Palm Jumeira, Palm Jebel Ali, the World Islands; when it comes to islands, Dubai has a long list to boast of.
However, the archipelago of artificial islands has, for years, overshadowed what appears to be the most magical place in the UAE! A place that takes you away from the hustle of the metropolitan. A place where the twinkling stars of the night sky aren’t lost in the glaring city lights. A place called Sir Bani Yas Island.
If you don’t have the funds to glide off to a Euro-trip this summer and still need a break from the humdrum of routine, Sir Bani Yas is the perfect destination for a short getaway. Sir Bani Yas in Arabic means ‘the salt dome.’ Although referring to this desert island merely as a salt dome would be quite an understatement.
Whether you’re seeking peace of mind or looking for an adrenaline rush, this enchanting mangrove tree filled isle will have you hooked.
Picturesque Landscapes & Intriguing History
After scrambling through the concrete jungles that our cities have become, waking up to azure waves and untouched beaches seems like heaven. The prospect of taking a dip in the ocean right after biking across rugged mountains makes you want to ditch your job and head out N.O.W!
Are you into culture more than beaches?
Sir Bani Yas has a fascinating history that will leave you wondering what it looked like a few centuries ago. With an impressive number of archaeological sites, the island is the only place in UAE which was once home to a pre-Islamic 7th century Christian monastery.
A haven for thrills and wildlife
Sir Bani Yas is perhaps the only place in the UAE where an ostrich walking up to your car to check you out would be considered perfectly normal. The island is home to a staggering number of animals, both indigenous and non-indigenous.
A herd of Arabian Oryx (a species that was nearly extinct) roaming freely in the wilderness is definitely not a sight that you get to see every day but thanks to the wildlife conservation Programme at Sir Bani Yas, visitors can now see these animals in their natural habitat.
From exploring salt caverns on your mountain bike to kayaking your way through mangrove jungles, adrenaline rushes are guaranteed on the island of Sir Bani Yas.
Fancy roaming the island on horseback?
Sure, Sir Bani Yas is an equestrian’s delight! If the sun gets too hot, get into your scuba diving gear and discover the underwater world. Who knows? you might still find a pearl oyster.
Greener than the greenest desert
The good people at Sir Bani Yas plant a mangrove for every person who visits the island. That way, the delicate ecosystem remains balanced.
In 2014, Sir Bani Yas island won the world’s leading sustainable tourism destination award. What had started as a part of the ‘Greening of the Desert’ program has now become an exemplary model of sustainability. If you have an environmentalist’s heart beating in your chest, this is worth a visit.
Tempted? Here’s all you need to know about getting there, staying there and eating there:
How to get there
Fly: If hassle-free, quick travel is what you prefer then flying to the island is the best option. Rotana Jet flights to Sir Bani yas operate 5 days a week from Abu Dhabi and 3 days a week from Dubai. Book your tickets here.
Drive: Not a fan of strict flight timetables? Then take your own car to the Sir Bani Yas island jetty, which is just a two and a half hour drive from Abu Dhabi.
You can park your car at the jetty and then proceed to the island in a water taxi which only takes about 20 minutes to reach the island! Boat timings may be subject to weather conditions, so make sure you check them in advance!
By Sea: Sailing across the glistening waters between Abu Dhabi and Sir Baniyas along with wild dolphins is an absolute delight [If you’re staying at the Anantara, it is complimentary with your hotel booking].
If you’re just planning a day trip then the service is available at a separate cost. What’s more, you can even take your own yacht! The Royal Bay jetty on the island has enough space for crafts up to 50 feet.
Where to stay
Luxury: The multitude of hotels, resorts and spas on the island will never ever let you feel stranded in the middle of nowhere which is quite ironic given that the island is well, practically, in the middle of nowhere. The Desert Island Resort and Spa by Anantara gives you a taste of extravagant Middle Eastern hospitality with a variety of accommodation options; from sea view rooms to suites to villas! Say goodbye to all your worries with that well-deserved spa visit or lie by the pool to soak in some vitamin D.
Camping: If you’re more of an outdoorsy person then pack your camping gear! Camping along the beach with the waves and stars for company is the best way to cool off after an adrenaline filled morning.
Where to eat
Intimacy Isle: The sea breeze and sunset are great backdrops. So, whether you’re celebrating another year of togetherness or planning to pop the question, the romantic allure of Sir Baniyas has a romantic ambience to set the mood, always.
UAE’s best kept secret is finally out! When are you planning your island getaway? Already been to Sir Bani Yas? Share your experience with us in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.