Guide to Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina: a waterside wonderland the whole family can enjoy

Right up there with the coolest neighborhoods in the world, this bustling precinct in Dubai’s south is a water lover’s playground with an ‘eye’ for dining and discovery.

Melinda HealyJournalist and travel writer
14 October 2022

Dubai Marina is the antithesis of Old Dubai, which is why it is often fondly referred to as ‘New Dubai’, and it’s not hard to see why. Considered one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods, this bustling southern precinct is a favorite with families. Why? Well it’s got it all. Sandy beaches on which to frolic, waterside promenades to walk on, retail therapy options spanning malls and markets, a Superyacht marina and a whole host of other attractions that visitors young and old will love. With the Persian Gulf lapping on its shores, this part of Dubai blends residential living with great tourist accommodation, and it’s a lively cafe/restaurant spot, particularly in the evenings and on weekends when the sun goes down. Not unlike other parts of the city, Dubai Marina delivers on wow-factor, with its twisted Cayan Tower high-rise anchoring the glittering Marina skyline. This, yet another example of architectural brilliance, leads the way, followed closely by the 250m tall Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel that calls the neighboring Bluewater Island home. And for the kids you can’t tell me the Flying Cup, The Splash Pad and Cuckoo’s play area won’t float their vacation boat.

Getting to Dubai Marina

There are plenty of ways to access the marina. There are tram and metro options aplenty, and you can get here by water taxi or ferry as well as by cab (rideshare is not available from the airport).

If making your way from Dubai International Airport, you’ll need to purchase a prepaid rechargeable Nol transport card at Terminal 3 – from there you are set to ride and within 50 minutes will be at your destination, the DMCC Metro Station. This service runs every five minutes and costs between AED 7 and AED 10.

Alternatively, a cab from DXB to the Marina will cost about AED 70 and the journey takes around 25 minutes, depending on traffic. If you’re loaded with luggage, this is the best way to get from A to B, unless you’ve hired a car.

There is a more localized transport option. The tram moves tourists and residents around the Marina and JBR, and connects to the monorail on The Palm.


Pass over the shopping bags and wizz along the world’s longest zipline high above the marina. As thrilling as it sounds it’s not for the faint-hearted – XLine is one of the steepest and quickest (50 m/h) on the planet.

Check before you fly

Interested fliers must be aged between 12 and 65 and be taller than 130cm to ride XLine. There are also weight restrictions - only those between 50-100kg can ride.

For those who conquer it, while it may feel like your forward-facing ride is over in an instant, never fear, because every moment of the experience is captured on GoPro so you can replay it as many times as you like and show your non-believing friends and family back home that you actually flew across the marina!

XLine is available to join from Thursday to Monday (it’s not operational Tuesdays and Wednesday) and the assembly point is on the ground floor of Marina Mall. Tickets cost from AED 499, a small price to pay for a devilish Dubai adrenaline rush.


A mixture of cool water and challenging obstacles, where can you go wrong? As you may have expected by now, AquaFun is the largest inflatable water park of its kind in Dubai, providing hours of fun for everyone. This 2,700 sq m attraction extends 25m out offshore near The Beach, and has 110 different slides, climbs and jumps.

It’s a great way to liven up a lazy day at the beach, and it’s a surefire way of wearing the kids out. The park spells out ‘Dubai’ and is open all year-round, tickets starting from AED 120 for kids and AED 150 for adults. Pre-purchase them online at

Yellow Boats

One of the best ways to take in this loaded precinct is on board a Yellow Boat. I’ve done one of these tours, and believe me, it’s fabulous. The hour-long evening runs are all about exploring the precinct’s very best attractions – the Marina, Palm Lagoon, Bluewaters and Skydive Dubai.

As day turns into night, you’ll see why this will be one of the most memorable experiences of your vacation, especially as it’s fully guided and curated. All ages are welcome and cameras a necessity. Tours start at 6pm and cost from AED 120 for children aged between 5 and 12, and AED 175 for adults. For more details go to

Ain Dubai

Towering over Bluewater Island, this observation wheel is yet another example of the city’s world-beating prowess. Not only is Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye) the world’s tallest wheel of its kind, its weight is said to be equivalent to four A380 aircraft. The giant wheel provides a unique way to take in the city’s sprawling landscape. It can hold as many as 1,750 guests at a time, it’s air conditioned to ensure a comfortable ride and you’ll complete a revolution in about 40 minutes.

Day or night, this incredible rotating attraction offers you a front-row gondola to the sights around you, namely Dubai Marina, the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel in the distance, as well as The Palm Jumeirah. Depending on which option you choose, tickets start from AED 130 and cost up to AED 1900. It’s best to book online at to ensure you get to ride high without disappointment. Open from noon to 9pm Thursday to Monday and from 10am-9pm Tuesday and Wednesday.

Where to eat and drink

Pier 7 is right up there with the best food and beverage options. It’s got several restaurants and bars to choose from, each serving a range of flavors and capable of mixing a mean cocktail. Before 9pm it’s all about the culinary offerings, and then afterwards the dance music kicks in and the partying really starts.

Asia Asia is one of the favorites here, as is Amazonian establishment Mama Zonia. Cargo draws a decent crowd too, and each of the seven eateries provide guests a serving of stellar marina views.

Dubai Marina Walk has plenty of great choices too, serving up everything from Italian, Asian, Brazilian, American and, of course, Middle Eastern fare. Coco’s, Ruby Tuesdays, and Zaatar w Zeit are some worth mentioning, but there are often food trucks lined up along the promenade from which you can choose some tasty, affordable bites.

For some local flavor, over at The Beach Operation Falafel is a must-try, but you need to be prepared for scrumptious pockets jam-packed full of tasty goodness. They’re an Arabic street food staple and where better to try them than by the seaside? Choose from menu items including Zaatar, Pita Falafel, vine leaves, chicken fatteh, or a sweet snack like Choco Banana, and eat as you walk – you’ll be glad you did.

When it comes to sundowners, you’d be mad not to find a rooftop bar to sip at. Pure Sky Lounge at Hilton Dubai The Walk is up there with the best, followed pretty closely by Pier 7’s Atelier M and Grosvenor House’s standout spot, Siddharta Lounge by Buddha Bar.

Where to shop

Dubai Marina Mall and The Beach at JBR are the retail routes worth checking out, in that order.

Not quite as outlandish or as huge as some of the other malls, the Marina Mall complex still delivers when it comes to retail therapy. Boutiques, chain stores, cinemas, waterfront dining can all be found here, as well as access to the nearby Marina Walk and neighborhood ferry stops. Wander solo or with the family in tow, you’ll be impressed by not only the store directory, but also the rich, glitzy interiors center-wide. Entertaining the kids is no problem either, with options like Adams Kids, Gymboree and Mamas & Papas. The four-level complex with its 130 stores is open daily from 10am until midnight or 1am. The Beach, on the other hand, is an outdoor retail experience, a multi-use precinct that has become something of a one-stop shop for retail, dining and leisure.

Cruisy and coastal in its vibe, tourists can purchase everything from swimming costumes, to sunglasses and sunscreen, as well as sportswear stores, mini-marts and convenience stores, pharmacy goods, lingerie and family goods.

In the evenings there are often pop-up stalls and street displays for the family to enjoy before bed.

Where to stay

There are plenty of places to base yourself if this is where you choose to bed down during your time in the desert.

The Rove Downtown is a great choice for those watching what they spend – like all the Rove properties, it’s fun and funky, with an art deco vibe, but doesn’t have the extras the other hotels offer.

Radisson Blu Dubai Marina is another great option and it’s just a 15-minute walk from Jumeirah Beach and a five-minute stroll to the closest metro station.

Most hotel brands have a presence in this part of the city – Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Rixos, The Ritz-Carlton, Le Meridien, Millennium – you name it, it’s here.

Beachfront hotels and those with private access are some of the highly sought after properties. These include DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Water Park.

Whether money is tight or it’s no object at all, there’s somewhere that will suit most travelers here.

Hostels start from AED 66 per night, while five-star luxury can cost you a good chunk more than that; no matter your choice, you’re sure to walk away with memories that will last a lifetime.

Who should stay here?

Dubai Marina is perhaps most ideal for families. There is so much to do and see and not a lot of travel required, since most of the action is just a few minutes from your doorstep.

A stay here is a stay closer to the theme park precinct, and when you’re not trekking there, the beach and array of water/land activities will keep the kids happy while you enjoy some downtime. Couples and solo travelers will also love it here – it’s walkable and lively, with plenty of dining options.

About the author

Melinda HealyAlthough born in PNG, Mel is an Aussie-made journo who's always been more interested in passport stamps than possessions. A whiz with words, Mel spent a number of years living and working in the United Arab Emirates, it was here that she shared insight into Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the world. Mel believes travel is a privilege and an educator.