Inside Dubai’s First Private Island Resort Accessible Only By Boat

Dubai is famous for scooping records. From the world’s tallest building to the world’s largest shopping mall and the world’s biggest indoor amusement park… the Emirate’s list of accolades goes far and wide. Now, the city is home to a first of its own, Dubai’s first private island resort.

Located on the World Islands – Nakheel’s illustrious development of manmade islands built from sand drenched from the ocean bed, which sat mostly dormant for over a decade – the resort occupies what is currently the only liveable island in the archipelago.

The island is accessible by boat only and guests can either dock their own yachts at the resort’s private jetty or board a shuttle boat at the resort’s sister property Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort – the hotel runs a regular 15-minute transfer service throughout the day and evening. At present, larger superyachts will need to anchor and tender guests in but plans are in the making for additional, larger berths as well as a helipad and seaplanes.

Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort was opened by luxury hospitality developer Seven Tides in spring 2022 as the Emirate’s answer to Maldives-style holidaying. Stepping off the shuttle boat, guests are greeted by bongo-playing staff with wide smiles and handed cool fresh coconuts. It’s easy to forget you’re in Dubai as the giltz and glamour of the city melts away into tropical tree-fringed sandy beaches where wild peacocks roam free, staff drive tuk tuks, and shoes are optional.

The private island resort is currently home to 70 villas ranging from sprawling four-bedroom properties that are ideal for families, to romantic one-bed beachfront villas with private pools. A large number have direct beach access and all are decorated in a tropical style with bamboo rafters and natural materials.

Outside of the villas, there are plenty of watersports to entertain guests of all ages, from kayaking and paddle boarding to eFoils, as well as a spa, a pool and loungers for sun seekers. If you pick a spot on the beach, watch out for the resort’s 12 peacocks which are known to stroll along the sand – the lone white one is said to be lucky…

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve landed in the Maldives, but a quick glance at the skyline – where the distinctive cityscape and landmarks such as the sparkling Burj Khalifa can be seen clearly on a clear evening – brings you back to actuality.

Some of the best views of Dubai can be seen from Qamar, a high-end Indian and Arabic restaurant serving flavoursome, authentic fare in a traditional Arabian setting. Other hospitality options include the laidback Luna bar – the ideal place for a sunset aperitif or digestif – and Helios, a beachfront Mediterranean restaurant Helios serving all-day dining and made-to-order breakfast.

Special dining experiences such as catered in-villa barbecues and private meals in air-conditioned beachside ‘bubbles’ are also available on request, alongside family-friendly treats such as movies under the stars and floating picnics on Hamacland vessels.

The resort is still under development so it’s a work in progress and new spaces are introduced almost monthly. Currently under construction is an aviary which will be home to over 800 birds, and a greenhouse growing over 700 types of organic fruit and vegetables, where al fresco dining and wine tasting will be hosted. There’ll also soon be a second island with additional villas and facilities.

Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort is an ideal staycation for families in the UAE or visitors looking to balance a city break with a relaxing escape. It also presents a potential investment opportunity – within the next two years, an adjacent island will be opened with 200+ residential villas for sale, which could be rented out and resort operated.

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