Picture Yourself: The World is Your Oyster in Oman
A 1,000-mile aquamarine coastline and hot, dry climate makes it a major destination for vacationers from around the world. Whether you like to spend your leisure time shopping, relaxing on the beach, visiting historical sites, hiking in the wilderness, playing golf, checking out museums or just sitting in a quaint café and sipping some of the world’s best coffee, Oman won’t disappoint.
Oh, the Beaches
You’re sure to find a beach in Oman to suit your taste. Some offer long stretches of white sand; others are nestled in coves or surrounded by a vast desert. Some are more developed and populated; others, remote and empty, feel a million miles away from civilization.
If you prefer an active day at the beach, no problem. Locals and tourists hit the warm, clear water for kite surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, water skiing and windsurfing. Your best bet for beaches with great water sport opportunities is the shoreline from Muscat down to Al Ashkharah.
Explore Oman’s Fascinating History
• Aflaj Irrigation Systems. Located in Dahiliya, Batinah and Sharqiya, these water channels date back to about 500 CE. The channels used gravity to direct water from underground sources or springs for agriculture and domestic use. Numerous watchtowers – which still remain – were built to protect the irrigation system from enemies and invaders.
• Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn. This is a group of ancient necropolises that date to the third millennium BCE. The necropolis at Bat consists of 100 graves and circular buildings, each with a diametre of about 65 feet. About a mile west of Bat are the ruins at Al-Khutm, thought to be the remains of a stone fort. An impressive stone tower dominates this site. About 14 miles southeast of Bat are the ruins of Al-Ayn, a smaller necropolis than the other two, but perhaps the best-preserved site of the three.
• Land of Frankincense. During Oman’s medieval period, the frankincense and spice trade flourished. The frankincense trees in Wadi Dawkah, the remnants of Shisr/Wubar caravan oasis and the ports of Al-Baleed and Khor Rori are vivid reminders of that period.
• Ancient City of Qalhat. Oman’s latest addition to the UNESCO list, as of 2018, is this ancient city surrounded by inner and outer walls. The site includes other areas where necropolises are located. Qalhat was a major port on the east coast of Arabia between the 11th and 15th centuries CE, harkening back to trade routes to far-off lands.
• Bahla Fort is a historic fortress located in the Djebel Akhdar highlands in the Omani desert and one of the largest forts in the country. It is also one of the lesser-known ones, which means it is never packed with tourists. The entrance fee is quite reasonable. Construction started on the fort in the 12th century, and it is a fascinating example of a fortified oasis settlement dating to the medieval Islamic era.
Hit the Links
You might think of Oman as nothing but desert, and any attempt at golf would be like trying to play out of one huge sand trap. Fun. While golf may not be everywhere in the country, the first 18-hole grass course was constructed at Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club in 2009. There are now five courses in Oman. In addition to Muscat Hills, check out the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj in Muscat and the spectacular oceanside 9-hole course at Jebel Sifah.
Head to the Mountains
The Jabal Akhdar Mountains in Oman are remote, practically devoid of people and absolutely awe-inspiring. Rent a 4x4 and head out on your own adventure. If your itinerary includes the Jebel Shams area – home to the country’s highest mountain – you can gaze into Oman’s Grand Canyon, a plunging gouge in the earth surrounded by 9,000-foot mountains. The canyon itself has vertical drops of over 3,000 feet. Venture on to the Balcony Walk – not for the faint of heart – for some of the most dramatic scenery in the entire country. A huge natural amphitheater, mile-high cliffs and birds of prey hovering above will keep your camera clicking away.
Oman is one of the easiest countries to travel in. The infrastructure is excellent and the Omani people are very helpful and friendly. It’s one of the safest countries in which to travel, whether alone or with someone else. From spectacular wadis to ancient fortresses to a picturesque and pristine coastline, Oman has more than enough to make your vacation an unforgettable experience.