Page update - Dec 20, 2022
Dubai Marina is an area in the western part of Dubai City. The area is popular among tourists firstly thanks to the famous JBR beach and wide choice of hotels and apartments for rent. Despite high status, there are several hotels that are quite affordable for the average tourist. We will talk about the pros and cons of vacationing in Dubai Marina, beaches, hotels, and entertainment.
The prices and other information on this page was updated in December 2022.
During the 2022 World Cup, a mega fan zone was set up on JBR beach. This page was updated on 20 December 2022 and the 2022 World Cup is now over. Congratulations to Argentina on their victory and to Morocco on their most significant achievement in the national team's history.
The mega fan zone is now closed. But what will be made of it next? There is no official announcement. Maybe it will be converted into a cinema. It is not clear yet. Waiting for news.
The Dubai Marina area is located in the west of the city of Dubai, along the coast, between the districts of Jebel Ali and Al Sufouh, which is often considered as a part of Jumeirah. See the Dubai districts map near, click on the map to enlarge to full screen.
Dubai Marina is the second smallest district of Dubai city with only 1.5 square miles (4 square kilometers). Only the Downtown is smaller (1 square mile, 2.5 square kilometers). The district is built around a man-made harbor (marina) 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) long.
Construction of the area began in 2003 and is now almost finished. At the end of construction, Dubai Marina is set to become the largest man-made marina in the world, surpassing Marina del Rey in California, USA. All residential complexes will accommodate up to 120,000 inhabitants. There will be all the necessary infrastructure - shopping malls, restaurants, stores, daily services.
The exact final cost of the project is not known yet, it just hasn't been calculated. The first phase of construction - development of the first 25 acres (10 hectares) with the first six towers cost USD 1.2 billion. It will be difficult to do the math, since the construction is being done with both city and private company money, but there are expert estimates of about USD 15 billion.
The developer of the project is Emaar Properties (controlled by the government of Dubai), famous for many projects, including the famous the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Fountain, Dubai Opera House. Now Emaar is beginning the construction of the next tallest building in the world, Dubai Creek Tower.
JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) is the "heart" of the area. JBR has 200 high-rise buildings, including 40 skyscrapers ranging in height from 820 to 1700 feet (250 to 516 meters). The tallest of them is the Pentominium skyscraper at 1700 feet (516 meters), but it is still under construction.
There are more than 40 hotels of different categories in different parts of the district. Many apartments and flats are rented to tourists. The number of options for accommodation in the area of Dubai Marina goes well over 1,000. The vacation there has bright pluses and minuses, and we will talk about them in detail on this page.
Find your flight
The first plus is the excellent choice of hotels. Dubai Marina has a dozen accommodation options for USD 60-80 per night, which is quite affordable for the average tourist. And the choice of 5-star hotels for a luxurious vacation is the best in all the United Arab Emirates.
The second plus is the location of these hotels within walking distance from the beach and the Dubai Metro stations. If you choose a hotel in Dubai, you usually have to choose - either a hotel is not expensive, but you have to take a cab or subway to the beach, or a hotel is located near the coast, but the price is outrageous. In the Dubai Marina area, there are affordable hotels within 15 minutes walk from the beach.
The third plus is that the local JBR beach is recognized as one of the best in the UAE. Clean sea, changing rooms and toilets, all clean and tidy, many cafes and bars nearby.
The fourth plus - excellent transport accessibility. You can walk to the subway station from any hotel or residence in Dubai Marina in 20 minutes maximum. Then, you can quickly and inexpensively get to any point of interest in the city.
The fifth plus is the developed infrastructure of the area. Dubai Marina has a large shopping center, hundreds of restaurants and eateries, playgrounds and cinemas, supermarkets, stores - from cheap groceries to fashionable clothing boutiques.
We will talk about the beach, hotels, restaurants and entertainment in detail later.
The first minus is that everything is expensive. Have you ever paid a day's rent for a sun lounger the summ you can buy it for? At Dubai Marina, renting a sun lounger for a day costs AED 110! See our review "UAE currency" for the current exchange rate. Prices in local stores, cafes, hotels are 1.5-2 times higher than in Deira or Bur Dubai.
The second minus is that it is a long way from/to the airport. The trip by subway through the city, especially after a tiring flight, is a dubious pleasure. And you can take the subway with limited luggage only, as we wrote about in detail in the review "From the airport of Dubai to the city".
The cab ride costs 75-100 dirhams, see the fares in our review "Taxi prices in the UAE". You will have to take a cab for about an hour (in case of traffic jams it'll take two hours), which is not very pleasant after a long and tedious flight.
The third minus - the weekend is "thrown out of the vacation". Weekends in the United Arab Emirates since January 3, 2022, are Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday, as we described in detail in the review "Friday and weekends in the UAE". These days are best spent on a beach, as malls are crowded and attractions are very crowded. But the JBR beach is something unimaginable on weekends, it's extremely crowded. What kind of vacation is there? Although some tourists tolerate the crowd on a beach quietly. It's an individual thing.
The fourth minus is the hotels policy. Every hotel in Dubai Marina has its own ideas of how to sell its services to tourists. Some hotels work only with tour operators, and it is impossible to book them online. Some, on the contrary, do not work with tour operators at all, that is, you cannot buy a tour to such a hotel. Some work only with certain booking websites. Buying a tour or booking a room is a real adventure in some cases, and it is not a pleasant adventure.
We will talk in detail about these disadvantages further on this page.
Find your hotel
Dubai Marina has two facilities that are called with the word "beach". The first is the JBR Beach which is a beach in the usual sense of the word - the sea, sand, sunbeds on the sand, toilets and changing rooms behind the sunbeds. It takes not more than 20 minutes to walk from any hotel in Dubai Marina to the JBR beach.
The whole beach is public. So if you either don't like the water in some place, or the place is too noisy, or there are some unpleasant neighbors nearby, just go further along the beach and swim there.
"The Beach" is an open-air shopping center. It begins behind the changing rooms. The Beach was built by Meraas Holding, which is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. You can read about him in our review "Sheikhs of the Arab Emirates".
Why do we tell you about this? First, you can walk around in swimsuits on the JBR beach only. You can't walk around "The Beach" in swimsuits as security will stop you. Second, if any sign contains the word "beach," it doesn't necessarily point to the beach, quite possibly to The Beach.
The JBR beach is about 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) long. The beach is well equipped with sunbeds, umbrellas, toilets, changing rooms, lifeguards on duty, there are special taps with fresh water to wash away the sand from the feet on the way out of the beach. The area is clean.
Toilets and changing rooms for free, sunbeds and umbrellas for a fee - 110 dirhams for one, 195 for two. However, no one forbids lying on the sand on your towel, it's still free.
The entertainment options on the beach are above any estimates. About a dozen water sports centers sell rides on jet skis, "bananas", inflatable boats and water skis in tow, parachute flights over the sea. In short, a full range of beach activities. There are some unique attractions, which we'll talk about later on this page, in the "What to do" section.
Along the beach there are two hundred bars, cafes, restaurants, eateries, and fast food places. Some sell beer, but you'll have to look for it. We do not advise drinking a lot as it is quite possible to have a fine because of the alcohol smell, as we talked about in the review "Alcohol in the UAE". We do not recommend bringing alcohol with you. The beach is a public place, and drinking there is punishable by a Penal Code, as we mentioned in the review "What is prohibited in the UAE".
On weekdays, the JBR beach is relatively free. On weekends and holidays, however, locals come to the JBR beach, and people sunbathe and swim there "like fishes in a tin can". Friday afternoons, Saturday, and Sunday are bad days. It is better not to go to the JBR beach and do something else. See the holiday schedule in our review "National holidays in the UAE".
There are about 40 full-fledged hotels in Dubai Marina. Most of them are 5-star, a few 4-star, a few 3-star. In addition to hotels, hundreds of apartments and flats for rent to tourists are offered. Some hotels are actually apartment hotels. The number of accommodation options for over a thousand - to suit all tastes and wallets.
According to official statistics (by the end of 2021) there are a total of 11,178 rooms in the hotels of the district. Of these, 6,187 are 5-star hotels, i.e. more than 50% of the room stock. There are 2,382 rooms in 4-star hotels, 2,174 in apart-hotels, and only 436 in 3-star hotels. Pay attention! Figures for inexpensive hotels are small.
Hence an important conclusion. If you want to vacation in an inexpensive hotel in Dubai Marina, then book in advance and do not delay, as rooms may be in short supply.
The cheapest option is a bed in a shared room. There is no concept of "hostel" in the UAE, but rent beds in rooms instead. The bed can be booked for USD 20-30. If you decide on such an option, then note that the rooms are strictly male or female. Look, do not make a mistake when booking.
Inexpensive hotels have prices of USD 60-90 a night. They are located far from the beach. First from the sea comes the beach area, then the line of buildings, then the marina, and then the line of buildings, which is where the inexpensive hotels are. Get ready to walk to the beach 15-20 minutes or even longer.
Find your transfer
If you are ready for USD 100 or more a night, you can get a hotel room or apartment in the first line of beachfront buildings. Walk to the beach for 5 minutes or less.
There are hotels directly on the beach that are the real beachfront. Rooms in those hotels are the most expensive. Among them: The Ritz-Carlton Dubai - USD 300 per night, Le Royal Meridien - USD 250 per night, Rixos Premium - USD 210 per night, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah - USD 220 per night, DoubleTree by Hilton - USD 270 per night, Sheraton Jumeirah - USD 130 per night.
If you decide to spend vacation in Dubai Marina on a tour package, prepare for an unpleasant surprise. The fact is that tour search engines (most of them) do not distinguish between the different areas of Dubai. You want to click "Dubai Marina" and see the list, but it doesn't work that way. You'll have to search for hotels by name manually. In this case, it is even better to ask a travel agent to search for hotels.
Hotel reservation systems are much "smarter" and distinguish the areas. For example, in booking.com you can choose Dubai Marina and look at the list.
However, there is an unpleasant surprise. Each hotel in Dubai Marina has its own booking policy. Some hotels are available only on tours and are not available in open booking systems (booking.com, hotellook.com, agoda.com) at all. Some do not cooperate with tour operators, and it is impossible to get into them on the tour. Some work exclusively with one booking system, such as zenhotels.com or accorhotels.com. Total confusion.
In such a situation, we sincerely wish all our readers to choose the most suitable hotel and book it on the first try, and with a discount or promotion.
There are two Dubai Metro stations on the border of the Dubai Marina area. These are DMCC and Sobha Realty (before 09.09.21 called Dubai Marina, before 25.11.20 called Damac) stations on the first (red) line. See our review "Dubai Metro" for the metro map. It takes no more than a 20-minute walk from any hotel to the nearest station.
The line of the Dubai Tram runs through the area. The tram makes a circle between the hotels, JBR beach, Dubai Marina Mall, and subway stations. The tram is very convenient and inexpensive to get around the Dubai Marina area. Read our detailed review "Dubai Tram". The tram offers excellent access to Palm Jumeirah station where you can take the monorail to Aquaventure Waterpark and The Lost Chambers Aquarium.
Bus route 8 is one of the most useful for tourists. You can get to Wild Wadi Waterpark and the Burj Al-Arab, Jumeirah Mosque, Jumeirah Public Beach, the Etihad Museum, Madinat Jumeirah. The route ends near the Gold Market.
Using buses in the UAE is unusual for some tourists as there is a complicated fare system and many unfamiliar rules. Read our detailed review "Buses in the UAE".
It is a small mall by Dubai standards. Retail area is 387,500 sq.feet (36,000 sq.meters), 4 floors. The mall is located on the far side of the harbor from the beach (close to the Sheikh Zayed road).
Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm (10-00 to 22-00). Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm (10-00 to 23-00).
There are about twenty cafes, restaurants, and fast food outlets. Familiar to most tourists are McDonalds, Cinnabon, Starbucks, Baskin-Robbins.
There is one place that will shock a geographically minded tourist, the eatery is called "Doner and Gyros of Berlin and Chicago".
On the P floor, there is the Bateel boutique where you can buy luxury date fruits, which we talked about in the review "Dates in the UAE". There is the only exchange office on the P floor, read about currency exchange in our review "How to change money in the UAE". There is a liquor store African + Eastern.
There are a few dozen stores, familiar to most tourists, such as Adidas, Ecco, Diesel, Guess, H&M, Levi`s, Mothercare. There is a relatively large Lego store.
For entertainment, there is a playground and a cinema with 6 halls in Dubai Marina Mall. Shopping and entertainment in Dubai Marina Mall is enough for tourists for one evening. For avid shoppers, it's enough for a couple of evenings.
Read our in-depth review of "Dubai Marina Mall".
The world's largest inflatable water park. What does it look like? Let's try to explain. It is very similar to the now popular inflatable trampolines for children, but on water. See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.
You can run, jump, climb, roll down the slides, somersault, fall into the water and climb back up.
The complex has a size of 250x115 feet (77x35 meters). Capacity is limited to no more than 350 people at a time. However, you won't see too many people there as the price is "biting". A day of fun in AquaFun costs 155 dirhams. Life jackets are issued free of charge.
The AquaFun complex is located in the center of the JBR beach, 100 feet (30 meters) from the shore. It's easy to find as you can see it from almost anywhere on the beach. Opening hours are from 9 am to 7 pm (9-00 to 19-00).
If you look from the height, the outline of AquaFun complex makes out the word "DUBAI". The founder and owner of AquaFun - Ahmed Ben Chaiba has now opened a second such park in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, there the outlines form the phrase "I (heart) AD", which stands for "I love Abu Dhabi".
A large and interesting splash park. It is a kids water amusement park with splash pads. This format is now very popular in the UAE.
Splash Pad is designed for children from 1 to 12 years old. The price is 75 dirhams for 2 hours, 99 dirhams for the whole day. You pay only for the child, adults go with children for free.
The park is well organized. There are sun tents over the playgrounds, lifeguards on duty, and water is heated in the winter months.
Children ages 1 and 2 must be in a special diaper while in Splash Pad Park. If a diaper is not taken care of in advance, you can buy one at the entrance. Children over the age of 4 are not required to be accompanied, you can leave them in the care of the lifeguards, but you must leave your phone number, for which you need to buy a local SIM-card in advance. Read about it in our review "How to call from the UAE".
Splash Pad Park is located in the center of the JBR Beach, opposite the Roxy Cinemas, near the Hilton Hotel. Hours of operation are 9 am to 8 pm (9-00 to 20-00) during the summer months. Closes earlier in winter, autumn, spring at 5 pm (17-00), 6 pm, (18-00) 7 pm (19-00). For the exact current schedule, visit the official website splashpaddubai.com
The most extreme entertainment in the Dubai Marina area. This is the so-called "zip-line" - a ride on a cable.
The cable is stretched between one of the towers of Amwaj Towers and the roof of Dubai Marina Mall. The length of the cable is 3,300 feet (1,000 meter), the tilt angle is 16 degrees, height difference is 550 feet (170 meters), the speed of sliding is up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour).
The visitor accelerates to 40 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour) for the first 2.5 seconds, as if he/she was driving a powerful sports car! There are two cables at once - you can ride at a race.
The restrictions: age - 12 to 65 years, height - from 1.3 meters (4 feet 3 inches), weight - from 50 to 100 kilograms (110-220 pounds).
The ride is not cheap - 650 dirhams for one person, 1200 for two. Tickets must be booked in advance through the website xdubai.com
After booking, the visitor receives an email with the time. At that time, you need to arrive at floor P of the Dubai Marina Mall, where you will undergo a weigh-in and a short medical check-up. Attention! Need to bring your passport. Next, the XLINE team will escort you to the Amwaj Tower.
Helmets are equipped with GoPro cameras. You will get video and photos after the ride, and there will be something to remember.
This is the main place for gourmets - a large building with 7 floors and 7 restaurants on those floors.
On the seventh floor is the Atelier M, a French restaurant adapted to the norms of Islam.
On the sixth floor is Asia Asia restaurant with pan-Asian cuisine.
On the fifth floor is Abd el Wahab - oriental fish and seafood cuisine.
On the fourth floor is The Scene - British cuisine.
On the third floor is the Cargo restaurant - pan-Asian cuisine, decorated in the style of Hong Kong of the 60s.
On the second floor is O Cacti with Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine.
On the first floor is the Fume Restaurant - very different dishes but all original and interesting.
If you are going to have dinner in one of the restaurants of Pier 7, then take 200 dirhams per person minimum. Pier 7 is located on a small island in the harbor, next to Dubai Marina Mall.
- Experienced tourists in Dubai manage to save money on everything. Even on transportation, you can save quite a bit if you use the "30 minutes" rule and choose the best type of ticket. Read our review "NOL Dubai Card" for details;
- It's hard for smokers to vacation in Dubai Marina. Most hotels only have non-smoking rooms, no balconies, and you have to go outside to smoke. If you smoke, be sure to clarify this point when choosing a hotel. Read about the rules of smoking in our review "Smoking and cigarettes in the UAE".
- Most of the sights of Dubai are more convenient to watch on your own, thankfully there is a subway in the city. But in other emirates, it is often more convenient to go on excursions. Read our review "Excursions in Dubai".
We wish you a pleasant holiday in Dubai Marina, and read our useful and interesting pages about the UAE (see the links list below).
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