Hotel Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort – the Maldives of the Emirates
I had one main reason for visiting Abu Dhabi: to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque. However, after having seen pictures of the Zaya Nurai Island Resort, I found another reason.
If you are wondering about the best hotel in Abu Dhabi and where to stay in Abu Dhabi you will probably find the answer now, as I have reviewed the best resort in Abu Dhabi – Zaya Nurai Island, but you will also find some links to other posts I have written on Abu Dhabi.
One of the best things to experience in Abu Dhabi is a desert safari – find out what to expect and how to book the tour that gave me so much joy.
How to get to Zaya Nurai Island? It is a natural, private island, reachable after a 12 minutes boat ride from Abu Dhabi. Well, you could also reach the island via a helicopter or seaplane ride if you like it even more exclusively.
I opted for the boat ride, which leaves from the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center on Saadiyat Island.
The taxi driver had a little trouble finding the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center. So it took a while before I actually reached the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center. Once an hour, a boat brings guests to the island. Since I am a huge fan of boat and ferry rides, my stay at Zaya Nurai got off to a great start.Once at Zaya Nurai Island the staff welcomed all guests at the pier and brought, with the guest buggies, to their rooms.
Rooms at Zaya Nurai Resort
I checked in at a Beach Villa at Zaya Nurai Island Resort. The minute I entered the villa, I fell in love. Everything was bright, spacious, and luxurious. The best part was the gorgeous view from my king sized bed. I had seen many pictures before arriving, but when I finally saw it with my own eyes, I was overwhelmed.
I could not stop admiring this room and the private pool. It all came with a private cabana, sun lounges, some other seating options, a private beach section, and a great view of the Persian Gulf. The beach was very beautiful: white and sandy – and quiet.
Even when all the rooms are fully booked, guests would seemingly still have a lot of privacy with their own private beach section at Zaya Nurai Island Resort.
The room had a huge bathtub which I did not even use since I had my own private pool. I did not even get to sit on the couch to watch TV shows on Netflix – which I normally enjoy doing. Instead sat on my bed outside, just enjoying the great view.
It felt so calm and peaceful, so far away from the hustle of bustle of the cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai where I had stayed at before.
There were some complimentary bottles of water (as usual in the United Arab Emirates) and a tea/coffee maker, plenty of snacks in the mini bar and alcohol were also in the room, though – of course – not compulsory.
Of course there are also other accommodation possibilities available, and even more luxurious ones. I guess, that any room will be a great choice, even the smaller ones.
Getting Around on Zaya Nurai Island
The island is not huge, but big enough that you’ll want to get one of the (complementary) white bikes which help you to explore the island. Alternatively, you could also ask for a buggy to get you around. Another option is to take a stroll and discovering the island by foot.
Speaking of this, I have to mention the only negative aspect of my visit. If you walk around the island, you will notice some construction work and little diggers at work. It is not loud and it was not close to my accommodation, but it disturbs the perfect look of the island.
There are several spots that I enjoyed exploring. I headed, first, to the Smokin´ Pineapple, which is a beach bar and named after the stone oven that is shaped like a pineapple. This area was the “busiest” during my stay.
It was also very “Instagrammable” since there are swings, hammocks, and cabanas making it a perfect location for taking beautiful pictures. All the photos I took there were incredibly bright, even without filters or edits.
Are there water sports or any other activities at Zaya Nurai Island Resort? I had always wondered if staying on such a private island would get boring, but there was a lot to do. Zaya Nurai Resort offers some water sports and I tried out to “surf”, under supervision, and did some jet-skiing.
There are still a few other water activities to do, but I ran out of time (though I did stay longer than 24 hours).
Restaurants at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
What restaurants are at Zaya Nurai Island Resort? Is there vegetarian food available? Well, it has several restaurants. I tried out the Mexican Dusk restaurant for dinner. The vegetarian choices were a bit limited, but I did find some delicious dishes and an even more delicious non-alcoholic strawberry margarita.
Tip: If possible, visit at sunset. The view is just awesome and sitting outside is wonderfully breezy.
I also had pizza at Smokin´ Pineapple, which was great, and my requests wasn´t a problem (no mushrooms and olives for me). Though sitting on the swings was not that comfortable (there are other seating options), it is a gorgeous spot for having snacks and a drink.
Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island
How is the breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island resort? I am a huge buffet fan because I can hardly decide what I want to have. So, I was not sure what to expect when learned about the À la carte breakfast.
Breakfast was included in my stay, but since I hate wasting food and there was no buffet, I decided not to order too much.
I had a hard time choosing but finally went for my first Acai smoothie ever. It did not only look great but also tasted delicious and now I understand what all the hype is about. They brought you some croissants, etc. as a kind of “appetizer.”
The pancakes I ordered on top, were quite filling (I asked for extra Nutella with mine) – though delicious- and I ended up not finishing.
The breakfast, though not a buffet, was amazing. It was a bit hot outside, so I changed and enjoyed the cooler air inside.
The restaurant offers some amazing views and, as I checked the area out, I could not stop taking pictures.
Looking for more affordable accommodations in the UAE? Then I recommend visiting and staying in Sharjah – the hidden gem of the UAE.
Is Zaya Nurai Island Resort child-friendly? Yes, it is. Though I did not see many kids at Zaya Nurai Island Resort and it was in general very quiet, I think it is kids friendly. I am sure my little nephew would have loved it there.
Beaches and pools are a great place for kids. But the resort also offers more, especially for parents. Childcare takes care of kids above four years. After checking out the facilities I am sure it is a place kids will enjoy and parents surely will also enjoy some time off.
Zaya Nurai Island Resort also might be the most romantic resort I have ever stayed at. At night lights are switched on ad though I stayed there by myself I assume it is the perfect romantic get-away.
Staying at Zaya Nurai Island Resort was a wonderful experience and I can truly recommend it. It seems the resort has done a lot within the last few months. The criticisms which I had previously read (no spa, only one restaurant, no alcohol in the mini bar) have all been solved.
There is still a lot of work going on, as evidenced by the construction work I’d seen.
Considering that Zaya Nurai Island only opened in 2015, it’s already incredible. Zaya Nurai Island Resort is surely one of the most luxurious resorts/hotels in the Emirates. I am sure it deserves its nickname, “the Maldives of the Emirates.”
The white, sandy beaches, the clear water, the exclusivity of a private island only accessible via boat, seaplane, or helicopter, and the beautiful accommodations with their own private pools make it a dream destination. I have never felt closer to the Maldives.
Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the Emirates
More pictures on Instagram.
More about Dubai and tips for the Emirates are here.