Why go to Sir Bani Yas Island?
A relaxing beach day -- and the novelty of a safari drive in the Middle East
Very limited entertainment on cooler days
A valuable addition to Middle East cruise itineraries and great timeout from busy sightseeing
Sir Bani Yas Island Cruise Port Facilities?
Ships anchor a short tender ride from the island and ferry passengers in to a jetty. Queues can build up for the last tender back and there's no shade in the waiting area on the jetty. The small jetty, within easy walking distance of the island facilities, can accommodate two tenders at a time.
The beach resort is split into four separate areas along its mile-and-a-half stretch. Visitors arrive by tender at the central Al Maha district, which houses the administrative offices, excursion sales desk, tour dispatch, medical clinic and bathrooms.
To the right, backed by the road leading to the causeway and the rest of the island, is Al Ghazelle with three bars and a covered barbecue area. The beach itself is packed with sunbeds and sun umbrellas, and the area behind it has courts for football, volleyball, basketball, tennis and other sports.
On the other side of Al Maha is Llama, the section devoted to families. It, too, has a covered barbecue and two bars, but there is also a covered area for young children to play in the shade. The water sports station on the lagoon side of the beach provides mangrove kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and floating mats. Some cruise lines require water sports equipment to be booked in advance.
Beyond Llama, the Al Reem district is reserved for suite guests and those prepared to pay extra to rent a cabana, or sheikh bed, which comes with bottled water and a selection of snacks. Some cruise lines offer beach spa treatments, chargeable to your cruise account.
The whole beach area offers free Wi-Fi, with a strong signal.
Good to Know?
Treat Sir Bani Yas as a day off from the intense sightseeing on an Arabian Gulf cruise. Take a guided tour to see the wildlife before relaxing on the beach with a barbecued burger and a cold beer, or book a water sports activity -- there's very little else to do here other than chill.
By Official Tour: Beyond the beach, access to the island is by official tour only. Visitors may not wander around at will. For example, if you want to make a private visit to one of the Anantara resorts for lunch, you will need to arrange for its staff to pick you up at the dock and get you back in time for departure.
By Shuttle: Some cruise lines offer a shuttle to the larger of the resorts, Anantara's Desert Islands Resort & Spa, as a shore excursion.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
You can charge drinks to your cruise account and activities, like kayaking or safari drives, are prebooked through the cruise line as shore excursions.
Should you arrange privately to have lunch at the Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort (+971-2-801-4200) or the Desert Islands Resort & Spa (+971-2-801-5400), the currency is United Arab Emirates dirhams (AED). For current currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.