Dubai’s best free beaches (and three more worth splashing out on)

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Gloriously gratis: you don't have to spend a fortune to experience Dubai's best beaches
Gloriously gratis: you don't have to spend a fortune to experience Dubai's best beaches Credit: getty

Dubai isn't famous for its bargains, but its public beaches are just that. They're clean, well-maintained, and offer excellent facilities: cafés, bathrooms, restaurants... and maybe a cinema, too.

These are the city's best free beaches – plus a few notable beach clubs, should you wish to shell out on a ritzier bathing experience. 

Kite Beach

Best for: Active adventures 

Where? Umm Suqeim

Just a few years ago, this wide sandy beach was an expats’ secret retreat. Its lively surf and breezy conditions attracted kite surfers and paddleboarders – while the wide, sugary sands were catnip for in-the-know families.

It’s no longer a hidden gem, but we’re not complaining: development company Meraas has created a brilliant hub for watersports, relaxed beach-side dining, and sunbathing with Burj Al Arab views. At sunset, the seafront running track (so bouncy!) provides a scenic opportunity to blow off steam. 

Lively surf and breezy conditions attract paddleboarders and kayakers to Kite Beach Credit: FAREL BISOTTO

The Beach by JBR 

Best for: Making a day of it

Where? JBR

Bars, bistros and fancy boutiques line this fashion-forward beach, whose long white shore stretches the full length of Dubai Marina. It’s popular with holidaymakers and expats alike (so arrive early on weekends) but there’s no such thing as a duff spot on these sought-after sands. In one direction, the Arabian Gulf glitters – while on the other, Dubai Marina’s skyscrapers soar.

Look to the skies, too: the landing zone of Skydive Dubai is located just off the beach – providing a day-long aerobatics show. It’s pure Dubai – and you’ll love it. 

Thrills and spills on The Beach by JBR Credit: getty

La Mer

Best for: Street food and sunbathing

Where? Jumeirah 1

This swish seafront neighbourhood is so much more than a beach: there’s a kids’ splash park, watersports centre, cinema, shopping mall and inflatable playground – while the street art and boxy urban design will set your Insta alight.

It’s a haven for diners with time on their hands (try Masti for Indian street food, or SALT for fancy burgers) – while the soft, clean sands are a sunseeker’s dream. You can flop on the beach for free, or pay AED60 (£13.50) for a lounger.

La Mer, Dubai's latest swish seafront neighbourhood Credit: getty

Jumeirah Public Beach

Best for: Picnics and paddling

Where? Umm Suqeim 3

While it gets crowded at weekends (especially on Saturdays), Jumeirah Public Beach is a real gem on weekdays. It's in a residential area – albeit with city-slicker views – so while the locals are slogging away in the office, you can enjoy quiet dips in the bath-temperature shallows.

The facilities are good, but eating options are very limited – so pack a picnic or walk (10 minutes) inland to The Surf Café for sushi and salads. The southern end of the beach gets busy with tour groups, who come to snap the Burj Al Arab. 

Jumeirah Public Beach has family-friendly facilities, but no restaurants Credit: getty

Al Sufouh Beach

Best for: Escaping the crowds

Where? Al Sufouh

Squirrelled away between the Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah, Al Sufouh rubs shoulders with some of the city’s most exclusive beach hotels – though you won’t have to pay a penny to laze on its silky silica.

There are no facilities or restaurants, but that keeps the crowds away: instead of fellow travellers, you’ll be sharing the sand with local families. Bring a picnic, and direct your taxi driver (or sat nav) to Al Sufouh Park – the beach is just opposite. It’s also known as Black Palace Beach, or Secret Beach. 

And 3 Dubai beach clubs to splash out on...

Drift Beach Dubai 

Best for: City views 

Where? One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai Marina

Yours, for AED200 (£45) per day

While the hordes jostle for space on JBR’s sands, Drift Beach Dubai – part of the One&Only Royal Mirage hotel – offers a more civilised, secluded experience. As well as those sea-and-skyscraper views, you’ll enjoy cocktails and light bites delivered straight to your sunlounger, with a shady garden and swimming pool to laze in too. From AED200 (£45) per day.

Aquaventure Beach 

Best for: Family fun

Where? Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah

This world-class waterpark has its own sandy shoreline – just the tonic after braving the Aquaconda, the largest water slide in the world. It’s part of the mighty Atlantis The Palm complex, so has facilities and sunloungers galore: including waiter service, private cabanas… and a zip line.

See that beach? Not bad for a waterpark

Entry to the beach is included in the (not inconsiderable) price of a day ticket (from AED260/£59 for kids and AED320/£72 for adults), or free for hotel guests and visitors celebrating their birthday – contact the booking office for T&Cs.

Fairmont The Palm

Best for: Modern-Arabian glamour

Where? Palm Jumeirah

The Fairmont's beach overlooks Dubai’s entire Marina-front skyline

The Fairmont overlooks Dubai’s entire Marina-front skyline: a glittering gaggle of skyscrapers that stretches almost as far as the eye can see. The beach isn’t open to day visitors, so you’ll need to splash out on a stay here to access it: that’s no hardship though, given the four pools, fine dining, and glossy modern-Arabia style digs.

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