My visit to Oman at the end of September was filled with incredible experiences. From the desert dunes to shopping in the souks, there was so much on offer!
It was the perfect time to visit too, as the hot summer months have come to an end - September and October are still warm, making it ideal for outdoor activities, but much cooler and more manageable for summer months. The summer months also see certain shops and attractions close due to religious holidays, but by travelling in Autumn I had everything available to me!
This extraordinary journey encapsulated some of the best experiences that this "Jewel of Arabia" has to offer, but these were my top five that I couldn't recommend more.
Encounter Dolphins on a Magical Boat Tour
I have to start with one of the most unforgettable experiences of the trip, which was our Dolphin Boat Tour along the Muscat coastline. As we hopped on board, I wondered if we would be lucky enough to see these magical creatures, and before long, I had my answer!
After zipping through the water for less than 15 minutes, the boat engine was slowed, and in the distance, we started to see a pod of dolphins breaking the water - just three or four at first. Everyone on board was so excited to see them!
A few moments later, more appeared, and this time they had a little more confidence, swimming closer and closer to our boat. Our expert tour guides explained that the dolphins we were seeing were Spinner Dolphins, and as if on cue we saw why, as they produced an acrobatic display of spins, twists and jumps through the air!
We continued to sail slowly through the water, and soon found ourselves alongside a local fishing boat - but we weren't the only ones. Around 20 or 30 dolphins were arching and breaking through the waves, allowing us to see them up close again! The guides told us that we are extremely likely to see these dolphins because of the seasonal cold-water currents that keep the sea full of life.
Our tour then continued along the stunning coastline to a more sheltered cove of crystal-clear water, perfect for snorkelling, where I was lucky enough to experience a real bucket-list moment - I finally got to swim with a turtle.
Finally, we continued our sailing, through a natural rock arch in the cove, past historical forts and watchtowers, to see the village of Qantab, the home of our tour guides, who shared their local history with us. This was a wonderful and personal way to feel connected to this stunning coastal region before heading back to our luxurious hotel.
Adventure to the Heart of the Sand Lands
If you travel just two hours from Muscat, you'll find yourself amidst the awe-inspiring dunes of the Wahiba Sands, a vast desert in the heart of Oman.
This is exactly what we did during our trip, and the excitement began the moment we left the road and began racing over dry and rugged land in our 4x4 vehicles to the gateway of the desert nights camp. Here, we swapped the air conditioning of the 4x4 vehicles for the heat and rawness of quad bikes, as we set off on an exhilarating adventure across the sands. We encountered a variety of dunes, from small mounds to towering peaks, which were both a challenge and a thrill to navigate!
We returned to camp for a sumptuous lunch before setting out for more exhilaration on a dune-bashing experience. As we climbed higher and higher in the specialised 4x4 vehicles, we were rewarded with spectacular desert views as the golden sands rippled in all directions and the vastness of the desert became truly palpable. From this high, we came back down to earth with a whoosh on a roller-coaster-like experience through the sand, which had us laughing and shouting with excitement.
For those who love a little bit of adventure, this is an experience I would definitely recommend!
Wonder at the Architecture of Old Muscat and Shop the Souk
No visit to Muscat is complete without seeing the magnificent architectural and cultural treasures of the city. One of the most magnificent sites is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, with its exquisite marble and sandstone structure that gleams relentlessly in the Omani sunlight. Another must-see is the Al-Alam Palace, the ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman. Its distinctive blue and gold facade contrasts wildly with the simplicity of the white-washed buildings nearby and was beautiful to see.
Don't forget to visit The Mutrah Souk too! This vibrant and bustling marketplace feels like the heart and soul of the city and offers a sensory feast of sights, sounds and aromas. Stalls are adorned with colourful displays of fabrics, jewellery, spices, ornaments and traditional crafts, enticing passersby. It's the perfect place to meander through the alleyways to pick out authentic and locally made souvenirs and gifts, to forever remind you of your Omani travels.
Relax on the Beaches of Salalah
We flew 90 minutes Southwest of Muscat to arrive in Salalah, a captivating region, well-known for its beautiful landscapes and sub-tropical climate. The beaches here are characterised by pristine white sands, azure waters and luscious palm trees, the quintessential ingredients of a tropical beach retreat!
After making the easy transfer from Muscat to Salalah with Oman Air, we arrived at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara
, a sophisticated and serene retreat with its own private stretch of pristine sand.
After many adventures so far, a standout moment of the trip was spending my time relaxing on the shoreline, enjoying a bottle of champagne on a private cabana as the waves from the ocean met the land. I also took a moment to walk barefoot along the beach, relishing the feeling of the soft white sand between my toes, before heading back to the resort for more relaxation. The world seems to slow here, although there is plenty of local activity to watch while you relax, from traditional camel treks to horse riding along the sands.
Prioritise Your Wellness
With rugged mountains, pristine beaches, and expansive deserts, the natural beauty of Oman provides the perfect backdrop for spa and wellness treatments.
My first experience of this world of wellness was at The Chedi Muscat
, where shortly after my arrival I was treated to a relaxing shoulder massage - the perfect way to recover after a long journey!
The spa here truly embraces the Eastern philosophy, reflected in everything from the treatments on offer to the décor of the treatment rooms. The following day, I was treated to even more indulgence at The Chedi, with a Thai-style reflexology session. The talented therapist used pressure techniques to alleviate stress and restore a natural sense of balance and well-being to my body, leaving me feeling brand new.
Another incredible experience, which combined the tranquil beauty of the destination with ancient wellness practices, was sunset yoga on the beach in Salalah.
As the sun started its descent towards the horizon and the waves lapped at the shore, I was guided through a series of yoga poses, each focussing on connection with breath and the natural world around me. The gentle breeze from the ocean and muted colours of the sunset, along with the waves and wildlife nearby, fostered a true sense of harmony with nature. It was a moment that I will never forget.
Oman, with its unforgettable luxury travel experiences, truly exceeded my expectations, leaving me with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for the country. Travelling in Autumn only made each of these moments even more enjoyable.
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