The main coastline of Dubai stretches for more than 13 kilometres, and although there are a few private portholes here and there, the rest of the sand is open to the public. Unfortunately, due to Dubai’s peculiar place-naming scheme – “next to the wedding hall opposite the mosque near KFC beach,” for example – navigating the shore may be more difficult than you may expect (it is just a straight line, after all). So, to assist you, we’ve scoured the area from Satwa to the Marina and back to Sharjah in search of the ideal beach for this weekend. Why are you leaving now? October brings an annual maximum temperature of 35°C, a minimum temperature of 24°C, and a balmy yet refreshing sea temperature of 28°C. Get your sunscreen out…
Continue reading for a complete guide to the strip of sand that runs from Downtown to the Marina (as shown on the map below), as well as a lush bay near Sharjah…
Al Mamzar Beach Park:
If you don’t want to fight for a spot in front of the sea, this huge beach complex near Sharjah (it’s only a small peninsula) is a nice choice. There are plenty of palm trees, smooth, clean sand (fewer cigarette butts and rocks than the Dubai average), and no building to ruin the view on the fourth of five beaches. If you like a snorkel, there are plenty of fish to see, so it’s perfect if you have kids who need to be entertained after a few hours of making sandcastles. If you’re staying for the day, the park’s barbecue areas are well worth seeing.
Jumeirah Open Beach:
This is the first public beach in Dubai. The Open Beach is much longer and broader than the free beaches farther up the peninsula, and was once known as Russian Beach (due to its early fame with eastern Europeans). Many who race, jog, walk, or rollerblade up and down the 1.8-kilometer bouncy course, which was built in 2007, are well aware of this reality.
There are numerous tuck shops, as well as lifeguard stations, along the first stretch of beach, available 24 hours a day and filled with beers, food, and inexpensive towels. However, as you get over the first jetty, it becomes both quieter and unsupervised. Walk to the end of the beach to see a new-looking concrete jetty with a path running along it; stroll to the end for a spectacular view of the beach and the Sheikh Zayed Road skyline in the distance.
There are showers at the top of the first beach that seem to be in regular usage, as well as some public toilets that are regularly washed but which smell a little shabby (bring your own tissues). The Open Beach has the advantage of providing a much more cosmopolitan atmosphere, with Filipino families having picnics, groups of Indian and Pakistani men enjoying their day off by playing games in the water, and mildly hairy, Speedo-wearing men strutting up and down the surf. On weekend nights, the approach road can get really busy, as this is a famous hangout.
As you drive down Jumeirah Beach Road towards New Dubai, turn right just after Mercato and you’ll come to a nice quiet bay (we like to head here during the evening to treat ourselves to an ice cream by the sea). Because of the drained land directly in front, this almost looks like a pool at first. There are also sand soccer goals with no nets and stunning views of the Burj Khalifa. This is a true secret treasure.
Jumeirah Beach Park:
This massive attraction is a must-see in Dubai. First, the beach and park are still incredibly crowded; second, lifeguards whistling at men in trousers is a ‘only in Dubai’ experience; and third, it provides plenty of shade and greenery for sunbathers and those preparing a barbecue. The park, which has been open since 1989 and covers 130,000 square metres, has a few food shacks – the grilled hammour is particularly delicious, and the curly fries are sinfully sweet – as well as plenty of food outlets in the surrounding Beach Park Plaza. To prevent humiliation, gentlemen, remember that Monday is Ladies’ Day.
This is Dubai’s version of a lookout point; cars line up along the shore at all hours of the day and night, looking out to sea. The vast expanse of sand extends from the road to the sea (ideal for sand running, which is a strenuous workout), and the bay arching across it provides a beautiful view. If you turn your head to the left, you can see the Burj Al Arab in the distance.
Jumeirah 2 is located on the intersection of Al Athar Road and Jumeirah Beach Road, next to Jumeirah Beach Park.