Best Beaches in Dubai
Dubai boasts some stunning beaches. And they don’t all belong to luxury hotels or Sheikhs’ palaces. The seemingly neverending Jumeirah coastline is dotted with plenty of public beaches, punctuated by the occasional harbour. Here’s our guide to the best beaches in Dubai.
Creamy sands. Aquamarine waters. Tepid temperatures. No blistering pebbles to bound over or icy water to brave. Dubai has stellar stretches of sand and many of them belong to public beaches that are open to anyone.
Dubai also has beautiful private beaches too, of course. Of those at its fancy five-star hotels, the standout is Le Royal Meridien for families, which has a wonderful wide beach and countless swimming pools.
For couples, we like the impeccably groomed beach at the One&Only Royal Mirage, as much for the romantic atmosphere with its private canopies and attentive staff. Although we preferred it many years ago before they built the Palm Jumeirah island when the views were of nothing but the sea.
But for most of us, Dubai’s public beaches are more than adequate for a dip – even if there are no cold towels or manicured sand. Here are the stretches of sand that we consider to be the best beaches in Dubai:
Umm Suqeim Beach
This lovely beach, located next to the family friendly Jumeirah Beach Hotel, offers breathtaking views of the so-called ‘seven-star’ Burj Al Arab Hotel. The views are spectacular at sunset, so it won’t surprise you that it has the unofficial name of ‘Sunset Beach’.
Because of its location, Umm Suqeim Beach is one of the most popular stops for a classic shot of the Burj from its pristine sand, meaning it’s not exactly the most secluded beach!
While the facilities are minimal, it’s the spot where the local surfers (mainly expat Westerners) hang out, and in winter you’ll see them catching some decent waves – with one of the most iconic buildings in the world as a backdrop. Unbeatable.
Update, June 2014: Note that parts of the 3.5 kilometre long Umm Suqeim stretch will be closed periodically until March 2015 for rehabilitation and introduction of groynes as the beach has experienced some erosion due to off-shore development. The municipality is doing the work in stages so the whole beach doesn’t have to be closed at once.
While the surfers wait for winter further up the Jumeirah stretch, Dubai’s kite-surfing community is strong here, defying gravity to fly through the skies all year round.
While there is a dedicated kite-surfing area, this windy beach, once better known as Wollongong Beach (after the nearby campus of Wollongong University), is not recommended as a spot to sun-bake or swim when the kite-surfers are there, which is most days. Things can get dangerous.
But it’s a great spot to watch the local kite-boarders practice their tricks and take in the local scene. Or even get some lessons, as the beach is also home to a kite-surfing school. They’re an active, friendly bunch so expect beach volleyball and football games, as well as wind-surfing, and on calmer days, stand-up paddle-boarding. If you want to buy or hire some gear, get in touch via the Kite Beach website.
Late afternoon is best and you can get a snap of their kite sails framing the blurred Burj Al Arab further up the beach. The beach is at the far end of Umm Suqeim Beach, which is Umm Suqeim 1.
Jumeirah Beach Park
This family oriented 13-hectare beach park a little further along the Jumeirah coastline in the Dubai Creek direction has an entry fee, but it’s worth it for the array of facilities on offer.
On the weekends (Friday and Saturday in Dubai), it’s packed with families here to make good use of the children’s playground, toilets, change rooms, and shady lawns, as well as expat workers who make a day of it by chilling on the lawn, hanging at the cafe or having a barbecue.
Keep in mind that being a family beach means that tiny bikinis will offend – and of course topless sunbathing in public in Dubai is an actual offense anyway.
Update, Nov. 2014: while Jumeirah Beach Park will remain open until the end of the year, the beach in front of the park has just closed as part of a 2-year canal project. Details here in The National.
Jumeirah Open Beach
Also known by its alias, Russian Beach, due to its immense popularity with Russian tourists and expats, this lively stretch of sand is the easiest to get to if you’re staying in the older parts of Dubai, in Bur Dubai or Deira.
It’s a longish and fairly wide beach and it gets busy with all sorts of people, from locals and expat families to workers on their day off. Despite parking being a nightmare on weekends, there’s always room for more sun worshippers.
When you’re done in the sun and have swum up an appetite, there are myriad cafes nearby on Jumeirah Beach Road, such as expat favourite, Lime Tree Café. Just remember to put your clothes back on first!
Update, Nov. 2014: an attractive new Corniche (seaside promenade), starting here at Open Beach, and running for 14 kilometres along the coast has just opened in time for winter, when locals and expats like to get out and walk and jog.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Located on the unfashionable Deira side of Dubai Creek – the ‘New’ Dubai area of JBR (now nearly a decade old), south of Jumeirah, is the voguish area – this is a fantastic 99-hectare waterfront park, with grassy areas and white sand shaded by hundreds of coconut palms, sheltered swimming beaches, a calm lagoon, and swimming pools.
There are plenty of facilities, including toilets and showers, picnic areas with barbecues, sports fields, kiosks, and fabulous amenities for families, including kids’ playgrounds and chalets to rent (from Dh150-200).
The small admission (Dh5) doesn’t deter visitors, especially on busy Fridays. But the rest of the week it’s a quiet, attractive spot, perfect for some sun if you’re staying near the airport, are in Dubai on a quick stopover, or are staying on the ‘wrong’ side of Dubai Creek.
Open 9am-9pm, until 10pm on weekends. Note that Mondays are ‘ladies days’ – women and children under eight only are admitted.