Life's a beach: how to make the most of the coast in Abu Dhabi
Your guide to the best beach clubs, parties and restaurants in the nation’s capital
01. The Beach Club At Emirates Palace
Good for: families
While it is possible to chill and unwind at this beach club, the activities on offer mean it won’t just be all the sea air that sends you and your kids home yawning. It has two wings, east and west – the west wing is more suited to families (it has a lazy river and waterfalls), while there’s a swim-up pool bar in the east wing. Beach club access includes use of the beach, gym, the pools, tennis courts, and more. You can also, for an additional fee, borrow a bike, go for a camel ride and try watersports such as kayaking. There’s also a children’s club.
Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, daily 7am to sunset, Sun to Thur Dhs300, Dhs150 children, Fri and Sat Dhs400, Dhs200 children. Tel: (02) 6907311. Taxi: Emirates Palace. kempinski.com
02. Nation Riviera Beach Club
Good for: couples
Situated on the Corniche, Nation Riviera has a 200-metre beach, a temperature-controlled beach lap pool and swim-up bar, sauna and steam room, outdoor Jacuzzi, and cabanas. Kids are also catered for (the Treasure Island Children’s Club sits inside a pirate ship, for kids aged four to 12). This beach club is a classy looking affair, and it’s one of our picks for couples or groups of friends looking to unwind after a tough week’s work in the city.
St Regis Abu Dhabi, Al Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, 6am to 9pm, Sun to Thur Dhs100 to 150, Dhs200 to Dhs250 couples, Dhs300 to Dhs350 family of four, Fri and Sat, Dhs100 to Dhs200, Dhs200 to Dhs300 couples, Dhs300 to Dhs400 families. Tel: (02) 6944780. Taxi: St Regis Nation Towers. stregisabudhabi.com
03. Bayshore Beach Club at InterContinental
Good for: families
Absolutely perfect for kids, Bayshore has a 300-metre long beach, a shaded children’s pool, a splash pool with a water slide, a huge main pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi, an infinity pool with swim-up bar, plus non-motorised watersports such as snorkelling. It has its own restaurant, plus the hotel’s health club is attached to it – inside you’ll find a gym, plunge pool, sauna and steam room.
InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 8am to sunset, Dhs100, Dhs80 ladies, Dhs60 children, Fri and Sat Dhs200, Dhs150 women, Dhs70 children. Tel: (02) 6666888. Taxi: InterContinental. ihg.com
04. Saadiyat Beach Club
Good for: couples
There’s nothing complicated about a day at Saadiyat Beach Club. The facilities are simple – a stunning pool and access to the beach (dolphins have been spotted here on more than one occasion), plus an infinity pool, but this place is just as much about the vibe as the facilities. There is also a workout room you can use while there (sauna steam, Jacuzzi). You can also hire a cabana for Dhs600 on a weekday, or Dhs1,000 on the weekend.
Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 8am to sunset for pool facilities, Sun to Thur Dhs250, Dhs350 couple, Fri and Sat Dhs375, Dhs525 couple. Tel: (02) 6563500. Taxi: Saadiyat Beach Club. Saadiyatbeachclub.ae
05. Sheraton Abu Dhabi
Good for: families
One of Abu Dhabi’s oldest hotels also has one of its most popular beach clubs, in part thanks to its affordable day rates. You’ll get to splash about in three swimming pools, including one with an attached paool bar, a family pool with waterslide and toddlers’ pool and you can use all the facilities in the price including the beach, sauna, steam, gym and Jacuzzi.
Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8am to sunset, Sun to Thur Dhs100, Dhs155 couples, Dhs260 family of four, Fri and Sat Dhs130, Dhs210 couples, Dhs315 family of four. Tel: (02) 6773333. Taxi: Sheraton Corniche. sheratonabudhabi-hotel.com
06. The Club
Good for: families and groups of friends
Abu Dhabi’s British Club in Al Meena has two beaches covering 300 metres of the capital’s coastline, a swimming pool, plus two children’s pools. It’s also just added a Wibit – a bouncy castle assault course on water. There’s several restaurants here as well and for an additional fee, you can use the gym. There’s just one thing to remember – members must accompany non-members. You can now join The Club and pay for the membership fee monthly by direct debit.
The Club, Al Meena, Abu Dhabi, Dhs70 to Dhs100 for non-members accompanied by members, Dhs575 a month membership fee (24 monthly instalments). Tel: (02) 6731111. Taxi: British Club, Meena Port. the-club.com
Dine on the coastline
01. Beach House
The coastline of Saadiyat is the backdrop for this Mediterranean restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, and is child-friendly too. Watch the sun go down at its rooftop bar.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel And Villas, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 12.30pm to midnight. Tel: (02) 4071138. Taxi: Park Hyatt. park.hyatt.com
02. Asia De Cuba
The restaurant’s alfresco area on the Corniche offers great views of Abu Dhabi’s breakwater and its sofas are a popular spot to unwind for the city’s office workers. It recently launched a new brunch menu, featuring ceviche dishes, plus mojito masterclasses.
Nation Riviera, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (02) 6993333. Taxi: opposite St Regis, Corniche. asiadecuba.com
03. BBQ Al Qasr
“Would you like to sit inside or outdoors?” You won’t be asked that question at this Emirates Palace outlet that is alfresco only but can still host 96 guests. Diners sit in gazebos and eat while admiring the views of the Arabian Gulf.
Emirates Palace, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, daily 1pm to midnight. Tel: (02) 6907999. Taxi: Emirates Palace. kempinski.com
The best beach parties
01. Blue Marlin Ibiza
Blue Marlin isn’t just a party – it’s an all-day experience. Brunch is offered here, there’s a beach with watersports available, but the big lure is the music. International DJs are often on the bill here and they have house and techno gurus Solardo, from Manchester, lined up for F1 weekend.
Ghantoot Al Jazira Island Hotel, Abu Dhabi, Fri 1pm to 11pm. Tel: (056) 1133400. Taxi: Ghantoot Al Jazira. bluemarlinibiza-uae.com
02. Buddha Bar-Beach (coming soon)
And still we wait – Saadiyat’s new beach club was meant to open in October, but we’re still waiting for a launch date. The day-to-night destination next to The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort will be only the fourth of its kind in the world when it does finally open, but what we do know is it’ll have a beach, pool, drinks and music.
A pool party on Saadiyat, Cachée features live performers, gourmet food, fire shows and DJs and has caused quite a stir since launching last summer. Swimwear is essential for this one, as you’ll be making good use of the pool. It only launched in July, and featured DJs have included Saif and Sound, DJ SLIM, and DJ KaBoo. Previous parties have included dancers and a water drummer.
Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 8pm to 2am, Dhs200, Dhs80 ladies. Tel: (02) 6563500. Taxi: Saadiyat Beach Club. saadiyatbeachclub.ae
04. Maya Fridays
Abu Dhabi’s Al Maya Island Resort is only a ten-minute boat ride away from the mainland and it hosts local DJ Chad Funk’s Maya Friday parties most weekends. Table packages for drinks and food, such as mixed fajitas, are also available, costing between Dhs1,500 and Dhs3,500. Guests must be aged 21 and up. The resort’s Horizon Pool offers views of the Abu Dhabi skyline, and the beach has cabanas, sunbeds, showers and changing rooms.
Al Maya Island, Abu Dhabi, 11am to 9pm, Dhs100, ladies free entry before 1pm. Tel: (02) 6677777. facebook.com/BPM.AL.MAYA
01. Abu Dhabi Corniche Beach
It’s the city’s most well-known bit of coastline – there are 600 sun loungers and 27 cabanas and several sections aimed at singles, groups and bachelors and families. Sun loungers are Dhs25. You can swim here, but you won’t get far – you can only go 40 metres from the coast.
Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to sunset, Dhs10. Taxi: Corniche Beach. bakeuae.com
02. Yas Beach
This high-end location also has an open-air DJ booth, an infinity pool, a tiki bar, restaurant, private chalets, and a kids’ splash pool. Watersports such as sailing, kayaking and windsurfing are also available. The infinity pool is for over-21s on Fridays.
Yas Beach, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 7pm, Sun to Thur Dhs50, Fri and Sat Dhs100. Tel: (056) 2420435. Taxi: Yas Beach. yasbeach.ae
03. Saadiyat Public Beach
With the Louvre now open, life on Saadiyat is getting very busy indeed. The island’s beach is a particularly popular spot and there’s plenty of sun loungers available – some 300 – and for an extra cost you can find inner peace at a yoga class, go windsurfing for sailing and buy food at the beach café. You’ll find 200 parking spaces and there’s showers and changing rooms, so you can go home sand free.
Saadiyat Public Beach, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to sunset, Dhs25. Taxi: Saadiyat Beach. bakeuae.com