Dubai isn’t all about skyscrapers and sand dunes. Situated on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, this multitasking UAE destination is also a beachgoer’s paradise. With idyllic weather from October to May, Dubai’s pristine beaches have become one of its major drawcards. Take your pick of family-friendly stretches with gentle waves, private clubs with pampering on tap, free things and top spots for surfing and watersports in our guide to the 10 best beaches in and around Dubai.
Tips on Visiting Dubai’s Beaches
While the dress code is more relaxed on Dubai’s beaches than other areas of the city, this is not the place to bust out your thong bikini. Opt for a swimsuit that offers more coverage (board shorts, one-pieces, and regular bikinis are fine), and remember to cover up before you leave the sand. And ladies, topless sunbathing is a serious no-no.
Summer and the beach go hand in hand, right? Well, not so much in Dubai, when summer temperatures (June to September) hover around 110 F/43 C. If beach days are a priority for your Dubai holiday, book your stay for the cooler months.
Stay hydrated at the beach, but keep the booze in your hotel room. Drinking alcohol outside of licensed bars and restaurants is against the law, and carries serious fines and even jail time.
Backdropped by the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, Sunset Beach sits between the Arabian Gulf and Umm Suqeim Park (it’s also known as Umm Suqeim Beach). This pristine white-sand beach is a popular spot for families—and a must for selfies as the sun goes down. Sunset Beach is serviced by washrooms, showers and changing cubicles, plus Smart Palms that supply free Wi-Fi to beachgoers. For those looking to catch a wave, it’s also Dubai’s only real surfing beach, with small to medium swells that are ideal for beginners.
A five-minute drive to the north brings you to Kite Beach, so named for the flocks of kitesurfers who take to the sea and the sky. This is the prime Dubai beach for watersports, with wakeboarding, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding also available. On the talc-soft sand, play beach tennis or volleyball, or simply kick back on your towel and soak up the sun, city vistas, and free Wi-Fi. Kite Beach is fully equipped with washrooms and changing facilities, plus cafes and a fleet of food trucks serving burgers, kebabs and, fish and chips.
Further north, in the heart of Old Dubai you’ll find the city’s newest beach development, La Mer. This lively dining, shopping, and entertainment precinct promise the perfect day by the sea, with scores of eateries, colorful cabanas for hire, Instagram-worthy art installations, a trampoline playground for the kids, and the brand new Laguna Waterpark, which boasts five waterslides, a Lazy River ride and a surf machine. Don’t miss the chance to recline in one of the in-water hammocks, slung just off the shore.
The Beach, JBR
Sandwiched between the Arabian Gulf and Dubai Marina in the south, The Beach at JBR offers a box-ticking blend of restaurants, retail and barefoot fun. Feeling sporty? There’s a cushioned jogging track, outdoor gym, and watersports hub to keep you busy. For something more chilled, unfurl your towel on the smooth sand, hire a sun lounger or cabana, or stake your claim to a patch of lawn at the southern end of the strip. Outside the hottest months (May to September), The Beach is also home to open-air markets, plus free yoga sessions four mornings a week. For iconic Dubai photography, head down at sunset to snap camels against a backdrop of skyscrapers and the Ain Dubai observation wheel.
Black Palace Beach
One of Dubai’s best-kept secrets, Black Palace Beach, sits pretty between Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab in Al Sufouh. Follow the track leading from Jumeirah Beach Road between the Royal Fortresses, and you’ll find a low-key beach that’s a favorite among in-the-know locals and expats. Facilities are scarce here—with no changing rooms, sunbeds or kiosks to speak of—but that’s part of its charm. It’s no wonder it also goes by the name “Secret Beach.” Keep an eye out for Sheikh Mohammed’s luxury yacht, frequently moored just offshore.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
To the north of the city, near the Dubai-Sharjah border, lies Al Mamzar Beach Park. Here, for a small entry fee, you can take your pick of five sandy beaches, a swimming pool, playgrounds and 260 acres of gardens. This family-friendly leisure hub also offers 25 picnic areas with barbecues, so you can grill up lunch or dinner once you’ve worked up an appetite on the water, jogging track or bike path (you can hire bicycles). Kids will love the scenic train that journeys through the park, and families may want to splash out on a beach cabin or air-conditioned chalet for the day. It’s worth noting that Mondays and Wednesdays are Ladies Days, so males over age 4 aren’t permitted on those days.
Riva Beach Club
If you’re happy to shell out a few extra dirhams, you can live a life of luxury at one of Dubai’s private beach clubs. While most of the beaches on the Palm Jumeirah are reserved for hotel guests, Riva Beach Club offers affordable day passes (rates vary depending on the season), which often include free drinks and other perks. Take a dip in the warm turquoise sea, slip into the cool pool (it’s chilled during the height of summer), or simply chill out on a sunbed, with a tropical cocktail in hand. A Mediterranean restaurant, gazebo bar, and resident DJs add to the relaxed Balearic vibe.
With spectacular outposts all around the world, from Miami to Marbella, Nikki Beach Dubai is the place to see and be seen. Situated on the far side of Pearl Jumeira, this upscale beach resort is home to a stretch of palm-fringed beach, blinding-white décor, and a turquoise pool complete with swim-up bar. This showstopper is purely for adults, though, with under 21s not permitted.
Saadiyat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi
Just over an hour’s drive south of Dubai, in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, you’ll find one of the region’s most stunning private beaches. Situated on Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Beach Club is home to 5 miles of sugar-white sand leading into the cerulean sea. From the shade of your sun lounger, keep an eye out for dolphins and turtles in the balmy waters. Away from the sand, there’s a chilled pool surrounded by cabanas, a men’s salon, and a state-of-the-art gym.
Al Khan Beach, Sharjah
In the emirate of Sharjah, directly north of Dubai, lies Al Kahn Beach. This public beach is a must for sun- and thrill-seekers alike, with kitesurfing, parasailing, waterskiing, jet boarding and surfing lessons up for grabs. Youngsters will love the floating Aquapark and playground, and all ages will appreciate the sun loungers, washrooms, and a café, which make for a comfortable day at the beach.