Dubai is known for stunning beaches, but private beach clubs and luxury resorts occupy a considerable part of the coastline. Non-hotel guests can usually buy day-passes but they are expensive (175-750AED per person). Fortunately, there are several public beaches, which are free to visit, or which only cost a couple of dirhams. However, only a few of the public beaches have facilities such as sunbeds and umbrellas, and they are often expensive to use.
In Dubai, topless sunbathing is prohibited, and thongs are also considered inappropriate. Swimwear should only be worn on the beach, so don’t walk around in your bikini in the streets or at nearby malls and restaurants.
The rip currents can be dangerous even for experienced swimmers. Some beaches have flag systems (red, yellow and green flags) which serves as a warning system, and they should be respected, especially if there is no lifeguard on duty.
Some public beaches tend to attract men from countries, where people aren’t used to see women in bikinis lounging on the beach. The men often come in small groups and are suspiciously up-dressed (shirt and pants). Some of them are more or less obviously taking pictures or recording movies with their smartphone cameras. Taking photos of people without their consent is illegal in Dubai, so don’t hesitate to report any such behavior. It’s usually only a problem on Fridays, which is the weekly day off for most people in Dubai, so please don’t let that scare you away from the beach. The beaches in Dubai are frequently patrolled by police officers, and are very safe, just like any other place in Dubai.
JBR The Beach
JBR Beach is probably the most popular beach among both tourists and locals. Facilities include sun beds, changing rooms and restroom/shower facilities, all available for a fee. You can also bring your own towel. and lie down wherever you like as it is a public beach.
In the winter months, it’s difficult to find a quiet spot. In fact, you’ll probably be so close to the person lying next to you, that you’ll be able to smell whether she is using Hawaiian Tropic or Piz Buin. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the beach, so you can easily spend a whole day in the area.
Umm Suqueim Beach/Sunset beach
Sunset Beach is located next to Jumeirah Beach Hotel and offers magnificent views of the famous luxury hotel Burj al Arab. The beach is popular among tourists, who often just come to snap some photos of the view. Recently, changing rooms and toilets have been installed, making this beach increasingly popular for all-day excursions.
Situated just north of Sunset Beach, Kite Beach also offers great views of Burj al Arab. New facilities such as showers, toilets and volleyball nets and a decent selection of eateries including the popular food truck Salt, has turned Kite Beach into much more than just a photo opportunity, and you can easily spend a whole day there.
Though not really a public beach, Le meridien Mina Seyahi’s beach club Barasti Beach is so popular, that I decided to include it anyway. It does not cost anything to enter, but you are not allowed to bring your own food and drinks (they search your bags upon entrance), and you have to be over 21, to get in (children only allowed accompanied by their parents).
If you want to secure yourself one of the sunbeds, you have to be there early, especially in the weekends, as Barasti fills up quickly and all the great spots are usually gone before noon. You can buy food and drinks including alcoholic beverages from the bar, and you can go directly from beach-mode to clubbing-mode as the party really takes off after sunset with DJ’s and entertainment.