Located on the coast about two hours drive southeast of Muscat, was an important trade city in ancient times as it provided a gateway to India and East Africa. It is the home of Omani dhow building. These traditional Arabic boats use a distinctive timber hull, the design of which has remained unchanged for centuries. Today, they are manufactured using the same techniques used in antiquity, with timber dowels favoured over screws and tar used to create the waterproofing on the hull. A museum tells the story of the dhow and gives visitors an insight into how they are made.
Only 30km away is the majestic Wadi Tiwi. Its colourful canyon walls reach skyward on either side of a bubbling spring which meanders down through the gorge. The ubiquitous date palm plantation runs along the banks while small villages are dotted along its length.
Rass Al Jinz Turtle Sanctuary
Further east, travellers will come to Rass Al- Hadd, the entry point for Rass Al Jinz Turtle Sanctuary. A modern, interactive visitor centre provides an educational background to one of nature’s true spectacles: the nocturnal nesting of sea turtles on a stretch of unspoiled beach. Guided tours by specially trained staff allow visitors to get up close and personal with the turtles without fear of disturbing the animals or their precious nest of eggs
Wadi Bani Khalid
Another treasure of the Ash Sharqiah region is Wadi Bani Khalid - without a doubt one of Oman’s most spectacular locations - a genuine desert oasis of green palm trees and shimmering water rising out of the landscape. Fed by a year-round spring, the waters of Wadi Bani Khalid beckon visitors with the opportunity for a swim in a surreal environment after travelling through the harsh landscape of the desert. A relaxing picnic lunch by the waters of Wadi Bani Khalid will be a highlight of most travellers’ time in Oman.
Heading inland, a more traditional Arabian landscape awaits in the form of Wahiba Sands. An adventure to the majestic Wahiba Sands will certainly be another highlight of any visit to Oman, with its vast stretches of dunes towering up to 150m high and disappearing into the horizon in every direction.
Located two and a half hours south of Muscat and an hour south-west of Sur, Wahiba Sands is a favourite four-wheel drive playground of locals and tourists alike. Surprisingly, the dunes are also home to Bedouins who brave the extreme conditions for all but the hottest parts of the year.
There are also several desert camps open to visitors. Nestled between the dunes, they range from simple Bedouin style tenting to luxurious modern accommodation. Most offer an authentic taste of the Bedouin experience combined with comfortable amenities. Access to all camps requires a four-wheel drive - there are no roads through Wahiba Sands.
Whichever camp travellers choose, few experiences can compare to the magic of watching a sunset over the towering dunes before retiring for a Bedouin feast under the cover of countless shimmering stars. Wahiba Sands is a genuine must-visit on any Oman holiday.
Further south and lying off Oman's east coast, is Mazirah Island, a booming kite-surfing and windsurfing destination which also offers opportunities for fishing, diving and turtle watching. The island was also historically used as a RAF base before it was handed over to the RAFO (Royal Air Force of Oman). This adventure playground is located a one-hour ferry ride from the coast.