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The Best Spots for Beach Sports in the UAE
Posted on Jul 09, 2013 by Amy Knapp (G+)
Resorts aren’t the only place for watersports in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates is a little bit of beach sport heaven. In a country where there is literally a hotel or resort on every corner, there’s hardly a mile of coastline where you can’t rent a paddle board, hire a boat, or take a surfing lesson.
It’s thanks to the pristine, white sand coastline that runs across the eastern side of Dubai that tourism began to boom in the United Arab Emirates in the 1980’s - that and the fine weather than persists pretty much 365 days a year. Kilometre after kilometre of immaculate coastline are now lined with hotels and resorts. And it doesn’t stop there.
After the coastline was developed, work began on the offshore islands. The completion of the three palm projects and The World have added an additional seven hundred kilometres of coastline. The Dubai Waterfront added another eight hundred. That’s hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of coastline fringed with soft, white sand.
Unfortunately almost the entirety of this development is private, meaning you’ve got to be staying at a resort or beach club, renting a villa or owning a condo in order to enjoy these pristine beaches. Fortunately, there are a good number of public beaches along the coast.
Beach Sports in Dubai
This beach is a great choice for frisbee, since it’s relatively flat and free of crowds, so no need to worry about crashing into someone’s picnic basket or knocking out a young beachgoer with a flying disc. (Hint: there’s also a volleyball net on the south side of the beach when you need to switch things up.)
Ultimate Frisbee players can play pick-up anytime in Dubai. Check out DubaiUPA, a forum for players that lists games on beaches all over the city, as well as in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, if you feel like travelling. What’s pick-up? It’s just an informal gathering of frisbee players who divide into teams and play. Simple. Occasionally there’s a small fee for field and/or light rental but it’s minimal.
Sunset Beach is the money spot for paddle boarding and occasionally for surfing too, if the weather is right. Rent a paddle board or surfboard (starting at AED75) just across the street at Surf Dubai, which also offer lessons for beginners (starting at AED125). (Hint: for beginners, it’s best to get the biggest board available.) SurfSchoolUAE also offers lessons in surfing and paddleboarding.
Jumeirah Open Beach
Though not a great choice for swimming given all the litter and passing ships, Jumeirah Beach is close to town, it’s free and it’s got public restrooms, lockers and loads of space for your sport of choice. There are plenty of diving opportunities in the area. For a good glimpse of ocean life, Al Boom Diving offers qualified trainers and guided dives.
Kite Beach (or Wollongong Beach)
Right next to Jumeirah Beach is Kite Beach, the only place where kiteboarding is allowed in Dubai. There are several schools and rentals shops, but be warned the sport is significantly more costly than surfing or paddleboarding. Expect to pay at least twice as much! Be aware kiteboarding is not allowed on Fridays, the Muslim holy day.
Beach Sports Outside Dubai
Al Futaisi Island
Though this small island is operated like a resort, you don’t need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy the beach. For AED100 per person, take the ferry across from Al Futaisi’s office opposite Al Bateen Marina. This fee gives you access to the private beach and swimming pool. Boats run at 10:30am and 5:30pm - don’t miss it or you will be staying at the hotel.
Bahraini Island (aka Al Maya Island)
Far more peaceful than the surrounding islands, Bahraini Island is as good a beach as any to spend an afternoon. Camping and barbecuing is also allowed on the beach, if you’re staying for an extended period of time. Enjoy these seven kilometres of pristine white sand by chartering a boat from Belvari Marina.
Al Maya Island Resort has a Watersports Centre where visitors can rent wakeboards, paddleboards, kayaks, and kneeboards, among other things. The island also hosts regular dance parties on the beach. Check travel dates ahead of time if you’re counting on a peaceful evening of lounging by the water.
There are several beaches to choose from along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi, which stretches from the Hilton Hotel to Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street. Get free wakeboard lessons in the wakeboard park, where experts teach beginners from 12pm to 6pm daily. The swimming is great, but fenced off at 40 metres so you can’t go far. A complimentary shuttle is available from the parking lot. Marine life in the area is life - a great place to be your scuba dive on.
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