Oman remains wonderfully untouched. 17Th-century castles perch on sandstone mountains, turtles soar through blue green waters, and the sand dunes seem to roll on for eternity.
Seawings has recently started landing seaplanes at Muscat Airport, providing expedited travel from the UAE to Oman. To celebrate the latest addition to the Seawings route, we take a look at 11 inspiring destinations for an Oman Holiday.
1. The Muscat Corniche
Most of Old Muscat rolls around the water, hemmed in by mountains to one side and pristine waters to the other. This is the unmissable place to go in Oman, a local place still visited by royalty. At the Corniche and you can spend half a day exploring its evocative snippets of untouched history. Mutrah Souk is labyrinthine and inviting, a maze of alleyways that lead you past everything from antique stores to cosmetics; there’s a huge gold souk to discover but you could also sit back and sip tea at one of the stores around the entrances. Follow the Corniche and you walk past a series of forts and cliffs on the two-kilometre walk to Bait Al Zubair Museum, Fort Mirani, and Al Alam Palace.
2. Zighy Bay
If your idea of an Oman Holiday involves beach serenity then Zighy Bay is the obvious choice. Hidden behind the mountains of the Musandam Peninsula, Zighy Bay provides an exotic escape, one that’s defined by white sand and uninterrupted tranquility. Few beaches are as remote, enveloping you in a sense of exclusivity regardless of how long you stay. It’s also possible to fly direct to Zighy Bay from various locations across the UAE.
3. Jebel Shams
Northern Oman is wild and mountainous, a string of ragged peaks that roll across the landscape. They feel remote and inaccessible, but the country’s road network is excellent and it’s easy to make a day or overnight trip to its highest peak – Jebel Shams. The journey is part of the experience and there’s fabulous views all along the road from Muscat. A series of lodges towards the summit provide the accommodation for your Oman holiday.
4. Wahiba Sands
Many preconceptions of an Oman holiday involve sand. And there’s lots of it. Head south from Muscat and within two hours you can be fully enveloped by sand dunes, which is one of the great appeals of an Oman holiday. The country’s premier desert getaway is Wahiba Sands, an expanse of majestic orange dunes that hide a series of boutique lodges and camps. It’s very accessible yet it still feels very wild.
The places to go in Oman blend nature’s aesthetics with rich heritage, something that’s symbolised by Nizwa, an ancient town barely two-hours drive from Muscat. You’re greeted by a vast canopy of date palms, the greenery hiding a remarkable irrigation system that’s evolved over millennia. Travel into the town’s heart and the Nizwa Souk retains an atmosphere of yesteryear. It’s recommended to visit on a Friday morning, when the traditional camel and livestock market takes place before the Friday prayer.
6. Bahla Fort
Travel around the north on an Oman holiday and you’ll regularly see forts dominating the landscape. They stand proud on hill tops, domineering expressions of Omani architecture. Bahla Fort is the largest and most visibly impressive, a 12th-century fortification of unbaked brick that’s inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place to go in Oman inspires from a distance. Get closer and there’s intricate detail all over the fort.
7. The Gulf of Oman
Travel to Oman from the UAE and you switch from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman. The waters are greener on this side of the peninsula, a redolent colour that’s filled with a vast array of tropical marine life. They’re also calmer, meaning there’s a wide range of beach escapes to find on an Oman holiday. In particular, you’ll find a series of luxurious coastal retreats along the coastline close to Muscat. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a boat cruise and find some of the Gulf’s playful dolphin pods.
8. Grand Mosque, Muscat
Imposing from the outside but inviting on the inside, this modern mosque is an ode to the traditional architectural style of Oman. Wander inside and your feet sink into the world’s second largest carpet – apparently it took 600 Iranian women four years to weave it. This is the only mosque in the country that invites non-Muslims and it’s a wonderfully elegant experience, similar to discovering the beauty of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
9. Wadi Shabs
An easy day trip from Muscat, Wadi Shabs provides the breathtaking insight into the country’s hidden nature. From the road it doesn’t look like much. But walk into the canyon and you journey to lavish aquamarine pools, small waterfalls, and vast terraced plantations. The colour juxtaposition is staggering, with the waters hiding beneath the faded orange of the precipitous mountain. Most of the walk is easy and not overly strenuous. The adventurous can plunge into the water and swim through a narrow gorge that leads into a submerged cave.
10. Wabi Bani Khalid
Wadi means river and there’s a surprising abundance of them to discover on an Oman holiday. Wadi Bani Khalid has large broad pools, filled with the same impossible colours of Wadi Shabs. Follow a walkway and the canyon narrows, revealing a stepped sequence of waterways, each more evocative than the last. Swimming is permitted but you’re requested to dress modestly and wear loose covering clothing. On an Oman holiday, a classic excursion is to combine Wadi Bani Khalid and Wahiba Sands.
Tucked away in the far south of the country, Salalah is a destination of desert legend. This is where the camel caravans roam and you discover a very remote Arabian heritage. This place to go in Oman is over 1000 kilometres from Muscat, a journey that takes you across an unstoppable expanse of desert. But make it this far and you discover one of the last true sentinels to Arabian desert culture.
Seawings Lifestyle offers customised holidays to Oman, along with scenic air transfers to Muscat and Zighy Bay by seaplane.
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