Livehealthy approved: Banan Beach campground

City living can leave UAE residents craving something a little bit more raw, authentic and natural, and Banan Beach campground in Ras Al Khaimah is the perfect antidote. 

Providing a welcome break from marble floors and crystal chandeliers, shopping malls and commuting, it’s an invigorating breath of fresh air and completely unlike anything else I’ve seen in the seven emirates.  

A welcome escape from luxury 

The rustic, unpolished and immensely photogenic glamping site is tucked away on its own stretch of unspoiled natural beach by Al Marjan Island. 

Located down a very rough and ready muddy track, it’s immediately apparent that we are in for an exciting, unique and extremely ‘un-UAE’ experience. 

Beautifully boho and hippy-esque, all the structures and buildings are handmade out of repurposed materials. This includes items as varied as scaffolding, railroad sleepers, old blankets and unwanted furniture that otherwise would have gone to landfill.  

Decorated with striking street art, hammocks, bean bags, and completed with a mini library and a fashion boutique filled with quirky and reasonably priced Arabic and Palestinian fashion brands, our first few hours are spent exploring all of Banan Beach’s many hidden treasures.  

Comfortable yet rustic accommodation 

The ‘Loft’ tents provide another lesson in rustic chic. Spanning two levels and made from a mix of material, wood and stone, they’re fully air conditioned and sleep up to four. 

While it’s a chance to go ‘back to basics’ in some senses, they still come with a private bathroom, toiletries, and a garden area, jacuzzi and outdoor kitchen. It didn’t exactly feel like we were roughing it. 

But the best bit of all was our private elevated balcony. We grabbed some drinks and snacks and headed up there just in time to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets we had ever seen. 

Looking out over the tin roofs, bright pink bougainvillea trees and floating swings in the sea, it was bizarre to think that the clogged streets of Dubai were just an hour or so away. It felt more like a Southeast Asian Island than the Middle East. 

Those who want a little more space can upgrade to a Chalet, while the more basic wooden tents provide a cheaper option for the winter months. 

Offering day passes as well as overnight stays, dogs and cats of all sizes are welcome, too.  

Whilst there’s no gym in this secret corner of the UAE, balls, bats, bikes and even inflatable kayaks are all available for rent. Lapping the long adults-only pool and walking up and down the beach also provides plenty of gentle yet invigorating exercise. 

Guests can cook for themselves in the communal barbeque area (complete with Bedouin-style underground zarb cooking pits), or back at their tent or chalet. Alternatively, you can leave the hard work to the multi-talented kitchen team (the pizza chef also painted most of Banan Beach), and eat at the in-house restaurant.   

Made with predeminantly locally sourced ingredients, the half-board menu offers a choice of delicious healthy salads, tasty bites like fresh calamari and hearty mains such as light and crispy stone-baked pizzas. While other less fancy resorts can sometimes fall short with the food, everything we try is superb. 

Adding extra affordability, you can bring alcoholic beverages for a small bottle fee, and you can choose to eat in your tent or at the restaurant.  

We opt for the latter, and we are so glad we did. Position close enough to the waves to feel the cool sea breeze, and right by the roaring evening bonfire, it was a far more memorable and beautiful setting than any of Dubai’s most star-studded restaurants.   

Bringing the laid-back Greek lifestyle to the UAE

Meeting him on one of his evening strolls, the founder, Banan, told us that he used to live in Greece for many years. After moving to Dubai, he decided to create a place that mimicked the laid-back and relaxed ambiance of his previous home.  

His inspiration is certainly apparent in everything from the idyllic blue and white buildings to the chilled-out ethos. It really is the most casual hideaway imaginable. In fact, if it wasn’t for the sun heating up the cobbled pathways, there would be no need to wear shoes at all.  

Banan beach is a chance to leave your fancy outfits and makeup at home, and embrace the spirit of camping mixed with a dose of air-conditioned comfort.

For a further taste of the UAE’s most wild and rugged emirate, Ras Al Khaimah’s legendary Jebel Jais mountain is found just over an hour away. Home to numerous marked hiking routes and the highest restaurant in the UAE, it’s well worth the drive if you can bear to tear yourself away from the Banan Beach hammocks.  

Banan Beach day-pass deals for ladies and gents are available every Sunday. Overnight stay prices start from Dh1,400 for four people in a Loft tent, including breakfast. For more information, visit Banan Beach’s Instagram page is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



Receive our newsletters right in your inbox.