Living the big city life is what I love about Dubai, but every once in a while I need a break. A break from the city, the buildings, the cars, the noise, etc… And when that happens, I do one thing: I book a day trip to Zaya Nurai Island, in Abu Dhabi. Just off the coast of the UAE capital, 1-hour drive and a short boat ride away, Zaya Nurai Island Resort is a little slice of paradise, ideal to rest and relax thanks to their affordable day pass. I mean … it is even part of Conde Nast Traveller Most Incredible Private Island list!
Before I go further, if you are more of a desert kinda person, check out my article on Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, the ultimate Dubai luxury gateway.
WHAT IS ZAYA NURAI ISLAND?
Zaya Nurai is a private island resort, located off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The resort offers out of this world accommodations, from one bedroom to 6 bedrooms beach villas, each with their private pool and the most beautiful views of the Arabian Gulf. Modern and streamlined design, overwater villa, pristine water … you almost get a Maldives vibe!
Staying the night in Zaya Nurai Island Resort is not for everyone, with the one-bedroom beach villa going for around 1000 USD / night. It is my dream to stay there once, but until I win the lottery I will have to make the most of Zaya Nurai Island day pass instead.
HOW TO BOOK A DAY TRIP TO ZAYA NURAI ISLAND?
There are two easy options to book a day pass to Zaya Nurai Island. You can contact the hotel directly by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call them +971 2 506 6222. Or you can book your day pass through Myconcierge, a UAE based online concierge service. This is usually what I do, as it is very quick and efficient.
The price of a day pass to Zaya Nurai Island is 480 AED (130 USD ) for adults and children above 13 yo, and 240 AED (65 USD) for younger children. The cost of the day pass is actually a minimum spent, that you can use food, beverage, water activities and even spa services once on the island.
HOW TO GET TO ZAYA NURAI ISLAND
Once you have sorted out your reservation, the experience starts at Zaya Nurai Island Welcome Center, on Saadiyat Island, a short 15 min drive from Abu Dhabi center and 60 to 90 min from Downtown Dubai. From there, a speed boat departs every hour from 9.30 am till 7.30pm. We usually try to take the 9.30 am one to enjoy the full day on the island.
Ideally, you should get to the Welcome Center 10 to 15 min before the boat departure to do your “check-in”. The boat will not wait for you if you are late.
From there it is a short 10 min boat ride to the island.
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND BEACHES
Guests coming with a day pass to Zaya Nurai Island can only access 2 beaches: the Smokin’ Pineapple beach and the Ginger Mermaid beach, the other beaches being reserved for the hotel guests.
The Ginger Mermaid side of the island has a large pool and a beach with an unobstructed view of the clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. There are sun loungers and king-size day beds in abundance, both around the pool and on the beach. Directly from the comfort of your transat, you can order some cocktails, mocktails, sushis platters, shishas, etc. What else could I possibly need?
Next to the beach is the Frangipani restaurant serving a mix of international food (see the menu here). If you arrive early enough you could even catch the end of the breakfast buffet! It is also the perfect place to refresh under the AC if you are visiting Zaya Nurai Island during a hot summer day.
The Smokin’ Pineapple is completely on the other side and has more of a beach club vibe. There are a bar and a small pool decorated with a stylish bohemian feel, tipees on the beach, plenty of hammocks hanging from the palm trees, jet skis to rent, a surf pool and of course the famous water swings. This side of the island feels younger, more trendy, and is the ultimate Intagrammer’s paradise (Just look at the beautiful pictures of Leonie Hanne from OohCouture !) The food on offer is limited to pizzas.
You can hop onto one of the many buggies driving around the island to go from one beach to the other.
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND RESTAURANTS
Asides from the above mentioned, Zaya Nurai Island Resort has another 2 restaurants :
Hooked is the restaurant we go to every single time we do a day trip to Zaya Nurai island! I am in love with the alfresco setting, the sea view and the food. On the menu is mostly Lebanese cuisine, a lot of seafood, good wine and good shishas. You can also get the catch of the day prepared to your liking. Check the full menu here.
Dusk is a Mexican restaurant just next to Hooked, that only serves dinner from 5 pm onwards.
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND SPA
That one is still on my to-do-list. The spa looks mind-blowing, with the massage rooms facing the ocean! They have a large choice of massages, facials, body wraps, mani-pedi, waxing, couple sessions, etc. They even have a range of services dedicated to children/ teens from 8 to 15 yo. How sweet is that!
Just to give you an idea of the prices, a 60 min Thai massage is 740 AED (200 USD), a 60 min Facial is 620 AED (170 USD) and a Classic Manicure is 290 AED (80 USD). Again, all the treatments can be included in the daily minimum spend.
LEAVING ZAYA NURAI ISLAND
If you booked your day pass directly through the hotel, you will pay the full bill at the end of the day (min. 480 AED). On the other hand, if you booked your day pass through Myconcierge and already paid the minimum spend, you will just have to top off with any extra you might have spent.
To boat ride back to Abu Dhabi departs every hour from the jetty next to Hooked, until late. Sin the sun sets around 6.30pm, we usually take either the 6pm or 7pm boat back.
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND DAY TRIP – ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATION
DIRECTION TO ZAYA NURAI ISLAND, FROM DUBAI
- Take Sheikh Zayed Road (E11) from Dubai and follow the signs towards Abu Dhabi
- Exit at the 34B interchange towards E12/ Yas Island West/Saadiyat Island.
- Once on the main highway (E12), head towards the direction of Abu Dhabi
- Exit at Exit 14 (same exit as Saadiyat Beach Club)
- Upon arriving at the stoplight, turn left and take the first right turn. Head towards the shoreline until you reach the Welcome Centre
DIRECTION TO ZAYA NURAI ISLAND, FROM ABU DHABI
- Take the Corniche Road towards Port (Mina) Zayed and follow the signs to Yas Marina Circuit
- Once past the Sheikh Khalifa bridge on the main highway (E12), head towards the direction of Dubai-Exit at Exit 14 (same exit as Saadiyat Beach Club)
- Upon arriving at the first stoplight, turn left. Second stoplight, straight and take the first right turn. Head towards the shoreline until you reach the Welcome Centre
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND CONTACT DETAILS
ZAYA NURAI ISLAND DAY PASS PRICE :
Adults : 480 AED minimum spend
Children under 13 yold:old : 240 AED minimum spend