You know when you have discovered something so brilliant that you kind of want to keep it to yourself? That’s how I feel about the RTA Water Bus in Dubai Marina. But let’s face it; I’m rubbish at keeping secrets when it comes to ideas for entertaining kids in this city, so here goes – and if your brood love a bit of adventure, you are onto a winner.
I jump on this boat at least once a week with my boys. My toddler loves standing on his tip-toes to hand over coins at the ticket counter, presenting the ticket proudly to the inspector as we board the boat, and squealing with laughter as we set sail across the calm waters. And what do I love? The fact it’s so easy, so frequent, and that I can get a really good cup of coffee at the other end. It’s as simple as that.
There are four stations in Dubai Marina where you can buy tickets and board the boat – Marina Walk (right by the jetty for Captain Jack), Marina Terrace (near Grosvenor House), Marina Mall (under The Address Hotel) and Marina Promenade (underneath Marina Promenade residences, across the road from JBR).
It can be a bit daunting to try new things when you have small people in tow, especially when you throw in sweaty weather, an area you aren’t familiar with, and a lack of visible signs and instructions. But honestly, it’s easy and definitely worth the effort.
Start by looking for the grey and red RTA hut to buy your ticket. You will pay Dhs3 per trip – and kids are free under five years old. They recently changed the system so you can’t buy returns – so buy a single to your destination (confusingly, this may consist of two different tickets) and jump on the boat when it arrives. You will have to do the same before your return journey.
Having travelled on this boat so often the staff know my children’s names (better than the local takeaway, I guess, but still a bit embarrassing), I have some advice regarding your chosen route. Your best bet is to park your car at Marina Walk (there’s a big carpark next to Spinneys) and get the boat all the way down to Marina Promenade. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, this is the longest route – and lets face it, the boat ride is the main event so you might as well stretch it out. Secondly, your final destination – Marina Promenade – is the quietest of all the stops, giving your kids a wide, empty promenade to scoot, cycle or toddle along as they spot boats, without being knocked over by crowds of tourists (or vice versa, which could be awkward). And lastly, there are some very lovely cafes and restaurants dotted along the promenade that always have tables free, are very child-friendly, and offer pretty jaw-dropping views of the yacht club and its multi-million dirham occupants. So everyone is happy.
The boats run every 15 minutes, between 10am and 10pm (Saturday to Wednesday), 10am to midnight (Thursday), and 12pm to midnight (Fridays and Public Holidays). For more information, visit www.rta.ae.