The Sun rising over iconic mangroves on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates
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Cruise to Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

The best-known of the Desert Islands, just off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas is packed full of the grandeur of the Middle East's landscapes and wildlife. Dedicated as a nature preserve in the 1970s, the island revolves around outdoor adventure. Book a 4x4 excursion at Arabian Wildlife Park and spot some of the 10,000 free-roaming animals that call this spot home, including giraffes, ostriches and gazelles. Check out Sir Bani Yas stables: From here, you can take a horseback ride along the shoreline, with sweeping views of the Persian Gulf. Cruise to Sir Bani Yas and step back into ancient history at the archaeological site of a 7th-century A.D. church and monastery that was discovered here in 1992.
National Language Arabic
Currency Accepted United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)

Things To Do in Sir Bani Yas

A cheetah walking around peafowls on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Born to Be Wild

A cheetah walking around peafowls on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

A cheetah walking around peafowls on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Born to Be Wild

Take an exciting 4x4 vehicle tour of the Arabian Wildlife Park and spot some of the free-roaming wildlife. Look out for the oryx (a cousin of the African antelope), Barbary sheep, ostriches, sand gazelles, cheetahs and giraffes. In between wildlife sightings, admire some of the serene desert landscapes. There's a viewing platform you can take advantage of for supreme pictures.

Landscape of trees and mountains in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Desert Disciples

Landscape of trees and mountains in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Landscape of trees and mountains in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Desert Disciples

Visit the United Arab Emirates' only ancient Christian monastic archaeological site on the eastern side of the island. The Sir Bani Yas Church and Monastery is believed to have been built around 600 A.D. and was discovered during excavations in 1992, but archaeologists are still unearthing treasures. A tour will give you a fascinating understanding of the area's history.

Sea landscape with canoes in the background on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates
Sea landscape with canoes in the background on Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Get Into the Gulf

Step in a kayak to observe the captivating mangrove trees from close by. Watch the elegant flamingos in the shallows, and encounter schools of flying fish while you paddle through the tranquil waters. You can go paddle boarding as well, or take a swim in the warm sea water during your cruise vacation.

Chicken mandi, traditional seasoned rice Arab food in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates
Chicken mandi, traditional seasoned rice Arab food in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Local Cuisine

Sample the sumptuous cuisine at the hotel restaurants, managed by hospitality group Anantara. Savannah Grill serves gourmet delicacies from the African continent, and the Al Shams Restaurant and Bar offers authentic Arab dishes. Enjoy chicken mandi — a half chicken coated with cumin, cardamom and other spices, served over rice with almonds and raisins — with a glass of champagne and the lapping sounds of the ocean in the background.

Rows of typical oriental shoes at a market in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates
Rows of typical oriental shoes at a market in Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

Shopping

As opposed to most other destinations in the United Arab Emirates and in the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Sir Bani Yas isn't overflowing with malls. The Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara features a small souvenirs shop. Cruise to Sir Bani Yas and pick up a lovely silk shawl, a handpainted lamp or ornate shoes for your journey home.

Insider's Tips
Insider's Tips
1 Bring binoculars if you'd like to spot wildlife.
2 Keep in mind that the summers are extremely long and hot in the UAE.
3 Bring water shoes if you want to swim because the beaches are covered in shells and rocks.

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