My husband and I went beach camping this past weekend with our 9-month old baby and a few friends. It was our first time camping in Dubai and with a baby so we stuck close to home and drove the short distance from Dubai Marina to Jebel Ali beach right alongside the Jebel Ali Hotel and Resort. It was definitely a learning experience!!! We enjoyed the novelty of camping for the first time in Dubai and of course the company of our friends but on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being a trip to hell) I might have to rate this trip a dismal 3…maybe 4.
Here’s what we learned:
- Don’t go when it’s still hot and humid. Air temps are still in the high 90s (~35 C) with lows in the mid 80s (~25C). Luckily we had a nice breeze all day and the water temp was quite nice – not hot nor cold. However, when we were ready to go to bed, the wind died down and the humidity set in – it was miserable in the tent. We put Baby HB in his nappy only but I kept worrying that he would overheat although deep down I knew he would be fine.
- Don’t camp in a construction zone. I’ve heard that, once upon a time, Jebel Ali beach used to be a nice beach to camp on but since the construction began for the Palm Jebel Ali, the whole area is just a bit of an eyesore with half-baked structures and debris all over. On a bright side, the building of the Palm meant that the sea surface was quite calm so no big waves to scare the little ones.
- Don’t camp at a site where it’s overcrowded already. Being still hot, we didn’t think there’d be many other campers on the beach but there were quite a few caravans there already. One particular RV had awful fluorescent lights on the outside that made the campsite quite eerie in the evening and were so bright I could barely make out any stars! Then when I was (finally) about to fall asleep around 2am, a night club erupted from one of the caravans. I couldn’t sleep through it but luckily Baby HB did.
- Don’t forget to check your list – twice. We rushed out of our house so fast to meet our friends that I didn’t get a chance to check my camping/packing list. We were only going down the road for one night of beach camping so I figured we could just wing it. But I forgot so many things like plates, hammer for the pegs, and more!
Again, despite all this, we still had a great time hanging out with our friends, meeting new friends, enjoying the outside air, swimming in the sea, eating the yummy beach bbq, and of course, roasting marshmallows.
And I can’t wait to do it again but I’ll wait until the weather cools down. I’ve got a couple routes already high-lighted in my UAE Offroad Explorer book…
Getting There and Beyond: If you would like to camp out at Jebel Ali beach as well, no permit is currently needed. There were police patrols driving up and down the beach but they only stopped to make conversation or say hello to the little ones. Never were we asked for a permit or told that we needed one.
To get to the beach, drive as if you are going to Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa. Once you pass the main entrance of the resort, maybe in the next 30 yards/30 meters, you will see (on your right) a dirt track that has been created by constant use – take that road towards the beach. You’re there!
There was a municipality worker who came around at 7am to collect our bags of trash, which was nice, but please take your trash out if he doesn’t happen to come by.