5 island-inspired hotels in the UAE

Siobháin Spear
Apr 15, 2020

From Zaya Nurai to an ocean-inspired getaway in RAK, these dreamy islands in the UAE need to be on your radar.

While an exotic escape to a luxe ocean villa sounds divine after a few weeks of fast-paced city life, it is far from practical for a quick weekend getaway. However, if you’re living in the UAE, or you’re flying in for a few days, you do have the luxury of hidden island retreats sitting (almost) on your doorstep. A quick drive or a short boat ride will take you to any of the five plush resorts below, where you can forget about the rush of everyday life and lather yourself in ocean-side serenity.

1. Zaya Nurai Island

An ocean-view villa on Zaya Nurai island | Via Instagram: @ZayaNuraiIsland

Islands in the UAE do not get much better than Zaya Nurai off the coast of Abu Dhabi. This luxe, ocean hideaway knows how to offer you a slice of the Maldives without the hassle of boarding a plane. Just a speedy 15-minute boat ride off the shores of the UAE’s capital, this boutique resort boasts over-water villas, a world-class oceanside spa and a boho-chic beachclub with rustic shack vibes and ocean hammocks.

If you’re looking for a resort that oozes all those dreamy getaway vibes, the accommodation options at Zaya Nurai are just an island bike-ride away. Couples and small groups can bask in luxurious beach houses and water villas, while those looking for ultimate seclusion can rent out a six-bedroom Beach Estate that is surrounded by sweeping grass canopies, private beaches and unparalleled ocean views.

2. St. Regis Saadiyat Island

View from the Majestic Suite at St.Regis | Via Instagram: @stregissaadiyatisland

A short drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and a quick taxi ride from the capital’s international airport, Saadiyat is one of the newer islands in the UAE, and St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort puts it on the map for five-star luxury. Fusing Mediterranean architecture with contemporary interior design, the award-winning resort offers a serene escape that overlooks a pristine beach.

Not only does St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort neighour the nearby cultural district, but it also presents guests with captivating wildlife as the Hawksbill sea turtles continue to nest on the island’s sweeping beachfront every year. The hideaway is also home to three outdoor pools, a plush spa and six restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for around-the-clock butler service, you can expect that, too.

3. Anantara The Palm

Overwater villas on the Palm | Via Instagram: @anantaradubai

While the 24-hour lagoon access from rooms in the main resort is delightfully impressive, it is Anantara The Palm’s over-water villas that are the real show-stopper on Dubai’s manmade island. Redefining beachfront luxury in Dubai, Anantara The Palm manages to blend its Thai inspiration with the surrounding views of the Arabian Gulf.

When it comes to islands in the UAE, the manmade Palm Jumeirah is certainly known for its many beachside resorts that are sprinkled along the fronds, but waking up and stepping into the ocean directly from your overwater villa is a blissful surprise that awaits you only at this stunning resort.

4. The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach

A private pool villa at Ritz-Carlton Ras Al-Khaimah | Via Instagram: @ritzcarltonalhamrabeach

If you’re looking for a secluded oasis to escape to for a weekend of pure bliss, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al-Khaimah is the resort you have been looking for. While it does not sit in the middle of the ocean, this island-inspired resort is perched along the Arabian Gulf and its beachfront villas will certainly awaken all the senses that an island getaway could offer.

Sitting along the white sand of Al Hamra Beach, the RAK resort boasts 32 luxurious villas, each with a private pool and direct beach access. The resort itself blends contemporary luxury with traditional Bedouin elements, fusing together the old-meets-new offerings of the UAE.

5. Sir Bani Yas Island

A wildlife drive on Sir Bani Yas Island | Via Instagram @anantarasirbaniyas

Luxuriously wild and distinctly unique, Anantara Sir Baniyas Island is a fortress-style hotel that reigns over an island where the animals roam free. Surrounded by the Arabian Gulf, this dreamy resort allows you stay in rustic lodge luxury while offering you the opportunity to walk along white-sand beaches, kayak through a mangrove lagoon or drive through a protected wildlife sanctuary to get up-close with the animals.

Once the holiday retreat of Emirati royals, this Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara allows you to unwind in the most extraordinary of settings in Abu Dhabi. When it comes to islands in the UAE, adventure weekends this hideaway may top the bucket-list of luxury escapes.

Prefer to mix luxury with the rugged outdoors? Try these top glamping spots in the UAE instead. For more regional adventures, explore our top stories from around the Middle East. And for top offers for an idyllic escape, click here