Travel Writing

Why Oman is the secret Arabian gem you must discover

Why Oman should top your bucket list as the perfect year-round destination for a fabulous holiday

Oman brings in whispers from the desert, in a multitude of fabulous experiences

The desert sultanate of Oman is the most beautiful country in the Middle East. Dramatically diverse, it infuses sheer awe: you can experience snowfall in the peak of winter in the Jebel Akhdar mountains, course through the unending green of Salalah in the Dhofar region during the monsoon, snorkel, and dive with the jaw-dropping marine life in the Daymaniyat archipelago in the jewelled blue of the Gulf of Oman, or enjoy kayaking in Hinu Bay licked by the Arabian Sea. There is something for everyone in Oman; from adventure kicks to a breath-taking natural narrative to luxury wellness to a sensorial sojourn.

Whether you are planning a girlfriend getaway (Oman is one of the safest countries in the world for women), a multi-generational adventure with your family, or simply choosing an attractive holiday destination, Oman woos as an Insta catnip, and a year-round darling destination through the summer and winter. Word of caution – you need at least a fortnight to experience the best of Oman.

Into the blue

Looking for a coral calypso? Dive into the quiet cluster of nine Ad Daymaniyat islands – a nature reserve – with their sugar-white sands and stunning shades of azure. Snorkel with the turtles, spot colourful shoals of red-tailed butterfly fish, tuna and marlin, and camp on the secluded beaches when the birds are not nesting. You need to speedboat 40 km west of Muscat into the jewelled blue of the Gulf of Oman.

If an urban spurt is more up your alley, head to the private breach at Jumeirah Muscat Bay. The property is knitted to a helipad, and two fishing villages for serving up the famed, fresh catch every day. Stay at Alila Hinu Bay for a superstar experience that involves dips into the lagoon and kayaking across to spot the flamingos, gliding into yoga asanas by the surging sea. For the oasis experience, drive down to Wadi Darbat to drink in the emerald views. Waterfalls gurgle here throughout the year (believe it or not, in the middle of the desert!), amidst the thickly carpeted mountains that stay green until the end of the monsoon.

Connect with nature

Become one with the might of the mountains. The sullen, brown Jebel Akhdar Mountain range stands at 3,000 metres above mean sea level, bringing in craggy rocks, treasured hiking trails and the challenge-laced Via Ferrata mountain climbing experience across three levels.

Stay at the superb high-altitude luxury property at Alila Jabal Akhdar to sign up for the formidable Ferrata, embark upon butterfly walks, and guided expeditions through the narrow, cobbled maze of pathways through the lost villages. Pluck pomegranates and apricots off the trees in the terraced fields. For revelling in the legendary rose bounty, visit Oman in spring, when the roses are harvested for ittar-making (visit the haute Amouage fragrance production facility for more olfactory sniffs) and marinades.

Did we mention the splendid star carousel at night? The spa kitchen specials where you can make your own face mists, foraging in the organic gardens to curate your own breakfast, farming the honeybees, swirling sundowners, and swimming in the infinity pools by Omani moonlight?

Sands of time

Go beyond the baobabs, spot the donkeys, goats and camels trundling along the dusty roads, and make your way to the desertscape in Oman. Do the dunes at leisure at Wahiba Sands as you walk into the sunset, or catch the slow, dramatic rising of the orb above the sands at the crack of dawn. Dune bashing, ATV rides, camel trots, belly dancing and bonfires under the star-spangled skies allow you to taste the Bedouin nomadic life.

Make time to visit the Al Baleed UNESCO Heritage site – the museum catalogues the dramatic journey of the locally-grown frankincense, between the mountains and the sea, and linking the peaks to the desert, right up to Rome. Stargazing fulfils you in many ways; enjoy a quiet, deepening night under the twinkling constellations and glamp in the dunes. The urge to bottle up a slice of the clear sky and the clean air and bring it back home is simply unbeatable.

Shilpi Madan for

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