Make the most of living by the coast in year-round sun by checking out Dubai’s best stretches of sand.
Jebel Ali Beach
This quiet beach, located just before you reach the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, is popular with locals and people who live in the vicinity – many will drive up with their 4x4s and camp or picnic here.
Facilities: Changing rooms and toilets.
Dress code: As mentioned, many Emiratis camp and picnic at this beach, so always dress respectfully.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Turn right off Sheikh Zayed Road, follow signs to JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, then at the roundabout you can either turn right towards the resort or follow the roundabout and turn left down a sand track to the beach.
More than a kilometre long, this beach is popular with JBR residents, as well as young families, tourists from the nearby hotels and, occasionally, surfers too. Unfortunately, there’s ongoing construction, meaning the beach width and parking facilities have been considerably reduced. We’re also not keen on the noisy jet skis frequently seen and heard tearing up the water in front of the Hilton. Top tip: for a little more sand space, keep walking to the right as you look out to sea.
Facilities: It’s adjacent to JBR’s bounty of shops, cafés and restaurants, while the beachfront hotels have watersports outlets from which you can hire kayaks and the like. You can even go on camel rides. Officially there are no lifeguards, although we often do spot them, plus you will usually find police patrolling the beach.
Dress code: Most sunbathers wear bikinis or board-shorts.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Head to JBR in Dubai Marina; public entrances to the beach are constantly changing due to building work.
Palace Beach / Media City Beach
This beautiful hangout is best for families with young kids and anyone looking to catch some rays on a mostly deserted stretch of sand. Located on Al Sufouh Road, between the two palaces, just before you get to the Palm Jumeirah, access is slightly tricky because there is no road leading to the beach and it’s easy to miss. Many people come here to fish at sunset or splash around with their little ones in the calmer waters. The beach also has sweeping views of the Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah, and is remarkably clean and much quieter than other nearby beaches.
Facilities: This beach’s seclusion means it offers little in the way of facilities, so it’s best to pack lunch and take everything you might need with you. The closest shops and restaurants are located in Media City.
Dress code: We advise against wearing a thong bikini anywhere in Dubai, but certainly don’t wear one here.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Head towards Media City from Madinat Jumeirah on Al Sufouh Road. After passing a series of walled palaces on your right, you’ll come to an opening among the row of trees lining the road, just opposite the Dubai College 1 bus stop on your left. Take the turning here and drive up to the beach.
Sunset Beach / Umm Suqeim Beach
Home of Surf Dubai, this beach is one of the most photographed in the city, right next to the Burj Al Arab. It’s also great for spotting surfers catch a few winter breaks, as well as people-watching and paddleboarding. Surf Dubai holds daily surf lessons here, as well as organising charity paddleboard and surf events. Likewise, Surf School UAE also operates from here. For those who want to escape the sand, grassy Umm Suqeim Park (entry is free) is located on the far right-hand side of the beach, across the road.
Facilities: While there are no toilets or restaurants, there are showers and mini-marts in the area and an Emarat service station on the main road. There’s also a beach volleyball court across the road.
Dress code: This is a surfer beach, so boys wear board-shorts and ladies often don rash vests if they’re taking to the waves. If you’re sunbathing, however, bikinis or swimming costumes appear to be fine.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Head towards the Madinat Jumeirah on Beach Road in Umm Suqeim 3, take a right just before the Emarat petrol station and drive all the way to the end until you see the beach.
A hive of activity, this beach draws a vibrant crowd, mostly comprising school children and the active set (it’s particularly popular with kitesurfers, hence its name). It can get quite busy, even on weekdays after school, when young kids come out to play beach soccer and beach volleyball on the mini pitches provided. Meanwhile, mums or spectators can grab some shade and chill out under thatched umbrellas. The beach is also home to The Shack gym.
Facilities: Changing rooms and showers here, a vending machine selling cold soft drinks, and food trucks including the popular Salt.
Dress code: When we last went, gents were in shorts, while ladies were dressed in bikinis or one-piece swim suits.
Open from sunrise until sunset. From Jumeirah Beach Road, turn right at Saga World Mall. The beach is located at the corner of 39a Street and 2d Street.
Sunset Mall Beach / Nessnass Beach
This shrubby beach (now confusingly also signposted as Kitesurfing Beach) backs onto the white low-rise Miami-style Sunset Apartments (you can’t miss them – they look as though they’ve been plucked straight from US series Dexter). The beach is very wide so it’s quite a walk to reach the sea, but on the way you’ll spot lots of shrub-style greenery, which offers a nice change to Dubai’s usual landscape. Kitesurfers have also made this beach their own, so it’s a good place to go if you’re too intimidated by the pros at Kitesurfing Beach.
Facilities: There are no facilities (unless you live in one of the apartments overlooking the beach), but Sunset Mall is a short walk away and has both toilets
Dress code: There didn’t appear to be any particular dress code when we visited – men were in board-shorts, while ladies were wearing bikinis or swimming costumes. It’s also worth keeping in mind that private residences back directly onto the beach.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Turn right just before Sunset Mall in Jumeirah 3. Drive all the way to the end: from here you can drive onto the beach.
Best for people who are planning to pack a picnic, this public beach is located right next to Jumeirah Beach Park and its name is self-explanatory: cars, mostly 4x4s, are able to drive through a vacant lot right up to the beach. This is useful if you fancy throwing a picnic or party and don’t want to walk too far with all your beach gear and coolers. The left side of the beach curves around to form a bay and is a good place for a stroll.
Facilities: No toilets or restaurants around, which is why it’s best to pack your own food and refreshments.
Dress code: Men are in shorts, ladies in bikinis.
Open from sunrise until sunset. From Jumeirah Beach Road, turn right after Al Athar Street into a huge sand car park; drive your vehicle straight up to the posts before the beach.
Though not the most scenic of beaches, Mercato is good for anyone keen to get away from the crowds. You can’t park on the beach, but you should be able to find a parking space in one of the nearby side streets. The shore is flat, although it gets a cooling breeze.
Facilities: There are no facilities, although Mercato Mall is opposite, which has cafés and toilets. The beach is also quite close to popular local eatery Al Ijaza Cafeteria. For sporty types, there is a lone volleyball net on the south side of the beach, towards the Burj Al Arab.
Dress code: Men in board-shorts and ladies in either swimming costumes or bikinis seems to be fine here.
Open from sunrise until sunset. Opposite Mercato Mall in Jumeirah 1 – turn right off Beach Road into 71a Street just before the mall, and turn right at the T-junction, then drive along until you see beach access on the left, between the villas.
Jumeirah Open Beach
This massive stretch of sand bears a striking resemblance to LA’s famous Santa Monica Beach, complete with manned Baywatch-style thatched-roof lifeguard towers. Like its US counterpart, separate cycling and running tracks span the length of the beach, which is also well equipped with sun loungers and parasols available for hire. You can also enjoy a bit of house-spotting here, as it’s overlooked by some impressive villas. However, it was closed for development when this guide went to press.
Facilities: There are toilets and showers, and you can rent lockers and parasols. You’ll also find picnic tables and a volleyball net.
Dress code: Board-shorts, bikinis and swimming costumes seem to be standard.
Open daily 24 hours. Turn right into 47a Street from Jumeirah Beach Road, just past Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa and Palm Strip Mall in Jumeirah 1.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Located on the very edge of Dubai, this enormous beach park backs onto a picturesque bay with beautiful turquoise water. Mini palm trees and thatched parasols are dotted along the beach to provide some shade. Wednesday is ladies’ day.
Facilities: Covering 1,060 sq m, there are plenty here, including swimming pools, kids’ areas, picnic and barbecue spots and patrolled beaches. You can also rent air-conditioned bungalows.
Dress code: Board-shorts or swim suits appear to be fine.
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 – the beach is in the Al Mamzar residential area.