Family-Friendly UAE Favourites you should try for your next vacation
Surrounded by the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east, it’s no wonder the UAE is blessed to be home to some of the best beach resorts in the world.
Thanks to many queries from friends and readers on the best places to stay and enjoy the beach in the UAE, we set ourselves the task of narrowing it down to the UAE’s top 10 Beach Resorts!
One thing UAE beach resorts really deliver on is that great combination of luxury, yet family-friendly. Our aim was to seek out those that appeal to all members of the family, both together and individually. We have sought out those with a great ambience and customer service; somewhere that will leave you with a great lasting impression, and most importantly, relaxed!
Top 10 Best Beach Resorts in the UAE
- The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (Abu Dhabi)
- Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas (Abu Dhabi)
- Anantara Desert Island Resort (Abu Dhabi)
- Madinat Jumeirah Resort (Dubai)
- Sofitel Dubai the Palm Resort & Spa (Dubai)
- Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina (Dubai)
- Anantara the Palm Resort (Dubai)
- Doubletree by Hilton Marjan Island (Ras Al Khaimah)
- Waldorf Astoria (Ras al Khaimah)
- Le Meridien Al Aqah (Fujairah)
Click on the names here to jump straight to the details and pricing, or keep scrolling to find out why we love & recommend them!
We’ve also included below our Top Tips for Booking a UAE Resort and other practical information you might need for visiting the UAE on a beach holiday.
Prices quoted are only averages for a family of 4 – on special offers or with smaller groups you can significantly save – try our Search Special Offers option on each to see latest deals from HotelsCombined.
None of these resorts listed are paid sponsors, but this page does contain affiliate links to hotel search and booking tools we use and recommend.
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Best Beach Resorts Abu Dhabi
Often the forgotten cousin to Dubai, but equally good – if not better – when it comes to soft white sands and uninterrupted views of the Gulf. The beauty is you can be only minutes from the heart of the city of Abu Dhabi but feel a million miles away. Whilst there’s ample beach coverage around the capital (many people do not realise the main city of Abu Dhabi is actually built on a series of islands), you can also look further afield for luxury and indulgence away from the big smoke.
Our favourite beach, and no surprise it got two mentions in the Top 10 is Saadiyat Island.
1. The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
We love it because: With its striking Mediterranean features, St Regis Saadiyat has an extensive offering of leisure facilities, restaurants, relaxation and choice of 3 temperature controlled pools, or head down to the soft sandy white beach for uninterrupted ocean views. On a good day you may see dolphins playing offshore, and in the nesting season, it’s give way to the Hawksbill Turtles that nest in the dunes.
The family facilities here are extensive with the Sand Castle Kids Club offering a range of supervised indoor and outdoor activities free to all guests. There’s also a large splash play area, playground and a series of beach games and activities held with their entertainment staff on a daily basis.
With the opening of the new Louvre Museum on Saadiyat, ticket packages including afternoon tea are currently available. And who doesn’t get a thrill out of having their own private butler for the night, right?
Prices for a family of 4 (2 interconnecting rooms) start at $600USD / 2200AED.
2. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas
We love it because: Also nestled on the pristine white sands of Saadiyat Island, the choice of suites and villas are designed for luxury and indulgence, big enough for families with loads of detailed extras- we love the oversized bathtubs!
Enjoy the choice of 4 swimming pools, leisure facilities (arguably one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world), 3 restaurants – The Beach House has stunning panoramic ocean views – and one of my Abu Dhabi favourites for an indulgent ladies day, Atarmia Spa. The younger crowd are not forgotten with Camp Hyatt offering a range of indoor and outdoor recreation activities.
Prices for a family of 4 (2 interconnecting Park King rooms or suites) start at $610USD / 2250AED.
3. Anantara Desert Resort Islands Resort & Spa, Sir Bani Yas Island
We love it because: This sums up the remoteness and raw beauty of UAE wrapped up in Arabian opulence. Based a couple of hours drive west of the capital, on the Sir Bani Yas Island desert reserve, a short ferry from Jebel Dhanna.
Offering a kids club, playground and kids pool, as well as huge outdoor pool and beach frontage. Activities on offer for all the family include scuba diving, snorkelling, bushwalking, bike riding, bird spotting and horse riding. The Anantara resorts are the only habitation so you are limited to their choice of 5 restaurants but its a truly wonderful experience everyone should try during their time in the UAE.
There are three accommodation options here all offered by Anantara, the main resort, or staying at the pricier Al Yamm Villa Resort or Al Sahel Villas. Resort prices for a family of 4 (2 interconnecting garden rooms) start at $700USD / 2570AED.
Special Mentions in Abu Dhabi
The St Regis Abu Dhabi – This is a great city beach choice on the main Corniche. The hotel is based in Nation Towers, but cross the underpass and you find yourself in the Riviera Beach Club right on the Corniche. We absolutely love the food offering at The Terrace Brunch and New York- style all day breakfast but the beach and Treasure Island Children’s Club here are slightly separated from the main hotel making it a little more of a faff to get around with the kids.
It is still a highly rated choice though, we loved the high-rise views, personal touches for the kids (You can see our full St Regis Staycation review here). Prices for a family of 4 (2 interconnecting rooms) start at $650USD / 2400AED – search for special offers.
Emirates Palace – We left this one off as although it does have its own beach frontage (well you’d expect that for anywhere with its own helipad, lazy river, cricket pitches and private jet service), we consider it in a class of its own from the every day affordable beach resorts. Do add it to your “someday” list though – Prices for a family of 4 (2 interconnecting Coral rooms) start at $900USD / 3300AED – search for special offers.
We were tempted to add some Yas Island hotels but disappointingly, they do not have direct access to Yas Beach as you’d expect which is what we love on a beach resort staycation. They are a great choice though if you’re coming for a shopping, sightseeing and theme park weekend. There are a number of luxury hotels on the Grand Canal (Bab al Bahr area) too with “beach frontage” but it’s all very artificial – and ruined by illegal jet-skiers. Save these for luxury city stay hotels instead.
Want more on Abu Dhabi hotels? We have a really thorough guide on the best areas stay with kids and the pros and cons of over 50 hotels in the capital!!!
Best Beach Resorts Dubai
Now we thought it was hard narrowing it down in Abu Dhabi. Where do you start in Dubai?? The city is entirely spread along the Gulf coast to take advantage of the sea frontage. The most popular areas are around Jumeirah and the Palm, with its beachy fronds adding significant (albeit man-made) beach frontage. Luxury resorts in Dubai, however, come at a price as you have not only the most amazing facilities but also the convenience of the whole city on your doorstep.
We have tried to narrow it down to those that have top-notch facilities at a price that won’t knock you back a month’s salary. I’m sure we’re going to disappoint some of you in who we’ve left off!
4. Madinat Jumeirah Resort
We love it because: This resort is actually made up of 3 hotels – Jumeirah al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam and the new Jumeirah Al Naseem – as well as 29 summerhouses of Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf and 7 Jumeirah Malakiya Villas. Between them all, there’s really something to suit all crowds though from family-friendly to romantic escapes.
The complex is attached to Souk Madinat Jumeirah so you have easy access to over 50 restaurants and eateries, yet still your own private beach, pools and wellness facilities. There is a complimentary shuttle to Mall of the Emirates and the nearest Metro station if you are looking to explore further afield.
All Jumeirah guests get complimentary access to Wild Wadi Waterpark located next to the perhaps more famed Jumeirah Beach Hotel but we think this is the nicer setting. As well as 2kms of unspoilt beachfront, there’s also waterways that run inside the complex where you can take traditional abra boat rides.
If parents want to escape and enjoy a treatment at the award-winning Talise Spa, kids can enjoy all day entertainment and child minding with Sinbad Kids Club and KiDS at Jumeirah Al Naseem. For those who like a more adventurous break, there’s a huge range of water sports on offer, tennis courts, even a climbing wall.
A highlight for many visitors though is the Turtle Rehabilitation Lagoon located at Jumeirah Al Naseem – you can read more about their rescue and rehabilitation program here.
Our top pick for families is the more intimate setting of the summerhouses at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf. Prices for a family of 4 (sharing a King Room with sofa bed) start at $470 USD / 1700AED
5. Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa
We love it because: Located on the Palm, the Sofitel boasts a Polynesian theme with extensive family facilities including the Amura Kids Club, 3 pools, private beach frontage as well as on-site dining and entertainment options and easy access to everything the Palm and Jumeriah area has to offer.
So Spa for the gwon ups and a waterslide for teh kids; Gym, tennis courts and private jetty, this is everything you expect of a city resort escape delivered well.
Prices for a family of 4 (sharing a suite) start at $470USD / 1700AED.
6. Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina
We love it because: Boasting Dubai’s largest private sand beach as well as 5 swimming pools, 6 restaurants and bars, a water sports centre, Heavenly Spa as well as shared facilities with neighbouring hotel the Westin Dubai Mina Seyah, you get an awful lot of bang for your buck!
The Penguin Kids Club has a daily activity program as well as offering 2 kiddy pools and indoor and outdoor playgrounds. You are only 200m from the Dubai Tram making it easy to explore the surrounding area as well.
It’s a little lighter on the pocket than many other beach resorts in Dubai, but we don’t believe this impacts on quality of facilities and service you can expect to receive. Part of the Starwood Group, there are currently great promotions for 50% off second rooms and kids eat free. Prices for a family of 4 (sharing a deluxe room) start at $230USD / 850AED.
7. Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort
We love it because: Based on the eastern crescent of the Palm, this is a real urban escape. The resort has been designed around a series of internal lagoons with a real South East Asian vibe. Many rooms have direct swim-up access.
The facilities are second to none with the usual great array of dining options, leisure facilities, infinity pool, spa, jacuzzi, kids and teen clubs, and of course beach frontage!
Prices for a family of 4 (one bedroom apartment) start at $430USD / 1550AED.
Special Mentions in Dubai
Atlantis the Palm – it’s iconic, it’s grand. It can also be too overrun with tourists and lacking in top notch customer service, for these reasons it didn’t make our top picks, but do keep an eye out for specials. If you can get a good deal on double rooms along with entry to Aquaventure and the Lost Chambers then I’d suck it up for sure and go enjoy!
There are so many others we had to squeeze out! We love the exquisite One & Only Royal Mirage Resort but a little out of price range for most – maybe save that for a special romantic getaway. Dukes Dubai is another charming and family-friendly option, as is Fairmont the Palm, highly recommended in many local mums chats!
Then completely out of ordinary budgets – yes THE iconic building of Dubai is a beach resort hotel, the Burj Al Arab. I’m not sure we should print here how much that’ll cost your family of 4+ per night! Go, on have a look here!!
Best Beach Resorts in Ras Al Khaimah
“RAK” is slowly but surely becoming THE place to go for your UAE staycation but is perhaps a lesser-known gem for overseas visitors. It is just that little bit further away from the big cities so you really feel like your away on an escape. Prices tend to be a little bit cheaper and more inclusions for your money. It’s also easy access to the desert and mountains for those looking to day trip away from the beach for a different aspect of the UAE as part of the same vacation.
8. Doubletree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island
We love it because: Just what you want from a resort! The site has 5 swimming pools, including 2 dedicated kids pools, 600m of beach frontage, kids club including arcade zone and our favourite – the Pirate Boat Aqua Zone! You will also find a new Tarzan Boat with trampolines, high dive boards and rope swings! This is in addition to play parks for the little kids, 14 restaurant choices and the choice of two spas – including a ladies only if you’re thinking a girly weekend away!
The rooms in the villa suites overlook lush gardens and are really generous in size. There are plenty of grounds to explore, before taking in awesome sunset views from the 9th floor.
I’ll admit we have a soft spot for this resort as its the first place we were ever able to leave all 3 of our children for an hour while we sat and did nothing by the pool, priceless!! You can read our full staycation review here.
Note when booking with Hilton in RAK there are several hotels with very similar sounding names. All are good, but its the one on Marjan Island that gets our top billing here! Prices for a family of 4 (Deluxe Twin) start at $170USD / 620AED.
9. Waldorf Astoria
We love it because: Set this one aside for a special occasion as it does cost a little more than others in RAK, but get set for a real family treat. With its own private beach, 18-hole golf course, luxury spa, 9 restaurants, tennis courts, swimming pools. Add to the mix for kids there is a complimentary kids club, along with indoor and outdoor play parks and babysitting can be arranged if you’d like a night out to try one of the 9 restaurants.
Their rooms are larger than average with family rooms and suites that can fit up to 5 making them great for the larger family. Prices for a family of 4 (deluxe family room – 2 queens) start at $310USD / 1100AED
Special mentions in Ras Al Khaimah
We have a lot of runners-up in RAK! There is really a great selection of resorts to choose from along the extensive new coastline created by Marjan Island.
Rixos Bab Al Bahr – famed for its ultra all-inclusive packages that are real value for money and a great party atmosphere. We only left it off the top as we felt there were more family-friendly options but it most definitely catered to the family market too with extensive leisure facilities, the Rixy Kids Club, Teen Republic and babysitting (for over 3’s only). Prices for a family of 4 (All inclusive – 2 bedroom) start at $700USD / 2600AED – check special offers.
The Cove Rotana Resort – Although this resort provides beautiful Arabian styling and its own private beach front, we felt there were more impressive beach offerings in the area. It is just BEAUTIFUL though with its centrepiece lagoon and village-like feel. Villas here are a great option for families and facilities include 6 onsite restaurants as well as Flippers Kids Club and a kids pool, along with spa and leisure facilities. Certainly, if you’ve tried the Marjan Island resorts before and are looking for a change of pace this would be another great option. Prices for a family of 4 (2 bed villa) start at $479/ 1700AED – check special offers.
Best Beach Resorts Fujairah
The Emirate on the furthest east coast of the country is now easily reachable from Dubai in under 2 hours. Still not as popular with overseas guests, it can be a bit of a hidden gem for local residents looking to escape the big smoke for a weekend, nestled between the mountains and the ocean.
10. Le Meridien Al Aqah
We love it because: For stunning views over the Gulf of Oman, lush gardens and extensive leisure facilities, this has become a firm family favourite. The Penguin Kids Club offers an extensive program of activities for the little ones, entertainment staff are on hand as well as mini golf, indoor and outdoor temperature controlled pools and a special addition in 2017 of a splash area.
Rooms start at much more reasonable prices than you’ll find in Dubai for the equivalent facilities. Prices for a family of 4 (shared room with sea view) start at $190USD / 700AED.
Special Mentions in Fujairah
Miramar al Aqah Beach Resort – Close on the heels of Le Meriden, on the same stretch of beach you’ll find Miramar. 5-star family luxury, complimentary kids club, with shaded pool, playroom and kids menu. Equally great for the grown-ups offering extensive evening entertainment packages. Prices for a family of 4 (family room) start at $270USD / 880AED – search special offers.
And Best of the Rest – elsewhere in the UAE
We didn’t have any beach resorts specifically from Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain make it to our top 10. Not that there aren’t accommodation choices in each of these Northern Emirates with merit, they just weren’t spectacular enough to make the cut with some tough competition!
A lot of the resort hotels in Ajman are relatively new and not on the waterfront. There is the Kempinski, but if we’re honest from Mr Globetrotters personal review, the beachfront here isn’t as white and glossy as photos make out.
Similarly, there’s the Barracuda Beach Resort in UAQ. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s on the beach but hmm. And it hasn’t had a facelift I’d say since about 1985. With a massive overhaul and sprucing up it might hold potential in the future with its great location next to the Dreamland Waterpark and some lovely sunsets – but for now, it just makes a cheap, convenient booze stop on the way home from RAK.
Sharjah is a dry emirate which makes it very hard to compete on the international resort scale, their speciality is more in affordable business traveller accommodation. Radisson Blu is set on the waterfront here if you were after a beachy option without the party.
Top Tips and Practical information for booking a UAE Resort
Remember you’re in the desert. Sure, that means pretty much year-round sunshine, but it’s important to understand a few things about desert weather.
The peak of summer can be unbearably hot, so hot you are unlikely to get any enjoyment out of setting by the pool or dipping in the bach during daylight hours. The best resorts will chill their pools, to make them bearable but you’re unlikely to find any relief in the ocean.
You will also find a lot of things in the UAE shut down over summer. Certainly, all outdoor events and many expat families fly home at this time so it can be a bit of a ghost town in the big cities. For these reasons, resorts heavily discount their prices over summer to attract customers. So you could get yourself a seriously good bargain at these times! But just be warned you’re likely to be spending a lot of time indoors and you may not get “the full UAE experience”.
Winter can be a little chilly. Yes! Daytime temperatures do warm up to be really pleasant for most, but expect to need a wrap or cardigan in the evenings. Make sure your resort pool is heated and unless you’re brave; in December-January at least it might be too cold for an ocean dip. Prices can be high still in December as it’s school holidays and a lot of expats have overseas visitors at this time so expect everything to be quite busy around town.
That still leaves an absolute load of shoulder season to enjoy though! You really can’t go wrong visiting mid-October to Mid-December and late February through to late May are the best for resort weather.
Religious holidays, events & etiquette in the UAE
Religious and public holidays are frequent occurrences throughout the year. You can see the calendar of 2018 expected holiday dates here. We say expected as religious holidays are based on moon sightings, and as a general rule, even events that fall on known dates like National Day or New Years Day, the public holiday may be observed on different dates.
Ramadan is a different thing again! The 9th month on the Hijri calendar (dates vary every year) is the Holy Month of Ramadan. Muslims around the world use this as a time of deep reflection. Visitors are asked to refrain from a number of activities and provide an environment that allows Muslims to observe the month them in an appropriate manner. There are fines and even imprisonment for visitors who flaunt these rules.
We have a really detailed guide for visiting families on how to deal with Ramadan in the UAE. It can understandably be daunting and the expectation unclear if you are visiting for the first time, but rest assured your hotel will advise you on behaviour too. You may also get to be involved in an evening Iftar if you visited during this time which is a great local experience.
The other thing visitors should bear in mind if visiting during Ramadan, is that opening hours can significantly change. The country very much moves to a night time culture. It appears resorts, shopping malls and the like are becoming increasingly lax about what goes on during Ramadan. Certainly, hotels in RAK its business as usual throughout Ramadan and Dubai seems to be following suit.
Can I wear a bikini in the UAE?
There are slightly different social rules within a private setting like a resort and out in public. Whilst wearing a bikini might be fine within a resort, leave it there. Do not go on to the public beaches or into town scantily clad. I would suggest even at the poolside though to show a little respect. Whilst yes, it’s private, you will more than likely be sharing the resort with other Muslim families. The ladies show modesty at all times, most wear full-length burkini’s when swimming with their families. For everyone’s comfort, I’d look to be more covered up than usual.
Even if you’re not specifically pulled up for it, showing too much skin in public here is considered disrespectful. I’d always suggest ladies look to cover shoulders and knees at a minimum. Gents, I’d honestly leave the budgy smugglers at home. Longer swim shorts are the norm for men.
Beware the Taxes
Note that hotel prices quoted might be missing a lot of extra hidden costs! Whether prices are quoted gross or net really seems to vary so check the fine print and expect to pay something extra at check out. Watch out for;
- Municipality fee
- Tourism fee
- Property services charge
- Room Tax 15/20AED per night (varies by Emirate)
- And from 1 January 2018 a VAT of 5% is expected to be implemented.
Also expect to pay a lot for extras within your hotel too – for drinks, meals, just about anything! They know they have a captive audience.
How to save on UAE Resorts
There are a few ways to get a little more luxury for your money.
- Grab an Entertainer 2-4-1 products if you’ll be out in the UAE more than a few days. They cover a huge range of restaurants and entertainment facilities, including those inside resorts you might be staying in. You can make your money back on the cover price pretty quickly if you plan selectively.
- Use the HotelsCombined price comparison tool. We’ve linked to them above in all our recommendations as they are the quickest and best way to compare not only hotel search engines but the hotel themselves for the best value offers. Do click on the details and carefully read the fine print on each advertised offer though. Some online booking agents might have access to group deals that go beyond the headline price or throw in complimentary extras or upgrades (like theme park tickets or restaurant vouchers).
- Sign up for the hotel’s newsletter. Particularly the large chains like Starwood group, Hilton, Anantara, they tend to write to their members first to let them know if there are great deals coming up. Sure it can be spammy, but set them to go to a folder rather than your inbox and when you’re ready to research holidays, take a look.
- Sign up for Groupon.ae; Again another one that can be spammy overload when you first sign up but set your mailing preferences right and they do have some really good value offers pop up.
- If you are after a daycation rather than staycation, why not look into a Privilee Membership? They offer day access to a huge number of the UAE beach resorts as well as food and beverage discounts, it’s the best way to take a holiday without actually needing to pack your suitcases!
More on visiting the UAE
I strongly suggest you pop over to our guide “15 Important Facts to Know Before Visiting the UAE”. We cover many of the points mentioned above in more detail so you can have a good idea of what to expect on your first visit to the country – or if you’re a return visitor some timely reminders!
It is a truly amazing country to visit and whilst we talk all about the luxuries and pleasures here, don’t forget to look beyond the gloss of the cities too. We have plenty more reading on UAE cultural activities and things to do with your family, beyond the resorts! Check out our mega-list here…
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So there you go – have we missed one of your UAE resort favourites? We would love to keep growing this list and keep it as up to date as possible, so do comment below if there’s one we should add (or even take away!) we know how things can change rapidly out here!