This huge expanse of tropical landscaped gardens, tree-shaded lawns and sandy beaches hidden away on the edge of the city is the go-to seaside spot for locals and ex-pats in Dubai, though tourists are only just catching on. Less-known than Jumeirah beach and Kite beach, the Al Mamzar Beach Park is a peaceful haven covering more than 100 hectares that's been quietly adding to its assets over the last few years, recently opening new beach villas and eateries.
Everything from swimming and beach volleyball to barbecues and bike hire can be found within the bounds of this sandy wonderland.
Al Mamzar is skirted by five arcs of palm-studded blonde sand, each lapped by pellucid blue water. The beaches have a smattering of sunloungers with shades, towels and beach cabanas for hire on the sand, or you can go one step further and book one of 15 luxury beach cabins as your day-long seaside abode. The smart air-conditioned chalets on Beach Four can accommodate groups of up to 12 people, and include outdoor dining areas, barbecues, indoor lounging spaces and all mod cons.
Although the warm seas surrounding the park shelve deeply enough for swimming, the calm shallows are perfect for bathing with young children. It’s a safe and convenient place to swim with clean public changing rooms, showers and toilet facilities at each beach, plus a lifeguard on duty in daylight hours and during night swimming sessions.
The park's open from dawn until late into the evening, and offers night swimming sessions in floodlit waters after the sun goes down, making it ideal for an atmospheric dip before dinner. Sunrise at the park is said to be sensational – with the orange glow gradually brightening through the tall metropolis and creeping across the water. Across the blue waters you can see the silhouette of Sharjah City in the distance.
While Al Mamzar's scenic surrounds and gentle sea breezes make it an appealing place for some blissful beach time doing very little, there are plenty of sports facilities within the park for those who want to get active. A swimming pool complex offers access to heated adults and kids’ pools for an entry fee of 10 dirhams, plus there’s a football field, basketball court and beach volleyball open to the public.
Enclosed in a pretty palm grove, joggers and exercise fans can try out the winding paved tracks and outdoor athletic training area with various equipment to aid fitness, balance and stretching.
You can try a variety of wheeled activities within the park as well. Bicycles are available to hire, there’s a rollerskating arena with boots to rent, and best of all there’s a small skatepark where you can test your skills on a board.
Aquatic activities are naturally popular here too. Bring or hire some snorkelling gear to discover marine creatures around the rocks and rocky breakwaters that enclose the bays – rays are sometimes spotted hovering over the sandy seabed.
More sedate activities include camel rides along the beach or taking the toy train around the park, which offers a hop-on hop-off service for two dirhams per person. Of course you could just take a gentle stroll listening out for the soft music played around the site that adds to the leisurely feel of the place.
In the centre of the park, an open-air amphitheatre makes for another interesting diversion, hosting live shows and musical entertainment right next to the park's eight-metre-tall viewing tower. Families visiting with children will also appreciate the playparks with climbing frames and swings dotted across the grassy spaces.
Walkways lined with benches snake through the park and green groves filled with singing birds provide great picnic spots if you bring your own food. There are also designated areas for do-it-yourself barbecues or you can simply use one of the park's 28 barbecue stands already set up with tables and chairs facing Beach Five.
Around a dozen little shops and kiosks sell drinks, snacks and ice cream for an impromptu picnic, while you can also get lunch at one of the cafe-restaurants within the park. Near the entrance an arcade and food court provide fast food and drinks for a quick refuel.
As it's a private enclave, there's a small fee of five dirhams per person to enter the park for the day, which goes towards maintaining its landscape and facilities. Entry is free for kids under two years old, the over 60s, and people with special needs. You can park your vehicle inside for a flat fee of 30 dirhams, though there are limited free parking spaces available beyond the park's bounds.
To explore the entire park and its quintet of beaches without getting tired legs, there are golf buggies available to rent at the gate.
Not far from the old and interesting souks and streets of Dubai's Deira area, you could combine a walk along Deira's corniche with a half-day on the beaches of Al Mamzar. Al Nadha metro station is within walking distance of both. The park is at its most serene in the morning.
Al Mamzar hosts two ladies days on Mondays and Wednesdays when only women and boys under six are permitted entry to the park. This is largely to allow ladies who wear the burka to bathe in the sea in privacy. If you are female, it's a nice time to visit as the atmosphere is pleasant and it's a good chance to hang out with local Emirati women in a totally relaxed setting.
The beach park's popularity with locals means it gets busy on Fridays and Saturdays (the Emirates weekend) and on holidays such as Eid festival, but it's usually much quieter on other days.