Tourists flock to Abu Dhabi for the fantastic golf courses, incredible attractions, and fabulous hotels and restaurants – but its pristine beaches along the coast of the Arabian Gulf are worth the trip alone.
The city’s public beaches are either free to visit or incur small fees for entrance and use of sun loungers and parasols. There are also over 25 beach clubs, mostly run by resorts, which offer a fantastic array of leisure activities and luxurious surroundings that are free to resort guests, or open to visitors who pay for day passes. These passes are often redeemable on food and beverages and can include boat transfer.
A stunning public beach that runs alongside The Corniche, an 8km promenade on the northwest shore of the city, this 2km long, fully lifeguarded beach is divided into three sections: a singles and groups section; one for families (with a quiet zone), and; another aimed mainly at children who want to have fun in the sun. Certain sections incur a small fee, and there are loungers and parasols for hire. Surrounding the beach are children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafes and restaurants.
More pristine sand can be found at the 400-metre-long protected Saadiyat Public Beach on Saadiyat Island. It’s free to visit and has got a laid-back family-friendly atmosphere. You will find parasols and sun loungers for hire as well as changing facilities, showers and a cafe. There are lifeguards, beach yoga classes, and watersports such as windsurfing and sailing available. The area is home to an abundance of native wildlife, including critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles that use the beach as their nesting ground.
For those wanting some luxury, Saadiyat Beach Club is one of the most exclusive and secluded Abu Dhabi beach experiences. It has stylish cabanas, a stunning infinity pool, a great selection of restaurants and bars, and uninterrupted ocean views. A day pass includes the use of the private 9km beach, gym, sauna, and jacuzzi. For golf fans, the 18-hole Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, designed by legendary golfer Gary Player, runs right alongside the beach.
Yas Island is Abu Dhabi’s entertainment district with incredible family attractions such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. Yas Beach is also well worth a visit. It’s a private beach club with 400m of soft, white sand, cabanas, sun loungers, watersports, a large infinity pool, a kids pool, and great food and drink options. Surrounded by mangroves, it’s a beautiful place to relax. Visitors to any of Yas Island’s hotels receive complimentary access; otherwise, day passes are available.
To the west of the city centre overlooking Hudayriat Island, the 800m Al Bateen Beach has a lovely stretch of sand and calm, clear waters ideal for younger swimmers. It’s free to visit but has all the amenities that families need, including changing rooms, showers and toilets. There are sun loungers for hire, plus a watersports centre, a handful of cafes and plenty of lifeguards. There is also a ladies-only section.
This large island opened its beach in 2018 as the first phase of a vast redevelopment program. The 600m stretch of lifeguard-patrolled sand is free to use for the public, has playgrounds for kids, a paved promenade area and food trucks at the weekends. There are also slipways for boats and jet-skis, making it a must-visit for thrill-seekers. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Just a few minutes’ boat ride from Saadiyat Island, Zaya Nurai Island is a luxurious private island resort with an all-villa hotel, beach, pool, and stunning spa. Day passes, which include boat transfer, are available for visitors. This is hard to beat for pure indulgence.
The Hiltonia Beach Club is one of Abu Dhabi‘s most-visited beach attractions. It is a particularly great place for those with children as there’s a shallow family pool with two slides, a pool aimed explicitly at toddlers, and a Kid’s Club for the over 3s. You will also find a stunning private beach, plenty of food and drink options, a spa and fitness centre, and various watersports, all accessible with a day pass.
This is just a small taste of Abu Dhabi’s glorious beaches and beach clubs, strewn along 500km of stunning coastline. The city’s white sandy vistas rival those of any tropical island, and the warm turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf average a balmy 28°C. Together with guaranteed year-round sunshine, more and more visitors, whether they are couples, groups of friends or families, are discovering the Emirati capital is the perfect place for a beach vacation.