Yas Island: Fun for the family
Yas Island is a great destination for those who are looking for business opportunities as well as for leisure. In 2009, it was named the World’s Leading Tourism Project at the World Travel Awards. 2012 figures show over three million people visited Yas Island, and the year 2013 saw an estimated four million visitors.
Yas Island is located on a 25 sq. km island on the Sheikh Zayed Road highway, 25 minutes from Abu Dhabi, 45 minutes from Dubai, and only seven minutes away from the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The island offers many attractions for a family vacation. The iconic Emirati-themed water park, the Yas Waterworld, is the largest in Abu Duabi. It was named the “second best waterpark in the world” by the Los Angeles Times — Global Ranking of the World’s Top 20 Waterparks feature in May 2013. It is known to have more slides, rides and attractions than any other park in the Middle East. The waterpark offers different kinds of rides that will give you a strong adrenaline rush such as the Dawama, Arabic for tornado ride. It is a 20-meter high funnel that seats six people at once, it is the world’s first and largest hydromagnetic-powered six-person tornado waterslide. If you dare, you should try the Jebel Drop, Arabic for mountain drop, which is the best vantage point in the entire park. Once you are up on top, everything will appear small and off you go down, fast and fun. Another exciting ride is the Hamlool’s Hump, which comprise three massive humps that take you all the way up and then down again. The Bubble’s Barrel is the world’s largest surf-table sheet wave with its three-meter wave and 1,250 horsepower pumps pushing 7,000 liters of water per second. The waterpark also features other adventurous activities for children such as the Unique PearlMasters adventure. It is the very first treasure-hunt style interactive adventure game to make an appearance in a waterpark. Parents can also enjoy their time with their children or head to the traditional souk at the park and shop for Arabic spices, calligraphy items, pearl accessories or souvenirs and candies. It is open everyday from 10 a.m.
Yas Island is the home of the world’s first Ferrari theme park, Ferrari World. You cannot come to Abu Dhabi and not visit the famous Ferrari World, with more than 20 Ferrari rides including the world’s fastest roller-coaster Formula Rossa (240 km per hour).
The amusement park spreads across 86,000 sq. m, which means it can fit seven football fields. You can easily locate the building from the Ferrari logo on the roof, the largest ever created, measures an incredible 65 m in length and covering an area of 3,000 sq. meter, which could fit at least seven basketball courts.
An interesting feature is the Made in Maranello factory tour. It is a historic Ferrari factory where you get to experience what was previously a privilege for only Ferrari owners and discover exactly what goes into the making of the Ferrari car, all in a ride.
Ferrari World focuses on promoting Italy as Ferrari’s homeland. This park is family friendly, it offers different activities for children where your child can have a proper driving education at Junior GT or Junior Grand Prix, where they can learn racing skills taught by professionals.
The most exciting thing in the park is the Formula Rossa where you strap yourself into an F1 cockpit for the fastest roller-coaster ride on the planet, or the Fiorano GT challenge where two competing GT coasters launch away from the starting line on twisting parallel tracks, based on real GT racecourses. Ferrari world is open daily between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Another Yas Island attraction built especially for those who love racing and car adventures is the Yas Marina Circuit. It is home to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the region’s most dynamic and technologically advanced facility. The circuit is also a leading MICE venue, regularly hosting a diverse range of corporate meetings, conferences and events.
It is the perfect destination for those who want to experience the thrill of karting, driving an Aston Martin GT4 over 200 km an hour on an F1 circuit, work toward their racing license at the Yas Racing School, get fit at Train Yas, or simply catch up with friends over burgers and shakes at Yas Central, there’s something for everyone at Yas Marina Circuit.
Yas Marina Circuit offers a racing school that provides a variety of driver and passenger experiences as well as driving courses, all managed by expert motorsport instructors, and Karting at Yas Kartzone for racing fans of all ages. It also regularly hosts both amateur and professional events that include Track Nights and Open Drift Nights for members of the public and the Yas Racing Series for professionals. Go Yas is the UAE’s only training event that offers free women’s only indoor and outdoor training. It’s open everyday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Yas Marina is located in the center of the Yas Marina Circuit track and the Yas Viceroy Hotel at the heart of Yas Island. The Marina and its recently updated shore-side destination is the natural choice for the yachting enthusiast. With 192 berths for yachts and boats available for scenic and charter cruise, it also includes seven restaurants and lounges, a children’s playground, a great weekly events calendar featuring weekly markets, kids film screening on Fridays and ladies nights on Wednesdays.
The new restaurants include international eateries, such as, Spanish tapas restaurant Diablito Food and Music and Beirut-based restaurant Iris. Seafood restaurant Aquarium will soon join the mix, along with Café d’Alsace, a brassiere-style café and bakery, and Lebanese restaurant Rozanah.
There are also different shopping outlets for those who desire to purchase the latest collections of sailing and nautical apparel within an inspired maritime setting or luxury and prestige yachts and boats, including the world renowned Chris*Craft boat brand. There is also a shop that offers an extensive range of activities, including wakeboarding, waterskiing, dinghy and Hobie sailing, Zapcat thrill rides, SUP yoga and kayaking.
Yas Links in an 18-hole championship links golf course located in the heart of Yas Island. This award-winning golf course is a place to see and be seen; it offers a golf club, golf shop and a pool area as well as a restaurant that offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Aside from the 18-hole championship golf course, Yas Links also offers floodlit nine-hole Par 3 Academy course and floodlit practice facilities. There is also a beautiful outdoor space built especially for private events and weddings. Yas Links offer golf courses for amateur as well as professional golf players to take their game to the next level. Children also can enjoy a day at the course for an early lesson of golf.
On the second floor, members and non-members can enjoy different classes of art, music and reading with a group of people in an activity room created especially for this purpose. Yas Links is open daily from 6:30 a.m. until midnight.
For a more relaxing time, visit the Yas Beach, the only beach in Yas Island and Abu Dhabi’s best kept secret located on the south beach of the island. There is a special 50 percent discount for ladies on Saturdays.
The variety of water activities is what makes this beach so special. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing rental and lessons are available.
On the dry sand, visitors can enjoy beach and sand activities such as volleyball, jungle gym or sunbathe and relax in one of the private cabanas. The beach club also offers lunch and snacks to hungry guests. The Yas Beach opens everyday from 10:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m.
Sadly, Yas Island does not offer any retail therapy to tourists, but Yas Mall is scheduled to open with 450 retail units, covering 235,000 sq. m of leasable place. One of its most prominent features is its Town Square — the largest gathering space of any shopping center in the Middle East, a place to see and be seen. Another unique feature is its dining experiences, with European street-like setting cafés at almost every corner offering an array of cuisines to quench every craving.