Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah is one of the largest man-made islands on the planet, from its two-kilometre-long trunk to the tips of its 17 fronds and the surrounding crescent. Launched in 2001, this awe-inspiring isle reclaimed from the sea has developed into a glamorous mixture of luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, thrilling attractions and more that combine to make one of the emirate’s most magnetic tourist spots. Discover the very best bits with our round-up of must-have activities and experiences…
Pick of the suites
Stay at these plush suites where panoramic Palm Jumeirah views meet private pools, direct beach access, round-the-clock butler service – and even waking up to aquarium views
Royal Suite, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
This coveted two-bedroom suite occupies the entire top floor of the hotel, taking the crown as the largest suite in the emirate (1,567sqm). Opulent woods and Italian marble set the tone for a VIP stay, with large living and dining areas, as well as a vast terrace from which to admire those panoramic Palm views. Your entourage is sure to be impressed by the 20-guest majlis and kitchen with butler service, and there’s two additional bedrooms for your assistants.
Luxe Two Bedroom Suite With Private Pool, FIVE Palm Jumeirah
This plush 175sqm suite is great for groups, comfortably sleeping up to five adults. There’s a separate kitchen area and living room to hang out in, as well as a social dining room set-up for meals shared around the table. You’ll soon be inspired to take the party outdoors, however, as the large terrace beckons with its private pool directly facing the Arabian Gulf. It’s the ideal way to chill while watching the sunset against a Dubai Marina backdrop.
Grand King Suite, Rixos The Palm
Step into the private elevator and journey straight to this vast (580sqm) penthouse suite that’ll wow you with its floor-to-ceiling windows, sparkling views and awesome outdoor space. Bagsie the master bedroom for its king size bed, spacious walk-in closet, and en-suite bathroom complete with whirlpool bathtub and standalone rainfall shower.
Underwater Suite, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Dive deep into relaxation as you unwind to majestic views of the Ambassador Lagoon (boasting 65,000 marine inhabitants) through floor-to-ceiling windows in your bedroom and en-suite – simply watch on in wonder as the fishes swim past. This impressive three-storey suite, of which there are just two (Neptune and Poseidon), sets out to impress with interconnecting bedrooms, a grand living room and chic amenities including 24-karat gold smellies.
Palm Beach Executive Suite With Pool, One&Only The Palm
This sophisticated, one-bedroom 130sqm suite comes complete with a private pool and is just steps away from the beach. There are just two of these suite types available, offering round-the-clock service by a team of dedicated hosts. Unwind on your private beachfront patio or take a dunk in the sumptuous oversized freestanding marble tub. Distinctive Moorish and Andalusian architecture enhances the holiday vibe.
Superior 3 Bedroom Penthouse, Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah
If you’re travelling with the whole family in tow, this 440sqm penthouse’s three bedrooms (sleeping up to 6 adults and 2 children) is just the ticket. With a separate kitchen and living room with terraces overlooking the lagoon and the sea, there’s plenty of room to socialise. Luxury décor with hues of gold create an air of opulence.
Anantara Two Bedroom Beach Pool Villa, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
The resort’s popular overwater villas are unique to Dubai but the beach pool villa option transports you from the shores of the Arabian Gulf to exotic Asian lands with barefoot luxury in spades. Bi-fold patio doors open up onto a private terrace and infinity pool with its own chic dining sala, bordered by a lush green lawn and the beach mere steps beyond.
The Palm Suite, Sofitel the Palm Dubai Resort & Spa
Designed especially for large entourages or extended families travelling together, this four-bedroom (450sqm) penthouse suite occupies the entire top floor of the resort’s central building. Retreat to the master suite with its king-size bed, en-suite bathroom, separate dressing room and private gym. Beyond the French doors are two expansive terraces, both with magnificent views.
Grand Imperial Suite, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Follow in the footsteps of royalty and A-listers who have stayed in this grand 310sqm suite, which is tucked away at the highest point of the resort. Breathtaking sea views, richly appointed interiors, a personal spa and private butler service delivers the VIP treatment.
Presidential Suite, Fairmont The Palm
With its mix of Arabic-influenced décor and contemporary interior design, this 390sqm suite marries style and comfort. It’s all about the view, however, with its expansive terrace offering 180-degree vistas of the Dubai Marina skyline.
Experience the best of British hospitality against a stunning backdrop of sun, sea and sand at Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel. Take your pick of the luxurious rooms and suites, with the option to stay all-inclusive allowing you to fully unwind.
Pick of the restaurants
Get set for a meal to remember at these top-notch restaurants that will win you over with a compelling combination of tantalising fare and a stunning setting
Torno Subito, W Dubai – The Palm
Despite being a shiny, smiley, seaside affair, Torno Subito carries the weighty expectation of Chef Massimo Bottura on its shoulders, he of three Michelin stars and 2018’s World’s Best Restaurant (for Italy’s Osteria Francescana) acclaim. It doesn’t buckle. A playful gem topped by the best gelato in town.
What to order: The mere but magnificent margherita pizza takes centre stage, edging the too-rich-for-our-taste chef’s favourite.
Mekong, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
Pan-Asian restaurants usually suffer by being, as the saying goes, a jack of all trades but a master of none. Not so Mekong, which has proved itself skilled in Chinese and Vietnamese and a master of Thai. Park yourself in rickshaw-style seating for complementing views across to the city.
What to order: The comes-with-a-kick phad kaprow goong.
101 Dining Lounge and Marina, One&Only The Palm
Nowhere says you’re having dinner on the Palm quite like this place, the terrace of which bestows glorious across-water views of the city’s spiked skyline. With a new menu rubber stamped by three-Michelin starred chef Yannick Alléno, the food doesn’t suffer by comparison.
What to order: Anything plucked from the sea is good, but Alléno’s take on bouillabaisse is best.
Rue Royale, The Pointe
The pride of the Palm’s foodie hotspot The Pointe, Rue Royale is the result of chef Mathieu Viannay’s ambitious quest to sprinkle his Michelin stardust over an entirely Halal and alcohol-free menu inspired by classic French fare. Dishes are on the pricey side, but worth it for the prized ingredients used.
What to order: The milk-fed lamb shoulder from the rotisserie.
The Rib Room, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Its elder sibling in Jumeirah Emirates Towers is a city stalwart, but this outpost tops it. Here you can truly indulge in ingredients as opulent as the resort itself: beluga caviar, pure-breed master kobe wagyu beef, foie gras, oysters, lobster… you get the idea. Just be sure to save space for the well selected cheeses.
What to order: That master kobe wagyu is almost worthy of its price tag.
Little Miss India, Fairmont The Palm
A vibrantly decorated and playful restaurant that excels in house-made spice mixtures and marinades, used to brilliant effect in both the food and inspired drinks that put an Indian spin on classic recipes. Dishes are served for sharing – make sure you’re first
to the spoon.
What to order: The soft-as-a-pillow murgh malai kebab, fresh from
Akira Back, W Dubai – The Palm
Akira Back is the headline act, but his Chef de Cuisine Giovanni Ledon is the star of this particular show. To go alongside Japanese hot and cold plates – including what’s arguably the best sushi in the city – Ledon has created a full vegan menu that packs in incredible flavour.
What to order: The sushi is a must, but ask Ledon for a sample plate of vegan desserts. You’ll be wowed.
Khyber, Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel
Embark on a spice-laden journey through northern India at this Mumbai import, which serves up great views across to Dubai Marina – though it’s the dishes served that take our full attention. Spiced to perfection, the curries are faultless (the service not far from it), and there’s a substantial vegetarian offering.
What to order: Tiranga paneer tikka – you’ll be ever so glad you’re on a meat-free day.
Swap fine dining for side-of-the road bites at the 11km-long The Boardwalk, which is home to several dozen food trucks serving everything from fish and chips to shawarma, which you can tuck into while soaking up the sea views.
Pick of the pools
If being surrounded by the sparkling sea isn’t enough to satisfy your chill-o-meter, don’t fret. The island is spilling over with swimming pools to take a refreshing dip in, so go on, dive in!
The infinity pool at Dukes The Palm, A Royal Hideaway Resort
Kick back at this Insta-worthy infinity pool and gaze at the turquoise waters that appear to blend seamlessly into the sky. This temperature-controlled pool is the ideal spot at which to cool down. Plus, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from the hotel’s lazy river.
Highlights pool bar at Rixos the Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites
Perfect for an uninterrupted pool day, this lush oasis is surrounded by palm trees, with a swim-up bar keeping you well-fed and watered. You can dry off on one of the many comfy sunloungers or exclusive beach cabanas. The kids will enjoy splashing around in the dedicated shallow pool.
Infinity pool at Anantara the Palm Dubai Resort
If you’re eager to get some lengths in, you’ll be in your element in this Thai-inspired resort’s 50-metre infinity pool. Swim to your heart’s content, admiring the charming architecture and shoreline views as you go. Don’t leave without taking a relaxing dunk in the Jacuzzi overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
The main pool, Sofitel Dubai The Palm
With six outdoor pools to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice here. The main pool faces the beach, with its sun decks surrounded by palm trees, vibrant bougainvillea and more lush greenery. For a dash of fun, hunt out the pools featuring slides and waterfalls, as well as the splash area just for kids.
Psst! You’ll soon be able to take a dip 52-storeys high at the rooftop infinity pool at The Palm Tower complex that’s set to open in 2020.
Pick of the SPAS
Take a load off at these top pampering havens that’ll help you wave goodbye to stress
If your MO is to unwind, you’ll be pleased to learn that the Palm’s spa game is strong. The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel is home to the world’s first Rayya Wellness Centre (+971 4 524 7777) offering an impressive line-up of holistic, tailor-made health and wellbeing programmes. If you can’t squeeze in a package, plump for a treatment off the à la carte menu – the laughter yoga group class followed by an Emotional Freedom Techniques coaching session will have you feeling like a new person. Treatments take place in the luxury spa or on the beach.
Not your traditional zen spa, AWAY Spa (+971 4 245 5533) at W Dubai – The Palm will wow you with its striking design that harks back to Dubai’s pearl diving heyday. Make your way past the shimmering entryway to the Beauty Bar and join the city’s social set as they take their seats for touch-ups such as party lashes, quick polish changes, and nourishing lip masks while sipping on drinks. If you require more privacy, there are 11 treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite, although the outdoor cabana treatments (from 15-60 minutes) are perfect for teaming a soothing session with serene sea views.
For one of the best hammam experiences, head to Anantara Spa (+971 4 567 8140) at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. Available for men, women and couples, let those aches melt away in the traditional Turkish hammam that will soak, steam, scrub and massage you to gleaming perfection so you emerge refreshed.
Pick of the EXPERIENCES
From jumping out of a plane to whizzing down a near-vertical waterslide and living it up at the hippest beach clubs, the fronded island brings the fun factor in spades
Take the leap of faith
It takes some nerve, but if you haven’t flung yourself down the near-vertical Leap of Faith waterslide then you’ve not had the full Atlantis Aquaventure experience. It takes just one second to ride this nine-storey-tall mega slide before being whooshed through a transparent tube surrounded by sharks and cownose rays. It’s the star slide at this sprawling family-favourite waterpark at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
Jump out of a plane
Time to tick skydiving off your bucket list? You’ve come to the right place, as Skydive Dubai (skydivedubai.ae) invites you to leap out of an aeroplane, tethered to a professional, for a tandem jump experience over Palm Jumeirah. It’s the best (albeit most extreme) way to see the island from above – unless you’ve got your eyes closed, of course.
Meet the dolphins
Deep water hugs, kisses and dancing – the dolphins at Dolphin Bay at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai are showered with affection. We rate the Dolphin Adventure experience (for confident swimmers aged 8+), which includes a thrilling belly ride from the centre of the lagoon, among other activities.
Feel the need for speed
Make like James Bond on a thrilling speedboat tour around the island. Splash Tours (splashtours.ae) sets off from Dubai Marina, before looping around Palm Jumeirah, pausing at Atlantis The Palm and Burj Al Arab for photo opportunities. The 90-minute sightseeing trip is a family-friendly affair that’s ideal for catching a glimpse of all those famous landmarks along the coast. Another great option is The Yellow Boats (theyellowboats.com), which runs a super cool 99-minute tour of Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina, with the option to arrange a private charter.
Live it up at the beach clubs
Synonymous with Dubai’s party scene, Palm Jumeirah plays host to a slew of hip beach clubs. The boho themed Playa Nomade (playanomade.com) at Rixos The Palm Dubai, serves up laid-back weekday vibes, with lively brunches and house DJs ramping up the pace at weekends. Families should head to Riva (riva-beach.com) at The Shoreline to splash around in the sparkling pool and unwind on the sand. Meanwhile, Wet Deck (wetdeckdubai.com) at W Dubai – The Palm attracts an energetic crowd with its partially submerged day beds, colourful inflatables, and steady line-up of DJs and performers.
Ride the waves
Watersports company SeaYou (seayou.ae), which operates from Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, offers all manner of activities in the water, including dragonboating for groups. There needs to be a minimum of eight people to take part – simply row to the beat of the drum – but if you can’t make up the numbers don’t fret, as you can also take a guided kayak tour around the island, or go sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding and more.
Peace out under a full moon
Inhale and exhale beneath the light of the full moon at Fairmont The Palm. Taking place on the Saturday closest to the full moon each month, seasoned yogis and novices alike are invited to practise their asanas while the resident yoga teacher talks you through the different postures. Each session ends with a relaxing meditation.
With the Palm’s stunning vistas, it’s little wonder there’s sundowner spots aplenty here. Our favourite places for watching the sun go down over with a drink in hand include West 14th (soak up the view from the terrace) and Phantom House at The Pointe (offering direct views of Atlantis The Palm).
Check out The View
Situated 240 metres high, The View at The Palm is a public observation deck offering stellar vistas. What’s more, this new attraction, set to open in 2020, shares the story behind the making of the island through its interactive museum and dedicated gallery. Accessible via Nakheel Mall, you’ll make the three-minute ascent in the hi-tech elevator (it has a floor-to-ceiling digital sea, sand and sky display) to the observatory at the top of The Palm Tower, where you can soak up those 360-degree views.
Let’s do brunch…
Brunch in Dubai remains an institution, with restaurants pulling out all the stops to tempt your tastebuds. That’s no more apparent than on the Palm, where for families we rate the fun vibes at West 14th, while foodies will fall hard for Akira Back.
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