Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort
Our sister magazine Time Out Dubai noted the popularity of this club with watersport enthusiasts because of the paddleboarding, kayaking and pedalo rentals. All of that will draw in families who are striving to find a resort where they can make a lot of noise. Best of all for kids is that a Thai longtail boat will take you to and from the East Crescent seclusion spot, plus there is a well organised Tuk Tuk children’s club to provide beachside back-up should it be needed.
Daily Dhs250 (adults), Dhs100 (kids). Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort, Palm Jumeirah, www.dubai-palm.anantara.com (04 567 888804 567 8888).
The famous Nasimi Beach club at Atlantis The Palm is a haven for party animals looking for an Ibiza vibe. Over on the other side of the hotel, however, is a much more suitable option for families. Access to the Aquaventure water park includes use of a private 700m beach. So, after tiring yourselves out on the slides, rides and pools with tides you can sit here and make sandcastles as well.
Daily. Dhs250 (above 1.2m tall), Dhs205 (below 1.2m tall). Aquaventure Beach, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah. www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 000004 426 0000).
JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort
One of the most family-friendly resorts in Dubai is catered to entertain minors from the age of about six months all the way up to 17. Seperate tots and teen clubs are a haven away from parents and there are daily activities such as camel rides, sporting activities, dedicated kids' pools and good changing facilities. Best of all, for kids over the age of six, is the Wibit Water Park. This inflatable, floating assault course will keep children entertained for literally hours.
Open Sun-Thu Dhs180 (adults), Dhs90 (kids); Fri-Sat Dhs250 (adults), Dhs100 (kids). JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Jebel Ali, www.jaresortshotels.com (04 814 555504 814 5555).
Turn right and away from Barasti (where you could probably find a party any time of day) and you will find one of Dubai's most action-packed family resorts. If boat cruises, kayaks, donuts and a sea full of other watersports don't grab your attention then the five swimming pools (including a shaded, kid-friendly solution) and cooling treats such as jelly or cucumber slices will definitely win you over. The loungers are kept close together but with 500m of beach you will find space for your tribe.
Sun-Thu Dhs225 (adults), Dhs125 (kids); Fri-Sat Dhs350 (adults), Dhs225 (kids). Add a barbecue at the weekend for Dhs425 (adults); Dhs225 (kids). Club Mina, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road, www.westinminaseyahi.com (0399 3333).
DoubleTree by Hilton
The main attraction for sporty families at this second Hilton-managed hotel is the presence of activity centre Watercooled. It organises paddleboarding, donut rides, kayaks, banana boats and even yoga sessions on the compact but well maintained sands. Right at the far end of The Walk you'll find it is walking distance to all manner of family cafés, but if you bring a picnic it is easy to spend a full day on the well-spaced-out loungers and cabanas here.
Sun-Thu Dhs125 (adults), Dhs75 (kids), Fri-Sat Dhs175 (adults), Dhs100 (kids). DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach, The Walk at JBR, Dubai Marina, www.doubletree.hilton.com (04 453 333304 453 3333).
Dubai Ladies Club
A favourite hub for mums in search of privacy and a shared environment to meet new people, this ladies-only club was substantially upgraded last year. New sand was added to the beach – tell kids it was for sandcastling – and the area is now larger. There are swimming pools and even spas for kids and adults as well if you want to add some pampering into the mix.
Sun-Thu Dhs175 (adults), Dhs65 (kids), Fri-Sat Dhs200 (adults), Dhs75 (kids). Dubai Ladies Club, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.dubailadiesclub.com (04 349 992204 349 9922).
Fairmont The Palm
The Fairmont gets it. They know family weekends are about enjoying each other’s company and having amazing times together. So there are 450 metres of private beach, more than 600 loungers and lots of lifeguards patrolling the sands and pool area. But they also know Mum and Dad need a bit of help sometimes, so the award-winning Falcon Kids' Club has lots of activities from a toddler splash park and arts and crafts to a well-stocked chill-out room.
Sun-Thu: Dhs200 (adults), Dhs150 (kids), Fri-Sat: Dhs250 (adults), Dhs150 (kids). Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.fairmont.com (04 457 338804 457 3388).
Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection
It is quite posh and the sun loungers are densely packed together so if your clan decide they are going to have ‘one of those days’ the embarrassment factor can be high. On a good day, however, there are few better spots. Boat rides, kayaking and even windsurfing can all be tried plus there are swimming pools with basic waterslides that will be enjoyed literally 200 times in a row by kids. Especially as they don’t have the long queues of some of the full scale waterparks.
Sun-Thu Dhs150 (adults), Dhs100 (kids) Fri-Sat Dhs250 (adults), Dhs125 (kids). Dubai Marina, www.grandjumeirah.habtoorhotels.com (04 399 500004 399 5000).
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
One of the smaller beach clubs in Dubai has around 50 closely laid out sun loungers and a handful of cabanas between the pool and beach. But as parents know – you can do a lot in a small space and the usual array of watersports can be tried here. Jet skis and paragliding may be advanced for the youngest children but there are options for a variety of rides to get a good splash on. There's a bouncy castle, children’s area
and shaded pool that will appeal to kids and parents – at least one of you at a time – so the other can eye up the Wavebreaker bar which sits right on the beach itself.
Sun-Wed Dhs180 (adults), Dhs95 (kids), Wed-Sat Dhs250 (adults), Dhs95 (kids). Hilton Dubai Jumeirah,
The Walk at JBR, Dubai Marina, www.hilton.co.uk/dubaijumeirah (04 399 111104 399 1111).
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort
The loungers are a little bunched together but there are some great facilities for families at this club. Watersports of all types and speeds, a deep stretch of sand, pretty garden and an excellent Penguins Club for children. This is well-suited to young kids and organises beach games, sandcastle contests and pool games for hotel guests.
Sun-Thu Dhs200 (adults), Dhs100 (kids); Fri-Sat Dhs250, Dhs125 (kids). Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, www.leroyalmeridien-dubai.com (04 399 555504 399 5555).
The premium price reflects the reputation of the combined Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam beach clubs as being right up there with the best in the city. An exhausting 2km of private beach means you have literally acres of space to run about in and the emphasis is on family fun. That means no DJ blasting out Balearic house music but good play areas, shaded pools and loungers, fruit slices, lollies and wet towels to cool down, organised fun and watersports as well. Plus the Burj Al Arab is directly in front of you and it is unparalleled as a bragging rights location to photograph kids and share with your siblings who are dragging kids to a rainy park back home for the 14th weekend in a row.
Sun-Thu Dhs450 (adults, including Dhs150 food and drink voucher), Dhs295 (kids, including Dhs100 food and drink voucher), Fri-Sat Dhs595 (adults, including Dhs150 food and drink voucher), Dhs395 (kids, including Dhs100 food and drink voucher). Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.jumeirah.com
(04 366 682104 366 6821).
Rixos The Palm Dubai
The Rixy Kids' Club is just one reason why this is one of the most family-friendly hotels in Dubai. The fort-themed play area is spacious, imaginative, well-maintained and has good equipment. Two little thumbs will certainly be pointing upwards. It is also the home of the Seabreacher underwater mechanical sharks which, even if your kids cannot ride in it, will be the most amazing things their juvenile minds have ever seen. Plus there are comfortable loung… blah, blah, blah – do we really need to tell you any more? Rixos has a fort and mechanical sharks. What more could any kid want?
Sun-Thu Dhs175; Fri-Sat Dhs250; Kids half price. Palm Jumeirah, thepalmdubai.rixos.com (04 457 555504 457 5555).
Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort
The Kids Club at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach has a playground with a pirate ship. Need we say any more? If that isn't enough to inspire sway your decision then rest assured there are plenty of watersports, a mini-football field, outdoor activities and comfortable loungers with plenty of space for kids that don't want to stay closer to Mum and Dad.
Sun-Thu Dhs140 (adults), Dhs90 (kids); Fri-Sat Dhs220 (adults), Dhs120 (kids). Sheraton Jumeirah Beach, Al Sufouh Road. www.sheratonjumeirahbeach.com (04 399 553304 399 5533).
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort
It is too much of a stretch to call this a waterpark, but pools with slides set it above many of the beach clubs in the city. The presence of the Amura Kids' Club also elevates this Palm Island resort thanks to the modern facilities and the frequent activities for children. Of the six swimming pools two are dedicated to children and have lifeguards keeping an eye on the kids just in case you should doze off for a few seconds. A driving range where parents and children can knock balls into the sea is also unique. (Don’t worry, the balls are made from biodegradable fish food so are not causing problems to the fish.)
Sun-Thu Dhs250 (adults), Dhs100 (kids four-12), Dhs75 (kids 0-four), Fri-Sat Dhs300 (adults), Dhs150 (kids four-12), Dhs75 (kids 0-four). Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort, Palm Jumeirah, www.sofitel-dubai-thepalm.com (04 455 667704 455 6677).
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
There is a good reason why families from around the world choose one of Dubai's most recognisable hotels as their holiday destination every year. The provision for families and attention to detail is fantastic with watersports, beach snacks and dedicated kids' pools or beach space. Most impressive of all, however, is Sinbad's Kids' Club. The enormous space has 1,178 square metres of total space and provides soft play, swimming, art, crafts and beach games for children.
Sun-Thu: Dhs350 (adults), Dhs250 (kids). Fri-Sat: Dhs450 (adult), Dhs350 (kids). Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 406 887204 406 8872).
Waldorf Astoria The Palm
It is not unusual to see a scavenger hunt or sandcastle competition break out at Coco's Kids' Club at the Waldorf Astoria. Beachside activities and well-organised games are led by the well-trained staff with separate groups possible by age range. If the family is sticking together then we love the fact that sunloungers are well spaced out, meaning you and your crew have plenty of room to scatter books and toys without cluttering up your neighbour’s patch. There is 200 metres of beach, basic watersports and a vague sense of the Bahamas here.
Daily Dhs300 (adults). Dhs100 (kids). Waldorf Astoria The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.waldorfastoria3.hilton.com (04 818 222204 818 2222).
Named for the off-road vehicles that tend to be pulled up on the edge of the sand, this is one of the city’s most basic beaches. There are no facilities to speak of so you might struggle to make a day of it. Pull the car over on the way home from school, have a car-side picnic or just catch a sunset for an hour, however, and it is a wide open space that ticks the right boxes.
Free. From Jumeirah Beach Road, turn right after Al Athar Street into a huge sand car park.
No prizes for guessing what activity you can do here, but there are bonus points available for knowing this is the best spot to play beach volleyball, beach football or even soapy football in the city. More and more cafés, pop-up restaurants and food trucks are making this their home and it has a strong community feel to it as kiteboarders, families, sporty groups and casual beach strollers mingle all day and early evening.
Free. Daily. From Jumeirah Beach Road, turn right at Saga World Mall and park within site of the beach.
Jumeirah Open Beach
The beautification of one of the best free beaches in Dubai continues and we can’t wait for the full stretch to be completed. There are free facilities including showers and toilets as well as snack stalls and vendors. The best thing to do here, however, is walk, rollerblade or jog along the artificial track and check out the stunning villas built directly onto the sands. Families can, with some preparation and organisation, spend an entire day here.
Free. Daily. Turn right into 47a Street from Jumeirah Beach Road, just past Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa.
Another beach made for strolls rather than sunbathing there are no facilities here. Instead the best thing to do upon arrival is to just kick off your flip flops and enjoy the sea breeze and walk along collecting shells while leaving happy footprints.
Free. Daily. Opposite Mercato Mall in Jumeirah 1.
A free beach with direct views of the Burj Al Arab is a must visit spot for those all-important family photographs. Probably the city’s most selfied beach and although there are only the most basic facilities it is one of the busiest as well with families, sunbathers, picnickers and even surfers finding space by the water’s edge and back to the park behind.
Free. Daily. Head towards the Madinat Jumeirah on Beach Road in Umm Suqeim 3, turn right before the Emarat petrol station.
Sunset Mall Beach / Nessnass Beach
There’s not much to choose between this and several other small stretches of beach (Mercato, 4x4) on Jumeirah Beach Road. For years we’ve been happy to throw a towel down and make sandcastles or dip toes in the water and not be bothered by the crowds that come with more facilities at more popular beaches. Free. Daily. Turn right just before Sunset Mall in Jumeirah 3.
The closest Dubai has to a Venice Beach, this constantly evolving seafront is one of the city’s standout attractions. Bodybuilders flex muscles, bikini-clad sun worshippers top up tans, children play happily and diners drift on and off the sand after eating at one of the dozens of well-designed casual restaurants at The Beach. Since the sand area shrunk it has been busy, but we still consider this to be one of the best free attractions in the city. An offshore waterpark with inflatable attractions and a junior aqua play zone are nearby and can be used for a fee.
Free. Daily. Head to JBR’s ground level and find The Beach shopping arcade.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
On a peninsula on the Dubai-Sharjah border is this enormous and facility-packed beach park. Several coves means there are numerous beaches as well as picnic and barbecue areas, swimming pools, playgrounds, trees and grass to sit on.
Open daily, 8am-11pm. Located on a small peninsula just outside Dubai. Drive north along Jumeirah Beach Road and continue for about 5km north of Al Hamriya Port.