Dibba Bay Oysters, fish markets, and speedboat hire…

The sun is shining, sailboats are bobbing, and local fishermen are preparing their casts for the next day’s haul. For those just visiting Dubai, this yesteryear wharf enclave is a far cry from the raucous beaches on The Palm. Even for those of us who live here, it might not be a place we visit as often as we should.

Here’s exactly what you’re missing out on…

Dibba Bay Oysters

After several years of testing and planning, Dibba Bay founder Ramie Murray was ready to test his theory: If the Arabian Gulf was so renowned for pearl fishing, surely oysters could thrive here, too. Taking the chance, he opened an oyster farm in the nutrient-rich waters of Fujairah. That was 2016. Now, Dibba Bay oysters is the go-to for many of the city’s top restaurants, including The Maine, Boca, Alici, Cove Beach and 3 Fils, and, since December 2020, their very own oyster farmshop just a pebble’s throw from the ocean. Continuing the mission of promoting local seafood and sustainability, the shack serves its own glorious oysters (Dhs90 for six pieces; Dhs150 for 12 pieces; Dh250 for 12 pieces and caviar; from Dhs99 for a takeaway box) alongside Jebel Ali farmed organic salmon (Dhs85 with avocado or fennel; Dhs99 with local cheese), and bruschetta topped with locally grown tomatoes (Dhs34).

Dubai Fishing Harbour 2, Jumeirah 3, daily 10.30am to 10pm. Tel: (054) 4388537. @dibbabay

Jumeirah Fish Market

It is against all odds that fish markets are fun. Silver eyes glare up at you, the air is distinctly of the sea, and the floors are usually a swamp of saltwater. But the fishermen here are friendly, keen to show you their hauls and sell you as much as you can carry. They offer an assortment of fish, shellfish and squid at excellent prices. For example, you can snag a whole local red snapper for a mere Dhs50, or pay just Dhs65 for 300g of Jumeirah-caught prawns. Visit early morning, from 6am, when the first batches of fish start to arrive.

Dubai Fishing Harbour 2, Jumeirah 3, daily from 6am.

Cutting and Cooking Warehouse

Preparing seafood at home is oftentimes a risky venture, especially if you’ve purchased it from a local supermarket. A lot of the seafood most of us buy is quite expensive, comes from overseas, and is frozen at least once before it hits the shelves and then our ovens. Sack off the supermarket and instead head here. Follow the signs at the back of the fish market for the ‘cutting and cooking’ area. Here you’ll find an enormous warehouse where men fillet and cook to your liking the fish you’ve either just bought from the market, or fished yourself. It’s a revelation.

Seaview Restaurant

Located right next door to the fishermen accommodations, Seaview Restaurant has quietly garnered a loyal following since opening in 2014. As you’d expect from a restaurant owned by real fishermen it’s all about the wild caught fish and local catches of the day. That means anything from kingfish, mackerel, hammour, squid, prawn or seabream could be on the menu. Weather permitting, sit outside for a beautiful view of the harbour, or inside, for AC. Either way, it’s likely to be very busy.

Dubai Fishing Harbour 2, Jumeirah 3, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (0)4) 3388451. @seaview.restaurant

Hero Odysea

Sure, a cookie-cutter yacht charter might be the most luxurious way to explore the high seas around Dubai but that doesn’t mean it’s the most exciting. No, if you’re looking for more adventure, these self-drive boats (Dhs700 per boat, seating up to two people), which zoom off from Jumeirah Fishing Harbour 2 are just the ticket. You’ll set off in convoy aboard your own neat little Hero Odysea watercraft, reaching speeds of up to 60km/h, before stopping by Dubai’s iconic landmarks for several picture-perfect moments. Brilliant for both tourists and residents.

Dubai Fishing Harbour 2, Jumeirah 3, daily 6.30am to 4.30pm. Tel: (0)4 4409827. @hero_dubai

Images: Jade Wills Photography; Instagram; Supplied