Al Bateen Beach
Brilliantly family-friendly, Al Bateen Beach is hugely popular with tourists, expats and locals. And not just for building sandcastles, but for swimming and fishing too, due to its beautifully calm waters and properly relaxed atmosphere. This 800m stretch also features a children’s playground, 100 parking spaces, lifeguards aplenty, a handful of eateries and also watersports like kayaking and – if you’re game enough to look like a prize fool – stand-up paddleboards. Basically, it’s got everything you need. Pack the car and head on down for an immaculate weekend chill-out session with the whole gang.
Free. Open daily 8am-sunset. Al Bateen, Khalifa Al Mubarak Street, off Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street.
A lot of Abu Dhabi’s beach clubs tend to be very much one thing or another – either packed with partygoers having a bangin’ time listening to a DJ round the pool or loaded with kids complaining about having to put suncream on (we’ve all been there, right?). The Beach Rotana, though, is a great mix of luxury and family, where everyone can relax. A day pass gives you access to an adults’ pool, a kids’ paddling pool, a 120m beach and garden, as well as the use of its two squash courts and three tennis courts. There are also watersports, personal trainers and great restaurants – like Finz, for instance – for a slap-up meal when the sun goes down.
Open daily 6am-11pm. Sun-Thu Dhs150 per person, Dhs90 kids aged five-12. Fri-Sat Dhs210 per person, Dhs90 kids aged five-12. Under-fives go free (02 697 9302).
The jewel in Abu Dhabi’s beachy crown, especially when it comes to families, the Corniche is a pristine beachfront divided into three handy sections, so everyone gets maximum enjoyment from its golden joys. There’s Al Sahil, for singles and groups, Gate 2 for families (and it has a quiet zone) and Gate 3 is aimed particularly at kids. There are children’s play areas, restaurants and tons of free sports on offer, like volleyball (there are five courts) and football. Best of all, floating fences keep you within 40 metres of the beach at all times, which makes this, along with all the lifeguards, a beach where you always feel 100 percent safe. Little wonder 50,000 people come here every month, to soak up the rays and the stunning views of the Abu Dhabi skyline.
BAKE (a beach management company) beaches open daily 8am-8pm. Dhs10 per adult and Dhs5 per child under 12. Kids under five go free. Dhs25 per lounger. Public beaches are free and open daily 8am-8pm.
Emirates Palace Beach Club
Emirates Palace has, of course, never been one to do things by half. And its beach club is no different. Split into two sections, the East Beach Club is for adults and includes a swim-up bar and all manner of assorted relaxed fanciness. But it’s the West Beach Club we’re interested in for the purposes of this feature. Specifically created for families, there’s an enormous pool with a cracking lazy river, tons of inner tubes to ride in and two water slides – just brilliant. The kids’ club here also has plenty to keep them busy, like chess, soft toys, arts and crafts, games, ping pong and foosball. Our advice? Have great fun on the slides together then drop them off at the kids club, while you pop over to the East Beach Club for some of the best sundowners in the city, and a little bit of lazy lounging in the in-pool hammocks. Yes, we did say in-pool hammocks. Perfect!
Dhs300 for adults, Dhs150 for kids (weekdays), Dhs400 for adults, Dhs200 for kids (weekends and public holidays). 7am-sunset (Beach and west pool); 7am-9pm (east pool), Gym is open 24 hours, 7am-10pm (tennis courts), 10am-sunset (kids’ club). Corniche West (02 690 7311).
Hiltonia Beach Club
Located along the Corniche Road West, just before you make a right towards Marina Mall, this club features 11,000 square metres of pristine white sand and various watersports. More importantly, there’s even a peacock garden and duck pond for the kids to enjoy, too. Massive bonus. Water-based action includes kayaking and sailing, and the glorious venue (it was revamped just over a year ago) is connected to the Hilton Abu Dhabi via a subway and has parking directly out the front. In other words, it’s glamorous, but easy at the same time. Just how we like it.
Sun-Thu: Dhs120 (adults), Dhs60 (kids five-15). Fri-Sat: Dhs170 (adults), Dhs75 (kids five-15). Open daily 8am-8pm. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche West (02 681 1900).
Nation Riviera Beach Club
One of our all-time Abu Dhabi beach faves, this private beach is stretched across 200m of unspoiled shoreline with knockout views. There’s also a quite brilliant beachside pool with cabanas for you all to chill out in together, a Jacuzzi and a brilliant swim-up bar. For the grown-ups there’s a steam room, sauna, watersports and a gym, and for the kids there’s a cute splash and play area and a club that comes loaded with a Playstation, so they can chill inside when they’ve had enough sun. Best of all, it’s connected to the St. Regis Abu Dhabi by a James Bondian underground walkway and its dining options – we’re specifically looking at the seafood paradise that is Catch – are simply second to none. This is a knockout day out for the family.
Dhs200 (adults), Dhs70 children (five-16), children under five free. Open daily 6am-8pm. Abu Dhabi Corniche (02 694 4780).
Saadiyat Beach Club
A king among beach clubs, this luxury venue caters for the most discerning of the city’s sand-seekers. As secluded as it is glamorous, you’ll feel like a VIP throughout your time here; the facilities are top notch and the service is second to none. The venue is simply breath-taking, with a stunning infinity pool bordered by cabanas, while the end of the pool eats into the nearby azure waters, just adding to the picture-postcard setting. Along with a cool Jacuzzi, there’s also an expansive beach to take advantage of. But, what we like most about this place is the mix of people: families, couples, friends in their mid-20s – everyone is welcomed with open, glamorous arms.
Open daily 9am-sunset (beach club). Dhs220 (adults, weekdays), Dhs370 (weekend), Dhs110 (kids, weekdays), Dhs210 (weekend), Dhs75 (kids aged three-12). (02 656 3500).
Saadiyat Public Beach
Close to the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, this sanded area is set on Saadiyat Island’s serene natural shores. The 400m beach is a great spot for a day out with friends and family, to enjoy Abu Dhabi’s clean, warm, turquoise waters. There are eco-friendly watersport activities such as windsurfing and sailing, The Beach Café offers lovely, fresh food and beverages delivered straight to your lounger (of which there are 300) if, like us, you can’t be bothered to move. And there are showers and changing rooms, meaning that car journey home caked in sand just got a whole lot more comfortable.
Open daily 8am-sunset. Dhs25 per adult and Dhs15 per child aged six-12. Kids under five free. Sunlounger Dhs50 (weekdays), Dhs75 (weekends and public holidays).
Sheraton Abu Dhabi
If you want variety then this beach club has a bit of everything. Activities on offer include boat cruises, fishing trips and snorkelling. Dad will find plenty to be happy about with waterskiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding costing Dhs60 for 10 minutes, or Dhs170 for a lesson. Meanwhile, if you’re keen to avoid anything too white-knuckle for the kids, sea kayaking starts at Dhs40 for 30 minutes. When the little’uns get sick of splashing around in the pool and start pestering for excitement, banana boating, starting at Dhs50 per person, should keep them more than happy. Alternatively a tube ride, also costing Dhs50 for a round, should wear them out. And the adults can also take a break at the swim-up pool bar. Happy days!
Open daily 6am-midnight. Dhs95 (adults), Dhs50 (kids). Sun-Thu; Dhs125 (adults), Dhs75 (kids), Fri-Sat (02 697 0272).
Styling itself as a “beach playground” big on beats and brunches, Yas Beach is essential stuff for Abu Dhabi partygoers, but its mix of activities also mean it’s worth adding to your shortlist from an older family point of view, too. The club boasts 400m of golden sands, there’s a huge pool and five private chalets to enjoy. There is also an abundance of loungers, so you won’t have to get there early to mark your territory with your towel. Even if you're German (sorry). Add in a wide selection of dining options including freshly made pizzas and authentic Arabic food, and you’re spoilt for choice. Best part? If you’re staying at one of the hotels on Yas Island, entry is free.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Dhs50 Sun-Thu, Dhs100 Fri-Sat for a full day pass. Dhs200 beach cabanas Sun-Thu, Dhs400 Fri-Sat (includes two entrance passes). Dhs1,000 chalets Sun-Thu on weekdays, Dhs2,000 Fri-Sat (includes four entrance passes and a mini bar). Children under 12 go free (02 565 1100).
Zaya Nurai island
Just a 10-minute, glorious boat ride from Saadiyat Island lies this incredible private island, that ranks up there as one of our all-time favourite staycations in the whole of the UAE, with its unspoilt luxury and family-friendly vibe (you get around the island either on bikes or golf buggies). But it’s also just as good for a day out with a difference, white sandy beaches, a magnificent infinity pool – with a pool table on the side of it, which is a nice touch for the kids – and some truly top quality eating to be had. Seriously, it's no wonder that Zaya Nurai Island has won so many holiday awards – this is genuinely the kind of place you can imagine Hollywood A-listers vacationing at, assorted offspring in tow. While there, you can just take a leisurely stroll on the beautiful beach or plunge into an adventure with one of the watersports such as stand-up paddle-boarding, beach snorkelling, pedalo-boating and kayaking. There’s now even a regular Friday brunch, too. This is a sheer beachy paradise and an absolute must-try for you and yours. Do it. It's proper top-end.
Dhs300 per person, including boat transfer. Open daily 10.30am-11pm. Advanced booking required (02 506 6274).