A UAE staycation with a difference
We’ve lived in Dubai for nearly 2 years and I must have had my head in the sand all this time because it’s only very recently that I first heard of Snoopy Island. A large, cartoon dog-shaped rock just off the coast of Fujairah, Snoopy Island has formed a coral reef teeming with sea life. I didn’t need any more convincing, they had me at turtles!
I like to think that my huge FOMO and hefty dose of YOLO makes life in our family fun and exciting, although I suspect Mr Y might use the words exhausting and expensive. Anyway, no sooner had I glimpsed the prospect of the munchkins’ first snorkelling trip, than 2 nights at the Sandy Beach Hotel were booked.
A two hour drive from Dubai, Sandy Beach has been open since 1978 when it consisted only of 10 dive chalets. The chalets are still in use but a small resort has grown up around them and now offers rooms, a pool, kids’ playground, gym, water sports centre and a couple of restaurants.
Just to be clear, we’re not talking five-star luxury here. The room decor is showing its age but ours was big, clean and comfortable. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the food in both the pool bar and main restaurant was delicious. I even went to the gym which may or may not have been to dodge sun creaming the kids (surely the world’s most tedious job).
The whole place has a relaxed, retro vibe which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai. With the Hajar Mountains behind us and the Indian Ocean stretching out in front of us, we had everything we needed.
It was low tide when we arrived so armed with snorkels and inflatables we waded out in to the turquoise water. We immediately saw fish all around us, but it was once we reached the reef just in front of the island that we discovered why people have been flocking to this spot for decades. Hundreds of brightly coloured fish swam fearlessly around us, and I will never forget the awe and glee on the kids’ faces as their heads bobbed in and out of the water.
The next day we had arranged to do a Musandam Dhow cruise. We drove for 25 minutes to the Oman border where we met a representative from Asia Pacific Travels and Tourism. We had sent them copies of our passports in advance and our documents were ready making the border crossing quick and easy.
We boarded the boat along with day trippers who had come on a coach from Dubai and sailed along the rocky coastline until we reached a bay where snorkelling, a speedboat to the beach and a banana ride were on offer. It was all very relaxing until I heard Lucas yell ‘Mum, look at me!’ and spotted him balanced on the railing of the top deck. At that point I did what any mother would do and yelled back ‘Wait! I’m getting the camera’!
Later on, my little thrill seeker and I went on the banana boat which, predictably, tipped us off leaving us bobbing around looking like drowned rats. Funnily enough I don’t have any photos of that. Fruit and drinks were available on board all day and a tasty lunch of chicken, rice and salad was included. We returned to shore salty and happy with another UAE bucket list item ticked off.
The kids were desperate to snorkel again on our final morning so we got a pedalo from the water sports centre and, with only moderate sniping about who was doing the most work, Mr Y and I pedalled us around to the back of the Island where the water was clear. It was also much deeper with bigger fish than we had seen at the coral reef. Sadly we didn’t spot any turtles but we did glimpse a reef shark!
Snoopy Island is an incredible place and has provided our family with magical memories. We are so lucky to have an area of such natural beauty and abundant sea life here in the UAE. Stop what you’re doing, chuck your snorkel in a bag and go there now. You won’t regret it.