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Updated by Joanna James on Jan 07, 2020
Headline for Top reasons why Sir Bani Yas Island is a great family destination – The wildlife sanctuary of the UAE
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top reasons why Sir Bani Yas Island is a great family destination – The wildlife sanctuary of the UAE

If you are thinking of taking your whole family on a trip, you might want to consider Sir Bani Yas Island. The nature oasis is the perfect destination for families with kids, and you'll soon see why.


Proximity to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Because of the island's close proximity to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, many tourists choose to visit the island at a moment's notice – from Dubai, you can get to the island in a three-hour window, while from Abu Dhabi it takes only two hours. If you don't much like to travel on the road for any length of time, you can always opt for air travel.


A boat ride to the island

You'll be offered a boat ride to the island back and forth. During the boat ride, if you are lucky enough, you'll see dolphins shoot right out of the ocean and jump back in.


Wildlife oasis

The island was once just an expanse of barren land. But His Highness Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan saw it differently and turned the land into a wildlife sanctuary. To him, it was more than just a piece of land; it was a place where Emirati culture is preserved. He also wanted to give endangered species a chance at survival. Even after his death, his legacy lives on – the government and places like Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara endeavour to support and maintain the island the way he intended.


Home to many species

Sir Bani Yas Island is a significant part of sightseeing Abu Dhabi. Just like His Highness Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan intended, the island is now home to several species of wildlife. Among the species you'll encounter are Arabia Rock Hyrax, Cheetah, Ostrich, stripped Hyena, Giraffe, Indian spotted deer, Barbary sheep, Antelope, Flamingo and Eland.


The Nature Reserve

The reserve opens for visitors quite early in the morning – just around the time when animals set off looking for their breakfast. You'll have to get your children up and ready early in the morning, and once you are ready to conquer the day, a guide will come and pick you up in a safari car. When you are headed out, the morning will still be grey with the sun coming up. If you are there before summer, you may want to dress in warm clothes as it could be a little chilly. You can have a delicious breakfast in the mountains in the view of the warm sun, which definitely is a delightful bonus.


Mountain biking

Biking around the island is a great way to explore the island. If your kids are going to join you, they will have special bikes with chariots attached to them.


Candlelit dinners

If you want a bit of time for yourself, you are offered the option of having a romantic dinner on the beach – you'll have a dedicated chef to manage your dinner.


Culture and history tour

You can use this opportunity to explore Emirati culture and history. There are tailored culture and history tours you can go for. On one of these tours, you can learn about how the island came to be a wildlife sanctuary, and visit forty-two archaeological sites discovered on the island.



Not meant for kids, but archery is something you should experience. There will be someone to guide you, but you should be careful not to pull your muscles on the back.



You don't have to spend all your time in the wilderness, there should be a bit of time meant for relaxing too. You can while the day away on sunbeds right outside your hotel. There are also many restaurants that endorse the local cuisine: a chance to sample as many local dishes as possible.