Central Coastal Oman
- - A desert island experience awaits on this haven for turtles and other wildlife.
- - Massive rolling dunes as far as the eye can see.
Bimmah SinkholeA deep sinkhole about 0.5 km inland from the coast, filled with blue-green brackish water. The locals say that a meteor fell on this spot of land, resulting in the natural depression and forming a small lake. The sinkhole is within in a walled park, with picnic and toilet facilities. Swimming is permitted. The sinkhole is connected to several cave networks, as yet not fully explored.
phone: +968 9655 0606This area is a critical nesting beach for the endangered green turtle, and is under the protection of the Ministry of Environment. The only way to visit is with an escort, and groups are limited to 15 people. September to November is the best time to witness both egg laying and turtle hatching.
Ancient City of QalhatOnce an important port on the route between East Africa and Asia, ancient Qalhat is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sadly, nowadays little is left of the city that greatly impressed the 14th century Moroccan traveller and scholar Ibn Battuta.
Wadi Bani Khalid
- Head south of Ibra on Highway 23, and turn at the for 'A'Rumail' and 'Wadi Bani Khalid'.
- Turn left at the village of . Follow the main paved road for 6.5 km to a car park. A short distance beyond this is a large natural , perfect for swimming.
- The trekking path E35 begins on the right side of the pool; this is a challenging 2-day trek across the mountains to Wadi Tiwi on the coast. A 20-minute walk along this path passes along smaller pools and eventually brings you to (Muqal Cave), marked by a set of concrete steps. A headlight or torch is required here.
- Turning right, rather than left, at Mizayra will bring you to the village of with some seasonal waterfalls. A 4-hour trekking path toward the village of Sayq begins here.
Wadi Ash ShabOne of the most beautiful – and popular – wadis easily accessible from Muscat, with water year-round. The entrance is underneath the Highway 17 overpass, with ample parking and toilet facilities available. The path begins on the opposite side of the waterway, and local boatmen charge RO 1 to ferry visitors across (return trip). The partly concreted path winds past a falaj (irrigation) system, palm plantations and villages, and steep rock faces. Eventually the concrete disappears and it is necessary to do some scrambling before emerging to a series of inviting water pools. A hidden cavern can be visited by swimming through the pools, accessible only by swimming underwater for 1-2 metres. Plan on three hours for the round trip.
Occasionally after winter rains the pathway will be washed out in sections and therefore trickier to follow. Also, it is strongly advised to wear modest swimwear (and do not change into it in the open!) While Omanis may be too polite to say anything to visitors who ignore this simple courtesy, they find it deeply offensive.
Wadi TiwiThe village of Tiwi marks the starting point of a challenging off-road drive. The beginning of the road is paved, but shortly after passing the village of Harat Bidah degrades to a dirt track before terminating at the village of Mibam.
E35 trailheadThis challenging 2-day, 28-km trail connects with Wadi Bani Khalid (described above in 'Itineraries'). There is plenty of parking at the trailhead.
Wadi Al ArbaeenThis wadi is really worth a visit to take a dip in fresh water pools. It still looks wild and untouched as it is less visited. It is 16 km away from the exit on the Hwy 17 (including an off-road drive of about 12 km).
Majlis al JinnThis cave has the second-largest chamber in the world, and was discovered by American hydrologists in 1983. The cave can only be accessed via free-rappelling from the roof with 200 m of rope. Plans are underway to improve public access; in the interim cavers must obtain a special government permit. Access is via a rough dirt track requiring a sturdy 4WD.
White Sand BeachGreat for snorkeling; no facilities.