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The Hidden-Gem of the Middle-East 🇴🇲

When we think of travelling to the Middle East, the most obvious option that comes to mind is the UAE. However, nestled on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula lies a gem that remains largely undiscovered by the global traveller- Oman

Just a quick E-visa, a 3-hour flight and I was ready to explore- Yes! That’s how simple it is. Now one would expect Oman to be comprised of dry deserts with nothing much to do but in reality, it’s full of stunning landscapes, rich culture,  lush nature, beautiful waterfalls, and unique attractions that will amaze you.

1. Crystal Clear Waters for the Swim Babies with the magical bioluminescence

Oman’s nature is resounding with diverse landscapes that are nothing short of spectacular. On my first day in Oman, I found myself at a pristine empty beach in the Damaniyat Islands where I was snorkelling in crystal clear waters and saying hi to turtles and baby sharks.

For my birthday, I also camped on one of the islands at Bandar Khayran and was mesmerized by the bioluminescence lighting up the shore.

You can even kayak to these deserted islands, making it one of the most adventurous and offbeat experiences in Oman. It was truly memorable! A suggestion- February to March is bioluminescence season in Oman.

2. Secret Sulphur Pools with Healing Properties

Now this took me by utter surprise as I had never witnessed colours so beautiful. The extremely unique colour of the water is the first thing that strikes you – and this electric greenish blue is apparently due to the naturally high sulphur content of the water which could be coming from the rocks in this particular area.

A swim here can help you heal skin conditions and joint/ muscle pains. Contact @mohammed_alhadi87 when you’re in Oman and he’ll bring you out here or help you get a guide who can take you to this pristine location.

2. Wadi Rum

What if I told you that you could experience Mars on Earth? That’s Wadi Rum in a few words! The red sand, red sandstone, and natural bridges will make you question reality.

I explored this endless desert oasis on a thrilling jeep safari ride, and it was surreal. Movies like The Martian and John Wick were shot here—crazy, right?

Humans arrived at this place about 12,000 years ago, and you can still find carvings and inscriptions from back then. The rock formations here are the result of millions of years of geological evolution. Waking up at 5 AM for a sunrise here is an absolute must! The sky here is breathtaking as there’s no light pollution, just you and the endless sky over the endless desert oasis.

3. The Real Hidden Gem- Salalah!

Salalah is the REAL hidden gem – white sand beaches, electric blue waterfalls, and the best vibes in Oman. Salalah, is a two-hour flight from Oman’s capital city Muscat, however, you can even take a bus or drive here which would approximately take you 11 hours.

I swam in the most pristine waterfalls in Wadi Darbat (I mean I could compare Salalah’s natural beauty to the country of waterfalls- the Philippines!). We then hiked to the highest point in Salalah called Jabal Samhan and the views from here were breathtaking.

Another must-add to your Oman checklist is Fazaia Beach in Salalah- this was one the most beautiful views I have ever witnessed, the pristine beach on one side, majestic mountains in the periphery and shockingly, flamingos surrounding us!

Salalah is truly a slice of tropic in the deserts of Oman. Of course, there’s other SUPER amazing islands and beautiful wadis, canyons, etc. but Salalah is just 🤯

I am so thankful for @salalah_adventure_tours for helping me explore this beautiful place! I got to see the secret spots and enjoy the locations like a local. Make sure to book with them, highly recommended!

Practical Information-

Reaching Oman: Oman has three major airports in Muscat, Salalah and Al Khasab. There are many direct flights from India to Oman’s capital city, Muscat. These usually take around 3-5 hours depending on the destination you are travelling from.

E-Visa for Indians: Oman does not have a Visa On Arrival for Indians, however, you can apply for an E-visa online which usually takes a maximum processing time of 5-7 business days. The visa for Oman currently costs approximately 50 US$

Best time to visit: The best time to visit is between October and Apri. It is the sweet spot with fewer crowds & pleasant weather; perfect for exploring diverse landscapes

4. Unique Culinary Delights!

Omani cuisine is a delightful fusion of Arabian, Indian, and East African influences. Traditional dishes like Shuwa (slow-cooked marinated lamb), Majboos (spiced rice with meat), and Mashuai (spit-roasted kingfish) offer a tantalizing taste of the country’s culinary heritage.

For vegetarians like me, Muscat has tons of Indian restaurants offering tasty vegetarian food. The adventurous foodies can explore the local markets in Nizwa and Salalah to savour the unique flavours.

5. Oman’s Rich Culture!

To best experience Oman’s vibrant culture, you must visit the Friday Nizwa bidding market, where locals come together to trade livestock, produce, and traditional crafts. In this market, Goats and calves are paraded around a central platform as buyers call out their bids until a deal is decided.

6. Discover the breathtaking Wadi’s in Oman!

Oman is full of the most beautiful Wadis, canyon-like structures that have water flowing through them. The most popular one is Wadi Shab – which is honestly amazing!

You’ve also got to check out Wadi Ghul, known as the Grand Canyon of Oman because of its incredible size. It’s the deepest canyon in the Middle East and the second deepest in the world after Arizona’s Grand Canyon. You can drive up from the base to the top or vice versa. Trust me, your trip to Oman won’t be complete without seeing Wadi Ghul.

And,  if you go with @mohammed_alhadi87 he’ll show you the hidden wadis near Muscat! You can swim, kayak, paddle & cliff jump – honestly, these are the places I feel one with nature, they help my mind slow down, I guess that’s what they call meditation. Just to be truly present!

4. Wadi Hatta:

Wadi Hatta is a hidden gem nestled within the rugged landscapes of Jordan. This was one of my favorites—few tourists and pristine landscapes.

The rugged terrains and clear streams flowing through them are unlike anything I’d seen before. It’s perfect for nature lovers, geography nerds, and adventure seekers.

The huge rocks make it ideal for rock climbing. Take a leisurely hike along the trails, admire the stunning scenery, and perhaps take a refreshing dip in the cool waters. Wadi Hatta offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

If there’s one country you’re planning to visit in 2024, this has to be it! Even though this middle-eastern country is known to be a hot desert it lies at the edge, giving it a vast coastline with truly beautiful beaches and islands, especially around Muscat!

Oman’s magic is in its mix of vibrant culture, deep heritage, and stunning landscapes. You can feel the history in bustling markets and ancient forts, while the rugged mountains and serene beaches offer a breathtaking backdrop. Oman’s beauty and charm are unforgettable, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.

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