Sir Bani Yas Island
The Emirates' very own Jurassic Park, Sir Bani Yas Island is 87 km2 and can be reached via private charter, seaplane or 20 minutes by boat (off the port of Jebel Dhanna, Abu Dhabi). The wildlife park itself reaches 41 km2 and at the highest point sits a private majlis, holiday home to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and family. An ideal nature fix and escape from the city, activities here include mountain biking, land sailing, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, archery and horseback safari (a must for equestrians and riding enthusiasts). Archeological excavations on the Eastern side of the island have uncovered the foundations of a Christian Monastery from 600 AD. Nature and wildlife drives are organised by a professional team and cultural tours educate guests about the history and 14,000 animal population on the island. Seasoned safari goers aren't likely to name this on their wish list— the small population of cheetahs are so well-fed, nearby antelope can be spotted wandering a few metres away, taunting over-indulged cats, while Arabian hare hop freely and Indian spotted deer graze on fresh hay. What the island does offer is a sanctuary for endangered animals. Sir Bani Yas repopulate species and release them into their natural worldwide habit (the UAE's national animal, the endangered Arabian Oryx, has benefited from the island's good work). If this all sounds too strenuous, there is Anantara's signature spa for those who prefer to relax. Guests are pampered with Elemis products and spa packages incorporating Island Rejuvenation, romantic couples treatments and classic facials. Large rooms (all with outside space) and private pool villas, communal infinity pool and a small selection of (not so progressive) restaurants and bars cater to guests.