With the global pandemic still raging on, staycations are here to stay for many of us! For something a bit different during the Spring Break school holidays I decided to book a little camping trip to the relatively new glamping site, Bab Al Nojoum at Hudayriat in Abu Dhabi.
Located over on Al Hudayriat Island, Bab Al Nojoum is essentially a beach side campsite with just about everything you need to get a taste of the outdoor life. There are several different options to choose with everything from basic tents where you’ll need to bring some of your own gear, all the way up to fully kitted out and air-conditioned duplex or chalet tents. There’s even the option to camp on wheels in converted VW combi vans or an old Land Rover but these seem to be very popular and book up very quickly – likely due to the fact that they have air conditioning on top of the novelty value.
Since it was just my son and me staying, I opted for a Wave tent – all of which are located right on the beach overlooking the water. Wave tents hold two people and come with mattress supplied and bed already made up so you don’t need to bring anything extra. Towels are also provided.
The tents are quite large so it is possible to move around inside the tent pretty easily. There’s a small table and chairs inside the door of the tent and a clothes rail at the back behind the bed, so there’s plenty of room to store your belongings. The only thing with the Wave tent is that you’d better get used to sand being everywhere for the duration of your stay – it’s almost impossible to keep the tent (and bed!) sand free if you’re coming and going!
Toilets and showers are dotted all around the campsite in small standalone pods. There’s plenty of them and they seemed to be well serviced and kept surprisingly clean when we stayed. We also never had any problems with having to wait at all, despite it being so busy at the time. The campsite is also well lit, and even after the camp 11pm curfew there are safety lights everywhere so it’s easy to see where you’re going if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
The beach and water is beautiful and clear and they have swings set up in the shallows for those obligatory instagram shots! We were there during the school holidays in April, just at a time when the weather was starting to heat up and the camp was pretty busy, but you’d honestly never have known it. It felt to us as though no one was around at all! Even the beach was pretty empty all the time. I did notice the camping areas behind the beach seemed busy, and all of the communal cooking areas and picnic tables had been commandeered by larger groups who were clearly well settled in for their stay.
If playing on the beach and splashing about in the water isn’t enough to keep you entertained there’s also a great kids play area to let them run off some more steam. Again, we hardly saw another soul here even though the place was pretty busy, though that may have been down to the times we visited – it seemed to be busier in the evenings, after dusk.
And while there are plenty of barbecue areas to cook your own food if you’re so inclined, there’s also a shop and a restaurant on site that will keep you fed and watered from breakfast through to dinner. If you need water for your stay, order it ahead when booking to be brought to your tent for your arrival – it’s much easier and saves a lot of hassle (and also much cheaper to do this from the restaurant than buying bottles from the on-site shop). The restaurant, ’28 degrees’, is perfectly positioned next to a green lawn that is perfect for those with little ones who want to run around while waiting for food to be served! We found the food to be good quality and the staff were very helpful with any requests, my only criticism was that the service was painfully slow, even when the place was practically empty. After a slow dinner service, we had hoped for improved efficiency at breakfast but sadly it was not to be. Even with just the two of us at one table and a table of four nearby as the only other diners we had to wait almost an hour for just one continental breakfast to be brought out!
There’s also the option to take part in various water sports at an extra cost, and there’s a beach volleyball net set up for the energetic. After dark in the evenings if you’re not ready for bed yet an outdoor cinema screen is set up for a family movie screening. There is also a large communal bonfire pit though I think this wasn’t being used when we visited due to the Covid rules on gatherings. There are smaller camp fire spots located around the place though and firewood can be bought from the shop if this is something you wanted to set up for just your group.
We stayed just for one night and we had a great time. It was definitely a lovely thing to do for a change and while it was fun, I think if we went back again I’d be looking to go for one of the more luxurious options with private pool! We found the Wave tent did get pretty hot during the day (even with a window for ventilation and the breeze from the beach), but by nightfall it was really fine and cooled off so we were able to sleep pretty well. One of the complaints I’d read from previous visitors was about noise in the campsite and the adjacent car park making it impossible to sleep but we didn’t really find this to be the case. Possibly because the Wave tents are situated right on the beach so they are quite separate from the main camping areas and the beach was very peaceful at night time. There was some noise intermittently from people passing behind the tents along the pathway which serves as the main thoroughfare through the site, but it didn’t bother us too much. If you’re a light sleeper it might be wise to take ear plugs just in case – and expect to be woken early with the call to prayer and general hubbub around that time.
To find out more about Bab Al Nojoum, visit the website.