“As Hudayriyat Leisure and Entertainment District’s vibrant waterfront destination, Marsana has it all.” Al Hudayriyat Island
Marsana, the place where colourful beach huts, vibrant street art, sculptures and dining outlets have been brought together to create a delightful waterfront entertainment district. Cafes, restaurants and shops are housed in aesthetically pleasing concepts entwined along a wooden promenade that’s part of Abu Dhabi’s latest leisure destination, Al Hudayriyat Island.
As well as the dining and retail options, Marsana’s large beachfront area is an ideal place to wander around. Start by taking a walk along the Heritage Trail complete with its own eco installations. There’s also a skate park, kids pool and splash park, cycle paths & jogging tracks, an outdoor gym, a pier and marina to explore. Join in some beach sports or just relax at the beach itself where families are zoned in socially distanced circles.
This family-friendly development has quite the selection of cuisines at the various cafes and restaurants catering for those looking for just a coffee, snack or a full dining experience. Sample American grilled cheese delights at Muncheezes, an array of seafood at both Shrimp Pot UAE and Al Shader Restaurant & Grill, devour sweet and savoury rolls at Chimney’s Roll House or smoke shisha at The Plage Cafe. For the more health conscious, Projeto Açai offers acai, samba and poke bowls and those ice-cream lovers among us should head to Drilled.
We opted to eat at DRVN, known for its great coffee and Napoleon style pizzas as well as all-day breakfast and many other tempting dishes. We dined outside on their really lovely terrace area with beach views, there’s also plenty of indoor seating with a cool vintage Chevy truck showcased in a glass cube (if you have been to DRVN’s first venue you will be familiar with their display of pristine vintage Mercedes).
Food choices are not just limited to the restaurants as there’s also food trucks such as Burger on Wheels, Professor Pizza, Koshan.W Falafel and Greek flavours from Souvlaki Nation. Marsana is also home to the UAE’s first Cupcake ATM, yep that’s right a variety of tasty cupcakes at your disposal 24/7. The pastel pink cake dispenser offers many flavours including my personal favourite red velvet. Leen Outlet Market has grab-n-go options, a well stocked shop that’s perfect for essential beach day supplies.
If you venture further onto the island there’s plenty of fun activities for all the family. Adventurous folks can get their adrenaline fix at the OCR Park that offers obstacle courses for adults and children. Circuit X has a climbing wall, high ropes course, zip line and BMX tracks. 321 Sports (open daily 7 am to 11 pm) has an indoor gym, Fifa approved football pitch, Olympic length running track, as well as jogging and cycling tracks. Bikes can be rented onsite from Yas Cycles.
Those looking for an overnight stay* can enjoy the glamping experience at Bab Al-Nojumn where you can choose from a variety of tents ranging from fully equipped oceanfront beach tents, camper vans (personally loving the restored VW camper option) and glamping tents with private swimming pools. There’s also a private camping area where you can pitch your own tent, bbq areas, washroom facilities, a beach cinema, communal bonfire and children’s play area. Non-motorised water sports such as kayaks, paddle boats and stand-up paddle boards are available too.
Al Hudayriyat Island offers something for all the family. I highly recommend a visit to Marsana to enjoy all the facilities and grab a bite to eat, to make the most of your visit head there to enjoy the sunset.
Location: Al Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi.
Opening Times: Weekdays from 10am to 11pm and Weekends from 10am to 12am
Visit www.hudayriyatisland.ae to find out more information and opening times for each attraction. *Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions all visits to Bab Al-Nojumn must be booked in advance. Glamping is available for 2 – 6 people. Visit www.hudayriyatisland.ae/stay for more information and to book.
All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2021. All rights reserved. Bab Al-Nojumn photo used with courtesy of http://www.hudayriyatisland.ae/