The best beaches in Dubai: public
Think of Dubai beaches, and you’re likely to imagine that iconic shot – of golden sands and the sail-like facade of the Burj Al Arab. This is the exact vista you get from Kite Beach, Dubai’s most popular public beach and a hotpot for surfing, sunbathing, beach runs, cycling and other sandy and watery pursuits. As Dubai’s original kitesurfing location – for which it gets its name – Kite Beach is located in the city’s Jumeirah neighbourhood, bordering Jumeirah Beach Road between Umm Suqeim and Jumeirah Fish Market. Residents love this beach for its 14-kilometre cycle and running track, expansive sands, warm, open waters and padel and volleyball courts – which are always busy with an athletic, good-looking crowd. Of course, being Dubai, the facilities and experience is fantastic – there are clean changing rooms and showers, and the track is dotted with clusters of laid-back coffee shops and food kiosks – with a colourful collection of food trucks in the middle. Make sure to stop off at SALT – one of Duabi’s most loved burger spots and filled with locals enjoying sliders, soft-serve ice cream and shakes. Beach access is free, and many residents and locals pitch up their own loungers and umbrellas.
The Beach, JBR
The Beach at JBR sits in the southern end of Dubai, within walking distance from Dubai Marina and lining the residential and commercial neighbourhood of Jumeirah Beach Residences. The Beach is the most bustline and developed of Dubai’s public beaches and will suit those looking for dining, activities, vibe, and a general holiday buzz. The (usually packed) sands are lined with beachy cafes, breakfast spots, bars, and the odd beach club or those wanting to hire a lounger – though pitching up your own towel on the public sections is popular. The public beach isn’t huge, but there are soft, golden sands, and the waters are warm and shallow – plus, there’s a giant inflatable waterpark the little ones will adore. Other activities include volleyball, pedalos, banana boats and jet skiing, perfect for buzzing around this exciting corner of Dubai – near Bluewaters Island and Palm Jumeirah. Favourite eateries near The Beach include Eataly, breezy cafe Common Grounds, The Cheesecake Factory and Bombay Bungalow.
Dubai Islands Beach
Dubai Islands Beach is one of the city’s best-kept secrets, located in the northernmost reaches of the emirates in historic Deira, and therefore offering fantastic views of the Downtown Dubai skyline. The beach made history as the first fully pet-friendly beach in the city, so, unlike other Dubai beaches, beachgoers can bring their dogs along on the sands for jogs and swims (as long as they are leashed). The sand is soft, and there’s a boardwalk dotted with palm trees, plus the chance to enjoy non-motorised watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding sessions (operated by Blue Safari). Beach volleyball and football are also popular. While there are few amenities at the moment – which can be part of the charm – food outlets and sunbeds are scheduled for later in the year.
Also known as Umm Suqeim Beach, Sunset Beach is the closest you can get to the Burj Al Arab on a public beach. In the shadows of the hotel’s sail, beachgoers can enjoy one of the coast’s quieter areas, with the beach perfect for lazy days sunbathing, reading or splashing around in the warm Arabian Gulf. There’s even a handy library station for donating, swapping or borrowing books. A beachside running track is perfect for morning and evening strolls, with sunsets particularly mesmerising from this calm little cove. Sunset Beach is a favourite with surfers, who frequent the beach between December and March, and paddleboarders during the rest of the year. Sunset Beach is also one of the few spots in Dubai where people can enjoy night swimming, thanks to large light installations illuminating up 30 metres out to sea.
It’s easy to miss Secret Beach from the roadside. Sandwiched between a private estate and Palm Jumeirah, it almost appears to be an empty plot, but those who make the drive across the dusty perimeter will find a lovely little sandy beach. Virtually untouched by tourists – thanks to no facilities and only being reachable by 4×4 – Secret Beach has become increasingly popular with residents and locals. On weekends, it’s dotted with deck chairs and picnic blankets, while on weekdays, it’s relatively peaceful – bar the odd beach walker. Fantastic views of Palm Jumeirah, the Burj Al Arab and calm waters make this one of the best beaches in Dubai for those who want to hide away and relax.
Coming soon: J1 Beach
Dubai’s Le Mer beach and leisure destination is currently undergoing a serious renovation project and will re-emerge later in 2023 as J1 Beach. The new development will have a more elevated vibe than its predecessor and be home to three new beachfront experiences – Gigi Rigolatto, Bâoli and Sirene Beach by Gaia – as well as 10 new restaurants. The beach set-up hasn’t been announced, but it’s likely there will be beach clubs, rentable loungers, and hopefully, a public space.
The best beaches in Dubai: for a fee
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Part beach, part leisure destination, the manicured Al Mamzar Beach Park sits near the Dubai-Sharjah border in the northern reaches of the emirate, surrounded by inlets and more than 55,000 sqm of green lawns. This is one of the most naturally beautiful and scenic beaches in Dubai, home to soft white sands but also manicured lawns, winding cycle and foot baths and plenty of shady trees: 1,600 palm and 300 coconut, to be precise. It’s also one of the most well-equipped, home to three swimming pools, a play area and open amphitheatre – which often hosts organised entertainments – and rentable sunbeds and air-conditioned chalets perfect for luxe beach days or group days out. There are plenty of food kiosks, as well as cafes and restaurants, including the popular FiLLi Cafe, as well as designated spots to cook up your own barbecue. With an entrance fee of just AED5, this is one of the best beaches in Dubai.
Open daily 8 am to 10 pm, AED5 per person entry fee; sun bed reservations at hub.dm.gov.ae
From the supermodel of beach clubs transporting you to the French Riviera to one of the world’s most famous party spots, view the Near+Far edit of the best private beaches and beach clubs in Dubai here.