10 Natural Places To Visit In Oman
Oman is one of the most naturally diverse countries in the Middle East. From a long stretch of a 3000km coastline to the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula, the country is blessed with tons of natural wonders still waiting to be explored.
Moreover, what makes it easy to explore the natural wonders of Oman is the fact that many of the major sites in the country are in the close vicinity with the capital city of Muscat that makes it easier for the travellers to visit many sites in a short duration.
This post covers ten natural sites all across Oman, which should be in the bucket list of every traveller coming to Oman.
How to reach: Thirty minutes boat ride from Al Mouj Marine, Muscat
Just 70km from the coast of Muscat lies a cluster of nine small islands called the Daymaniyat Islands. It is a nature reserve and under the protection of International Coral Reef society. Daymaniyat Islands are particularly famous for its healthy and color coral reef and diverse marine life which cannot be found anywhere else in the Middle East. The island has crystal clear water and white sand beaches. There are several tour operators at Al Mouj Marina who conducts short day trips and sunset cruising at the island too. A day trip to the island cost around $65 per person. Snorkeling is the most popular activity to do at the Daymaniyat Island. Excellent underwater visibility enhances the overall snorkeling experience. Turtles and Tiger Sharks can also be spotted at the island during the breeding season.
Bandar Al Khairan Island
How To reach: Twenty minutes boat ride from Marina Al Rowdha, Muscat
The Bandar Al Khairan Island is the nearest island from the mainland Muscat, which makes it one of the most visited islands too. The island is surrounded by three main scuba diving sites and attracts many local and international scuba divers throughout the year. It offers good kayaking and snorkeling opportunities too. However, the best thing to observe at Bandar Al Khairan is the unique limestones cliff formations that surround the island and can be seen throughout on the way to the island. The limestone cliffs at Bandar Al Khairan are supposed to be formed hundreds of years back. With time, due to sea erosion, the cliffs have changed and formed unique shapes. Another interesting activity at Bandar Al Khairan is Dolphin watching. On the way to the island, fifteen minutes into the sea comes an area where hundreds of dolphins can be seen in their natural habitat. All the tours to the island stop at this spot for Dolphin watching.
Al Wakan Village
How to reach: Three hours’ drive from the city center Muscat via Sultan Qaboos Road
Al-Wakan Village in the Batinah governorate in Oman is a mountain village and a popular hiking spot hike near Muscat. Located just a three hours’ drive from Muscat, the mountain village of Wakan demands a simple hike to be reached. Alternatively, you can also hike all the way up by climbing stone paved 700 steps that will take you to the top. The views of the valleys from the top of the mountain are totally worth the hike! Alternatively, it can be reached with a short and adventurous half hour off-road drive along the mountain. All along the way up to the mountain are pomegranate farms and padded fields. The villagers of Wakan village own these farms who are extremely welcoming and friendly people. The main viewpoint from Wakan village shows great panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and natural water springs flowing from the mountains to the valleys at the foothill. Witnessing the sunset or the sunrise from the main viewpoint in Wakan village is truly an incredible experience.
Ras Al Hadd Beach
How to reach: 3 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Amerat Road
Ras Al Hadd or also popularly known as the Turtle beach is the only Turtle Reserve in Oman. The beach is located in the Ras Al Jinz area which is a small fishing village. The beach is a haven for marine life enthusiast as it homes the endangered green turtles. The turtle nesting season starts from September and runs until March. During this period hundreds of turtles come to shore to lay their eggs and hatch them every day. The beach is divided into two areas – one is the public beach which is open for everyone and the other is the protected area, which can only be accessed with the special permission. Upon booking a room at the Ras Al Hadd, all the guests are entitled to a tour of the Turtle reserve and get the opportunity to get up and close with the breeding turtles at the beach.
How to reach: 4 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Nizwa Road
Jebal Shams in Al-Hajar mountain range offers the best hiking experience. Meaning ‘The Mountain of Sun’ in Arabic, Jebal Shams is the highest mountain in the Arabian Peninsula standing 3000 meters above the sea level. It also happens to be the second largest Grand Canyon on earth. There are three main viewpoints at the top of the mountain, which can be reached by crossing many unpaved rocky paths in the mountain. Hiking at Jebal Shams can be challenging due to the altitude, hot weather (for most of the time in the year), and extremely rough and dangerous terrain. However, the view of villages and neighboring mountains from the top makes all the hiking hassle totally worth it. Jebal Shams is also very popular for overnight camping. After all who wouldn’t like to see a sunrise from the top of the mountain of Sun!
How to reach: 2 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Nizwa Road
Jabel Akhtar also called as the ‘Green Mountain’ is the most visited mountain in Oman. Situated in the governorate of Nizwa, Jabel Akhtar is famous for its pomegranate fields and rare species of flowers that are grown on the mountain. The locals of the area are all farmers who sell pomegranate from their fields for a living. In order to reach the mountain, a 4wd drive is mandatory. There is a police check post right at the mountain foothill that checks the condition of the car if they are good enough for the ascend. However, the road leading all the way up to the mountain is well paved and recently constructed. If you don’t have a 4wd, a car can be rented right at the check post then and there. Also unlike Jabel Shams, Jabel Akhtar is a very developed mountain with local cafes, shops and even a petrol station on the mountain top.
How to reach: 2 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Amerat Road
Bimmah Sinkhole also called as the Hawayat Najam Park is a park that has been built around a large sinkhole that was naturally made in the ground. The sinkhole was made many years due to the collapse of a limestone cliff in the area. However, now it is one of the best cliff diving spots of Oman. The Sinkhole is believed to be a hundred meters deep which is surrounded by cliffs. The emerald water of the sinkhole is also home to the Doctor fishes that give a nice pedicure if you put your feet in the water.
How to reach: 2 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Amerat Road
Just after a ten minutes’ drive from the Bimmah Sinkhole is Wadi Shab. The natural water spring flowing from the mountains is one of the best day trips from Muscat. Wadi means spring in Arabic. There are two small pools of water and one large pool at Wadi Shab. It is also very famous for cliff diving and swimming. A short stop at this place is a definite must to see the natural water flowing from between the rocky mountains and surrounded by the date trees.
How to reach: 4 hours drive from the city center Muscat via Amerat Road
A total of four hours’ drive from the city of Muscat and two hours from Wadi Shab will lead you to the second largest desert in the country, the Wahiba Sands desert. Located in the Sharqiyah governorate of Oman and also called as the Sharqiyah Sands, the desert is the best place in Oman to take a break from the chaos and the hassle of the city and to relax in the calmness of the lonely desert. Due to a large number of tourist influx in the area, there are many desert camps in the Wahiba Sands desert. Though independent camping is allowed in the area, it is highly recommended to spend a night in the desert camps which are designed like the Bedouin camps in which the locals in olden days used to live. Watching the sunset and sunrise from the top of a sand dune is a not to be missed activity while in the Wahiba Sands desert.
How to reach: 1-hour direct flight from Muscat to Salalah
There are many unexplored pristine beaches in Oman but the Mughsail beach in the southern city of Salalah is the most popular and the most visited beaches in Oman. Situated near to the border of Yemen, there are several factors that make it the best beach in Oman. The Mughsail beach is along a limestone cave called the Marneef Cave, which is believed to be formed years ago due to the soil erosion from the sea. Another reason that makes Mughsail the perfect beach to visit is the natural blowholes at the beach. During high tides when the water crushed with the limestone cliffs, it comes out from the blowholes with great force making them look like a fountain. So, not only the Mughsail beach an ideal place to swim and spend a great afternoon, the cave and the blowholes make the beach more worthy of visiting.
Guest Post by The Sane Adventurer
This post is by Rahma Khan, the blogger behind ‘The Sane Adventurer’, a blog aimed at safe travels and adventures in off the beaten tracks around the world. Born, grown-up and currently living in Muscat, Oman, Rahma is a Pakistani expat who calls herself Omani by heart. An engineer by profession and a traveller by passion, Rahma is currently just ten countries old. However, her love for travelling across all the continents is slowly but passionately taking her to new places. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram.