Renowned as one of the world’s most sensational emerging tourist destinations, Oman, a country of breathtaking natural beauty, rolling dessert lands and intriguing architecture, has been dubbed the Arabian Peninsula’s best kept secret.
Boasting a string of entrancing sights and attractions, Oman’s unique scenery, taste of old Arabia and oasis of traditional culture, makes it one of the region’s most memorable travel destinations.
Oman is home to various hidden gems and secret locations that are just waiting to be explored.
- Turtle watching at Ras Al Jinz: With thousands of turtles annually migrating to the Omani coastline, the beautifully remote beaches of Oman, such as Ras Al Jinz, are prime locations for a spot of night time turtle watching. Each year five different species of turtle, including the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Leatherback Turtle, make the dangerous journey to the beaches of Oman to lay their eggs in the beaches’ golden sands. And, with more than 50,000 eggs laid each year, Oman’s shoreline is the ideal place to experience one of the world’s most magnificent wildlife spectacles. The secluded beach of Ras Al Jinz is not only the perfect place to watch the turtles hatch, but is also home to the famous Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve.
- Muttrah Souk: One of the oldest markets in the Arab world, the Muttrah Souk is nationally renowned for being the country’s most colourful souk. Made up of a labyrinth of tiny alleyways crowded with stalls piled high, the market has been named after the Arabian term for darkness because even during the day market visitors require lamps to navigate their way through the market maze. Stocking everything from household goods, clothing and shoes, to frankincense, perfume and spices, as well as an impressive range of brightly coloured cloth and scarfs, the Muttrah Souk offers visitors a chance to experience traditional Omani shopping.
- Khor Ash Sham: Situated between two stretches of mountains, the Khor Ash Sham, the longest of all the Musandam Khors, flows for more than 15km. Its shores peppered with isolated hamlets and smaller shore-side settlements, the sparkling blue waters of the Khor offer a strong contrast to the grey mountains and dull shore-side huts. Filled with wildlife, the waters of the Khor Ash Sham offer visitors and locals alike a rich fishing ground to live and work from. There is even a large population of dolphins, with local tour operators offering visitors the opportunity to spend a day cruising down the Khor looking for them.
- Al Ayn and Bat: Set atop a small ridge at the edge of the Western Hajar, a magical cluster of ancient tombs offering visitors a truly intriguing insight into the country’s past are located. Constructed between 2000 and 3000 BC, the free-standing tombs of Al Ayn and Bat were built from nothing more than piles of stones, and were primarily designed to protect the remains of around 200 people. Due to the large extent of the area the tombs are spread over, the capacity has recently been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, ensuring its preservation for the enjoyment of future generations. These mystical tombs are more concentrated in the region of Bat, while the Al Ayn tombs seem to be better preserved. For travelers planning a visit to either of these impressive locations, please note that there is no public transport service, and that the only way to make the journey is by car so a rental vehicle is your best option.
- Jebel Harim: Complete with sensational views and beautiful scenery, Jebel Harim, more famously known as ‘the Mountain of Women’, makes for a visually enriching day trip. Taking its name from the ancient days when tribal women would hide in the mountain caves to protect themselves from pirates or rival tribesman while their male counterparts were away, the mountain is a must-see location for anyone with an aptitude for nature and a love of scenic beauty. With a rocky road winding as far up the mountain as 1600 metres, visitors who make the journey will be treated to outstanding views of neighboring Khasab and Dibba. The mountain is also home to an array of fossils and other archeological treasures, making the trip a perfect one for anyone with a love of natural science. Travelers wanting to attempt the journey should note that due to the rough terrain of the mountain roads, a four wheel drive vehicle is the only way up if not on foot.
- Saiq Plateau: Lying at an altitude of more than 2000 metres, Saiq Plateau is surrounded by rocky mountainous summits to the north, and the famed Wadi al Ayn gorge to the south. Scattered with traditional Omani villages and smaller settlements, the mountainous land has been home to farming families for generations, with the land successfully farmed for around 1000 years. The cooler climate has allowed farmers to produce various fruits and vegetables, including peaches, pears, grapes, apples and pomegranates, as well as the beautiful roses that the area is most famed for.
- Yiti Beach: Situated between two steep mountain ranges in Oman’s capital of Muscat, this traditional unspoiled Omani beach boasts idyllic views, gloriously golden sands and beautifully clear, blue seawater, perfect for an afternoon dip. With its truly tranquil setting, Yiti beach is the ideal location for any traveler wanting a day or afternoon of relaxation and simple serenity. For any traveler planning to swim in the beaches calm looking waters, it is important to note that undercurrents can be dangerous In the area.
- Masirah Island: Completely off the tourism radar, one of Oman’s true hidden gems, the remote island of Masirah is situated just off the south eastern coast of the country. Although currently a retreat from the country’s tourist culture, Masirah is quickly becoming a popular destination for visitors. With a calm year-round breeze coming off of the sea, Masirah’s climate is much cooler than that of mainland Oman, making it the perfect place to escape to. The small island is home to the tiny town of Hilf, which has a small selection of local amenities, including shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a couple of small guest houses. For travelers wanting to spend a night or two on the island, beachside camping is a popular pastime, and a great way to enjoy the island in all of its natural splendor. One of the Masirah’s key attractions is the watersports on offer at various island beaches, including kayaking and kitesurfing. For nature lovers the island offers various wildlife watching opportunities, from bird watching and turtle watching, to dolphin watching.
- Dohfar: Located in the southern area of Oman, Dohfar Province enjoys a rather unusual scenery, for Middle Eastern locations that is, including green fields, leafy valleys and steep, flowing waterfalls. Situated within the province is the coastal capital of Salalah, a town boasting stunning beaches, intriguing architecture and a lively souk, selling everything from clothes and materials, to Frankincense , oils and spices, a place that for centuries was the source of the region’s wealth. With so many beautiful beaches to choose from, visitors to the area are more than spoilt for choice, however one beach that stands out from the rest is a secret cove located just outside the town’s borders in the mountainous area between Mughsail beach and Fazayah Beach. The cove that is only accessible by a steep mountain path, is stunningly beautiful with golden sands and a deep blue lagoon-like swimming pool, perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
- Wahiba Sands: Situated just four hours from Oman’s capital city of Muscat, the large dessert area of Wahiba Sands is a truly impressive sight. Home to an interesting range of vegetation, wildlife and over 3000 Bedouin settlers, this desert location offers visitors an authentic taste of the Arabian Peninsula’s most impressive landscape. With dark sands and high, rolling dunes, the desert offers a unique landscape, and one not to be missed. For travelers wanting to enhance their dessert experience, local companies offer a range of overnight desert stays boasting traditional food, unique entertainment and the chance to watch the sun rise and set over the dessert scape.