For the chilled out sunbather
Having opened in 2014, Bayshore is now a popular beach spot that retains a degree of isolation and tranquillity that is missing from many other beaches that focus on activities and water sports. There are plenty of loungers both around the outdoor pool and on the sand itself; the beach is often busy so you’ll never feel totally isolated, but you won’t feel cramped either. If all you want to do is bake in the sun and splash about in the sea you can do that comfortably, but there are plenty of other facilities on offer as well.
There’s a gym if you want to work out, or if you fancy sport instead, you can play volleyball on the 300m beach. Re-energise by grabbing food from the outdoor bar that will be delivered straight to your lounger. If you’d rather just relax, have a drink at the swim-up bar, soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi or treat yourself to a massage. As well as sun loungers, there are luxury cabanas and hammocks available, but these need to be pre-booked. Cabanas cost extra; the price includes a butler service, dressing gowns, towels and slippers, an icebox, bottled water and fruit.
Day pass from Dhs150. Annual membership from Dhs11,500. Cabanas Dhs400 Sun-Thu, Dhs600 Fri-Sat. Open daily 8am-10pm, pool 8am-8pm. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen, firstname.lastname@example.org (02 693 5285).
Saadiyat Beach Club
The king of beach clubs, Saadiyat Beach Club is a luxury venue that caters for the most discerning of the city’s beachgoers. As secluded as it is glamorous, you’ll feel like a VIP throughout your stay here; the facilities are top notch and the service is second to none. A day pass grants you access to its gym, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and cold plunge pool, but the main attractions are the large infinity pool at the heart of the club that greets you as you walk through the doors. This spacious area, and the 9km of beach, is probably the most secluded in the capital. The beach is totally private, meaning it will just be you and your fellow beach club guests – and the club isn’t busy, so you’ll have plenty of space to relax in peace. There are also numerous dining options available here, including fine dining restaurant Safina and bar bites spot De La Costa.
Adult Dhs220 Sun-Thu, Dhs420 Fri-Sat; couples Dhs370 Sun-Thu, Dhs720 Fri-Sat; kids aged 13-17 Dhs110 Sun-Thu, Dhs210 Fri-Sat; kids aged four-12 Dhs75 daily. Pool cabana Dhs600, dune cabana Dhs200. Pool 8am-sunset, beach 9am-sunset, gym 7am-11pm. Saadiyat Island, www.saadiyatbeachclub.ae (02 656 3500).
Nation Riviera Beach Club
Situated on a long stretch of beach along the Corniche, this club is easily accessible from St. Regis Abu Dhabi’s main building via an air-conditioned private tunnel under Corniche Road. Alternatively, there is a car park on the beach side of the road, although it is always almost impossible to get a space.
The centrepiece of the beach club is a 33m temperature-controlled lap pool, complete with a swim-up bar and 12 cabanas dotted around it. There’s a Jacuzzi at one end next to a play area where you can drop the kids off if you’re looking for a more relaxing day. The kids’ area is available for ages four-12 and is fully supervised. Nannies are available upon request for Dhs100 a day – book them 24 hours in advance.
The beach itself is picturesque and peaceful, and is a good spot if you just want to zone out for the day. However, if you prefer your beach trips to be a more activity filled, then there are plenty of other facilities to try. Sports on offer include volleyball, football and rugby, tug of war, table tennis and Frisbee. The club also hosts group activities such as a 3km Corniche run or a 1km swim in the sea, aqua aerobics and boot camps, CrossFit, combat and beach circuit training. It also has indoor classes.
Foodies are also well catered for as the beach club’s restaurant Cabana Bar & Grill serves tasty, fresh dishes that make for a superb seaside lunch.
Adults and kids over four Dhs300 Sun-Thu, Dhs400 Fri-Sat – prices correct at time of print. Single annual membership Dhs17,000, couple Dhs22,000, family of four Dhs28,500. Beach club and gym daily 6am-10pm, pool 8am-8pm, beach 8am-sunset. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche West, www.nationrivierabeachclub.com (02 694 4444).
Shangri-La Beach Club
The Shangri-La’s beach club caters first and foremost to the hotel’s guests, which is why you get the sense you’re on holiday here even if you only come for the day. That’s a good thing, though. After all, we need a little time to forget the daily monotony of working life. Sun worshippers can choose when and how they get their fix; stretch out on the beach, or instead pick a lounger around the pool, or on a lawn set slightly back from the sand. If you’d rather stay in the shade, there are plenty of spots where you can stay out of the sun as the hotel has invested in huge umbrellas to keep guests cool.
The beach is a little small, which is the only downside, but you still won’t feel overly cramped and the service here is efficient. There is also a dedicated team ready to take the kids off your hands if you wish.
Adults Dhs250, kids Dhs125. Annual membership from Dhs6,000 single, Dhs18,000 family of four. Open daily 6am-8pm. Shangri-La, Khor Al Maqta, www.shangri-la.com (02 509 8888).
For the waterside activity addict
Beach Rotana Beach Club
The clue is in the name at Beach Rotana. The hotel’s focal point is a long stretch of beach that’s unique in downtown and Al Zahiyah. The day pass here grants 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. If you’ve had your fill of soaking up rays on the sand, you can also use the gym where you can hire a personal trainer or take part in a Les Mills group fitness class (extra). There are also a load of water sports available to try, which is ideal for thrill-seekers. The hotel’s restaurants are also just a short hop from your lounger, so take a change of clothes and head to seafood restaurant Finz or steakhouse Rodeo Grill for a quality meal – both are open for lunch as well as dinner.
Adult Dhs150 Sun-Thu, Dhs210 Fri-Sat; couple Dhs230 Sun-Thu, Dhs310 Fri-Sat; kids Dhs90 daily, discounts for 18-21-year-olds. Annual membership Dhs10,200. Health Club 6am-11pm, adult pool 7am-10pm, kids’ pool 8am-7pm, beach 7am-sunset. Beach Rotana, next to Abu Dhabi Mall, www.rotana.com (02 697 9000).
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr’s Beach Club
If you’re not the type to laze about the pool, then Fairmont Bab Al Bahr has plenty to keep you occupied. It has two 150m private sandy beaches, on which you can play football, badminton, Frisbee, softball and volleyball for free. Kayaking, paddleboarding and table tennis is also included. Little ones are well catered for as well. The beach is part of the Khor Al Maqta creek, which has a lot of water transport on it, but don’t let that put you off a visit. There is a huge pool you can swim in and relax around if you’re tired of all the activities on the beach. Our guess though, is you won’t want to miss out on any of the fun going down on the sand.
Adults Dhs150 Sun-Thu, Dhs200 Fri-Sat; couples Dhs200 Sun-Thu, Dhs350 Fri-Sat; family of four Dhs300 Sun-Thu, Dhs400 Fri-Sat. Annual membership Dhs8,400 single, Dhs21,200 family of four. Pools 6am-10pm daily, beach sunrise-sunset. Bain Al Jessrain, www.fairmont.com (02 654 3333).
Hiltonia Beach Club
Whether you have lived in the city for 15 minutes or 15 years, a visit to the Hiltonia Beach Club will have you thinking you’re on a Mediterranean holiday. The stretch of beach is pleasant, but a day pass here is more suited to splashing around in the pool and giving the club’s awesome water sports a go, rather than snoozing on the sand. You’ll see (and hear) jet skis roaring up and down the club’s stretch of water all day, so it’s best to join in the fun or stick to the pool which is set slightly back from the beach.
The major highlight of the club is the dedicated water sports centre, Watercooled, which offers paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing and yoga classes on paddleboards for an extra fee. It also has a youth sailing club, a new ladies’ sailing group and a new boat charter which offers daily fishing trips.
Adult Dhs150 Sun-Thu, Dhs185 Fri-Sat; couples Dhs240 Sun-Thu, Dhs300 Fri-Sat; five-15-year-olds and nannies Dhs70 Sun-Thu, Dhs90 Fri-Sat. Annual membership Dhs11,000 men, Dhs7,700 women, couple Dhs15,000, family of four Dhs18,500. Beach club 8am-8pm, health club 6am-11pm, spa 10am-10pm. Corniche West, www3.hilton.com (02 681 1900).
Ideal for families
Emirates Palace Beach Club
Guests at the beach club at Emirates Palace can take part in a variety of free activities as well as enjoying the beach and sea, so make sure you get there early to pack them all in. A day pass allows you to use two fitness centres, a lap pool and a free-form pool – a non-standard shaped pool. You can also stroll the hotel’s 1.3km private beach, kayak on the waters, or hire a bike to explore its extensive 85 hectare grounds – the cycling and jogging tracks run for 6.5km. Tennis and table tennis, volleyball and football facilities are also thrown in, although you have to pay extra for paddleboarding, group fitness classes or to use a sauna and steam room, which can be found in the spa. Children will have a ball, as there’s an adventure pool with a waterslide, an outdoor playground with a jungle gym, slide and swings, and a kids’ club with an action-packed schedule that includes designing a t-shirt, bookmark making, bird watching and henna painting. The hotel even throws in free camel rides and coffee in a Bedouin tent.
Adults including nannies Dhs500 Sun-Thu, Dhs700 Fri-Sat; kids Dhs300 Sun-Thu, Dhs400 Fri-Sat; under threes free. Kid’s pool and club daily 7am-6pm, adult pool daily 7am-9pm. Corniche West (02 690 7311).
Le Méridien Beach Club
This may be a beach club priced on the less expensive side, but don’t let that put you off – you get great value for your money. There are plenty of options for procrastinating on the beach and soaking up the rays, and the facilities and service here are of a very high standard. In addition to a 25m pool, it has a 14.5m training pool and a kids’ pool, plus a 140m beach which carries a Blue Flag certificate, indicating it’s clean and protected by lifeguards. There are plenty of activities on offer that get thrown in with a day pass; guests can enjoy the gym, steam room and sauna, and play sports including volleyball and tennis. You can also get on the water and try wakeboarding, water skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or go on a banana boat or sunset cruise to Saadiyat Island for an extra fee. Beach Rotana is also home to one of the city’s best spas, so head inside for a spot of pampering in the middle of the day if you grow tired of tanning.
Adult Dhs90 Sun-Thu pool and beach, Dhs140 spa; adult Dhs145 Fri-Sat pool and beach, Dhs190 spa; couple Dhs150 Sun-Thu spa, Dhs275 Fri-Sat; family of four Dhs150 Sun-Thu pool and beach, family Dhs275 Fri-Sat spa. Pool 8am-9pm, beach 8am-sunset, gym 6am-midnight, spa 9am-11pm, tennis and squash 6am-10pm. The spa is for women only Sat, Sun and Tue 8.30am-11am. Al Zahiyah, www.lemeridienabudhabi.com (02 644 6666).
Known as the party sands, Abu Dhabi’s only private beach club is filled with happy families and young people lounging on the pretty, ribbon strewn cabanas, taking selfies for the @Yasbeach Instagram tag and clinking hops to the hip music. Water sports are available on the tranquil, idyllic shores of Yas Island’s south beach and the staff are delightful – they also take food and drink orders from sun loungers. If you want a sit-down meal, the beachside shack is the perfect place. Dhs100 for adults at weekends, Dhs50 per child aged eight-16 years. Cabana Dhs250 weekday and Dhs300 weekends, includes complimentary entry for two adults, towels and a complimentary bottle of VOS water. Entry fees include beach towel, parasol and sun lounger.
Open daily Sun-Thu 10am-7pm; Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Yas Beach, Yas Island, www.yasbeach.ae (056 242 0435).