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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Smulders

Sir Bani Yas Island escape

A Wildlife retreat just an island away


An island to get away from it all where you can enjoy nature at its best within a natural environment and top-notch service.

The arrival

Few days prior to the arrival, the resort will be in touch to confirm your preferred arrival time to the jetty in Abu Dhabi where the experience starts. Located approximately 3.5-4 hours from Dubai, you will find shaded parking for your car and the Anantara concierge team will welcome you, receive your luggage and lead you to the airconditioned Anantara lounge where you will do the check-in.

The boat ride takes approximately 30 minutes (and leaves for the island a few times a day, typically at 10.30am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm).

Departing from the jetty with direction to the island

The island

Spanning over 87 km2, Sir Bani Yas is the largest natural island in the UAE, even larger than the Abu Dhabi city island.

The Anantara resort is split between three main areas: Al Sahel Resort, known for the Savannah experience, the Al Yamm Resort, known for its beach and mangrove facing villas, (beach front villas) located at the opposite side of the island, and the Desert Island Resort (or main building) in the middle.

Once you arrive to the island, you will be escorted to your destination resort. The transfer is done by small private van to your villa (if not staying in the main building) which takes approximately 15 minutes. As you drive deeper into the island you will encounter numerous peacocks and gazelles wandering freely in the surroundings.

At the centre of the island, you will find mountains and nature reserves where the safaris drive takes place. You will be provided a map at arrival to know where everything is located. To move between the resorts, to visit different restaurants, or the beach (if staying in Al Sahel), complimentary transportation is provided as distances are quite far (c. 15 minutes).

Animals such as peacocks, gazelles and hyrax (the closes relative of the elephant) can be spotted everywhere around the island; however, giraffes, Arabian oryx (preserved), ostriches, and cheetahs can only be found in a specific area of the island, the wildlife park, accessible for safari bookings.

Al Sahel

In our view, Al Sahel is the most special resort if you are looking for animal encounters and a real feeling of nature wildlife at your doorstep.

Breakfast with a view

As soon as you relax at the terrace of your villa, curious peacocks, exotic birds and gazelles will gather to welcome you home. Throughout the whole stay you will feel part of the nature around you; however, walking up to the natural sounds and smell of nature, it is probably one of the most special experiences of the whole stay.

Sahel villas

There are 30 independent villas in the Al Sahel resort, but they are well spread across the area allowing you to enjoy a real sense of privacy. The villas are well equipped with all the comforts expected of a five-star resort. You can enjoy a spacious terrace and lounge chairs to make the best of the time outdoors which was perfect at any time of the day given it is shaded and you can refresh in the small private pool that each villa is equipped with.


The most acclaimed activity of the island is undoubtfully the “Nature and Wildlife drive” which can be booked at 5 different times during the day. The experience involves going with a 4x4 (safari-style) on a guided expedition to the Arabian Wildlife park, home to over 25 species and approximately 16,000 animals.

There are many other activities that can be enjoyed as a family such as biking, wadi walk, horse riding, among others. For those water lovers, the resort also offers snorkelling expeditions, kayaking and even fishing.

The staff

Something remarkable about staying in the resort is certainly the staff.

From the moment we arrived to the jetty to the moment we departed, the friendly team at Anantara Sir Baniyas made us feel very much at home. The exclusivity of the place allows to have one to one attention to guests and attention to detail which we enjoyed consistently in the restaurants (loved the Italian!), during transportation (Mr. Lok encouraging us to enjoy the sunset at 6pm) and during the welcome and check out (Mr. Saif was wonderful and very resourceful).

To take into account!

Opportunities to enjoy the surroundings and interact with nature are plenty. Make sure you get your beach ensembles and (perhaps most importantly) your outfits to enjoy the raw terrains outdoors (hat, sunscreen, closed shoes).


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