Best Beaches

11 of the best beach spots you need to try in Dubai

Danae Mercer, CNNUpdated 19th December 2018
(CNN) — For winter sun, there's nowhere better than the glimmering city of Dubai.
With miles of coastline, Dubai's beaches range from super simple (just sun, sand and sea) to ultra-luxury.
Most public beaches have been built up in recent years, meaning you can expect to find cabanas for changing, spots to grab food and rental water sports equipment. For something more decadent, there are numerous Ibiza-inspired beach clubs and high-end hotels with private beach access.
When it comes to attire, bikinis and swimming trunks are absolutely acceptable. Just cover up before heading off the sand -- particularly in the free public beaches listed below.

Kite Beach - Free

Kite Beach is great for families.
Courtesy Kite Beach
With views of the Burj Al Arab on the left and kite surfers catching wind on the right, it's no wonder this scenic beach is one of Dubai's most popular. Food trucks, a beach library and pop-up shops line the broad boardwalk, while runners bound along the jogging track.
It's also great for families, says Dubai photographer Sukaina Rajabali. "My children love climbing up the rocks that are set up as dividers, and it's a great place to collect tiny shells that have rolled to shore."
"I love that it has so much life," says Natalia Shustova, a Dubai fashion influencer. "From flea market-style retailers selling beach necessities, to beach boot camps, to loads of great healthy food offerings... It's even possible to kayak," she adds.

The Beach - Jumeirah Beach Residences - Free

Jumeirah Beach Residences offers everything from high-end restaurants to a 600-meter running track.
Jumeirah Beach Residences offers everything from high-end restaurants to a 600-meter running track.
Courtesy Dubai Tourism
Flush against the Dubai Marina, this bustling beach development has a jogging track, an open-air shopping mall, beachfront restaurants and an outdoor cinema.
It offers panoramic views of the newly finished Ain Dubai, the largest Ferris wheel in the world. And it's entirely free.

La Mer - Free

CNN-LaMer (2)
La Mer is Dubai's newest developed beach.
Courtesy Thuymi Do
The city's newest developed beach, this bustling spot is Instagram heaven. Pastel-colored beach cabanas sit between hammocks, palm trees, graffiti art and colorful food huts.
Families flock to Laguna Waterpark or watch as children bounce on the inflatable playground. Day cabanas are available for rent, but most visitors just throw down towels in the sand.
CNN-LaMer (1)
Go here for your Instagram fix.
Courtesy Thuymi Do
Food here is varied and trendy; regulars grab burgers and sweet potato fries at Salt or stacks of pancakes at Levee Café and Lounge. There's also plenty of beach boutiques and a movie theater.
"La Mer is a melting pot of everything you need to entertain everyone in the family in one place, but with quality," says travel blogger Thumi Do. "It's got a quality water park, restaurants, boutique... It's not exactly hipster, but it all has beautiful branding. It's premium."

Sunset Beach - Free

Sunset Beach, the name says it all.
Sunset Beach, the name says it all.
Courtesy Katarina Premfors/ Tourism
Quieter than both La Mer and Kite Beach, this simple stretch of sand is hidden behind Sunset Mall. It's not as developed as the others, meaning it's emptier overall. There are still changing facilities and bathrooms, but very little else.
"It's one of the best spots for a sunset so make sure to bring your camera," suggests travel blogger Claudia Padgett. "If you want to go all out, get a surf board to catch waves."

Drift Beach

Drift Beach oozes luxury.
Courtesy DRIFT Beach Dubai
Attracting a chic crowd that want Mediterranean elegance, this airy beach club has a private stretch of beach, an infinity pool, and plenty of plush sun loungers. Staff roam between blue umbrellas serving complimentary sparkling water and seasonal fruit bowls. For an upgrade, there's a VIP package that comes with a private cabana and Moet.

Summersalt, Jumeirah Al Naseem

Don't miss the cocktails at Summersalt.
Courtesy Jumeirah Al Naseem
This luxury beach club serves up cocktails and Asian fusion food while a DJ spins live tunes, all creating a very Cote D'Azure atmosphere. Guests shift between the private pool to the private beach. The weekend brunch, with an all you can eat and drink package, is particularly popular.

Riva Beach Club

Keep things chilled at Riva Beach Club.
Keep things chilled at Riva Beach Club.
Courtesy Riva Beach
With kayaks, watersports and a chilled outdoor restaurant, this Palm Jumeirah beach club is all things relaxed. Guests grab cocktails from the palm-frond gazebo while families splash in the temperature-controlled pool. The beach here is calm and the waters flat, making it great for stand-up paddleboarding.

Blue Marlin Ibiza

Head to Blue Marlin for a cocktail or two.
Courtesy Blue Marlin
Popular with the city's partying crowd, this oceanfront venue is known for its electronic music, visiting DJs and throngs of guests. During the day, it's a great spot to grab a sunlounger beside hundreds of strangers. At night, the Ibiza vibe picks up with flashing lights, dancing and drinks. The water here is crowded -- but for this lot, that's exactly the point.

Nikki Beach Dubai

Nikki Beach: Deluxe pool parties.
Courtesy Nikki Beach
Plush white sun beds, faded wood accents and and tribal decorations create this adults-only beach club on Dubai's Pearl Jumeirah. Guests order plates of grilled cauliflower and blackened salmon tacos, then head to the four-tier shisha terrace. Thursdays there's a deluxe pool party with a resident DJ, while Tuesday offers a special ladies daytime drinking package with sun bed.
Yet for Izzy Abidi, a regular Dubai surfer, the hotel venue's quiet mornings are the main draw. "It's got a good swell at early sunrise," she says. "There are no tourists, only people who want to be in the water."

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - SEPTEMBER 17: A aerial view of the Jumeirah Beach hotel on September 17, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
The Jumeirah Beach hotel offers a day pass to enter the beach.
Warren Little/Getty Images
For long-time Dubai resident Tracy Harmoush, JBH is the one beach worth going to -- "Absolutely, hands down. It's nostalgic, one of the oldest and first beaches I used to go to when I moved here 11 years ago." There are waves crashing to shore and a the views are immense.
"You get to lay on a beach where the Burj Al Arab is literally a short swim from you. It gives you a wonderful overwhelming feeling, engulfed by such an iconic piece of architecture."
"I've always loved that beach," agrees photographer and social media manager Herald Herrera. "It's because the view, especially for taking photos and walking under the bridge towards the Burj Al Arab."
A day pass includes access to Wild Wadi Waterpark and discounts on spa treatments.

Club Mina

For five temperature-controlled pools (including two kiddie pools with water slides), outdoor table tennis, chess, badminton, and a kids club, check out Club Mina at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, suggests Antonia Ellis, head of marketing for beach access card Privilee.
Ellis compares beach clubs around Dubai, and doesn't hesitate to point at Club Mina as a favorite. "There's so much variety in the restaurant that even the most fussy eaters will fine something special," she adds.