Just offshore, on the road to neighbouring Abu Dhabi, this island gives Dubaians a taste of the safari life.
DO A former exotic animal sanctuary-turned-five star resort, Sir Bani Yas is home to more than 13,000 animals, including cheetahs, giraffes and a herd of endangered Arabian oryx. Get to know the wild residents with a 4WD tour of the Arabian Wildlife Park. Off-shore, discover the UAE's favourite fish during a guided ocean reef-snorkelling expedition or kayak through the island's mangrove forest. Those looking to unwind can hit the Anantara Spa.
STAY Take your pick from the three resorts on offer, each by Anantara. On the island's north shore, Desert Islands Resort and Spa is positively boutique by Dubai standards, offering just 63 rooms and suites by the mangroves. Al Sahel Villa Resort lets guests wake up in the heart of the island's grasslands – just be prepared to run into some inquisitive deers looking to meet their new neighbours. Al Yamm Villa Resort has private villas lined up along the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
EAT AND DRINK At the Desert Islands Resort and Spa, poolside restaurant Samak makes the most of the location, with ocean to plate specials and the option to select your fillet directly from the ice.
GET THERE It’s three-and-a-half hours by car from Dubai via Abu Dhabi freeway to the Sir Bani Yas Island jetty, then a 30-minute boat transfer.