We landed into Abu Dhabi at 8am and were due to leave at 2am so there was no point booking a hotel room. Not only was it Grand Prix weekend and prices were crazy, we also wanted to be out exploring during the day which meant there wasn't much time for sleeping. Instead we hired a car. Seems like a great idea after a 14 hour flight with no sleep.
First stop was the beach. We were planning on heading to the Corniche, which is a beach and park area in the city, but ended up driving further until we reached Saadiyat Island, where we found a public beach. We spent the morning here, sleeping on the sand and swimming.
Wandering through the gardens, helicopters over head, and inside the hotel past the gold ATM, we could get a feel of the decadence and extravagance that the UAE is famous for. Finding a seat in Le Cafe we could get a taste of this extravagence: a 24 carat gold cappuccino. For $15 you can buy a coffee covered in gold. For $40 we could of had a camel burger with a gold dusted bun accompanied with gold coated chickpea fritters.
Abu Dhabi really is the perfect stopover for me. You get sunshine, beaches and something culturally unique. There is probably so much more we could have done, and we might definitely do in the future, but by the time we got the car back to the airport and went through security, we were more than happy with our 18 hours in Abu Dhabi.