Zaya Nurai Island: The Tropics in Abu Dhabi

One of the last things I expected to find in Abu Dhabi was Zaya Nurai, a lush tropical island. Yes, lush indeed. Even though it was quite hot I am sure that it wasn’t just a mirage and I have some pictures that prove it.

We arrived there after a 12 mins long boat ride from Saadiyat, but it looked like we have travelled thousands of miles away to more southern latitudes. Actually I often hear people compare Zaya Nurai to the Maldives and I can’t blame them. This little piece of paradise is made of white sand and surrounded by a warm  mint-blue sea that is impossible to resist.

We spent the first half of the day by main pool, where slowing down under the natural shade of the trees is de rigeur. We beat the heat loafing about in the water and, of course, sipping our new found favorite drink – lemon with mint, the most typical non alcolic refreshment in the Middle East.

When the hunger striked we headed out to one of the islands restaurants – Frangipani, where we were spoiled with the chef’s new menu including risotto with truffles and the best burrata with basil seeds I have ever had. If you are like me and would travel for food, trust me, this lunch was definitely worth traveling for hours.

After the great meal we explored the island’s facilites and villas and needless to say that I felt in love with the biggest one which had a Vogue cover photoshoot worthy pool and a bedroom overlooking the turqoise sea. Actually it was exactly thanks to this bedroom that I discovered about Zaya Nurai island. It was listed as one of the top 10 most beautiful hotel rooms in the world, and for a good reason for sure.

In the afternoon we went to the other side of the island, where there is another beach which boasts a hammock and swings right inside the water, in a perfect tropical style. Unfortunately they were out of reach for me because I can’t swim but the sweetest one had quite a good time over there. I, on the other side, waited for him on the hammock under the palm trees, which looked as a good compromise for me.

With the sunset approaching we took the boat back to Abu Dhabi but I am sure we will meet again soon.

Zaya Nurai is a private island and there are three ways to stay there:

  • spend a night in the island’s hotel
  • get a day pass for the pool and beach – it costs 420 AED that you can use as a credit in the restaurants and bars. They also do brunches on Friday, starting from 550 AED.
  • go for a dinner – after 18:30 you just pay for what you eat, there is no minimum spending.

The boat service is always complimentary and runs every hour (9:30, 10:30 …ect from Saadiyat and 10:00, 11:00 … etc from Zaya Nurai) It’s always a good idea to book in advance as the places are limited.