Time Out, I want to get out of the city this weekend. Any suggestions?
In that case the options are pretty much endless, but how about a trip over to Sir Bani Yas Island?
I think I’ve heard of it, but tell me more…
Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the eight that make up the Desert Islands in Al Gharbia, is a nature-based destination with a huge variety of wildlife and adventure activities. It also has a five-star boutique hotel, a collection of luxury villas, purpose-built stables and must-visit historical sites. It’s pretty amazing.
Sounds fantastic, but are there really loads of animals?
Absolutely! More than half the island is made up of the Arabian Wildlife Park, one of the region’s largest wildlife reserves. It’s home to more than 10,000 free-roaming animals, including Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas and even cheetahs. The park has special vehicles for 4x4 nature and wildlife drives accompanied by expert guides.
It’s like Africa on our doorstep!
Indeed, it is.
It also sounds quite big.
You’re right. Sir Bani Yas is 17.5km from north to south, making it the largest natural island in the UAE.
What’s with the name?
The name comes from the Bani Yas tribe, who were the first settlers in the capital.
Interesting. What’s the accommodation like?
There are three Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas retreats on the island. You can choose between five-star luxury at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, beach-front privacy at Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort, or the natural beauty of Sir Bani Yas Island at Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort.
How do I get there?
There is a very convenient water taxi to transport you to the island, which is complimentary for guests of the Desert Islands Resort & Spa.
I get sea sick sometimes...
In that case, you can also take a short flight from Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport.
Only on Sir Bani Yas Island
Culture and history tour
This is a great way to learn about the island’s history and experience local culture and hospitality. You’ll find out how Sheikh Zayed implemented the conservation initiative to protect nature by initially adopting and planting a mangrove tree. You’ll also see some of the 42 archaeological sites that have been uncovered. No matter where you’re from, this experience is worth every dirham.