Louise Emma Clarke heads to the The Beach at JBR to splash around with her two-year-old son…
With giant buckets tipping water over squealing children, sprinklers to twist and spray at friends, plenty of shallow water to splash and paddle in, and a dry play area for when they have had enough of the water, Splash Pad is the perfect way to entertain your family on sunny days.
I’ve been excited about visiting since I first set eyes on the water-based play park at The Beach at JBR last summer, located right next to the outdoor cinema by the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort. I could tell from a quick peek inside that my oldest son, who will be three in a couple of months, would enjoy every second. With the weather cooler and sun not quite so strong, I decided now was the perfect time and we made our way to The Beach at JBR (the brand new development on the beach in front of Jumeirah Beach Residence) on a busy Saturday afternoon.
I was expecting the place to be full to the brim and steeled myself for the crowds, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover Splash Pad was fairly quiet, with only four or five other children playing throughout the hour we were there. It was a good start – and Stanley could barely contain his excitement when we stepped inside and he clocked what was waiting for him.
In fact, he was so excited that he immediately sped off to explore – and while I am usually a little neurotic about safety when it comes to him playing around water, I could stand back and let him do it. That is the beauty of this place; the water is very shallow (coming up to my knee at the deepest places), so while you still need to be on your guard with little ones, especially crawlers, it really is a safe place for steady toddlers and young children to play in the water.
Splash Pad is fenced all the way round with a locked and staffed gate, and is divided into two sections. Firstly, a wet, splash zone with water spurting, shooting, tipping, and jumping wherever you go – and secondly, a dry play area, with a choice of climbing frames, swings, and seesaws. Stanley only really has time for slides in play areas – so as soon as he worked out there wasn’t one there (a wise decision given wet swimsuits would slide at speed), he wasn’t really interested in playing on dry land. So we spent the whole of our paid-up hour splashing in the water.
As far as Stanley is concerned, the highlight was a giant bucket - high in the sky - that tipped water over children in the water below with a gigantic gush every two or three minutes. He was so enthralled that he spent the first 15 minutes of our visit watching it fill up, shouting to warn the children, and shrieking with excitement as it drenched them.
I couldn’t convince him to move on and explore what else was on offer (and certainly not to join the children to get wet himself), so I picked him up and ran under a giant lobster showering jets of water below. After that, he was game for anything and we enjoyed squirting each other with the twisting water guns, running in and out of dancing fountains, and trying our luck with a smaller tipping bucket in the hope we wouldn’t get drenched as we ran underneath.
On that subject, make sure you wear swimwear to accompany your child and bring dry clothes to change into afterwards, as you will definitely get wet in this play park (even if you don’t want to, as children armed with a twisting water gun are bound to catch you out when you least expect it).
As our hour was coming to an end, Stanley started to shiver, so we left a little early to get dried off and into warm clothes in the small, on-site changing room. In hindsight, heading over earlier in the afternoon when the sun was stronger during winter months would have been a better idea so it wasn’t so chilly out of the water – and there is plenty of shade to make sure little ones aren’t directly exposed to the sun.
At Dhs60 per hour, the prices are competitive with other play areas in the city – and to be honest, I’d choose it over a soft play area happily. I love the cool beachside setting, fact that there are cafes and restaurants within easy reach, and ample parking underground (just make sure you keep your receipt to claim free parking).
Dhs60 per hour. Open daily, 9am - 8pm. Splash Pad, The Beach at JBR, next to the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, www.thebeach.ae.