Yas Island has gone from being a barren, sandy plateau to a desirable hub for days and nights out for everyone in just eight years. Thanks to the Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World, and Viceroy Hotel, it is instantly recognizable to millions all around the world. It is, arguably, the jewel in Abu Dhabi’s crown.
To say that there is something for everyone is an understandably tired expression, but on Yas Island there really is something for all tastes and of all ages.
A brief history
Yas Island is a man-made island, but not created by sand shooting sea vessels. It was once part of mainland Abu Dhabi and, as part of the idea behind the Formula 1 proposal, a strip of land was dredged – what is now the canal.
The area is intended – and already is – as a multi-purpose entertainment, leisure, and retails project, all of which has been built by ALDAR.
The Grand Prix circuit opened in 2009, with the first Formula 1 race taking place the same year. Since then, the attractions and facilities have kept on coming.
Where it’s located
The island is eastern of Abu Dhabi city, across the E11 from Abu Dhabi International Airport
Transport and parking
Parking All the major attractions have sufficient free parking, and during large events, such as the Formula 1, overspill car parks are opened Traffic For most of the year traffic is not a problem, due in part to few residential areas. During large events things are naturally busy, but the roads can general cope quite well Taxi Taxis are usually found at the hotels and at Yas Mall. If you’re walking the streets then flagging them down isn’t so easy. Taxis can be booked immediately on 600 535 353 Bus There is a shuttle bus that runs from Saadiyat Island’s two major hotels, and also two bus routes run through the area.
Yas Mall opened in November 2014 and to date is Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping centre. There is no shortage of High Street brands and catering outlets. The mall is pleasantly laid out, with bright, broad boulevards over two levels and a spacious plaza in the middle. There is also a cinema and huge Geant supermarket. The car park can be a bit of a maze for first-timers as the signage isn’t well done – just follow the car in front. You can also access Ferrari World. Timings 9am to 11pm daily Phone 800 9276255 Website Yas Mall
Everyone loves Sweden’s number one flat-pack furniture store. The branch on Yas Island is well laid-out and parking is easy. Timings 10am to 11pm Saturday to Wednesday, 10am to 12am Friday and Thursday Phone 02 493 5888 Website Ikea
The Ace Hardware on Yas is a true DIY-lover’s retreat. The warehouse is well-maintained and the shelves are well-stocked. You can find most things here under one roof, rather than negotiating the chaos of Musaffah – although prices are naturally higher. Timings 10am to 11pm daily Phone 02 565 1945 Website Ace
Yas Marina Circuit
During Formula 1 weekend, Yas Marina Circuit is closed for most public activities, with the exception of special events and the Yas Kartzone circuit. During the rest of the year, the circuit is open for driving experiences in the circuit’s fleet of racing cars, as well as healthy activities such as cycling and walking. It’s a multi-purpose facility and has to be seen to be believed. Timings Varies Phone 02 406 2000 Website Yas Marina Circuit
Ferrari World can be seen from space and the building itself is something to behold. Inside, as you would expect, it is every Ferrari-lover’s dream. From simple display cars and technology to full-on roller-coasters and attractions, it’s a grand day out. Timing 11am to 8pm Sunday to Wednesday; 11am to 10pm Thursday to Saturday Phone 02 496 8000 Website Ferrari World
Du Arena and Du Forum
The 25,000 capacity Du Arena is Abu Dhabi's premier open-air music venues. It's where all the massive bands play and is the venue for all of the F1 after-race concerts. In recent years everyone from Britney Spears to the Rolling Stones have played there. This year you can see Enrique, Florence and the Machine, and Blur.
Abu Dhabi’s very own water park is something that people of all ages will enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a group of bored teenagers looking to get a thrill or a family looking for a fun day out, Yas Waterworld has water rides for all ages. Timings 10am to 7pm seasonal Phone 02 414 2000 Website Yas Waterworld
As one of Abu Dhabi’s best beaches, Yas Beach is understandably very popular. It’s fully licensed so beach-goers can enjoy a cheeky drink with their lunch. For Dh300 you can use a shaded cabana for the day, which comes with complimentary water and waiter service. You will also find that there aren’t many jet skiers up this way so the background hum that can so often ruin a day at the beach is minimal. Age note No groups of under 21's allowed unsupervised Timings Seasonal Phone 056 242 0435 Website Yas Beach
Yas Marina is a pleasant waterside quay full of licensed restaurants and bars. There are basic activities for children, including an adventure playground. Licensed restaurants include Cipriani, Stars ‘n’ Bars, Café D’Alsace, and Rozanah Lebanese Restaurant.
According to Golf Digest, Yas Links golf course is the world’s 24th best golf course outside of the USA. That’s some achievement. Located on the eastern side of the island opposite the west entrance to Yas Marina Circuit, and next to the sea, it’s a great way to spend a few hours. Timings Open 24 hours Phone 02 810 7777 Website Yas Links
Yas Gateway Park
If you just want a walk on some real grass then park up and take a stoll through the Yas Gateway Parks. It's split in two, North and South, but yuo can walk between the two. There are a couple of adventure playgrounds, tennis courts, and lots of picnic space.
As you would expect, hotel rates shoot through the roof during the Formula 1 week, and they will have all been booked up long ago. Bars and restaurants are usually still open but you must phone ahead to book in advance as everywhere will be busy. The Yas Viceroy stands alone while the remaining six make up the Yas Plaza Hotels.
The Yas Viceroy has become one of the most iconic hotels in the world. Sitting in the middle of Yas Marina Circuit, it is essentially two buildings joined by a bridge which crosses the Formula 1 tack, and under an exoskeleton structure that constantly changes colour. There are several bars and restaurants, including the Latitude Pool Bar, Rush, Amici, Longitude Pool Bar, Origins, Angar, Kazu, Noodle Box, and Atayeb. Phone 02 656 0600 Website Yas Viceroy
Rotana Yas Island
Includes dining and nightlife options: Choices all-day dining, Aquarius pool bar, Y Bar, Blue Grill steakhouse, Rangoli Indian restaurant, and the informal Island Café for lighter snacks. Phone 02 656 4000 Website Rotana
Centro by Rotana, Yas Island
A hotel that shares facilities with the Rotana, the Centro includes dining and nightlife options such as: C.Deli, C.Mondo bar, and C.Taste, a multi-cuisine restaurant. Phone 02 656 4444 Website Centro
The Staybridge Suites is a comfortable hotel and offers good value dining and nightlife options. Phone 02 656 3333 Website Staybridge
Crowne Plaza Yas Island
The Crowne Plaza is one of the favourite nightspots for Abu Dhabi residents. The popular Stills Bar is usually busy, and there are also great dining options including: Jing Asia, Barouk, and the Sundowner Pool Bar. Phone 02 656 3000 Website Crowne Plaza
Overlooking the blue waters of Yas Island, the Radisson Blu is one of Yas Plaza’s most popular hotels. There’s a Belgian Café for strong hops-lovers, and also Filini restaurant and the international Assymetri restaurant. Phone 02 656 2000 Website Radisson Blu
Park Inn by Radisson
As part of the Radisson family, the Park Inn shares some of the main facilities with the Radisson Blu. There’s Mint international restaurant and the popular Mexican eatery, Amerigos. Phone 02 656 2222 Website Park Inn