A great spot for accommodation in Dubai is in the JBR area (Jumeriah Beach Residences), as this is right on the beach and is a cool and happening place for kids and adults. I stayed at the Sofitel Jumeirah (recommended by Antony at Turquoise Holidays) which was amazing! It had an all you can eat breakfast with tonnes of pancakes, waffles and crêpes. It also had a really awesome, super warm infinity pool overlooking the sea.
Make sure you go to Jumeirah Beach to swim, sunbathe and go mental on the world’s biggest Wibit aqua inflatable assault course! This costs 120 AED (£22) for kids and 150 AED (£30) for adults and is perfect for the entire day – a great thing for children to do whilst parents recover from a flight! For those adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers like me, there is always skydiving, as there is a purpose-built runway just off the beach. Jumping out of a plane attached to someone else just seems so fun, and would give a great view of The Palm and the new islands that are being constructed! The only down side, other than coming back down to Earth, is the price as it is around 1600 AED (£320) – eek!
The cheapest but definitely not the quickest way around Dubai was with The Big Bus Tours, oraq Sightseeing Dubai. You can buy anything from a one day pass to a weeks’ pass depending on your requirements. We bought a seven-day Big Bus Dubai pass for one adult and two children for 1100 AED (£220) which gave us three tours around old and new Dubai. We took in all the major sites including The Palm Jumeriah, The Burj Al Arab, The Burj Khalifa, Atlantis, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Dubai Gold Souk, Silk Souk and all the other souks!! In addition, we got free entry to Motiongate theme park, The Green Planet, Hub Zero (a major gaming centre with all the latest technology) a camel safari and two cruises on a traditional dowe boat around Dubai Marina and Dubai Creek (I would say this is more suitable for the adults as I found it a little boring!)
To be honest I only think you should buy a two-day ticket so you can get your bearings by looking around, taking in the sites, and then just take a taxi to the areas of interest because it got really boring sitting on the bus for ages trying to get to a destination and having to do the entire loop to come back! Taxis were actually really reasonably priced and they were very good to return any items left in the taxi – providing you get a receipt!
Ascending up the world’s tallest tower of 830m in a lift that goes 18m/s is just one of the greatest things to do in Dubai. The view from the top of the Burj Khalifa is mind blowing especially seeing all the cars on the ground looking like ants. If you aren’t much of a heights person, I would still suggest that you go up it just to be able to tell all your friends that you’ve done it – and also to get some sweet looking photos of the top! If you go up after 1pm, you’ll be able to catch the fountain show from a bird’s eye view. Don’t forget to keep yawning whilst going up in the lift if your ears hurt so you can equalise the pressure – YES, just like in an aeroplane it’s that high! The price for this is around 160 AED (£32) for one person, but I would suggest booking it through Turquoise Holidays before you get there to avoid the queues as it is crazy busy each day and tickets sell out quickly! Also aim for midday so any early morning mist would have had the chance to burn off so doesn’t spoil the views!
Whilst you are in Dubai you could go skiing with Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates so you could say you went skiing and sunbathing in one holiday. However, I would suggest only doing it if you have young children (up to 8yrs) as it didn’t offer much for the thrill seekers (boring alert) unless you got the polar express ticket which gave you skiing or snowboarding too. If you did want to have a lesson I would suggest booking ahead of time as they sold out quickly! There were a number of different tickets to get and very different prices depending on what you wanted to do. I would definitely bring gloves and a snood or hat because it’s -3ºC and the gloves they give you aren’t really warm enough. If your kids are happy playing in the snow by themselves, or you don’t want to spend all your time sitting there in the freezing cold, you could watch them from Costa or TGI Fridays, or even do a spot of shopping.
My absolute favourite thing to do in Dubai was going to the Atlantis Waterpark. We got there from when the water park opened at 10:00am until when it closed at 18:00. The rides were amazing, the pools were amazing, the wave river was mental – the buildings were amazing, everything was amazing! You must go on the Leap of Faith before the queue gets too big. It may look tall and it may look like a thriller but really, it’s a smooth fast ride that everyone must go on just to see the view. I would also suggest doing Poseidon’s Tower but maybe skip Poseidon’s Revenge (the one where the floor drops away) because my back was red for 30mins afterwards and it is a bit nasty on your neck – maybe wear a rash vest?! Saying that, my mum loved it as the feeling of falling was a real rush! The Ringo Rides are really smooth and the ride where you go through the shark tank is great – the queue will get big quickly so go to that one first. The food there is very, very expensive so load up on breakfast if you don’t want a big food bill. The price for Atlantis is based on your height and being over 1.2m meant you are classed as an adult and had to pay 340 AED (£68), children under 1.2m were 275 AED (£53) but you can get them cheaper if you buy them with the Big Bus pass (275 AED for adults).
If you feel like you want a bit of a break from all the activities, maybe you might like to go on a cruise (which is free with Big Bus Tours) for an hour, travelling up and down the marina or up and down Dubai creek on an old fashioned Arabian dowe. It’s not much fun for children as we would far rather be doing stuff more mental or tiring, but parents can sit back and look out to sea on a boring boat ride and for some reason they really enjoy it! With the Big Bus Dubai, you can also have a yacht adventure around Yas Island and see the formula one circuit, but by this time I was done with boats!
We also did a dinner safari in the desert which was a great experience. Hammering a 4×4 through sand dunes and skidding everywhere was exhilarating and the sand boarding and henna tattoos were cool. The camel ride was very short and the queue was very long, but you got the idea of what a camel ride felt like and again it was an experience. The food however was not great for kids and the show only really peaked my interest at the end when the fire breathers came out!
So, Dubai actually has quite a lot to offer everyone. You have the beach, amazing pools and the sunshine of course, but also some history, great shopping, skiing, skydiving, waterparks, tallest buildings, ‘biggest this’ and ‘largest that’. Overall a great holiday destination with something to suit everyone’s tastes but best of all…guaranteed sunshine!