Sightseeing in Oman

The Governorates of North & South Al Batinah

Facing the Sea of Oman along a coastal plain that runs from the north of Muscat to the border of the United Arab Emirates lie the governorates of the Al Batinah region of the Sultanate. Deemed to be one of the greenest areas in the country, this 270 kilometers stretch is abundant in banana plantations, natural flora and date palms. Al Batinah spreads inland to the west of the Al Hajar Mountains and has 12 wilayats, the largest number in Oman, and can be distinguished by the growth of rare Arabian trees. The region is renowned for its fortresses and copper exports that have been in operation since early times.

 

Main Cities North Batinah: Sohar, Suwaiq, Khaburah, Saham, Liwa, Shinas

Main Cities South Batinah: Barka, Nakhal, Al Awabi, Rushtaq, Musannah

 

THE SAWADI BEACH & ISLANDS

Situated in Barka, the Sawadi Beach from afar looks as though a carpet of pink and white has been spread out on the shore, which on closer inspection turns out to be a blanket of thousands upon thousands of shells, that are home to tiny mollusks and button tops. With stunning golden sands and an uninterrupted view of the Sultanate’s pristine waters, escaping to the Sawadi beach is a perfect activity to unwind and relax. A short boat ride from the coast lie the Sawadi Beach Islands, a secluded island paradise where you can camp overnight under the millions of stars.

 

Tips: Carry all your provisions and gear when camping out on the Sawadi Beach Islands as there are no facilities available. Once you are ready to return to the shore, call for your boat to take you back.

 

THE LITTLE & BIG SNAKE CANYONS

With spectacular views and taking its name from its shape, the Little Snake Canyon is the perfect place for tourists to explore in order to stretch their legs and enjoy the fresh air. Situated about 16 kilometers into Wadi Bani Auf, the Little Snake Canyon is accessible to all for the first few 100 meters. For the more adventurous and very experienced hikers, the Big Snake Canyon, close to the village of Al Zammah is a true challenge, with boulders to climb over and pools to swim through.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: Between Rustaq & Al Awabi

 

Tips: Carry a waterproof camera at all times when photographing the Snake Canyon, since there is simply no escaping the water in some parts. Do not venture if you aren’t confident.

 

WADI BANI KHARUS

Probably one of the most well-known of all wadis in Oman, Wadi Bani Kharus lies at the town of Al Awabi, and is a journey into some 600 million yesteryears in geological time. Blessed with fascinating flora and fauna, the beautiful landscape casts a magical spell over visitors. The floor of the wadi is etched with rock art that predates the Islamic era, and further up the canyon walls are ancient fossils of snails and clams.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: Al Awabi

 

Tips: Check out the enchanting little village of Balad Sayt in Wadi Bani Auf which can be accessed through a short canyon on foot, or by a four wheel drive. While exploring the wadi, be ready to jump or swim at any given time, since some areas cannot be crossed otherwise.

 

WADI BANI AUF

Popularly known as ‘The Suspended Road’, lovers of adventure will find pleasure in the challenging mountain roads of Wadi Bani Auf that climb 2000 meters from the Batinah plain through the stunning Al Hajar Mountains to the base of Jebel Shams. Wires connect both ends of the wadi which the daring use to cross from one end to another. Spectacular views all around guarantee a never-ending photo session.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: Between Rustaq & Al Awabi

 

The Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah

Occupying a distinctive location on the western end of the Al Hajar Mountains, and lying within the interior of Oman, the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah has something for everyone; from extraordinarily high peaks and spectacular scenery, to some of the most ancient canals, grandiose forts and ruins of civilizations long gone. The wilayat of Nizwa in A’Dakhiliyah was famed for being the cradle of ardent intellectual activity and produced generations of Omani scientists, scholars and historians that have left behind relics of old houses and buildings that still stand today. Offering dramatic backdrops of the Sultanate’s highest mountain, Jebel Shams, and the famous green mountain, Jebel Akhdar, this region offers a palette to the tourist that is endless. Main Cities Ad Dakhiliyah: Nizwa, Samail, Bahla, Adam, Al Hamra, Manah, Izki, Bidbid

 

Jebel Akhdar

With a temperature that is up to 20 degrees cooler than at land level, Jebel Akhdar rises as a grand spectacle of rocky slopes and sandy, barren ridges, which could cause some confusion in regard to its name, which means ‘Green Mountain’. Once the winding road finally stretches across the summit and the Saiq Plateau comes into view, Jebel Akhdar is a hidden paradise full of gardens, vegetation, and orchards that are secreted from view among the mazes of flowing wadis and terraces. The cool mountain air and high level of rainfall provides ideal conditions for cropping of all kinds of temperate fruit.

 

Timings: 24/7 Location: Jebel Akhdar

 

Tips: Only four wheel drives are permitted up the steep, twisting road of Jebel Akhdar. Make sure to carry a light sweater or shawl even during summer months, as the mountain gets chilly when dusk falls.

 

Jebel Shams

Aptly named the ‘Mountain of the Sun’, Jebel Shams is Oman’s highest mountain, standing erect at an altitude of 3,004 meters above sea level, and renders a breathtaking vista at all times of the day. Each versant opens up to another versant, finally ending with the peak, close to which lies the infamous An’Nakhar Balcony, a deep ravine with chiseled formations that is best viewed from atop the rocks. Tourist guest houses have been built where tourists can spend time enjoying the serenity of this scenic mountain.

 

Timings: 24/7 Location: Jebel Shams

 

Tips: Drive through the Grand Canyon of Arabia through the An ‘Nakhar Balcony to witness spectacular displays of soaring mountain walls and imposing, rugged cliff edges.

 

Falaj Daris

Falaj Daris is one of the largest irrigation canals in the Sultanate, and provides water for Nizwa and its surrounding areas since 500 AD. Located only a short drive away from Nizwa, this Falaj is a marvel of the ingenuity of Omani engineering. Set in a large park full of palm trees and shady spots, Falaj Daris is a great spot for a picnic and unwinding after a full day of sightseeing.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Nizwa, on the road to Bahla

 

 

The Governorate of A’Dhahirah

Descending from the southern slopes of the western end of the Al Hajar Mountains lies the Governorate of A’Dhahirah, which literally translates to ‘the back’. It forms a bridge between the trade routes of Oman and its neighbouring countries, which is why the region is called Ibri, meaning ‘crossing’. Much of the area is covered by an enormous, semi-sandy plain, and the arid desert conditions mean that A’Dhahirah is sparsely populated. However, this governorate contains relics of the Sultanate’s history that are a treasure not to be missed.

 

Main Cities of Al Dhahirah Governorate:

Ibri, Yanqul, Dhanq

 

Al Hoota Cave

Having been discovered by the locale of A’Dakhiliyah hundreds of years ago, the Al Hoota Cave is a natural marvel that runs for about 5 kilometers, but can be accessed only up to a depth of 860 meters, ending at the Cave Lake, which is home to a rare species of blind fish. The Al Hoota Cave features a subterranean cavern filled with stalactites, stalagmites and colourful solid rock columns that can be explored through a train.

 

Timings: Saturday – Thursday, 09.00AM – 01.00PM/02.00PM – 05.15PM | Friday, 09.00AM – 12.00PM/02.00PM – 05.15PM

Location: 30 minutes’ drive from Nizwa

 

Tips: The cave flooring is rugged, so wear suitable shoes and never leave your children unattended.

 

 

The Bat Tombs

Together with the neighbouring sites of Al Khutum and Al Ayn, Bat forms the archaeological site of the world’s most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium BC. Located to the east of Ibri, the Bat site was crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Bat is a collection of graves that look very much like beehives. Consisting of 150 graves, tombs and other structures dotted across a rugged plain, the remains of the most complete tombs are from the Hafit and Umm An Nor period (3200 – 2000 BC).

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Bat, ask for directions in the village

 

Wadi Damm

Located near the charming little village of Al Ayn, Wadi Damm is a seasonal wadi that remains dry for most part of the year, but transforms into a magical oasis during rainfall. It is remarkable for its characteristic rocky formations sculpted by erosion. The wadi is distinguished by a variety of smooth rocks, out of which nature has formed beautiful water ponds. One of the rocky formations sculpted by erosion is a small cave near the water pool, which is a fine camping site for tourists.

 

Timings: 24/7 Location: 45km from Ibri

 

Tips: Make sure to reach the wadi only by four wheel drive, as the

rugged terrain will not support salon cars.

 

 

The Governorates of North & South A’Sharqiyah

Oman, being the myriad mix of natural wonders that it is, can proudly say that the Governorates of North and South A’Sharqiyah have a bit of everything that the Sultanate has to offer to the visitor and the locale alike. From the vast, golden deserts of the Wahiba Sands to the tranquil and serene beaches of Tiwi that extend right up to Sur and the island of Masirah, the imposing cliffs and awe-inspiring gorges of A’Sharqiyah meet the fertile wadis at the eastern extremities of the Al Hajar Mountains, down to the ancient towns of Sur, Ibra, and Sinaw, rendering an experience for the traveler that is truly unforgettable.

 

 

Main Cities

South A’Sharqiyah Governorate:

Al Kamil & Al Wafi, Jalan Bani Bu Ali, Jalan Bani Bu Hassn, Masirah, Sur.

 

North A’Sharqiyah Governorate:

Al Qabil, Al Mudhaibi, Dimma & At Tayyin, Ibra, Wadi Bani Khalid.

 

Ras Al Hadd Beach

Home to human settlements and trading activities since the 3rd millennium BC, the Ras Al Hadd beach lies 60 kilometers from Sur, the capital of the Governorate of South A’Sharqiyah. Fighter planes took shelter on its coast during the Second World War and the marks of the runways exist till today. Visitors can head towards the harbour and dip their legs down the scramble of rocks into the soothing sea water. Dhows anchored on the mudflats in the harbour, coupled with the receding sunlight in the evening creates a picture perfect panorama that is worth experiencing.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 60km from Sur

 

Tips: Never leave your children unattended on the rocks by themselves, as the crashing waves leave behind an assortment of sea life that can be slippery. It is advisable to not visit the shore during high tide.

 

The Turtle Beach

Extending from Ras Al Hadd up to the island of Masirah lies the Ras Al Jinz Beach, more popularly referred to as The Turtle Beach, located right at the headland of the Arabian Peninsula. An average of 30,000 turtles visit the beach to nest annually, making Ras Al Jinz one of the largest nesting areas for Green Turtles in the Indian Ocean. Those staying up late or rising early may be lucky enough to see these magnificent creatures building their nests and laying eggs before heading back out to the sea. The area is protected by The Turtle Reserve and visits to the beach are strictly controlled.

 

Timings: July – October (Peak Season) Daily, 04.00AM – 06.00AM/09.00PM – 11.00PM

Location: Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, Sur

Tips: Do not use flash photography while watching the turtles, as this inhibits them and stops them from nesting. You might want to use a faster lens or a higher ISO setting. Visiting hours are strictly limited, so book well in time to avoid disappointment.

 

The White Beach

A stone’s throw away from the charming little town of Fins lies one of the most popular beaches between Muscat and Sur, known as The White Beach for its exquisite whitewashed sands. The beach is a spectacular place to camp overnight; during quieter times, it’s a perfect spot to stargaze and unwind to the gentle lapping of the milky waves.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 80km from Muscat/5km from Fins

 

Bibi Miriam’s Tomb

Qalhat has been recorded in time as the site of a historic Omani civilization that settled here way before the advent of Islam. Once witness to prosperous times, Qalhat is now a pile of rocks, scattered over a wasteland of ruined houses, crumbling citadels, and walls that once fortified the city. It is said that the city fell prey to an earthquake in the fourteenth century, leaving behind the only standing remains of this thriving port: Bibi Miriam’s Tomb. Believed to have been built by Bahauddin Ayez, King of Hormuz, in the honour of his wife, the tomb is a crypt leading to underground corridors beneath the floor of the shrine.

 

Timings: Daily

Location: Qalhat, on the road to Sur

 

Wadi Shab

Located in Tiwi, and about a 140 kilometers away from Muscat on the Quriyat-Sur Coastal Road, Wadi Shab, meaning gorge between the cliffs, is just that. Fresh water cascading from the tops of the mountains meets the briny sea water on its banks, creating an environmental diversity unique to this wadi. Accessible only foot, the path winds its way up past caves, cliffs,

and stunning pools with a change of scene every step. After an hour of walking there’s an excellent swimming spot for the diving fan.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 140 kilometers on the Quriyat-Sur Coastal Road from Muscat

 

Tips: For those who are brave enough to venture into the wadi’s pool for swimming, there is a secret cavern you can emerge into by swimming under water for a couple of metres. Avoid visiting the wadi during the flash floods season.

Wadi Bani Khalid

Weaving up across the Eastern Al Hajar Mountains down to the village of Bida, lies the spectacular Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the most fertile valleys in the Sultanate with lush greenery all around and gorgeous waterfalls that form natural pools. The path through the valley cuts through to the town of Muqal, which is renowned for its cave and can be explored by those having the right

equipment. Here the gushing waters create a loud rushing sound and gather in pools, only to dissipate into small lakes which

the villagers have used for years to fill three irrigation canals.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 203 kilometers from Muscat 72 kilometers on the road from Ibra to Sur

 

Tips: Exercise great caution while exploring the cave as you may need to crawl and even scramble to get through certain areas. Avoid the wadi after rainfall, as it is inaccessible.

 

A’Sharqiyah Sands

The A’Sharqiyah Sands are considered to be one of the most beautiful camping sites in the Sultanate, extending over an area of about 10,000 square kilometers. The flat plain of Al Mintarib quickly changes colour and topography once entering the A’Sharqiyah Sands, with the dunes ranging from pale yellow, to rustic red, and even orange, as the day progresses. This area attracts many desert adventure fans, and is preferred by visitors owing to its ease of accessibility and availability of nearby services, which make it a first class tourist attraction. Many tourist activities take place on these sands, such as dune bashing in quads, as well as horse and camel racing.

 

Timings: October – April (Peak Season), 24/7

Location: A’Sharqiyah

 

The Island of Masirah

Set like a jewel in the South-Eastern waters of Oman, the Masirah Island is a paradise that enchants the visitor with its beautiful and diverse natural environment and abundant marine life. In perfect harmony with nature, Masirah proves to be one of the Sultanate’s most idyllic getaways, where travelers can experience the pervasive calmness of the sea waves and the cooling rhythm of the pure air that rejuvenates the senses. The beaches on the Island of Masirah provide an unparalleled opportunity to see clusters of rare sea turtles (such as the Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley) lay their eggs, and migratory birds, including pelicans and flamingos.

 

Timings: October – April (Peak Season), 24/7

Location: Accessible by ferry from Ras An Najdah Direct airplane from Muscat

 

The Governorate of Al Buraimi

The Governorate of Al Buraimi was created in the October of 2006. Located in the North-Western part of the Sultanate, Al Buraimi was the site where Islam first entered Oman and was known as Twam and Al Jaw back then. An oasis by nature, Al Buraimi is dotted with watchtowers and forts, surrounded by beautiful plains and sharp rocks. The presence of pottery and the remains of copper and other ruins in this region indicate the existence of an ancient civilization.

 

Main Cities Al Buraymi Governorate:

Al Buraymi, Mahadh, As Sinaynah

 

See Al Hila Fort & Al Khandaq Castle details in ‘Forts of Oman’ section.

 

 

The Governorate of Al Wusta

Being the second largest governorate of Oman in terms of land mass, the Governorate of Al Wusta has the smallest population. Situated in the south of both the A’Dakhiliyah and A’Dhahirah governorates, Al Wusta is flanked on the east by the Arabian Sea, on the west by The Empty Quarter, and by the Dhofar Governorate below. Its coastline is dotted with dense mangroves and wide bays that are home to an abundance of birds and diverse marine life. On land, the moderate climate, influenced by the annual autumn season in Dhofar, helps the growth of a variety of plants and rare mammals such as the Arabian Oryx and the Nubian Ibex.

 

Main Cities Al Wusta Governorate:

Haima, Duqm, Mahout, Al Jazer

 

 

A’Duqm Beach

Renowned for its soft, clean sands, azure waters and cool breezes, the A’Duqm beach is a picture-perfect panorama for the traveler to relax in and fall asleep to the gentle lulling of the waves. Lucky tourists may be able to catch glimpses of rare migratory birds, dolphins, turtles, and even whales.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 20km from A’Duqm, Al Wusta

 

Bar Al Hikman

Bar Al Hikman is an island located in the center of Oman’s east coast, and is considered to be one of the most important bird migration stations both in Oman and Southeast Asia. Many birds congregate here, especially water birds coming from as far as Siberia’s northern shores. In addition to being a sanctuary for marine life of all kinds, the existence of coral reefs off its shores make it a favourite destination for divers.

 

Timings: Unavailable

Location: 500km south of Muscat

 

The Governorate of Dhofar

The Governorate of Dhofar extends over one third of Oman and makes up the breathtaking abode of the Sultanate’s southern beauty. Having distinctive biodiversity and scenic wonders, the coast blends with the mountains and the golden deserts in a

harmony so wonderful that the hills look like fertile crescents rising to a height of 1500 meters, and then descending tranquilly into flat plains which embrace the Governorate’s sandy beaches, running for over hundreds of kilometers. Dhofar is steeped in history and is full of fascinating places to visit.

 

Main Cities of Dhofar Governorate:

Al-Mazyona, Dhalkut, Mirbat, Muqshin, Rakhyut, Sadah, Salalah, Shalim, Hallaniyat Islands, Taqah, Thumrait

 

 

Khareef

Fondly called ‘The Switzerland of Oman’, there can be no better place to escape the heat of the Arabian sands in the summer than the wilayat of Salalah. Graced by monsoonal showers over a period of four months, the Khareef Season brings to life the Sultanate’s rich biodiversity, fresh water springs and waterfalls shrouded by lush greenery and white mist that rolls off gently from mountains and plains alike. Temperatures drop down to below 25?C, making Dhofar the perfect hill station stop after exploring Muscat.

 

Season: June – September

Location: Salalah, Dhofar

 

Tips: Don’t miss out on the legendary Khareef Festival that takes place in Salalah annually, from mid-July to the end of August. From traditional folk music, dances, cultural events, poetry, art shows, and local Omani cuisine, the festival is truly an affair to remember.

 

 

Al Mughsail Beach

What can arguably be called the most famous attraction of the Governorate of Dhofar are the ‘blow holes’ that dot the entire coastline of Mughsail, lying to the west of Salalah. Accessible only by dirt tracks that lead to secluded beaches with spectacular vistas, the Al Mughsail Beach is thoroughfare that extends for six uninterrupted kilometers. Small holes in the rocks just

above the sea allow a forceful fountain of seawater to burst into the air during times when the sea is slightly turbulent.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 30km from Salalah, off the road to Ghadu

 

Tips: Make sure that you are travelling with an experienced offroad driver when venturing through the dirt tracks that lead onto secluded beaches. If you are unsure, you can always reward yourself with magnificent views of the waves thrashing against the shoreline during the high tides of the Khareef.

 

Al Baleed

Sitting right on the edge of the Arabian Sea, to the east of the Al Husn Palace, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al Baleed has a history that goes back to pre-Islamic times when there were large Iron Age settlements in the same location. Now as a combination of an open air archaeological site and The Museum of the Frankincense Land, the Al Baleed Archaeological Park and Museum tells stories about the city of Baleed which was founded in the 11th century AD, and rapidly became a center of business for the trading of frankincense. Visitors can explore the remains of the city’s wall and gates, a citadel, and a grand mosque.

 

Timings: Sunday – Thursday, 08.00AM – 02.00PM/04.00PM – 08.00PM Friday – Saturday, 04.00PM – 08.00PM

Location: Next to the Crowne Plaza Resort, Salalah

 

Tips: If you aren’t up for visiting the grand remains of Al Baleed’s grand mosque, citadel, and the city walls and gates, you can enjoy the picturesque setting of the nature reserve by indulging in some bird watching or taking a boat trip. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon but visitors should stay until sunset to enjoy the site in natural and artificial light. Opening hours are from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

 

Khor Rori and Sumhuram

As the site of the palace of the Queen of Sheba, Khor Rori stands today in ruins, saying little of itself as one of the main export centers of the local Dhofari frankincense and Arabian horses to the principal civilizations of the world. Also being the location of the ancient city of Sumhuram, the area was abandoned when sand silted up the entrance to the port. Sumhuram is also known as Moshka Port that was prescribed in two Greek scrolls dating back to the era between the first and second centuries AD. Archeological excavations have unearthed an old temple, coins and historical artifacts.

 

Timings: Daily, 08.00AM – 06.00PM

Location: Past the town of Taqah, Dhofar

 

Tips: For the nature lover, Khor Rori is also a fantastic site that plays sanctuary to a number of migratory birds, particularly flamingos in the winter.

 

THE LOST CITY OF AWBAR

Mentioned in the Holy Quran, the lost city of Awbar (also known as The Atlantis of the Sands) was long thought of as a legend about a magnificent kingdom, rich beyond imagination, with streets paved of gold and treasures abound. Seemingly destined to be remain lost, buried in the sands of the Empty Quarter of Oman, it was in the early 1990s that the NASA Space Agency used satellite imagery to uncover irrefutable evidence that the city of Awbar had indeed existed. Situated in the village of Shisr, Awbar was once the frankincense capital of the world, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings only

Location: Shisr, off Thumrayt

 

Tips: There are no petrol stations beyond Thumrayt. Fill your tank and make sure to carry lots of water to remain hydrated before venturing off into the desert leading to Shisr. There is a small shop in Shisr for basic supplies.

 

AN ’NABI AYYUB

Set in a magnificent location that rises high into the mountains, overlooking the stunning seas and coastal plains of Salalah, is the tomb of Prophet Job (known as An ‘Nabi Ayyub), with religious significance for Muslims and Christians alike. The drive from Salalah

is full of interest as it passes by natural water springs of Ain Jarziz, and the isolated hilltop is particularly beautiful just after the Khareef mists have lifted, rendering a remarkable view of the Salalah plains.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: 30km from Salalah, off the road to Ghadu

 

Tips: It is considered disrespectful to photograph tombs and other places of religious significance without prior permission first. Keep in mind that if you are visiting with children, they will not be allowed inside. Wear full, modest clothing. Women should cover their heads with a scarf.

 

MIRBAT

Located between the ridges of Jebel Samhan and the Arabian Sea, Mirbat is a charming town with a dramatic coastline that is heralded by the white domed Bin Ali Tomb, nestled in the hills of Dhofar. Running parallel to the little city, the shore ends at a picturesque fishing port, which earlier traded in frankincense and Arabian horses. Overlooking the harbour entrance is the Mirbat

Fort, which is an early 19th century fortification and has considerable historic significance as the site of the fighting in the Battle of Mirbat during the 1970s. Walking through the streets of Mirbat unearths some interesting artifacts and old merchant houses.

 

Timings: Daily, morning to evening

Location: Mirbat, Dhofar

 

Wadi Darbat

Come autumn, and the most unexpected sites of Dhofar, the Wadi Darbat, springs to life with magnificent waterfalls that thunder down to the ground from impressive heights of up to 30 meters. Carving its way through highlands and hills till it reaches Khor Rori,

Wadi Darbat is just the place to visit to witness its transformation into a lush oasis in the winter months, with breathtaking views over wide areas of the coast. A short drive beyond Wadi Darbat lies Tawi Atayr, one of the largest known sinkholes in the world measuring 150 meters in diameter, and 211 meters in depth.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Off the roundabout at Taqah

 

Ain Jarziz & Ain Razat

The southern side of the gorgeous Dhofari Mountains is blessed with many natural springs. While some are sporadic in nature, others are continuous, such as Ain Razat, which has a number of pools, lush gardens, and small caves to explore. Located at the bottom of the mountain trail that leads on to An ‘Nabi Ayyub, is the Ain Jarziz. Full of natural flora and scenic photography opportunities, the spring is a great place for family picnics and outings. Both these springs are best enjoyed during the Khareef season, when the water fall is abundant.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: To the North and East of the Salalah City Centre

 

Tips: The Razat Gardens at Ain Razat open on Friday only.

 

The Governorate of Musandam

Dramatic fjords, scenic juxtapositions of the sea and mountains, and picturesque rocky inlets have made the Musandam Peninsula earn its nickname of ‘The Norway of Arabia’. Covering approximately 3000 square kilometers, Musandam is the smallest and the

most northern governorate of the Sultanate. It contains one of the most important waterways in the world, the Strait of Hormuz. Excursions in boats and traditional ships give the visitor unforgettable enjoyment, while divers can plunge to their hearts’ content. Archaeological sites are also abundant in Musandam.

 

Main Cities of Musandam Governorate:

Khasab, Bukha, Dibba Al-Baya, Madha

 

 

Hayyoot Beach

Accessible only by boat from Khasab, the Hayyoot Beach is the best place for camping in the glorious fjords of Musandam. Whitewashed sands, spectacular blue seas and frothy white waves make this a superb place to swim, relax, and unwind.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: 15 minutes by boat from Khasab

 

Qida & Tawi

About four kilometers to Khasab, lies the fjord-like bay of Qida, with fishing boats lining the coast. Exceptionally lush and green for Musandam, the Oasis of Qida has many date palms and fruit trees. Along the road to Bukha, turning left at the small village allows the visitor to view rock carvings dating back to prehistoric times. Located in the village of Tawi, these enormous clusters of grey boulders are covered by art depicting warriors, ships, horsemen, ibex, and camels. Village women, accustomed to visiting tourists, may emerge from their houses to sell their hand-woven baskets.

 

Timings: Daily, mornings to evenings

Location: Tawi, en route to Khasab

 

Khawr Najd & Khawr Sham

Khawr Najd is one of the biggest lagoons in the Governorate of Musandam, and can be reached either by the sea from Khasab through the Strait of Hormuz, or by a four-wheel drive along a beautiful mountain road, overlooking panoramic views of the lagoon from a height of 420 meters, where visitors can revel in the majestic scenery of the sea and the mountains. Khawr Sham on the other hand is a lagoon that extends over an area of 20 kilometers, and can be reached only by water transport, and is a popular tourist destination for hiking, camping and watching dolphins. It is famed for the Telegraph Island, home to the first telegraph cable laid by the British in 1864 to link Basra in Iraq, to India.

 

Timings: Daily

Location: Off Khasab

 

The Governorate of Muscat

The Governorate of Muscat is considered to be the pulsating heart of the Sultanate. With a breathtaking intermix of ancient culture and heritage alongside a modern metropolis, Muscat is a striking blend of old and new that preserves its historic character while enjoying a contemporary spirit. Golden sandy beaches, mountainous heights, and glorious sand dunes make up the stunning abode of its natural beauty.

 

 

Main Cities of Muscat Governorate:

Al Amarat, Bawshar, Muscat, Muttrah, Qurayyat, As’Seeb

 

Qurum Beach

Azure waters, and a large, expansive shore ideal for taking a run or a stroll, is what makes the Qurum Beach one of the most ideal tourist spots in Muscat. Only a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle from the commercial activity of Qurum, the beach is

popular amongst the locals at sunrise and sunset to view the awe-inspiring colours of the sun dash across the shimmering waters. A great place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, walking enthusiasts can also enjoy the boardwalk along the beach.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Al Shatti Street, Qurum

 

 

Seeb Beach

Located in the wilayat of Seeb, the Seeb Beach is renowned for its soft, golden sands and unadulterated waters, with a view that is awe-inspiring. Built on its shores is a large park that serves as a children’s playground and also has an artificial lake for the purpose

of water sporting. Fast food chains along the promenade make the Seeb Beach an ideal picnic spot for tourists.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Al Seeb, Muscat

 

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Situated in the wilayat of Bousher, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a marvel of architecture that repeatedly awes the traveler and the citizen alike. The sensational blue, white and gold interior of its dome, along with an eight tonne, 1,122 bulbs Swarovski crystal chandelier, intricately carved wooden doors, brilliantly stained glass windows. The mosque’s prayer hall floor is topped with a single piece Persian carpet composed of 1,700 million knots which took about 27 months to make, covering an area of 4,200 square metres, and weighing 21 tons. 28 different colours made from plant or natural dyes, in varying gradations, are used in this carpet’s weave.

 

Timings: Saturday – Thursday, 08.00AM – 11.00AM

Location: Bousher, Muscat

 

Tips: It is important to respect the local norms and customs before entering the mosque; shoes should be removed, and modest, full clothing should be worn. Women should cover their heads. Children under 4 years are not allowed inside the mosque. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the mosque every day, except Friday, from 8:30 until 11:00 am. Visitors are asked to dress modestly and in a way befitting places of worship. Women are also required to cover their hair.

 

The Royal Opera House Muscat

The Royal Opera House Muscat is the leading arts and culture organization in the Sultanate of Oman, with a vision to serve as a center of excellence in a global and cultural engagement. The multidisciplinary work at the Royal Opera House Muscat showcases rich and diverse artistic creations from Oman, its surrounding regions and the world, providing a space for the nurturing of creativity with innovative programs, and promotes tourism.

 

Timings: Saturday – Thursday, 09.00AM – 06.00PM

Location: Al Kharjiyah Street, Shatti Al Qurum

 

Tips: The Opera Galleria, situated on the ground floor of the Royal Opera House Muscat, is host to upmarket shops dealing in international brands, designer couture and perfumes, and also has an array of exquisite cafes and dining options. Timings are from 10AM to 10PM. The restaurants and cafés will operate daily from 8:00 am to 12:00 am midnight throughout the year, during weekends and public holidays. Visitors will be offered easy access to the “Opera Galleria” through a special vehicle entrance and nearby parking lot. For more information – Opera Galleria: 24403440

- See more at: http://www.rohm.org.om/venue/opera-galleria.

 

Muttrah Souq

The Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back to about 200 years, and sells various Omani handicrafts, sweets, spices, and Arabian perfumes. Located in the wilayat of Muttrah, the Souq starts from the gate facing the Sea of Oman and the Muttrah Corniche, and ends at the gate leading into the city’s old quarters. Characterized by narrow winding alleys roofed with wood, this Souq is also known as the Market of Darkness amongst the locals due to its myriad lanes lined by shops that block the sun during the day.

 

Timings: Saturday – Thursday, 08.00AM – 01.00PM / 05.00PM – 09.00PM

Friday, 05.00PM – 09.00PM

Location: Muttrah Corniche, Muttrah

 

Muttrah Corniche

Stretching for more than three kilometers on the harbor of the Sultan Qaboos Port, the Muttrah Corniche overlooks beautiful rugged mountains and is one of the most gorgeous sites in the Governorate of Muscat. The northern end of the Corniche serves as a fish market and a dhow dock, and the entire length of the esplanade is dotted with pristine gardens and fountains.

 

Timings: 24/7

Location: Muttrah, Muscat

 

Bandar Khayran Reserve

Situated at a distance of 35 minutes by boat from the Marina Bandar Al Rawdha, the Bandar Khayran Reserve is a spectacular display of rugged mountains and the azure waters of the sea, permeated by coral reefs that are considered home to diverse organisms and fish. The water crossing is a pleasurable experience with dolphins that swim alongside the boat. The Reserve is abuzz with divers and has more than 22 diving locations, each with its own charm and beauty.

 

Timings: September – May, 08.30AM – 05.30PM

Location: Marina Bandar Al Rawdha

 

Wadi Dayqah Dam

Considered to be the biggest dam in the Sultanate, the Wadi Dayqah Dam is situated in the wilayat of Quriyat, and consists of two sub-dams. The dam connects a number of neighbouring wadis from the A’Sharqiyah region and has spectacular views of deep ocean blue waters against rugged, golden hills. The dam is a very prevalent tourist spot, and is situated off the highway to Quriyat from Muscat.

 

Timings: Year-round

Location: Off the Quriyat Highway, Quriyat

 

Hawiyat Najm Park

Located in the Dabab area of Quriyat, the Hawiyat Najm Park is a deep natural depression in the earth’s crust that has filled with water from the nearby coastline, rendering a remarkable view. Legend has it that a meteor fell on this spot of land, resulting in the natural depression that formed a small lake within the crater, which is a popular spot for diving and swimming.

 

Timings: Year-round

Location: Dabab, Quriyat