“This secluded and laid-back retreat is all about slow living amidst the hustle of an urban lifestyle.” Pura Eco Retreat
Nestled amongst the mangroves in Jubail Island, is a new concept inspired by local outdoor lovers and their respective travelling experiences. Pura Eco Retreat has been designed to bring the community closer to nature, a place to disconnect, embrace mindfulness and sustainability.
Pura, named after the Costan Rican phrase ‘Pura Vida’ meaning pure life, is an unique experience in the capital. The retreat offers glamping, alfresco dining and wellness opportunities. We decided to sample the gastronomy at Pura, not an easy task as it’s really tough to secure an evening booking. The dining concept, like the retreat’s overall ethos, is about back to nature, with sustainable practices and recycling. Low tables and seating made from reclaimed wooden pallets sit in the sand with additional small casual cushioned areas under open tepee style structures. Cushions and table mats are locally made and the light shades are upcycled fishing baskets.
There’s something magical about dining under the stars by fire pits but it’s pretty chilly at this time of year so lots of layers are advised (blankets are provided but ours never materialised). The dining area is intimate with minimal lighting that adds to the ambiance and aids stargazing. Far off to one side are three native tents while the five luxury glamping domes are located in a separate private area near the main guest house.
The restaurant’s open kitchen is housed in a converted shipping container with another similar dwelling housing a fully stocked bar. The reasonably small menu offers ‘Food for the Soul’ with locally sourced produce with options for both vegetarian and vegan diners. The evening started with drinks and a complimentary amuse bouche of toasted flatbread and dips. We then moved onto starters that included a generous portion of garlic roasted asparagus with balsamic glaze and two larger than usual chicken skewers with peanut sauce. There is also a choice of three different salads and a daily soup.
Wholesome style mains of pan seared salmon with roasted broccolini and corn fed chicken breast with baby oven roasted potatoes were tasty. However the slow roasted cauliflower steak was disappointedly more chunky than expected and not hot enough. Other notable options included wagyu sliders, grilled lamb chops and house marinated carne asada (beef escalopes).
The only desert available was a simply delicious dark chocolate mousse with hazelnut and sea salt flakes served in a tiny teacup, my only complaint was I wanted a bigger portion! The foil baked banana with chocolate and marshmallows was sold out along with my first choice of red wine and one of the bottled beer options. Overall the food was more hearty style rather than fine dining. Two things to note, the food gets cold quickly during the winter and any slight breeze means a fine layer of sand on everything.
Pura is an adult-only sanctuary with a requirement that all guests must be aged 18 and over. As cars are not permitted guests are requested to park in the Jubail Mangrove Walk car park and are transported along a 3km sandy track to the retreat by club car.
Dining at Stay Pura is definitely an unrivalled experience in Abu Dhabi, I enjoyed doing something completely different with an added air of mystery as you trundle down a dark track in the mangroves. You need to dust off your winter coat if you want to be comfortable as the desert nights can be chillier than you think and forget about wearing heels. Would I return? Yes, I would love to try the dome camping and sunset afternoon tea experience as it’s just such a stunning location.
Pura Eco Retreat
Location: Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: 050 383 7878
Pura Eco Retreat is an adult only venue. Advance booking is required.
*Minimum spend for dinner per person: AED 225 per person on weekdays (Sunday-Wednesday) and AED 275 on weekends (Thursday-Saturday).
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2021. All rights reserved. First photo used with courtesy of Pura Eco Retreat.