A guide to Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island: where to eat, shop, visit and stay

The island isn't very far from downtown Abu Dhabi and features many activities suitable for all ages

Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of the cultural and architectural highlights of Saadiyat Island. Courtesy Louvre Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
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With museums, performances, beach days and staycations, there's plenty happening on Saadiyat Island. About a five-minute drive from central Abu Dhabi, it's home to cultural institutions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat. That's not all: it also has a pristine beach and a major American university.

Things to do

Opened in 2017 as the Paris landmark's first international outpost, Louvre Abu Dhabi is well worth a visit, although it is closed on Mondays. Call in to see an exhibition or try to catch a live performance. Manarat Al Saadiyat is another stop for art lovers. Not only does it have exhibitions, it also hosts workshops and the annual Abu Dhabi Art show. For those who prefer sunbathing, head to Saadiyat Beach for white sands and views of the Arabian Gulf. Bodytree barre and yoga classes are also offered at Saadiyat Beach Club. Afterwards, head over to New York University Abu Dhabi and see a show at the Arts Centre.

Where to eat

There's no shortage of top-notch restaurants to visit on the island. Sontaya at the St Regis Saadiyat serves Thai food with a view. It is ideal for special occasions: if weather permits, find a spot outside. For other panoramic scenes, head to Beach House at Park Hyatt and give the rooftop bar a visit. For options outside hotels, check out the newly opened Fouquet's at Louvre Abu Dhabi; it's another Parisian export and was created by Pierre Gagnaire, owner of the eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant. There's also Larte in Manarat Al Saadiyat, which cooks up Italian favourites in a laid-back setting. There is a swing set, grassy yard and even a stack of board games to play with.

Where to shop

There are no malls on the island, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo shopping. Head to the gift store at Louvre Abu Dhabi (you don't need an admission ticket) to pick up art-inspired home decor, stationery and children's books. For older readers, head to NYUAD's bookstore and see what the English majors are into these days. On Fridays, The Collection at St Regis hosts Ripe Market, where organic produce and superfoods are available.

Where to stay

Whether you're on holiday or taking a staycation, there are plenty of five-star hotels to choose from. Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is Abu Dhabi's only all-inclusive hotel. Other options include The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Park Hyatt and Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort.

The one must-do

A baby hawksbill turtle makes its way into the sea at Saadiyat beach. Insun Woo/NYUAD
A baby hawksbill turtle makes its way into the sea at Saadiyat beach. Insun Woo/NYUAD

Every year, dozens of baby sea turtles make their way safely into the sea after hatching in Abu Dhabi. The hawksbill turtles, which are critically endangered, emerge on the nine-kilometre stretch of Saadiyat Beach from half a dozen nests that have been protected by beach patrol volunteers. To sign up to help, visit nyuad.nyu.edu.