With Abu Dhabi being an island off the coast, there are naturally a lot of beaches. The majority of the ones near my apartment are man-made. When I first got here they were under construction. In addition, it was too hot to enjoy being outside, even swimming at the beach. Further down, there was a nice natural beach where I would go swimming with a group of people early Saturday mornings.
While I'm not a beach sort of person, the kids love going swimming. Considering it's a five minute walk to the beach from our apartment, it's hard to say no to the kids when they want to go. The sand has been imported from other regions to get the "right" sand. It does have a finer texture to it so hopefully they knew what they were doing.
On the man-made beach in directly across the street from my apartment there is a small charge to get in. There's a amusement park sort of atmosphere with deck chairs that you can rent and small, free rides for the kids. It's nice in its own way, but has a resort-like sort of atmosphere.
Little by little the construction has been encroaching on the free natural beaches. Earlier this year, the Saturday morning swim beach was closed for the construction of a new palace for the Sheik. That was actually quite a sad event because it was the last natural beach in the area. Some friends of mine used to take their kids snorkeling there and it was a good place to view wildlife. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way forward.