After our first camping mis-adventure slash practice run at Jebel Ali beach, we were itching to try our hand at camping again and decided it was time to head out a little further from home. I had heard from a few expats that Dibba by the Golden Tulip hotel was a good camping spot for novice beach campers like us so that’s where we went.
Early one Saturday morning in December, we packed up our SUV with a whole lot of gear and one 11.5 month old baby and headed off to Dibba.
Because we had a few stops along the way: to pick up a friend, to breakfast at another friend’s, to fill up on petrol, to top up on engine oil (would you believe the genie-lamp on our dashboard came on?), and to forage for firewood…we didn’t arrive at the campsite until nearly 2pm! The drive from Dubai to Dibba is about 1.5 hours. We may have been driving a little fast because we got flashed by a speed camera somewhere in Ajman and incurred a 700 dhs fine!
The drive was fairly boring through Sharjah, Ajman, UAQ, and RAK (buildings, construction, more construction, more abandoned construction) but after heading East a bit, the terrain changed from boring flat to more interesting mountainous. Well, maybe mountainous is a bit of an exaggeration in the UAE but hey, all I see is flat-ness in Dubai so a bit of hill is a mountain to me these days.
At the border checkpoint by Dibba, the guards merely glanced at our passports, no stamping nor Omani visas required. We all had UAE residency visas but they never even asked to look at the passport of Wee Scotch.
As soon as we passed the Golden Tulip hotel, we drove onto a lovely strip of beach. Husband stopped the car about 5 seconds into the beach drive to gleefully turn on the 4WD…and another 5 seconds later we were revving and revving and very much stuck into the sand – doh!
Luckily, some very friendly locals came to the rescue and towed our SUV out of the little hole we had revved ourselves into! Shukran jazeelan!
Next it was time to set up camp and get the barbie going!
Nothing beats cooking in the great outdoors. We had a delicious spread of bbq chicken, marinated lamb kebabs, hot dogs, veggie skewers, and steak. Scotch even caught a small fish but he’s a catch-and-release kind of guy so no fish for dinner for us.
Wee Scotch seemed to enjoy the camping as well although he didn’t like the feel of sand so we kept him mostly on a straw mat or beach blanket.
Did I mention that the reason we chose that particular weekend in December to go camping was because we were attempting to catch a show of the Geminids meteor showers which are supposed to be one of the best meteor showers of the year?
Well, I didn’t see any shooting stars but my husband and another friend spotted some. However, after a few special beverages, I think I started to see some different kind of stars…
Despite the noise from the random dune bashing SUV, I slept pretty well. Wee Scotch slept in his Graco Pack ‘n Play and we opted for the more comfortable blow-up air mattress this time instead of the camping pads we had previously.
The next morning, we had another BBQ going for a hearty breakfast of grilled sausages, bacon, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, and creamed corn. Breakfast on the beach: What a nice way to chill, put your feet in the sand, and enjoy the beautiful sea view!
We didn’t have a kettle with us to boil water for tea or coffee but we were able to borrow one from some friendly camping neighbors. I have since bought my own camping kettle so can’t wait to use it on the next trip.
Getting There and Beyond: The drive is about 130 kms (1.5 to 2 hours) from Dubai. To get to Dibba beach by the Golden Tulip, we took Emirates Road (E311) to exit 119 (note that 119 is after exit 116) to route E87. We followed E87 East through the “mountains,” following signs to Fujeirah and then Dibba.
Once in Dibba, we followed signs for the Golden Tulip hotel – basically just following the coast line (with the water on your right, of course) until we reached the hotel. There is a Shell gas station just before the hotel that sells firewood for campfires (15 or 20 dhs a bundle, I believe). Once you drive past the hotel, bear right and you will be on the beach for Dibba where you can choose your campsite. Remember to deflate your tires so you don’t get stuck in the sand as well! 2WD vehicles can park at the entrance of the beach and then carry the camping equipment to your chosen site on the beach.
Alternatively, you can take Emirates Road to E88 towards Al Dhaid and Fujeirah. In Al Dhaid, you can pick up bundles of firewood for 10 dhs a bundle. Continue on E88 until Masafi roundabout where you will make a left onto E89, then follow signs towards Dibba and the Golden Tulip hotel as per the above.
You will pass a LuLu’s hypermarket in Dibba should you need any last minute supplies.
The beach was fairly clean and at the entrance of the beach, to the left, there was a small structure with toilet and shower facilities.
And just as at Jebel Ali beach, there were municipal workers that came around in the morning to clean the beach of trash and even helped to collect the bags of trash that we had accumulated.