Amazing things to do in Oman
Salaam Alaykum and welcome to the enchanting Sultanate of Oman. Safe and inviting, Oman will hypnotise you with its fragrant ancient souks, mesmerize with dramatic landscapes and leave you spellbound with its stories. Home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Oman is steeped in history and has inspired some of the literature's most famous tales. Muscat, the vibrant capital is full of memorable sights and experiences. Visitors can take in extraordinary museum exhibits, visit ancient houses and wander the fishing port, which is home to traditional dhow boats. The evenings offer the chance to eat at one of the city's cafes and restaurants or even experience the first opera house on the Arabian Peninsula - The Royal Opera House of Muscat.
Head out of the city and Oman becomes even more captivating. Explore the small towns nestled between the mountains. Visit the Bedouin villages. Drive the incense route. You'll do it all under the constant gaze of ancient forts dotted throughout the landscape like imposing sand castles.
Stop by the date farms and witness the rose harvest, which covers the hills with delicate hues of pink and fills the air with an enchanting fragrance. Spend the nights under the stars in a desert camp and then swim in the wadis, which are stunning natural pools that offer respite from the heat. Marvel at Oman's magnificent beaches, pristine diving sites and nature reserves. There aren’t many places in the world where you can observe rare species of turtles up close and swim with dolphins in the wild, but you can here.
All of this, as well as a colourful annual events calendar and a wide range of international sports events, ensures a travel experience unlike any other. A journey of discovery awaits you in this welcoming land at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Western civilization. Enjoy all of the marvels of this unique setting, the ideal gateway to Arabia.
1. Four wheel drive tours
There are many mountain villages and palm groves nestled in the hollows of stone amphitheatres as well as canyons and gorges (wadis) of varying depth and width. The mountains of Oman stretch from one end of the country to the other and offer countless itinerary options to visitors. In addition to travelling along the excellent trails and roads, 4x4’s can power up slopes and explore wadis. From Muscat, it is easy to get to the Hajar Mountains and take in the breathtaking views from the plateau on high and "Grand Canyon" (wadi an Nakhar). The sea and the mountains come together in the Musandam region, which is known for its Arabian fjords. The luxuriant vegetation that grows in Dhofar is like nothing else in this part of the world.
2. Marine activities and water sports
The large number of fish and unspoilt depth of the sea make Oman a popular destination for divers. It is easy to fill a varied, enjoyable week in the capital city Muscat, where there are around 20 diving spots. Bandar Al Khayran bay is also perfect for snorkeling. Nearby, the Dimaniyat Archipelago Nature Reserve boasts an incomparable array of stony coral and offers opportunities for astonishing encounters with manta rays (in the summer), lemon sharks, blacktip reef sharks and whales (from February to September). The sights in the Musandam region contain significant rock formations covered with soft corals and stunning expanses of corpora. The largely unexplored depths of Dhofar are also spellbinding, however, it is only possible to dive in the area from October to April due to the summer monsoons.
The Hajar mountains are full of wadis, some of which are ideal for ‘canyoning’. There are more easily accessible gorges such as wadi Dayqah and wadi Bani Khalid; the activities on offer are more like canyon hiking than genuine canyoning. In Wadi Bani Awf, the narrow gorge of snack Canyon (wadi Bimmah), there is a very tricky route lasting three or four hours, with supervision for beginners. The wadis are subject to flash flooding, so it’s always necessary to be prudent.
4. Boat trips
A boat trip from Muscat is a real must, whether it only lasts a few hours or involves a night in a bivouac on a deserted beach. All sorts of excursions are organized by local agencies, including dolphin watching, tours of Muscat from the sea (with views of Muttrah, the old town, the Sultan's palace, the small fishing villages in the surrounding area, snorkeling in Bandar Al Khayran bay and dinner cruises. There is a wide range of vessels, including the traditional wooden boats known as dhows, catamarans, yachts with cabins and speed boats. There is no better way than a boat trip to discover the Musandam region, where the mountains plunge into the sea. Travelling in from the waves and wandering around the isolated villages at the bottom of towering cliffs is an experience that cannot be missed.
5. Kite surfing
From May to September, the statistics of the wind speed are truly remarkable on the island of Masirah. Consequently, it’s a leading kitesurfing destination. The island is a five-hour drive from Muscat and has a kite surfing center that is part of the VDWS Water Sport Association. Training is available at the center and equipment can be hired by experienced kite surfers. Another branch of the school is open all year round on Sawadi beach, which is an hour north of Muscat.
6. Sea kayaking
With the series of coves and beaches that are only accessible from the sea, the fjord of Musandam forms an enchanting backdrop for sea kayaking. Every winter, numerous tour operators organize combined sea kayaking and hiking trips, with bivouacking on wild beaches, swimming and opportunities to see green sea turtles and dolphins. The bays to the south of Muscat are just as suited to exploration from the sea in kayaks, especially for visitors using hotels that are close to the beach.
There are three 18- hole courses in Muscat.
Almouj Golf: This challenging golf course was designed by Greg Norman. It follows the outline of the dunes along the sea of Oman.
Ghala Valley Golf course: This was originally a Wentworth sand course and it is found in the unique setting of a wadi.
Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club: This course is in craggy terrainthat is criss- crossed by a number of wadis, with the Hajar Mountains in the background.
Let us know in the comments which experience would you like to try out in Oman the most? For more information on this amazing destination visit Oman on WAYN, and also check out the official Oman profile.