Sir Bani Yas

Sir Bani Yas


After days in the metropolis Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas is a daily destination of Mein Schiff 6. Sir Bani…what? Many modern-day “crusaders” think they have never heard it before. So did the author of this report. – Before we present the day’s destination in the Arabian Gulf in words and pictures, a few facts:

Sir Bani Yas at a glance

Sir Bani Yas Island is part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is located in the Al Dhafra region, a few kilometers from the mainland. Sir Bani Yas is the only island off the Arabian Peninsula where cruise ships call, alongside the megacities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Between Abu Dhabi City and the holiday destination west of the capital are 180 kilometers as the crow flies. At around 71 square kilometers, the island is a lot smaller than the North Sea island of Foehr. During his lifetime, the founder of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, maintained a palace on the barren sand island. In the course of his reign, exotic animals were given to him many times. It made sense to settle the animals, including llamas, giraffes and antelopes, within sight of his sanctuary on Sir Bani Yas. The largest nature reserve in the UAE, the "Arabian Wildlife Park", developed from humble beginnings within 50 years.

Irrigation systems, a seawater desalination plant and - as we hear - more than three million planted trees and shrubs transformed the formerly barren sand island into a tree-covered landscape interspersed with wide green spaces. More than 30 animal species, including some endangered, from different continents live there and find enough food.

Sir Bani Yas - Landscape
Sir Bani Yas - landscape impression
Sir Bani Yas - Hilly Landscape
Sir Bani Yas - hill formation

Sir Bani Yas - destination of vacationers

After the sheikh's death, his successor opened the island to visitors. Sir Bani Yas is not just a nature reserve. The island is both a holiday destination and a destination for cruise ships. On the island, Anantara Hotel has three locations with sophisticated and high-priced luxury residences (explore the hotels on booking.com ). In addition, cruise ships call at Sir Bani Yas regularly during the season. In the past, the ships were in the roadstead and brought the passengers ashore with tender boats. Since the 2021 season there has been a 25 million euro pier for cruise ships, which can accommodate two ships of 300 meters in length and more at the same time. The island's capacity is designed for 5.000 passengers per day.

My ship 6 at Sir Bani Yas Pier

Mein Schiff 6 at the pier of Sir Bani Yas


Sir Bani Yas - Offers for cruise ship guests

TUI Cruises introduces Sir Bani Yas as follows: “Sir Bani Yas – a destination like no other. Something completely different awaits you here, something very special: As soon as you leave the ship, you are right on the kilometer-long private sandy beach. You can indulge in sweet idleness here from morning to night... But the hinterland also has a lot to offer: a nature reserve with around 10.000 animals... which you can only marvel at during excursions organized by TUI Cruises.”

Sir Bani Yas Beach


Sir Bani Yas Beach


Sir Bani Yas - Impalas at Arabian Wildlife Park


Sir Bani Yas - Impalas at Arabian Wildlife Park 


Bus tour and visit to the Arabian Wildlife Park

The tours in the nature reserve are carried out with open minibuses. TUI Cruises gives the impression that other options do not exist. The impression gained on site makes us doubt the coherence of the statement. However, it is undisputed that organized tours offer interested fellow travelers a guarantee of getting to know the island and its wildlife.

After disembarking from the cruise ship, the passengers walk across the seemingly endless pier to the "Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach". Ship guests who are less able to walk can hope for a ride on one of the electrically powered golf carts that commute between the ship and the beach section.

Sir Bani Yas - electric golf carts in front of Mein Schiff 6

Sir Bani Yas - electric golf carts in front of Mein Schiff 6


The guests are distributed to the buses at the cruise beach. Then the approximately 90 minute tour starts. Individual sources speak of an area of ​​about 40 square kilometers in which the animals are staying. The statement is not a reliable knowledge. There is also no reliable information on the number of animals. Different sources speak of 10.000 to 15.000 animals. The huge enclosures are separated by region. This prevents species from the Arabian Peninsula from interbreeding with those from North Africa or elsewhere.

Sir Bani Yas - blackbuck antelope


Sir Bani Yas - blackbuck antelope


Sir Bani Yas - Dune Gazelles


Sir Bani Yas - Dune Gazelles 


If you are lucky you will see giraffes up close. On our long-distance tour, we only saw the necks and heads. The giraffes are the only species that require feeding. Without feeding, the animals would otherwise bare the trees in a short time.

Tour participants will see impala and other antelope species, gazelles and flocks of turkeys and peacocks up close. A cheetah rests majestically behind a fence, presumably its hunting instinct has not yet awakened.

Sir Bani Yas - Impalas
Sir Bani Yas - Gazelles and Turkeys
Sir Bani Yas - Gazelles and Turkeys
Sir Bani Yas - Cheetah


Hunting is generally prohibited on the island. The few cheetahs and hyenas are licensed to hunt. The predators hunt antelope and gazelle, and in this way regulate the population of the species. The surplus animals that do not fall victim to the cheetahs and hyenas are relocated to other regions of the emirate for population regulation purposes. The cheetahs stay within a secured enclosure during the day. We don't see the nocturnal hyenas.

The cheetah is followed by gemsbok, hinds, goitered gazelle, chital deer, gemsbok and crowned cranes. As a side note, the sanctuary is said to have the world's largest herd of Arabian Oryx antelope. Finally, there are the North African Maned Sheep and – not to forget – the Emus.

Sir Bani Yas - antelope, hind and gemsbok
Sir Bani Yas - Antelopes and Peacocks
Sir Bani Yas - Antelope, Crowned Crane and Peafowl
Sir Bani Yas - Peacocks and Other Birds


To our regret, the ruins of an Assyrian Christian monastery are not visited. The ruins are among the attractions of the island. We also don't get to see the hotels and the landing strip of the airport. At least our bus passes the former palace of Sheikh Zayed on a hill. It is amazing that a chain of hills rises from a largely flat island of sand and stone.

Sir Bani Yas - Goitered Gazelles and Axis Deer
Sir Bani Yas - Goiter gazelles, chili deer and peacocks
Sir Bani Yas - Gazelle and Barbary Sheep
Sir Bani Yas - Maned Sheep


The lagoon with mangroves was also worth mentioning. With a bit of luck, visitors will see flamingos in the lagoon. We see "only" a heron. However, the "Cruisebeach" where the excursion with the safari bus ends does not remain hidden from us.

Lagoon landscape on Sir Bani Yas


Lagoon landscape on Sir Bani Yas


Sir Bani Yas - Cruise Beach


Sir Bani Yas - Cruise Beach 


Stay on the kilometer-long sandy beach

The shipping company promises its guests “sweet idleness”. Apparently many fellow travelers follow the recommendation. The conditions for a carefree day at the beach are ideal. A total of two and a half kilometers of well-kept beaches are available to guests to the left and right of the pier. The sand is coarse-grained and the beach drops off steeply. However, that doesn't spoil the fun. Finally, lifeguards watch over the swimmers. In addition to hundreds of palm trees, rows of sunshades provide shade. Comfortable wooden loungers and the warm water of the Arabian Gulf invite you to relax. For active guests there are various water sports and wellness offers. If you like, you can book a diving trip. – The ship provides its guests with an al fresco buffet. The food and drinks are taken at rustic tables under a huge sunshade. Playground equipment is available for children. Sanitary rooms and showers are of course available. Most fellow travelers are likely to come along after a few days Abu Dhabi sights and  Dubai sights enjoyed the day at the beach.

Welcome to the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach
Sir Bani Yas - a bird's eye view of the beach
Sir Bani Yas - Beach
Sir Bani Yas - Beach Life
Sir Bani Yas - Beach Pavilion
Sir Bani Yas - Al Fresco Buffet
Sir Bani Yas - Al Fresco Buffet
Sir Bani Yas - Open air restaurant of the cruise ships

Sir Bani Yas – an alternative cruise destination

The author of these lines confesses that he is not a beach vacationer. Small and large cities, historical places and beautiful landscapes appeal to him more. However, an island like Sir Bani Yas with its wildlife sanctuary is a special experience. A safari park or a zoo cannot be compared. The author also confesses that he spent an hour on the beach in the afternoon. Sir Bani Yas on the itinerary is far from a wasted day!

January 2022

Cruise offers with a stop in Sir Bani Yas

My ship cruise offers Sir Bani Yas AIDA cruise offers Sir Bani Yas

 

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