Make the most of island life with these beautiful beaches

Azure waters, white sand and blue skies – celebrate the warmer weather in the capital by taking a plunge at these beaches 

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With temperatures starting to rise, it’s just a matter of time before we officially bid goodbye to the cooler weather. But that doesn’t mean that we should all be retreating to the air-conditioned confines of our houses. Why? Because Abu Dhabi is blessed with gorgeous beaches with white sand and tranquil blue waters.

Well-maintained and featuring plenty of activities designed to delight beachgoers of all ages, grab your sunscreen and towel because beach season is here.
cover_story_08Corniche

Long before the arrival of many of the city’s luxury bathing spots, there was Corniche beach. Stretching 8km in length, this city landmark, which is divided into various sections for women, families and the general public, is accessible and frequently visited by residents longing to make the most of island life. This spot’s Blue Flag status cemented its clean and safe conditions.

There are showers and changing facilities to accommodate swimmers, while lifeguards are stationed to ensure safety.

Should you get hungry, there are restaurants and cafes lined up near Gate 4. Free. Corniche Road. 8am-8pm.

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A’l Bahar

The latest addition to the city’s beach scene, this 80,000sqm beachfront development on the Corniche combines all the elements of retail, dining and leisure with a stunning beach setting. Aside from the shops, visitors can take advantage of sports facilities including basketball, beach volleyball and football courts and outdoor gym Fitness by the Shore, operated by functional fitness company Haddins. Topping it all off is the family-friendly AquaFun, the capital’s first inflatable waterpark floating in the ocean and spelling out I❤︎AD. Free. Corniche. Daily 9am-6.30pm. Visit: al-bahar.aecover_story_01Al Bateen Beach

Another member of the Blue Flag club, this quiet and picturesque beach provides a view of the Hudariyat Bridge, often billed as the bridge to nowhere. This 800m beach development tends to be less busy than the Corniche, though weekends do fill up with families enjoying picnics, playing beach volleyball and fishing.

Divided into mixed and women-only sections, the beach boasts clear waters plus amenities like children’s playgrounds, shower and changing facilities, as well as some of the best sunset views. Sunloungers are available to rent and you can even go kayaking or grab a bite to eat from BurgerChi. Free. Khalifa Al Mubarak Street. 8am-8pm. Contact: 052 118 1279 

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Al Maya

If you fancy partying on white sand with a feeling of exclusivity, then head over to this idyllic island resort. To get here, you need to hop on a boat docked near Khalidiyah Palace Rayhaan for about a ten-minute journey. On the other shore, beach lovers can enjoy crystal clear water and feel-good music, especially on Fridays when the pool party takes over. If you really fancy making the most of it, then why not book a night’s stay in one of the Moroccan-designed villas?

The island is open daily but shuttle boats only operate on Fridays and Saturdays, so weekday visitors must arrange their own transportation. Fri AED 125, Sat AED 105, villas from AED 1,500 per night. Daily 10am-8pm. Contact: 02 667 7777, almayauae.com 

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Yas Beach

This developed leisure spot arguably offers the most facilities for beachgoers.

If you’re looking to do more than just swimming and snoozing under the sun, then get moving by engaging in activities like kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding, hit the outdoor gym or challenge friends to a game of volleyball. A DJ supplies the soundtrack for a hip vibe at the beach lounge, and you can refuel at the Tiki Bar and restaurant.

Families, meanwhile, can paddle in the clear water, play in the sand or chill in a cabana for a fun day out. AED 50 weekdays, AED 100 weekends and public holidays, children under 12 free, free entry for Yas Island hotel guests. Near Crowne Plaza Yas Island. Contact:
056 242 0435, yasbeach.ae

cover_story_05Saadiyat Public Beach

With over 300 sun loungers stretched out across a 400m stretch of sand, this beach is a favourite destination for both tourists and residents. While no motorised watersports are allowed on Saadiyat Island, you can enjoy eco-friendly activities such as windsurfing and sailing.

Facilities include showers and changing rooms, lockers, plus sunloungers, towels and umbrellas to rent – but keep in mind that these book up quickly. The beach also hosts weekly yoga classes, using the turquoise waters and clear skies as a backdrop, and you may even catch sight of dolphins and other wildlife in their  natural habitat. AED 25 per person, AED 15 for children six to 12, children under five free,

AED 50 weekdays including umbrella and sunlounger, AED 75 weekends. Next to Park Hyatt Hotel and Villas, Saadiyat Island. Daily 8am-sunset. Contact: 800 8342, saadiyat.ae

cover_story_02Mirfa Beach

Arguably one of the emirate’s best-kept secrets, Mirfa Beach in the Western Region is a gem of a spot and is great for those who want to escape the crowds. Located about an hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi city, the beach is open for people who want to camp overnight or spend a day with a picnic and a swim in the clear waters. Mirfa Beach is also home to Al Dhafra Watersports Festival, hosted from 19th to 28th April, with activities and entertainment all based around the ocean. Free. Al Dhafra.

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Stay safe in the sun

Dr Senthil Prabahar Samiraj, specialist dermatology and venereology at Burjeel Hospital, shares tips on how to take care of yourself while on a beach day out.

Stay hydrated: Drinking water is extremely important, especially during the warmer months. We lose essential fluid and salts when we sweat and regularly drinking water helps to replenish these.

Be vigilant: Apply a sunblock with SPF30 or higher at least 30 minutes before going into the sun and repeatedly reapply throughout the day, even if your sun block is water resistant. Most sunblocks have a life span of around three years, after which they can lose their effectiveness. Check the expiration date of your sunblock.

Grab the gear: It’s a good idea to wear a hat in the sun to protect the delicate skin on your neck, scalp, face and ears – but you still need to apply sun block on these areas. Sunglasses are also important to protect your eyes from harmful rays. If you can, buy sunglasses that are polarised, as their protection is more effective.

Seek shade: Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you feel too hot or that your skin is delicate to the touch, get out of the sun immediately.

Stay vigilant: Ask a friend to keep an eye on your skin and check that you aren’t burning, particularly on areas you can’t see easily like the back of your neck and shoulders.

Take care of your skin: When you come out of the sun, apply a moisturising after-sun cream. This will ensure your skin doesn’t dry out and become flaky or peel.

WORDS Ferdinand Godinez

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