Surf Information & Prevailing Winds in Dubai
The underwater breakwater at the Grey Palace/Coke Machine was broken up by shamals in winter 2002/2003 with debri strewn throughout the surf zone. The poles embedded in the sand sound especially nasty and there's a good chance you could impale yourself on one there. I would advise people not to venture out in that area.
Update February 2004 - I swam around that area a couple of months ago to have a better look. There appear to be iron or metal box shaped frames of some sort, sides about 1m long. Very heavy and solid looking. Occasionally there's a pole sticking out at odd angles. In places they're only a foot or so beneath the surface and stretch from Thieves Corner well past the Grey Palace. I wouldn't surf Coke Machine or Thieves Corner. Note there are NO warning signs on the beach in that area.
Update March 2004 - It has been reported to me that the sand which was dumped on the beach a few months back has started to erode and get washed back into the sea, which is gradually covering the metal structures (which will probably settle deeper into the sand eventually). Sounds like it's just less obvious where the structures are (and not any less dangerous).
Local surfers in Dubai are a friendly bunch and if you live here, you'll recognize the same faces out in the water soon enough. Join the SOD mailing list so you can receive even more junk email! I try and send out an email once or twice a month with updates on surf and video nights (usually the last Wednesday of every month at Carters - see forum for updates also), and occasional emails letting people know about tidal waves expected and other good Dubai surf information!
Other pages on this site (will be linked as I get round to it...) will include
Note that the Dubai surf forum is the best place to visit for up to date information and discussion about surfing Dubai, UAE and Oman. There are categories for almost anything you can think of related to Dubai surfing so that's the best place to ask questions and have surfer discussions.
To upload and view surfing photos from Dubai and other locations SODs have been, use the Surfers of Dubai surf photo gallery. Check the online surf photo gallery discussion topic in the forum for further information and questions.
Are located here - forum.surfersofdubai.com - you need to re-register if you were already registered on the old ezboard message boards. The old forums appear to have died although you can still see them from www.archive.org. Do your best Surfers of Dubai!
Generally you'll get between 0 and 5 ft (heights apply to the wave face) of wind generated swell from a roughly NW direction. Occasionally a storm or big shamal will get it up to 6-8 ft (we're talking a couple of times a year maybe) with heavy onshore winds. A fellow SOD reckoned he was surfing double overhead in March 2000 and in February 2003 I reckon I took a drop of 10-12 foot which is the biggest wave I've caught here - messy storm surf, don't get excited about it. December to March (winter) is more reliable. Most weekends I've managed to get the mal out and catch a wave (sometimes barely rideable though). May to October is usually flat (and the water and air temperatures are uncomfortable - some would say hellish) but sometimes a wave will roll through so don't give up entirely. Check the forum surf reports for more information.
It's nearly all beach breaks with banks that usually work best around low tide. Hollow spitting tubes it's not but you'll whack your head if you fall off carelessly - and I know of three broken boards in the last year or so. Waves are lacking in power compared to any sort of decent groundswell breaks but it means it's easy surfing for old fellas like me!
I've driven up the coast as far as the Omani border to do a bit of a recci and there's a couple of stony beaches which may have potential. Past the Omani border up to the Straits of Hormuz are fjords and rocks and mountains dropping straight into the sea. Further investigation may reveal something interesting. Also the Umm al Quwain penisula may have some potential. The seabed topography is such that Dubai has deeper water closer to the shore than elsewhere in the UAE hence bigger waves here.
The east coast also gets a few waves - Fujairah - but more often in the summer. And the water is cooler than in Dubai. Kalba is a place on that coast which occasionally appears in the newspaper as having suffered from a tidal wave! If only they'd predict it...
Local surfers are a friendly lot and if you live here, you'll recognize the same faces fairly quickly. Everyone's out to enjoy themselves and relax, save the aggression for when you're driving (which ought to be listed as a hazard!).
Update November 2004 - it will have become apparent to most of us that surfing days are numbered with the amount of development going on along the coast. In particular the two Palm Islands (and now a third off Deira), and The World off Jumeirah beach. These offshore man-made islands are blocking most of the swell to most Dubai surfspots but there's still a couple of windows left.
If you predict sunshine on any given day, you're almost certain to be correct. As of the latest update to this page, the last time there was any serious rain in Dubai was January 1998. A few clouds and dribbles since then but that's all. If it rains, it usually does in winter and it can really hose down. Both 1997 and 1998 had periods of over a week with almost constant downpours. That's good news because there'll be a bit of surf kicking around. And since the stormwater drains aren't always functioning, you could go for a 4wd tow-in under the Trade Center!
Dubai prevailing winds are NW and blow virtually every afternoon. Shamals are strong winds than can come from any direction, with a bit of luck it'll be NW and blow for a couple of days stirring up the Gulf. Usually if wind is still blowing around midnight, it's worth getting up at 0500 for a surf check. Early is better - before the wind starts to pick up around 1000 or 1100. Temperature is also a factor especially in the summer.
Water temperatures range from about 20°C to 35°C in midsummer. You might fancy a wetsuit top midwinter early in the morning or during a storm but you won't suffer too much with just a pair of shorts all year. Daytime air temperatures vary from about 15°C to 45°C with up to 100% humidity in the summer. Nights are pleasant to hot and occasionally in winter you might hunt out a jersey or jacket.
Due to the generally small waves and lack of power, your first board is ideally a mal or even a long board of some sort. I use a 9'0" most of the time but there's often days when I can use my 7'2" shortboard. As I get lazier and fatter (I'm about 95kg and 6'2"), I use the long board more and more... Quite a few younger SODs (with less weight and more stamina I guess) have shortboards out there. Fish boards are also popular. If you're just going to have only one board for surfing with here, I'd suggest a minimal between 7'0" and 8'6" - depending on your size and ability. The forum has a few discussions with more information and is a good place to ask for more information.
Surf shops/suppliers to try are (see also the buy surf gear in Dubai page)
Repairs you'll have to do yourself, there's no repair shops here. If that changes or you're interested in putting your name up here as available to do board repairs, let me know. There's occasional demand for a board repair person here. The surf gear page has a more information. Update November 2004 - there is an occasionally present surfboard repairman in Dubai, and a couple of people have had boards repaired at boat shops. More information in the Dubai and Oman surf forum.
A range of boards are available for 100 dhs per day, discounted rates for more than 1 day at a time. If you're interested in renting a surf board then order online at surfigloo.com (now closed but see the surf shop page) or contact us. Also more information in the Dubai surfboard rental topic.
There's some public toilets and a canteen at Moscow Beach. Public showers at Moscow beach, Mamzar Park and Sunset Beach. Anywhere else? Is that enough information? For information on shops, restaurants, bars, accommodation, car rental, libraries, roads, garden centers, etc etc try one of these links or do a search. The first one is a good place to start surfing Dubai (so to speak...).
Hazards (this applies generally to Dubai)
Update March 2007
There are reports of encounters with the Bluebottle jellyfish or Portuguese Man-of-War in Dubai. If correct, then be careful. Bluebottles are quite distinctive with the blue "sail" sticking up out of the water - it may look like a blue plastic bag. They may not kill you despite their lethal reputation, but it is possible. At the very least, a Bluebottle sting will give you a lot of grief for a day or three and maybe longer. If stung, go to a hospital and get medical treatment. Note that a Portuguese Man of War is not actually a jellyfish and putting vinegar where you've been stung is not a good idea according to some sources.
Sea creatures include jellyfish, sea-snakes, stingrays, sharks and other fish. Jellyfish you'll usually only see in the summer months (when the water's too warm to swim in anyway). Sea-snakes, although they are lethal, have mouths so small it's unlikely they will bite you unless you have any loose flaps of skin hanging around for them to latch on to! Stingrays are painful rather than dangerous and anyway, you're supposed to be standing on your surfboard! Sharks in Dubai are not regarded as a hazard - I've never heard of a problem. Oman is a different story as coast is regarded as a known habitat of tiger sharks.
Update November 2004 - there was a shark apparently caught off the coast of Dubai near Mina Seyahi and Burj Al Arab. Rumored to be a Tiger Shark at first but then reported as a Bronze Whaler. See the Tiger Shark in Dubai topic.
Water condition seems ok, sometimes you see a plastic bag or worse floating about and the beaches have a bit of crap lying around but the municipality does a reasonable job of cleaning up most of the rubbish in Dubai. In other emirates you'll find a lot more rubbish lying around - watch out for broken glass especially. Occasionally various volunteer groups do a clean up job.
The Coke Machine had an underwater groyne installed in 2002. No one is really sure what the point of it was - protect the coast maybe? My understanding is that it was not something sanctioned by the Dubai Municipality. Anyway, shortly after completion, a couple of shamals came through in the beginning of 2003 and wrecked it with the resulting bits of junk spread all through the surf zone. It is a hazard. I know people occasionally still surf there. I also know they get cut up a bit.
And like I said somewhere else, driving is a bit of a hazard but nothing to worry about once you're in the water.
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