Neighbouring emirate Dubai might get all the publicity when it comes to its beach clubs, but the UAE capital is also home to some fantastic seaside hangouts. From a private island escape accessed only by boat to a party paradise on buzzing Yas Island, here are the best beach clubs in Abu Dhabi.
Saadiyat Beach Club
Saadiyat Beach Club’s pool and beach days are legendary, making it one of the most known and popular beach clubs in Abu Dhabi. Located on the white sands of Saadiyat Island – the capital’s cultural hotspot – the beach club is a hub for hedonism and relaxation with a lake-like temperature-controlled swimming pool, plenty of loungers dotted around on the poolside and sugar-soft beach, a jacuzzi, cold plunge pool and facilities like a gym, sauna and steam. Three Mediterranean-inspired restaurants serve Riviera fare and the club also hosts unforgettable beach parties, often visited by world-class DJs and the odd celebrity guest.
From AED250. Saadiyat Island, www.saadiyatbeachclub.ae
Nation Riviera Beach Club, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Luxury hotel The St. Regis Abu Dhabi’s beach club is located right on the corniche, connected to the hotel by an underground air-conditioned tunnel, and offering views of the city centre skyline, Arabian Gulf and out into the mangroves. Like the hotel itself, it offers a refined, genteel experience geared towards an older crowd (or those looking to truly just relax) and families. There’s a 33-metre temperature-controlled lap pool, complete with a swim-up bar and fringed with sunbeds and private cabanas, alongside a jacuzzi and a fitness centre (the club also offers memberships to use its health and wellness facilities). Families will also delight in a play area for little ones and a separate children’s pool. The classic all-day beachfront eatery Cabana Beach Bar & Grill feeds guests with poolside classics like chicken wings, calamari, burgers and wraps.
From AED160 for non-members weekdays, AED400 weekends; nationrivierabeachclub.com
The beautiful Nurai Island is the most exclusive island destination in the UAE – reached by just a short-speed boat from the capital and all white-sand beaches and cerulean seas (in a way, reminiscent of the Maldives). While the hotel is largely a super exclusive luxury resort with private villas, it’s possible to purchase a day pass to use the beach and pool, allowing guests the chance to experience the inimitable Nurai vibe without having to splash out on accommodation. A day pass comes in at AED750, of which AED550 is redeemable on food & beverage, spa and activities on the island, and also includes a boat transfer.
AED750 (AED550 redeemable on f&b); nuraiisland.com
Emirates Palace is perhaps the last place you’d expect to find a beach club open to the public – being one of the UAE’s most exclusive hotels, and quite literally, a place – but the hotel makes the most of its 1.3km of private sandy beach by opening it up to day guests, alongside its residents. Just like the hotel, whose levels of luxury are legendary across the city, the beach club is elegant and Arabesque with two swimming pools, two fitness centres and plenty of water sports options like windsurfing, kayaking and wakeboarding on offer. Priority is given to hotel residents, so make sure to call ahead.
AED320 with AED 100 redeemable on weekends, AED 425 on weekends; mandarinoriental.com
Yas Island is the centre of entertainment and leisure living in Abu Dhabi – hosting the famous Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and home to five-star hotels and complexes like Ferrari World and Warner Brothers World and Yas Mall. Yas Beach offers the same vibe, on the sand, with its lively atmosphere, resident DJs and young, vibrant crowd creating a party-like vibe. Guests can book a sunlounger around the pool or on the white-sand beach and gaze onto the blue waters and mangrove fields. There are lots of opportunities for water sports two dining options taking you from day to night – a kiosk serving a classic beach menu and a stylish sit-down restaurant.
AED60 Sun-Thu, AED120 Fri-Sat and public holidays; Yas Island, yasbeach.ae
Al Maya Island Resort
Abu Dhabi’s beautiful and diverse topography encompasses dozens of islands, and Al Maya Island is home to one of the best beach clubs in the emirate. The private island retreat is only reachable only by a 10-minute boat ride and is designed for adventure seekers with kitesurfing, volleyball, banana boating, kayaking and wakeboarding. On the sun-kissed, white-sand island, guests can also make use of a swimming pool with jacuzzi and dedicated children’s pool, a beach with shaded sunbeds and private cabanas and the elegant African-inspired Al Maya restaurant serving fresh seafood, salads, meats, pizzas and Mediterranean fare, plus refreshing cocktails.
Day passes from AED100; almayauae.com