Best week in Abu Dhabi & Sir Bani Yas Island

Transportation: Taxi, Uber, personal car 

Restaurants: Amwaj, Al Shams Restaurant & Bar, The Palm, Olio & Lounge, Savannah Grill & Lounge African,   Market Kitchen Abu Dhabi, Alba Terrace, 

Hotels: The Abu Dhabi EDITION, Desert Island Resort & Spa by Anantara

Attractions: Emirates Palace, Qasr Al Watan 

Currency: Dirham (AED)

Hey Travelers!

I want to share with you about a hidden gem of an Island I found in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi

On Thursday mid-day I drove to Abu Dhabi with an intention to make the noon ferry the next day. Transportation by ferry to Sir Bani Yas Island is the only way to get there. (the ferry is free, provided by the hotel) 

I left Dubai around 2 PM and headed to Abu Dhabi. The ride only took 1.5 hours, however, I made a stop at the Qasr Al Watan Palace. This Palace is open to the public 7 days a week, 10 AM – 8 PM for touring. However, it’s intended for government-related meetings. 

Once I got to the Palace and parked the car in the parking area, I was greeted by a museum car that took me to Qasr Al Watan entrance where I bought an entrance ticket for 60AED ($16USD) Once I passed through the security, I was greeted with an Arabic coffee and of course dates. I then boarded a bus that took me around the Palace and to the main entrance of Qasr Al Watan.

Wow, what a beautiful Palace! I won’t say anymore, I’ll have the photos speak for themselves.

Qasr Al Watan Palace

If it’s your first time in Abu Dhabi, right next door to Qasr Al Watan there’s the Emirates Palace a luxury hotel that you must check out. Walk into the hotel’s lobby and grab a coffee or lunch. The hotel is very majestic and unique. After that feel free to explore Abu Dhabi or head straight to the hotel. In my case, after Qasr Al Watan I headed to the Edition Hotel which is located on the Marina of Abu Dhabi. 

Edition Hotel Abu Dhabi 

After checking into the hotel, I headed for drinks at Alba Terrace located inside the hotel. I plot myself outdoors and ordered a bucket of Italian beer (4 beers for 70EAD ($20USD)) and enjoyed a sunset with a friend. Around 8 PM, I enjoyed dinner at the same restaurant.

The next morning, after eating a very nice complimentary breakfast a la carte I had to begin the drive at 9 AM in order to catch the 12 PM ferry. The drive to Sir Bani Yas Island took about 2.5 hours.

Sir Bani Yas Island

Now let me talk about this hidden gem of a resort. Desert Island Resort & Spa by Anantara is an Arabian resort amidst island charm in Abu Dhabi.


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Driving directions: Follow the E11 highway directly from Abu Dhabi or Dubai in the direction of Tarif, Mirfa and Saudi Arabia. Continue on, passing Tarif, Mirfa, Baynoona and Al Ruwais. Take exit 113 marked Sir Bani Yas Island, and at the roundabout take the Sir Bani Yas Island exit. At the next roundabout, take the 2nd exit. Follow the road and at the roundabout, take the exit for Sir Bani Yas Island. At the jetty, park your car in a safe shaded area before boarding the water taxi for a 25-minute journey to Sir Bani Yas Island. The water taxi is free. These are the direct direction without stopping in Abu Dhabi from Dubai. 

Initially, this Island popped up unexpectedly and to my surprise, this was one of the best weekend getaways that I’ve gone on. The Island is located only 3 hours driving by car from Dubai! Take the Sheik Zayed road all the way to Abu Dhabi which is straight forward going at 140 km (remember in Abu Dhabi you are only allowed to go at the posted speed. In Dubai, however, you could always add extra 20 km to the posted speed limit, unless its posted 70 km, or 90 km, then you can only add extra 10 km.

Sir Bani Yas Island houses three different resorts:

  1. Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara
  2. Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort
  3. Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort

In case you get bored laying out by the beach or the pool, the resort offers Recreations & Leasure Activities. These activities include:

Nature and Wildlife Drive Bush Trailing
Nature and Wildlife Walk Snorkeling
Nature & Wildlife Ride (on a horse) Stand-Up Paddle-boarding
Wadi Walk Land Sailing
Culture and History Tour Private Yacht Sailing
Horseback Riding Archery
Mountain Biking Falconry
Dune Riding

I went for Nature & wildlife tour. This tour lasts 1.5 hours at 350aed/person ($95USD) The hotel operates this tour 4-5x a day, I would suggest going at 5 PM during the sunset because the animals come out as the temperatures drop down in the evening.

Once you get there, the main gate to this animal heaven will open and you’ll be greeted by about 200 peacocks and 20 wild turkeys. As you are guided by the tour guy and driver he will explain more about each animal. This sanctuary is home to over 15K animals from 30 different species.

Sir Bani Yas Island Nature & Wildlife Drive


Dining at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resort & Spa

Amwaj means ‘waves’ in Arabic. Amwaj restaurant offers a contemporary, with a rustic, fell by the beachside. Cozy into oversized chairs on the outdoor terrace and unwind to chill out music. Amwaj offers fresh seafood. 

Al Shams Restaurant & Bar Middle Eastern bites in a poolside setting

The Palm Casual breakfasts and themed dinner buffets

Olio & Lounge Enter this tranquil Italian-inspired restaurant and enjoy tempting flavors of the Mediterranean. Savor mouth-watering dishes from roasted black cod fillet to traditional tiramisu. Take in the stunning sea views from your table as you sample fine wines from the cellar. Enjoy classical Italian music as you feast on classic Italian dishes.  (P.S. I went to this restaurant twice both times for lunch, the first time I had a hamburger which was so delicious. Yes, I know – why did I order a hamburger at an Italian restaurant? I was hungry!) The second time I had a shrimp salad. 

Savannah Grill & Lounge African Relish succulent steaks and western favorites in a rustic setting surrounded by the majestic grasslands of the island reserve.

The Beach at Sir Bani Yas Island

The most magical moment of this trip for me was the beach. The unbelievable surrounding of the white sand beach, and blue waters. What’s unique is that you could walk along half of the island without anyone there. Go beyond the hotel along the beach, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by no one, but yourself and the ocean.

Sir Bani Yas Island


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