Year-round heat is almost a dead cert in the UAE, with temperatures soaring in summer and locals flocking to the nearest swimming pool to cool down. From chilled hotel pools and pumping beach clubs to adrenaline thrills in huge water parks, there’s a pool to suit everyone in Abu Dhabi – read on for the best of the bunch.
Probably one of the most Instagrammable spots in this five-star hotel (or in the whole city, actually) is its 25-metre rooftop pool. Swim in temperature-controlled water (heated in winter and chilled in summer) overlooked by arched metal sculptures and palm trees that provide shade. After dark, the poolside area turns into a buzzy cocktail lounge, where you can smoke shisha and order bar snacks. The pool itself is open from 8am-4pm every day.
Al Maryah Island; +971 2 813 5550
This palatial hotel’s infinity pool has fantastic views of the city – it’s right opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and you can hear the call to prayer across the water several times a day. Set up camp under the shade of one of the beach cabanas that line the space and take a cooling dip in the rectangular pool. Make sure you stay till nightfall when you can order a drink and watch the sun sink into the horizon.
Khor Al Maqta, Qaryat al Beri; +971 2 509 8888
The white lattice framework that envelops Yas Hotel provides partial shade at this striking semi-circular rooftop pool. The hotel’s illuminated exterior is best viewed at night, when the rooftop lounge and swimming pool area transform into one of the coolest after-dark hangouts in the city. If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can book a day pass to use the facilities for AED788.
Yas Island; +971 2 656 0000
Outside the city, on the border with Dubai, Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE is Abu Dhabi’s hippest out-of-town club, attracting locals and tourists alike. If you’ve ever been to Blue Marlin beach club in Ibiza, you’ll know what’s in store here. Located on the beach at the Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel, the poolside is a great chillout spot during the day, but when the sun sets, it hosts a raucous pool party with a line-up of international DJs. If you can bag a ticket, you’re set for one of the biggest nights out in Abu Dhabi.
Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel and Resort, off Sheikh Zayed Road; +971 56 113 3400
This sprawling beachside hotel, a byword for luxury in Abu Dhabi, has two massive temperature-controlled pools. Kids will love the Adventure Pool (7am-sunset), with its two water slides, cascade, lazy river and shallow water for paddling. For adults, pull up a lounger at Las Brisas (7am-9pm) where there’s a Jacuzzi and swim-up bar. A day pass to the hotel starts from 310AED.
West Corniche Road; +971 2 690 9000
A day trip to this stylish beach club is an expat favourite in the city. Right on Saadiyat Beach (where hawksbill turtles come to nest every year), the club has a spa and a great men’s grooming barber shop, 1847, as well as a gym for a pre-pool workout. Splash out for a poolside cabana, and break for lunch at Mediterranean restaurant Safina. Day passes start from 250AED.
Saadiyat Island, Exit 14; +971 2 656 3500
One of Abu Dhabi’s best-kept secrets, Zaya Nurai Island beach club is on a private island just a ten-minute speedboat ride from Saadiyat Island. You can swim all year round in the temperature-controlled main pool, then tuck into sashimi and sushi at Ginger Mermaid pool club bar. Love it so much you don’t want to leave? Stay overnight in one of the all-white luxury villas, all with their own private pools for those who don’t want to share.
Nurai Island; +971 2 506 6222
Aloft Abu Dhabi
This city-centre infinity pool is dotted with trees that seemingly rise up out of the water. It’s a great setting to relax in during the day, but what really sets this hotel pool apart are the parties it hosts during the cooler months when it transforms into a buzzing club. Known for attracting a younger, expat crowd, DJs play as you swim, and flamethrowers provide plenty of spectacle. Day passes start from 199AED.
Khaleej Al Arabi Street; +971 2 654 5000
One of the biggest and best attractions in the emirate, Yas Waterworld should be the first stop on your list if you have kids in tow. Located on entertainment hub Yas Island (Ferrari World and Warner Bros World are here, too), this monster waterpark has 40 rides, including the longest suspended rollercoaster in the Middle East. There are water guns, vertical-drop slides and bodyboarding waves, plus loads of pools and a lazy river if you want to relax.
Yas Island; +971 2 414 2000
You’ll have earned a drink and a chillout on one of the Fairmont’s cream-and-ebony sun loungers after doing just a couple of lengths at this palm-tree-dotted 50-metre pool – one of the longest in Abu Dhabi. It’s sandwiched between the neon-lit hotel and the beach and, like the Shangri-La, has a view of spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque. If you’re not staying at the hotel, buy a day pass from upwards of 99AED.
Al Khor St; +971 2 654 3333