With 700 km of natural coastline, Dubai was never going to win any Best Beach competitions. (New Zealand, by comparison, has 15,134km). So what do you do when you have so much money you could wipe off a country’s national debt? Why build a beach of course.
I hung out at the spectacular Atlantis the Palm Hotel and checked out their water park, man-made beaches for lounging and eating and the OTT VIP top floor suite…
Of course this new beach was never going to be a simple island, not when a palm tree would create more wow.
The Palm Jumeirah has 8 “fronds” branching off on each side of a 5km long trunk, creating 78km of beach that now plays footstool to the plethora of apartments and hotels that have quickly blossomed.
The Atlantis is the crown on the top of long trunk and I got to squiz through the top floor VIP suite like a shiekh, royal or Kim Kardashian. A cool US$35,000 per night will get you this whole floor with views of the Arabian Gulf on one side and the marina back towards the desert coastline punctuated by highrises.
But it’s not only the jetset who come here. The famous Aquaventure water park draws day visitors from all over the desert to float down the lazy river, scream their lungs out on the steep water slide, get exclusive access to a 700m beach for them and visitors to the Dolphin Bay Experience.
Water park costs: $74 if over 1.2m /$58 if under 1.2m.
What to eat? The highlight for me, after twirling in circles in the lobby at the incredible water feature made of glass under soaring pillars and handpainted friezes around the ceiling, was lunch.
There are 15 restaurants and snack shacks here on top of the Palm. These range from iconic Japanese restaurant Nobu, a steak house and the Aussie TBJ (The Burger Joint) all indoors after you walk past the enormous fish tank. Actually aquarium because people are diving among the sealife to be photographed by diners walking past. These have been cleverly designed as the Lost Chambers of Atlantis and you should definitely take a few minutes to see them.
But here’s the best tip: Book lunch at Nasimi Beach (I can highly recommend the sushi) and not only will you have delicious food, but the restaurant spills onto the white sand of this popular lounge beach. At 4pm the vibe starts with lounge music, from 5-7pm it’s half price happy hour on selected drinkies and as the night envelopes, you can expect a DJ as you chill out under the stars smoking the hubbly bubbly, or deep in conversation with the predominantly expats and visitors who know this is the beach to be seen at.