
This “no-shoes dining experience” encourages a beach stroll as part of its charm. Daily sundowners and the Chill & Grill barbecue elevate its relaxed beachside elegance. Rattan chairs and a wooden terrace enhance the mellow environment and there’s a wide selection of mixed drinks to sip while feeling the breeze between the palm trees.
The Asian seafood restaurant does not scrimp on style, wow factor or quality of food. We can’t help but feel like we’re on holiday any time we visit, and the outside terrace right next to the sea is as good a place as any to congratulate yourself on the finer moments in your life.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa’s private cove is a real delight. The small beach with rocky outline and gentle waves makes for some picturesque moments, best seen from the Sho Cho terrace. On the inside, it’s a hip Japanese lounge with a famous ladies’ night and excitable crowd. Outside on the terrace, though, it feels like an exclusive St. Tropez bistro. Smart tables of smart-looking diners eat smart food (soft-shell crab and sushi anyone?) while snapping the memory on their smartphones.
Considering it has over-the-water villas on stilts for guests who want a Maldives-style break, we’re not surprised to see that the outdoor terrace at this restaurant hits just the right tone. Close enough to throw a bread roll into the sea, it’s romantic yet casual, with a menu that leans towards Italian. Just don’t spoil the classy setting by throwing bread rolls into the sea.
This is the kind of drop dead gorgeous, absurdly swanky nightspot that pops up on those “Only in Dubai” stories that get shared around social media every few months. Few places come close to matching its location at the end of a marina, looking up at the Burj Al Arab and across the Dubai skyline. Head here on a Thursday from 7pm to 10pm for the 180° Evening Brunch, featuring unlimited house beverages, Pan-Asian nibbles and other bar snacks for Dhs295.
This spot in the oldest part of Dubai, just outside the textile souk, actually sticks out over the water on a specially constructed platform. From your terrace chair you’ll see dhows unloading and abras taxiing passengers back and forth across the Creek, while seagulls circle overhead eyeing your tabbouleh and shish taouk. Although the furnishings and service are basic, the incredible, over-the-water location makes it a must-visit when you’re in this part of town.
This long-time Dubai favourite is the grandfather of waterside dining in the city. Renovations have smartened it up, but the thing that makes Boardwalk great has not changed in years. The cool terrace is raised on stilts and arranged at different levels so all tables on the outside have stunning views of Creek Park and Downtown Dubai in the distance. Drop your cutlery and it may end up in the Creek itself, but while you wait for more to arrive, it gives you the chance to ogle the yachts and enjoy a gentle breeze.
The outside area of this cultural space and café offers delightful views of bustling Old Dubai. Look inland to see the modern take on historic buildings or look out to the water towards the ever-bustling Creek.
We never tire of telling the uninitiated just how romantic this overwater restaurant is. Perched on the end of a private pier at the stylish Al Qasr hotel, you’ll have passed over lots of water before you end up at your table. Raised on stilts above the Arabian Gulf, it juts out to give stunning views of the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and back at the understated elegance of the Madinat Jumeirah. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is all style and no substance, though, as the excellent service and superior seafood make it an all-round delight.
The Creek views stand out most, here. Floor-to-ceiling windows keep you indoors, but the terrace practically hangs out over the water for you to soak up that beautiful vista. If that doesn’t suit, the hotel offers a ride and sail combo, where you can take an antipasto lunch from Vivaldi or a tiffin box from Ashiana on the provided bikes and pedal away to a Creekside spot. Picnic on a private abra ride organised by the hotel to see the sights, then pedal the bike back when your trip is over. Dhs350 per couple (includes bike rental, picnic and one-hour abra ride).
About as aquatic a restaurant you can get this side of the deep blue, this is one for serious fish enthusiasts. Located in the renovated Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, it looks directly down on boats as they unload the latest catch, and sits next to a market selling the city’s freshest seafood straight out of the ice box. You can, in other words, be absolutely certain that the food here is as fresh as it can be.
It isn’t over the sea or alongside the Creek, but it offers an amazing waterside dining experiences since it’s so close to the Dubai Fountain. Seemingly on a platform sticking out into Burj Lake, Thiptara places diners directly alongside the show, adding breathtaking theatre to what is already the perfect restaurant thanks to its exquisite Thai food.