One of the perks of being in Abu Dhabi is our proximity to the beaches. It normally takes 15 to 20-minute drive to go to any marina within the city centre. It was 2008 (our first year in this emirate) when I first set foot in Corniche Beach. Then, to my favorite (and now indefinitely closed due to pending major improvement plan) Lulu Island. No entrance fee, under developed yet decent shores, you bring your own meal, mainly self-starter approach. While the present Corniche Beach is much more developed, I find it very commercialized and crowded. Hence, I am one of the happiest dwellers when the development took place in Saadiyat Island.
Saadiyat is an Arabic terminology which means ‘happiness’, from the root word ‘saeed’ which means ‘happy’. It is a 20-minute drive from where I live to the Island of Happiness (aka Saadiyat Island). It is geared to be the cultural hub of Abu Dhabi since Louvre and other museums are underway. But more than that, one of the reasons I swing by in this area is the Saadiyat Public Beach. With its laid-back and international destination appeal, this public beach is not really regarded as ‘public’. I think that it is named this way to distinguish it from the Saadiyat Beach in general where the shore is shared by different hotels like St. Regis, Hyatt and Rotana (construction in progress).
However, some patrons like me may find it unnecessary to stay in hotels and just enjoy the beach itself for a number of hours. Unless one intends to do a staycation. (Personally, we stay in UAE hotels in consideration of oozing with appeal (once in a blue moon) promotional rates. ) Hence, this public beach is a heaven sent solution for patrons like me.
We had a taste of Saadiyat Public Beach during winter, pre-summer and at the peak of summer. Personally, I like visiting pre-summer because it is less crowded and as you may have heard, summer can be very brutal in the UAE. Two weekends ago, we went in as early as the opening hour of 8:00 AM. We were blessed with a 29-degree C weather, reasonable waves and right amount of wind.
It is equipped with decent facilities — there are at least 100 sun lounges, towel rental facility, cafe, ice cream kiosk nearby, lifeguards, decent changing and shower rooms. Since we were a party of 6, we paid the entrance fee for 3 with the sun lounge and basic entrance for the other 3 (since 2 persons may share in per sun lounge). Some of the guests opt to bring mat as per their preference and/ or to save on cost. We were allowed to bring in snacks and water. But I suggest not to bring smelly food or packed lunch-style as these may not be allowed. Needless to say, bringing any munchies that contain pork is very much frowned upon. In our case, we left close to 12:00 PM as we intended to take lunch at the city centre.
In our most recent visit, we had the chance to create Runningman videos as plenty as my companions wished since it was still early. Although I do not think other guests would mind watching hilarious Runningman versions. We chased waves, played volleyball, walked along the shore, people watched (a favorite), and… lost my sunnies. Apparently, I cannot stay away from my dragonfly-like sunnies that I wore it when we were dancing with the waves. At one point, the waves overwhelmed me and threw me. The next thing I know I lost it. I am glad that it is a cheap one. May she rest in peace… with the new master. Hahaha.
I hope that Saadiyat Public Beach will stay laid-back as long as it can. While it is no longer a secret particularly to those who love to surf, I still view it as one of the hidden gems of Abu Dhabi.
Saadiyat Public Beach
Link to website; How to reach this beach
Opening hours: 8:00 AM to sunset
Entrance fee is AED 20 per person (basic entry), AED 50 per person (weekday) and AED 75 per person (weekend) for the sun lounge. Annual membership is AED 2,500.
Parking is free.