The Corniche beach
The Corniche is of course, the main promenade that runs between Abu Dhabi’s city centre and the Arabian Gulf Sea. Stretching for some 8km, it’s one of the best Abu Dhabi beaches for cycling, people watching and taking in the views of the city’s sweeping coastline.
The Corniche beach is public so entry is free, however you’ll need to arrive early to rent the sun loungers and parasols. Find the main entrance to the beach off Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street and rest assured, this beach has Blue Flag Status, so it’s safe for swimming too.
Saadiyat Public Beach
Yogis come here to do their sun salutations and active-types take advantage of the plentiful (non-motorised) watersports. The public beach on Saadiyat island is a general crowd pleaser and you’ll find parasols and sun loungers facing the warm gulf waters as well as changing facilities, showers and a cafe nearby. For a laid-back family atmosphere and plenty of space to perfect your sandcastle, this is one of the best Abu Dhabi beaches for it.
Saadiyat private beach
Those who want to enjoy the white sands of Saadiyat Beach with the option of luxurious surrounds should consider Saadiyat Beach Club, home to chic poolside cabanas, a stunning pool and stylish Cabana9 restaurant and lounge.
A favourite with locals and ex-pats, Saadiyat Beach Club has a wooden walkway that leads you to the relaxed beach and carries out various conservation efforts to help protect the Hawksbill turtles that nest here. You may spot dolphins leaping in and out of the Gulf waters here too – it’s one of the most exclusive of Abu Dhabi beaches.
Al Bateen beach
A local’s and family favourite, Al Bateen Beach is also the go-to beach for watersports, beach volleyball – or for something more sedate – admiring the locals pull in the catch of the day.
At 8km long, it’s one of larges Abu Dhabi beaches yet it’s one of the most peaceful. And views over Hudariyat Bridge and Hudariyat Island add to its appeal. There’s a private area for women (entry fee applies) as well as changing facilities onsite.
National Riviera beach
The Nation Riviera Beach is a stretch of golden sand located at the St Regis Abu Dhabi hotel, at the end of the Corniche. So it’s a desirable spot for its VIP service, pool-access and family activities. The Nation Riviera Beach Club (day pass fees apply for non-guests) opens until 10pm with private cabanas, ladies-only sections and a watersports centre offering everything from kayaking to scuba diving and water skiing.
Zaya Nurai Island
Zaya Nurai Island was once voted one of the world’s most incredible private islands by Conde Nast Traveller and when you visit, you will understand why. Each of its 32 luxury villas offer direct access to their own little plot of beach. If you are just visiting (day passes are available), you can relax under the hotel’s cobalt blue parasols and feel like you’re in the Maldives. Worth hopping on a boat for.
Home of the F1 race track and abundance of family activities, Yas Island is known as Abu Dhabi’s ‘entertainment destination’. However, thanks to Yas Beach, it’s a place to relax in the sunshine too.
At Yas Beach club, visitors can enjoy sun loungers, private cabanas and access to the beach bar (fees apply) with views of the mangrove forests. On Fridays, expect an adults-only pool party – it’s one of the best Abu Dhabi beaches to watch the sunset. At weekends, watersports enthusiasts flock to Yas Island’s Kite Beach.
The Emirates Palace Hotel beach
This beach fringes one of the most opulent hotels in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Palace by the Kempinski group. So, expect a no holds barred level of luxury and facilities here.
Watersports such as kayaking, paddle-boarding and wake boarding are available from the beach and it’s a fine place for groups and couples to spend the day. There’s a vast children’s section with waterpark and family-facilities too. For something a bit different, ask about their authentic Bedouin experience. You can enjoy traditional Arabic coffee and take a camel ride along the silky sands.
Sir Bani Yas Island
Sir Bani Yas Island is typically known for its safaris in the Arabian Wildlife Park. So while many travellers come here to spot roaming oryx, cheetahs and gazelles, it’s also home to some of Abu Dhabi’s best beaches. Many of the hotels – such as the Al Yamm Villa Resort – offer access to the island’s vast sandy beaches. You will also find some novel beach activities here, from land sailing and dhow cruises to kayaking through the calm gulf waters and mangroves.
You’ll find this 300m-stretch of sands at the InterContinental hotel Abu Dhabi, a short distance from the Corniche – right in the centre of the city. It has pleasant palm tree gardens, plenty of watersports and a whole host of other facilities for a relaxing day out. Those who aren’t staying at the hotel can pay a day pass fee or membership to the beach. This includes access to the hotel’s pool, gym and spa.
Words by Lucy McGuire