Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. Oman’s vast desert plains are endlessly diverse, and provide the perfect canvas for a whole host of activities. In fact, you could probably wander the desert for days without once running out of new things to do; from sand skiing down the smooth slopes of the dunes to kicking up dust in dune buggies, wadi bashing, or sleeping under the star-spangled Arabian night sky, the Omani sands truly are the gift that keeps on giving.
2. Playful dolphins and several different species of whale are known to frequent the shores of Oman, and a range of both land and boat tours are offered to enable you to spot them; leaving early in the morning is advised for the best chances of seeing these majestic creatures.
3. The ancient city of Nizwa lies nestled amidst an oasis of thick green palms and a spiky cradle of soaring mountains. One of Oman’s most popular tourist destinations, it boasts many historic buildings, an ancient fort and a famous, bustling souk (market) where precious copper, silver jewellery and ornate handicrafts can all be purchased.
4. Oman is a country overflowing with caves of all shapes, sizes and topography. Although they also tend to vary in terms of accessibility (some are destined to only ever been seen by those experience few with specialist training and equipment), many are reachable by amateurs, and lie in wait to be discovered and explored by you.
5. Oman – and more specifically, Muscat – is a rising star on the luxury golf scene currently exploding in the Middle East. Three sophisticated 18 hole courses lie within easy reach of one another, and are staffed by highly qualified instructors happy to cater to all levels of ability.
6. Salalah, the vibrant capital of the Dhofar region, is an Arabic city with a curiously African personality. With stretches of white sandy beaches fringed by coconut trees and misty, tropical banana and papaya plantations, it makes for a colourful visit and an abrupt but exciting change from the dry, dusty landscapes that make up the majority of the country.
7. The crystal blue waters and vibrant marine life of Oman make it an exceedingly popular diving and snorkelling destination; if you fancy being spoilt for underwater choice, head to the capital of Muscat, which boasts a plethora of different diving areas, each with their own uniquely diverse environments.
8. Towering over a significant portion of the country, the mountains ranges of Oman are diverse, rugged, and often studded with a beautiful variety of flora and fauna. Reaching skywards in all corners of the country, any climb will be rewarded with spectacular views that ranges from the coastal to the mountainous, to the ethereal beauty of the wide open desert.
9. Each year, thousands of sea turtles migrate from the Arabian Gulf to the shores of Oman, where five of the seven species in existence can be spotted. Watch at night as they drag themselves from the shallows to dig a hole in the sand to bury their eggs, before once again making a dash for the safety of the sea.
10. Musandam Fjords – The achingly picturesque fjords of the Musandam peninsula can be explored at your leisure by dhow or traditional Omani boat. With the majestic mountains rising behind the tranquil crystalline waters, the scenery you will encounter on these excursions is truly awe-inspiring.
Top 10 Family Experiences
1. An innovative, exciting and relatively new water sport, kite surfing opportunities are developing fast in Oman, and make an action-packed day out for the all the families – especially those with slightly older kids keen for a challenge!
2. Take a family cruise through the azure waters of Oman and admire its beaches, cities and seascapes by boat.
3. With its diverse galleries, museums and entertainments, bustling souks and beautiful port, Muscat is a city with something to offer all the family. Take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around the city to pick and choose your favourite destinations!
4. Enjoy some of Oman’s most beautiful beaches in the Sharqiya region, where wadis, turtle nesting sites and tumbling dunes all abound. The stunning coastal roads are ideal for family drives, or perhaps the first instalment of a truly spectacular camping trip!
5. The rocky Omani mountains are home to several designated climbing area which make ideal days out for the intrepid family; with paved paths for beginners and more rugged tracks for the more experienced climber, there will be something to suit every age and skill level among the diverse terrain.
6. Venture off-road in a four-wheel drive and explore the endless contrasts of Oman’s landscapes, from its sweeping desert sands and valleys to its shallow waters and mountain terrain.
7. Take diving and snorkelling lessons together in the impossibly warm, clear waters of Muscat, where a marine life bursting with colour and diverse sea life lies just below the glassy surface, waiting to be explored.
8. Known as the majestic ‘ships of the desert’, camels are as much a part of the fabric of Omani life as the ethereal sandy dunes and stately mosques. Camel racing is an authentic Arab sport that can be viewed at purpose built race tracks in many regions – the atmosphere is often electric, and the spectacle an unforgettable experience!
9. The Al Saleel Nature Park is located in wilayat Al Kamil W’al Wafi – it sprawls majestically across 220 square kilometres of what is primarily acacia tree forests, and is home to a number of rare species including the Arabian gazelle, the Omani wild cat and the Egyptian Eagle!
10. Horses are held in high esteem by the Omani’s, and the country has been renowned for breeding, raising and racing horses since ancient times. Horse racing is still a favourite past time in Oman, and stables offering lessons for riders of all abilities are not hard to come by.
Top 10 Honeymoon Experiences
1. Once already immersed in a land of spectacular scenery and hospitable people, absorb the beauty of Oman further by rejuvenating your minds and bodies at one of the many spas throughout the country offering a relaxing range of massages and luxury treatments.
2. Nestled two thousand metres above the ground in the Hajar Mountains, and overlooking a remarkable gorge with rosebushes cascading down the mountainside towards it, the Alila Jabal Akhdar is the perfect mountain hideaway for newlyweds. Relax and unwind with a bottle of champagne on the famous rose terraces (which are as romantic as they sound) as you overlook a truly unbeatable view.
3. Stroll hand in hand through the endearing chaos and warmth of Oman’s traditional Arab souks (markets) which zigzag through the streets of its various towns and cities; peruse everything, from handicrafts and frankincense to precious metals and the occasional camel or goat!
4. The ancient city of Sur is said to be the most easterly city in all of Arabia, and therefore the first to witness the sunrise in this mystical part of the world. Perhaps because of this - or maybe because of the sweeping white beaches, beautiful corniche or the slowly floating dhows - an inescapable air of romance pervades the streets of the city, making it an ideal destination for lovelorn honeymooners.
5. The Al-Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve comprises nine islands and lies marooned about 18 kilometres off the coast of Barka. With pristine white beaches that are lapped by crystalline waters and home to a number of sea turtles and beautiful indigenous birds, the reserve has been recognised internationally as it is located within the Great Barrier Reef project, and boasts the accolade of the Sea of Oman’s most beautiful diving and snorkelling location.
6. Jabal Shams translates as ‘Sun Mountain’ because, as the highest peak in the Arabian peninsula, it is the first place to greet the rising sunlight at dawn and the last place it sets on at dusk. Scale its heights together to watch the sun rise or set, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views over the ‘An Nakhr Balcony’, a ravine that cuts deep into the heart of the rocks and is one of Oman’s most dramatic sights.
7. Embrace the eerie beauty of the Arabian desert and sleep under the stars at the Desert Nights Camp situated on Wahiba Sands, 250 kilometres south of Muscat. The remote location will not diminish your comfort, with luxurious tents equipped with air conditioning, en suite showers and a mini fridge, while the activities on offer include camel riding, dune bashing and quad biking.
8. Oman’s stately castles are both stunning landmarks and the majestic relics of its rich history. Mainly clustered in the northern region of the country, stroll through the ancient fortifications and scale the dizzying heights of ruins that are steeped in Arabian legend and romance.
9. The Akhwar (or Beach Lagoons) are scattered along the coast of Oman, stretching from the top of the northern mountains through to the southernmost Dhofar coasts. Mostly formed at the estuary of large valleys, their sapphire blue waters intersected by proud rocky mountains and formations are magnificently serene and quietly beautiful.
10. The beaches of Oman are as varied as its topography, with stretches of pristine white sand, dramatic rocky coastlines, remote islands and secluded fishing coves all encompassed along its shores. Whether you’re looking for seclusion and privacy or the comfort of a luxury resort on your honeymoon, you are sure to find it somewhere along a diverse coastlines where the only constant is its beauty.
Culture in Oman
Although Oman is a modern country, western influence remains restricted, and much of its culture is dictated by the traditions and teachings of Islam. Traditional clothing consisting of an ankle-length collarless robe (called a dishadasha) with a hanging tassle is worn by most men, while the women wear a hijab and abaya. Hospitality is also a key cornerstone of Omani culture, and you are likely to be met with warmth and friendliness by the local people.