Paradise in the UAE at Zaya Nurai
Imagine this – arriving at a jetty only to be taken on a boat to an exotic island surrounded by crystal blue sea, stunning villas on the beach all with private swimming pools and a lush natural island habitat with the friendliest staff waiting to greet you. Have you guessed where in the world we are? Well, let me surprise you; this heavenly escape is literally one hour away from Dubai, in Abu Dhabi. Welcome to Zaya Nurai Island, a tropical paradise 20 minutes by boat off Saadiyat island. Stemming from the Arabic word ‘Nur’ meaning light, Nurai is an island of staggering beauty, of turquoise seas and white sands. A place filled with natural harmony appealing to all five senses.
When I told the minis we were going away for the weekend to an island in the sea, they ran into their bedroom and packed their bags with toys and their swimsuits. Five minutes later they were ready to leave with trunkies in tow, eager to get out of the front door. Once in the car when one started they were all at it, “Are we nearly there yet?”, we were literally only at the end of our road! However, less than an hour later we arrived at the jetty check in area where we waited for the boat.
On arrival, we were met by the lovely Ivy who welcomed us and made us feel at home plus was fab with the kids who were really only concerned about getting into the swimming pool! I’m fortunate enough to have visited the Maldives on many occasions and I can honestly say that I had the same feelings as soon as I stepped onto the island: relaxation, tranquility, peace and beauty (I’m an island girl at heart!).
We jumped into a buggy and had a mini tour around the island on the way to our Beach House. I was surprised by the size of the island and actually didn’t realise just how much accommodation there was because of how effortlessly it blended into the surroundings. I liked how spacious the island was and how it wasn’t overly developed yet still catered to all needs – from a water sports club to tennis courts, a gym and a restaurant (with another restaurant soon to open).
We had a gorgeous two-bedroom Beach House which included two small swimming pools and the most amazing view of the turquoise ocean. There are also 1-bedroom, water villas and beach estates available. There’s nothing quite like opening the villa doors with the beach and having the sea as your backdrop. A minimalist décor fitted in with the island vibe – the bathrooms need a very special mention as they’re totally to-die-for – airy and bright with rainfall showers, large sleigh baths, so much space and even 2 palm trees!
Outside the main restaurant is a stunning infinity pool which was great for the kids – with a shallow area on one side for playing and splashing around.
Petit Z is the fabulous kids club with friendly staff to entertain your little ones with a great indoor and outdoor play area. There’s so much for kids to do which provides you with the chance to get a little alone time! There was also a sand area where as a family we all played boules, the kids loved it so much that we have actually gone out and bought a set as it’s a great activity for the whole gang!
You can even visit the island as a day guest and enjoy Zaya Nurai’s Friday brunch and use of the beach and pool. The brunch is everything you could imagine with a fantastic seafood and meat BBQ spread, large array of cheese, sushi and salads alongside a huge selection of other dishes. The freshness of the food jumps out and with the sounds of waves crashing. It really is island eating at its finest.
Words don’t do justice to what Zaya Nurai has set out to accomplish and – even though I hope I’ve given you a glimpse into how magical it is, you really have to experience it to believe it. We have a tiny slice of Maldives right on our doorstep with a hint of local flavour and comparable to any of the big name high-end resorts. I cannot recommend this getaway enough; for 2 days my family got to experience excellent island living the uniquely authentic Zaya Nurai way.
For more information visit www.zayanuraiisland.com, prices available on request.
Directions: Exit at Exit 14 (same exit as Saadiyat Beach Club).
Voted Most Incredible Private Island by Condenast Traveller UK