For many, Oman is an unknown quantity.
Located in the Middle East – bordering the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – with gorgeous shorelines provided thanks to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea, it’s not a destination that often registers on travellers’ bucket-lists.
Oman should, however, be top of your list!
This diverse country is quietly unassuming – its people humble and open. Oman offers travellers so much and though some are starting to cotton on, it’s not too late to visit before mass tourism discovers this fantastic part of the Middle East.
Incredibly safe and drivable, it’s a place you really should visit.
1. The Omanis
Sometimes you visit a country where the people just blow you away. Oman is one of them! The Omanis are warm, hospitable and friendly – they really do an amazing job of representing their country.
From the second you cross into Oman, you’ll be struck by just how welcoming the locals are. The country itself is stunning but even if it wasn’t, Oman would be worth visiting for the people alone.
2. Beautiful Mosques and Cultural Treasures
Regardless of your beliefs, there is no denying that the mosques found in Omani are absolutely gorgeous. As long as you’re respectfully dressed and there outside of the main days/times of worship, you’ll be welcomed into their mosques with open arms… and if you think they’re beautiful on the outside, wait until you see them inside!
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque are our top picks in Muscat and Sultan Qaboos Mosque Sohar is well worth a visit if you’re further up North.
Whilst you’re in Muscat, Oman’s capital city, make time to stop in at the traditional souq to pick up some local trinkets. Even if you’re not one for souvenirs, it’s well worth a visit.
3. Diverse Landscapes
With over 1,700 kilometres of coastline, it’s unsurprising that Oman has so many memorable beaches.
Our favourite stretch of coastline is found on the East coast from Dibab to Tiwi. With white sand and pebbles as far as the eye can see, sheltered bays and azure water, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived on a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean.
Alternatively, from Muscat, hire a car and drive around to the Shangri-La – only 20 minutes from the city, you’ll find yourself in Barr Al Jissah looking down at the most gorgeous beaches, nestled in between sheer rock-faces, looking out to the Al Hajar Mountains. The resort itself, made up of three hotels, is the pinnacle of luxury and a destination in itself!
Oman’s landscape is dominated by rugged mountains, the most impressive of which is Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun). At 3009m, this area is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Arabia thanks to the steep canyons formed by Wadi Ghul – some are over 1000m deep.
Wadi’s are found throughout Oman. The word has it’s origins in the Arabic and Hebrew languages and means ‘valley’ in English. Wadis vary from dry riverbeds to those with gorgeous green-tinged water flowing through them. Regardless, they are well worth your time.
Wadi Shab is our favourite – after hopping on a small boat to cross the widest part of the river, you’ll walk for approximately 45 minutes up the riverbed before wading into the river and swimming the last 15 minutes to a little waterfall inside the cave found at the end of the wadi. Amazing!
Oman is home to five of the seven different species of turtles, many of which frequently migrate across hundreds of kilometres to Oman’s beaches to lay their eggs. These waters provide sanctuary to the common Green Turtle along with the Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles. Though there are multiple spots throughout the country where you might spot them, your best chances are at the Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve.
The gentle giant of the seas, whale sharks pass through Omani waters in greatest numbers in September and October. As the largest fish in the ocean, they are filter feeders harmless to people. At up to 10 metres long, they can be of similar length to a bus!
Is there an animal more synonymous with the Middle East than the camel? Oman has them in droves so you’ll have no problem snapping a camel selfie should you feel that way inclined. Without doubt, they’re my favourite of all the local animals.
5. Beautiful Weather
Depending on where you live in the world, you’re unlikely to experience weather as consistent as Oman receives. Though it does cool down in winter and they experience some rain, showers are relatively limited and for much of the year the weather is fairly predictable.
Of course, summer in the Middle East does get remarkably hot so for this reason, we’d recommend visiting outside of the hottest months of May to October.
Oman is absolutely fabulous and I feel a little like we’re letting the cat out of the bag with this one. A country as unique as this, with people as fantastic as this, doesn’t deserve to be hidden away though.
It was hard limiting this post to five reasons too – food, safety, great driving – this country offers so much. If there’s one Middle Eastern country you add to your travel plans (and you should), make it Oman and make it soon.
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