Zaya Nurai Island – a slice of paradise in the UAE

Nurai Island infinity pool - Abu Dhabi hotels

Nurai Island’s infinity pool

I am going off on a bit of a tangent here as this post is not centred around the culinary aspect of travel, but a new resort in the UAE which has taken my breath away, so much so that it really warrants sharing. The food is still good, but the reason you will want to visit is to soak up the stunning design and serenity with only the calm, open sea as your view. I am talking about Zaya Nurai Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi  – a mere 15 minute private boat ride from Saadiyat Island.

Nurai, whose name is derived from the Arabic word ‘nour’ meaning light, is an eight year-long project by the family behind The Farm in Al Barari and designed by the architect of the Nam Hai resort in Vietnam’s Hoi An. The fluid, zen design bears many similarities. Maldives-like water villas, but mammoth two-storey numbers perch out from one shoreline – however these residences are for sale. For us divas, there are 32 spacious beach retreats, each with its own, decent-sized private pool, sun deck and a beachfront with powdery, white sand.

If privacy isn’t your thing, there’s a large infinity swimming pool, right on the beach…and near the main, all-day restaurant, Nurai Terrace. In-room dining is encouraged though. The food is simple, yet well-executed fare focused on grills and peppered with Arabic appetisers. Breakfast is a la carte (shakshouka included!) and thankfully there’s no sign of a buffet in this resort. The menu is being refined though, so expect more of an identity soon. In the guest rooms, there’s a fresh fruit bowl customised to guest preferences (they may just stalk you on social media for research), Jing fresh leaf teas, plus jars brimming with nuts, dates and cookies.

The staff are super friendly and ready to strike up a conversation, which makes up for the odd lull in service. Nurai is in soft opening though, with the landscaping and spa not complete, so I would recommend visiting in March when the weather will also be at its prime…it is a tad chilly for your own personal barbeque at the moment. Yes that’s definitely on the menu. If your wallet doesn’t allow (note a special UAE residents offer below), you can of course just make a day trip for a spot of lunch and pool time. A barbeque brunch deal launches on the 13th February starting at AED450 rising to AED650 with champagne. There’s free Wi-Fi everywhere with perfect, uninterrupted connectivity.

Well I spent less than 24 hours at Nurai, and left feeling just as relaxed as with a four-day break in the Maldives. Perhaps next time though I should return for a digital detox instead. And now enough rambling, I am going to let my iPhone photos paint a picture 🙂

Nurai Island dock at Saadiyat

Where am I going? 🙂

Nurai Island beach

Nurai Island beach - with water villas in the background

Breakfast at Nurai Terrace

What's for breakfast?

Nurai Island shoreline

Nurai Island shoreline

Nurai Island in-room dining

In-villa dining

Nurai Island Beach Retreat BBQ

Fancy your own private barbeque?

Nurai Island Beach Retreat terrace

Beach Retreat terrace

Nurai Island private pool

Your own private pool

Nurai Island Beach Retreat view

This view is worth waking up to 🙂

Nurai Island Beach Retreat bathroom

Inside the Beach Retreat

Nurai Island Beach Retreat lounge

A peek inside the Beach Retreat

Nurai Island Beach Retreat treats

Fresh fruit, healthy snacks and teas

Nurai Island pool lounger

My reading spot by the infinity pool

Where’s your favourite retreat in the UAE for a staycation?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

Disclosure – I was a guest of Nurai. I may have been plied with a free night’s stay, but as always, the opinions expressed here are mine alone.

  • A 15 minute boat ride from Saadiyat Island (dock is near the beach club)
  • +971 2 5066222
  • AED 2,350++ (starting rate) per night with breakfast for two people, Sunday to Wednesday for UAE residents only
  • Posted under
    Abu Dhabi, Culinary Travel, Hotels, International, Location, Restaurants, UAE
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13 Responses to “Zaya Nurai Island – a slice of paradise in the UAE”

  1. Sally - My Custard Pie January 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Private pool, personal barbecue and unfettered internet. Might have to move there!

    • FooDiva January 30, 2015 at 11:23 am

      I think some of those water villas may still be up for sale Sally 😉

  2. IshitaUnblogged January 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Wow – tempting! Like your new photo gallery format.

    • FooDiva January 30, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Ishita. I have used it in the past for my travelogues but thought it was worth resurrecting for this post!

  3. Johann Z January 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    This place looks as if it is my cup of tea – thanks for the heads up.

    • FooDiva January 30, 2015 at 11:25 am

      One for when you next visit Johann!

  4. Kelly January 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    It looks amazing, perfect for honeymooners!!!!

    • FooDiva January 30, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Yes very romantic for sure Kelly 🙂

  5. Neenu Sajin January 29, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I was beginning to get bored of all the desert resorts. This one looks like a refreshing vacay spot! Thanks for covering it so concisely.

    • FooDiva January 30, 2015 at 11:28 am

      Ha ha Neenu. Only here would someone comment on the overflow of desert resorts! But I know what you mean, I am a sucker for a seaview. My dream is to own a beach house somewhere some day…In the meantime, one has Nurai! You must plan to go this year.

  6. IshitaUnblogged February 20, 2015 at 9:36 am

    We have just come back… can’t have enough of Zaya Nurai… I am feeling the urge to return right away. Thanks once again for writing on this:)

    • FooDiva February 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Glad you enjoyed Ishita 🙂 I could easily escape there once a month!

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  1. An Island Not Too Far Away… Zaya Nurai | IshitaUnblogged - February 25, 2015

    […] untapped. ‘A slice of paradise in the UAE’, wrote fellow blogger Samantha Wood aka Foodiva and her instagram feed blew my mind. The February issue of Food e Mag dxb had kept me neck deep in […]

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