Dubai: stopover in style

Last updated 9th June 2017

Why go?

If the thought of the 11-hour flight to the Maldives with little ones worries you, and you fancy a bit of excitement before you retreat to your dreamy paradise, team the trip with a Dubai stopover.

This man-made city is full of high rise buildings that engulf the desert landscape – but it is said to be one of the safest places to take children thanks to its family-friendly beaches, fun activities as well as strict culture.

Who is it good for? Take tots to the beaches and let teens enjoy the myraid of activities in the desert and on the water. Parents will love the cool rooftop bars around the city.

Dubai is a city perfect for a stop over on the way to the Indian Ocean: if your kids are struggling with jetlag there are plenty of beaches it relax and unwind on. If they’re willing to burn off some energy, there’s plenty to keep you all entertained in this city!


Where would we start? Dolphin Bay or Aquaventure Waterpark? The Lost Chambers Aquarium, feeding the razor fish or the Leap of Faith (an immense waterslide into shark-infested waters)?

We headed for the waterpark to make the most of the outdoor activities. After 20 minutes of cruising around on an inflatable ring through rapids and down waterslides, the seven-hour flight was forgotten. I loved how straight away we were thrust intoaction-packed adventure, but in a very safe environment with friendly lifeguards on every corner.  

In two days we also managed to squeeze in feeding string rays, which is a must. Standing waist height in the aquarium with rays, other tropical fish and sharks swimming around you, feeding them prawns is an experience the children won’t forget. The fish rub up against your body, sucking on your legs, eagerly trying to nibble.

We were only there for two days, and there were still plenty more things we could have done, from going on zip wires to looking behind the scenes at the aquarium. Even Grandma tried the Leap of Faith!

Where to stay

I took my children, Amirah, 10, and Zac, eight, and their grandma to the Atlantis The Palm resort. Atlantis is one of Dubai’s most exciting resorts for families. Its sheer scale hits you soon after leaving the airport with towering pink and turquoise turrets in full glory on The Palm. Explaining to the kids that this is a manmade island blew their minds.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the airport we arrived at the hotel and already the children were studying the map of the extensive waterpark, plotting which slides they fancied. Check-in was mercifully swift with sweet mint tea and dates.

The size of the hotel is initially quite daunting – the number of rooms, floors, pools, slides, places to eat and activities seem innumerable.

The waterslides were truly fantastic and provided adrenaline-fuelled, non-stop fun. Each day we were the last to leave as dusk fell, racing up and down to fit in as many rides as we could in the last hour.  There’s a smaller waterpark for younger children, which has gentler slides, rope bridges to cross and water guns to spray parents with. A highlight for us was the gigantic buckets that filled with water every five minutes and tipped over to cause a gush of water over everyone below.

The lowdown

How to get there: Emirates Holidays offers return economy-class flights to the Maldives from Heathrow on Emirates, with a two-night stopover at Atlantis The Palm in a deluxe room half-board from £3,360 per family (two adults and two children).

Travel time: Flying time from the UK to Dubai is about seven hours, then a further four hours 20 minutes to the Maldives.

Book: Call 020 7590 1461 or visit

You can fly directly from London airports to Dubai with EmiratesBritish Airways and Virgin Atlantic