Visiting beaches while in Dubai is an activity worth doing, even though Dubai doesn’t really position itself as a beach holiday destination. Alone the fact that it is located in a very hot climate zone is a good enough reason to give it a go. Luckily, the city has invested in some very nice beach public areas, with various activities, places to eat and relax. This is our guide to best free public beaches in Dubai.
During our last visit we went to two public beaches – La Mer in the morning and JBR Marina beach for the sunset. I will write about those as a first hand experience and give overview of the other beaches towards the end of this post.
La Mer – one of the Best free public beaches in Dubai
The beach has been open since 2018, so it’s a relatively new spot for beach lovers and one of the best free public beaches in Dubai. Arriving there by public transport is a bit of a challenge, but we found a way to save by riding the metro as close as possible (Ibn Battuta station) and grabbing a cab outside the metro station. The ride to La Mer costed us around 17 DHS (5$).
Once you enter the main gates, you can easily forget you are in the Middle East. Everything here reminds of good old Venice beach district in Los Angeles or any other cool hipster beaches around the world. Cool restaurants and cafes, beach clubs, shopping, even a waterpark! This is a place where you can easily spend a whole day without even noticing the time.
The beach itself is rather compact, it’s a small stretch with sunbeds (extra fee) and people who simply don’t want to pay and sit on their towels. If you hope to take a long relaxing walk along the beach line, you will probably be disappointed – the whole walk will take you 10 minutes at most.
The same goes for nice views of the ocean – sadly, there is hardly any view at all. You can’t even see the horizon – it’s a city beach after all, and marine traffic is active just outside the area. On the other hand, you can always look over your shoulders and admire the Dubai skyline along with the famous Burj Khalifa.
As for swimming in the sea – it is certainly doable, even in January. Maybe it’s us – northerners – who are not afraid of cold waters. It wasn’t too cold, my guess is around +20 .. +22C. When you get in, it seems cold, but after a while, it’s just okay and does a good job cooling you off from the desert heat.
We didn’t stay long enough to go for lunch at La Mer, but I’m sure the food is just as good as anywhere else in Dubai. I recommend coming to La Mer for a few hours, in the evening it can be a nice hang out place.
JBR Marina beach
We decided to visit JBR Marina beach on our last evening in Dubai. I heard lots of great feedback about this beach and specifically about one café serving good cocktails and shisha – Smoky Beach. JBR Marina beach is much larger and more crowded, it has been around for much longer.
Arriving there is also quite easy by metro – you need to get off at DMCC metro station and walk towards the beach for around 20 minutes. The beach area is much busier and offers many interesting entertainment options, such as water sports, sky café, jogging track and of course numerous beach bars and cafes. JBR Marina beach has also great facilities, such as warm showers and changing rooms, so no need to worry about getting the sea salt off after swimming.
Best place for shisha
Smoky Beach is a waterfront café with a separate shisha lounge – an extremely comfortable and relaxed place. They have a wide variety of nonalcoholic cocktails, the two we tried were the best cocktails I’ve had in my life. Shisha was also very good, and they changed the coal at least 5 times during the two hours we spent there. I highly recommend this place for a fantastic sunset experience.
As the sun sets, you can easily move to the Dubai Marina area for a nice and long evening walk along the canal surrounded by skyscrapers, take a dhow dinner cruise or simply land in one of the numerous waterfront restaurants.
This year, the world’s tallest observation wheel – Ain Dubai – will be finished on the other side of the Marina beach and the view will be even nicer. In addition to all the Dubai Marina attractions, Meraas’ Bluewaters Island where Ain Dubai is located will offer even more entertainment, hotels, and shopping opportunities.
Jumeirah Beach is easily one of the most iconic beaches in Dubai thanks to the hotel that is visible from the beach – the only 6* hotel in the world – Burj al Arab. Even though you can’t simply visit the hotel, you can enjoy the view of the sail-shaped building for free. We didn’t have enough time to check it out, but other travelers have written that it is clean, well maintained and has good infrastructure, such as restaurants, kiosks, retail stores, movie house, and covered parking.
Al Mamzar Beach
Mamzar is a quiet beach area with 5 beaches and a park, mostly visited by families and offering restrooms, changing rooms, shower rooms, restaurants, Barbeque area, and swings. Park entrance fee is 5 AED and can be paid with NOL card. Mondays are ladies’ days only! Some reviews say it is one of the cleanest beaches with white sand and turquoise water.
Al Sufouh Beach
This beach is a little tricky to find, so mostly frequented by ex-pats living in Dubai. The beach has no facilities, so bring everything you need with you! Great place to get away from the crowds, but can only be accessed by a car. The beach is good for families as the waters are shallow at the beginning.
Just as the name suggests – this beach is a paradise for kite surfers and all other sporty crowds. The beach offers a wide variety of activities, such as water sports, jogging track, beach volleyball, surfing and much more. It’s a little hard to reach, only taxi and bus options. The beach has all the amenities for a comfortable day out – restaurants, restrooms, beach guards, etc.
Beach etiquette in Dubai
Although Dubai is mostly populated with expatriates from other countries and cultures, you should always keep mind that you are in a Muslim country and respect their traditions. Many Dubai beaches are privately owned by hotels and beach clubs. If you can afford to buy a membership and get access, you can wear anything you want at those beaches.
However, swimming and sunbathing at public beaches a bit different and you need to be more careful. Although some sources suggest wearing women swimsuit, I personally haven’t noticed people doing this a lot. Tourists are mostly wearing bikinis and look like this is fine. However, you should cover yourself anywhere outside the beach, even at the beachside restaurant. Just pun on your shorts and a t-shirt and you should be okay.
Pin for later: