I couldn’t find better way of describing it…
Oman is a gem. The country offers heavenly beaches, breathtaking landscapes (Grand Canyon at 3000 meters altitude), desert and wadis, all within reasonable driving distance.It is a safe country to travel with children.
The best way to visit Oman is to rent a 4×4 and take a road trip. The roads are new and well maintained, so the ride is very pleasant. Thanks you to our partner EUROPCAR and their vehicle, that made our stay so comfortable.
Here is our itinerary : arriving in Muscat, we have spent 2 days in the city.
BPYK OMAN TIP #1 : MUTTRAH
We started with a walk to MUTTRAH Souk, a very nice, spacious market. Traders were not too forceful (or aggressive). They let us walk around without much hassle to buy. We bought Mussars, the scarves that Omanis wear on their head. There was great selection of styles, with different patterns and colors. It was difficult to make a choice so we took our time in the shop while the children were playing with a charming cat.
BPYK OMAN TIP #2 : AL QURUM
Swimming at the beach of AL QURUM, near the shopping center Oasis By The Sea… A lovely beach lined with palm trees. There is everything you may need: pharmacy, restaurants, beauty center,…
BPYK OMAN TIP #3 : BANDAR KHAYLAN
We had a nice swim the next day in a much more discreet spot, the creek of Bandar Khaylan, 45- minutes’ drive from Muscat. This small cove is not very frequented and yet it is so beautiful. We left the car on a hilltop and enjoyed short 5 minute walk to the beach. We came across a beautiful natural pool with very shallow pristine blue water. Needless to say, kids had a lot of fun. Local villagers offer boat rides so we went for a little cruise with them. The place is surrounded by cliffs and it gave a feeling of being in a huge pool. Daddy and Dayi went for snorkelling.
BPYK OMAN TIP #4 : THE SULTAN PALACE
Despite the fact that Sultan’s Palace is not open for visits, the walk around the palace, administrative buildings, and old castles, nestled between the mountains and the sea, was quite charming. It turned into lovely afternoon, strolling around the flowery gardens surrounding government ministries. Everything is neat and clean like everywhere else in Muscat. We could see and enjoy the singing of the beautiful birds which very much resembled the birds of RIO (the animated movie). Dayi is convinced they were parrots. A real treat for the eyes!
BPYK OMAN TIP #5 : SULTAN QABOOS GRAND MOSQUE
A wonder to behold! We were amazed by this magnificent Mosque. It was sublime! Majestic ! There were beautiful flower gardens sprawling around. We enjoyed walking around the mosque’s large and airy passages. Everything was spotless clean.
BPYK OMAN TIP #6 : SUR
After Muscat, we headed in direction of port town of SUR, some 4 hours’ drive from Muscat. It was an interesting experience, walking a town’s wide beach with no person in sight during the day, that becomes filled with local families, sitting on the ledges or wandering on the beach. The children enjoyed the playground in the very late afternoon.
The next day, follow direction of the village called FINS, we arrived at the WHITE BEACH for a swim. The road took us along a coastal trail where we discovered this hidden paradise… A stretch of truly ‘white’ beach and turquoise sea. If you plan a visit, don’t forget an umbrella, sunglasses, and sunscreen … chances are you will have it to yourself as we found nobody… It was like we had our own private beach. Children had tons of fun, between swimming and making sandcastle all afternoon. A real treat for parents too – no worries about losing children between crowded beach umbrellas! They could run without running over the towel of an edgy neighbor, shouting without waking up a tourist too reddened by the sun.
I spent my time reading.
One unforgettable memory of that day – my 2 kids close to me in the water or on the beach…
The closest place to Heaven !! Me, my family, the sun and the sea …
From SUR we headed to another wonderful place – WADI SHAB. After parking our car, we crossed to the other side of the shore, 3 minutes by boat for 1 rial. It is a good twenty minutes walk so do not forget your hat, sunscreen and water since there are no shops. It was a beautiful scenery, with palm trees, and easy accessible rocks safe for children to climb on. We passed by a family with baby in a baby carrier.
Finally we arrived at a natural (salty/fresh?) pool of water. It was a lovely afternoon, the children were swimming, and jumping from the rocks. The water was not too deep, a relief for the stressed mom that I am, checking on them all the time! The enclosed space ensured that kids cannot go too far into the water (thank you mother nature)!
In the evening, we took an appointment at the Turtle observation center to see nesting sea turtles. There are two sessions, one at 4 am and another at 9pm. Of course we have opted for the 9pm session… After arriving at the observation center in RAS EL JIN, we went to the beach in groups accompanied by a guide.
It was dark and we were waiting for the signal to watch? for turtles. What a show ! We saw the nearby turtle digging a hole to lay its eggs. Children were amazed. We also saw baby turtles heading to the sea.
Truly a must-see for children, it was memorable!
The next day, we wanted to discover that coastline by day. The beach in RAS EL HADD is amazing. Miles and miles of white sand and no one on the beach as usual… There is only one hotel, the RAS EL HADD HOLIDAY.
We enjoyed the turquoise blue sea, white sand, another private beach experience! This time, we had surprise visitors sharing our paradise! Two giant turtles came to swim near us! It was wonderful! The children were not afraid and came close to them… They were really happy to see these guests!
Early Friday morning we headed to NIZWA, for early opening of the cattle market (it starts at 7.30 AM and finishes at 9.30 AM). The best place to see the true faces of Oman and it’s people, in their beautiful traditional outfits. The farmers come here to sell their cattle, cows, and goats. It is kind of an auction. The kids loved seeing all animals paraded in front of potential buyers.
BPYK OMAN TIP #7 : WADI BANI KHALID
A local family spot, where many Omani families go for the weekend. Wadi is pretty well kept and it even features life guards on site. It is spacious and well organized, so access to the water is much easier than in Wadi Shab. It has multiple places with water pools and kids enjoyed swimming. Access to the water via rocks is very easy even for children. Another truly beautiful place, with crystal clear water nested between rocks. We first swam together, and later were treated for a free ‘fish pedicure’. To my surprise, kids actually loved little tickles of the small fish nibbling on their feet.
We spent 2 nights in the hotel ORIENTAL NIGHTS REST HOUSE, a simple one star hotel, however with a service worthy of 5 stars. Mundhir, the manager is very kind and accommodating to his guest. From the hotel, we booked a trip to the desert. For 40 euros we enjoyed late afternoon ride in 4×4 in the desert. After some fun looping on the sandunes, our driver and hosts Nacer offered us refreshments of coffee, tea and dates in his camp in the desert.
Great trip for kids, they enjoyed both, the fun ride in the dunes and entertainment with Tom & Jerry on our way back!
BPYK OMAN TIP #8 : MISFAH
After Nizwa we hung out to the village of MISFAH, an adorable small mountain village in the heart of a palm grove. What a pleasure to walk along the Falaj (irrigation system), listening to the rustle of the water in the shade of palm trees. Very nice experience and An easy walk with kids.. Our children could not believe that people were still living in this lost village in the mountains. They enjoyed their time in the village.
BPYK OMAN TIP #9 : DJABEL EL SHAMS
This is the highest mountain of Oman. We spent a night at DJABEL EL SHAMS RESORT. Access to the top by 4×4 was difficult for an unexperienced driver. We were not very comfortable on the last 8 km of a rocky track. While locals would quietly go back and forth in their cars, we Europeans, when we leave our national highways, we feel like riding to the moon!
But suffering on the winding road in the end was worth it… From the top, there is a breathtaking view of a great canyon spanning in front of us. We sat and listen to the silence.
The hotel is very nice with a playground for children and swimming pool. Even though it was too cold to use the pool (10 degrees is lost due to height of the mountain), kids enjoyed the swings and the slide, and did not seem to realize they were at 3000 meters !