The Sultanate of Oman is located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and shares a border with the United Arab Emirates. The Jewel of Arabia, it is regarded as the most traditional country in the region and has one of most dramatic landscapes, with rugged mountain ranges, vast deserts and quiet beaches with white sands that are perfect for relaxing on. With over a thousand miles of coastline, days tend to be focused on or close to the sea with excellent diving and swimming with dolphins being amongst the highlights.
Land-lovers can enjoy trekking, cave exploration and rock-climbing. Across the country’s dry and harsh terrain are pockets of lush valleys (‘wadis’) and strategically placed amidst them you’ll see ‘falaj’, a traditional method of irrigation used for agriculture. You can also see traditional Omani villages, while popular day trips from our featured hotels and resorts include visiting the cosmopolitan capital city of Muscat that blends a traditional seafaring heritage with the modern in the form of contemporary buildings including shopping malls. Or, visit one of Oman’s many palaces, forts, museums and mosques that reflect Oman’s cultural heritage as one of the oldest civilisations on the Arabian Peninsula.
Stroll the side streets and alleyways of Old Muscat, lined with little shops selling silver jewellery, embroidered fabrics and headscarves. Muscat’s Mutrah Souk is everything a souk should be – chaotic, noisy and stuffed with traditional Arabian goodies. It’s a place to browse and soak up the atmosphere, testing out your haggling skills along the way. Pick up local and Indian artefacts, antiques, textiles and beaded jewellery. And remember, getting lost is part of the fun! If this does happen, head downhill and you’ll eventually return to where you started, down by the sea.
Adventure & Sports
Near to Muscat, Bandar Khayran Reserve boasts no fewer than twenty-two dive sites, all offering a piece of underwater magic. The region is a haven for scuba-diving enthusiasts, with amazing coral reef, heaps of tropical fish and pods of delightful dolphins playing in the sea, while other popular watersports include sailing and fishing. Back on land, overnight camping trips can be booked where you sleep under desert skies in a traditional Bedouin tent. It’s an ideal way to connect with Oman, its nature and its traditions, with activities such as dune bashing, barbecues and listening to oud music (a native stringed instrument) beside a campfire, stars twinkling like diamonds high above.
Once a fabled frankincense-trading port, Muscat is an elegant, low-rise city with a unique character, bordered by jagged peaks and pristine beaches. Muscat is proud of its rich heritage yet has a forward-thinking outlook; a place where old meets new with great flair. In 2011, the opening of the Royal Opera House pinned Muscat to the cultural map and its performances feature resident and international stars. Another gem is the new National Museum, revealing cultural heritage from prehistoric periods to the present day. Not forgetting Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, adorned with lavish chandeliers and an eye-catching, hand-loomed rug that took four years to make!
This mindboggling region of rugged mountains is one of Oman’s biggest visitor attractions, site of Jebel Shams (Oman’s tallest peak), Wadi Ghul (Grand Canyon of Arabia) and Jebel Akhdar (Oman’s fruit bowl) – prized for its apricots and pomegranates. Framed by this incredible handiwork of Mother Nature are some of the country’s finest forts, mostly built around rocks that become their natural foundations. These include Bahla, a UNESCO-listed walled city crowned with a magnificent fort; Jabrin, a picture-perfect castle surrounded by high walls and date palms, featuring two inner courtyards and a labyrinth of little rooms and Nizwa Fort, an impressive example of 17th century design and the biggest fortification on the Arabian Peninsula.
Blessed with a wildly wonderful and desolate setting, the Musandam Peninsula is nicknamed the ‘Norway of Arabia’, sprinkled with rocky fjords, sleepy villages and jaw-dropping mountain roads. Location-wise, Musandam juts out into the Strait of Hormuz, detached from the rest of Oman by the UAE’s east coast. If you’re looking for somewhere completely off-radar, where you can indulge in scuba-diving, spa treatments, incredible cuisine and other exclusive activities, amid extraordinary landscapes, Musandam should be a serious contender for you.
Ras al Jinz is a notable nesting site for endangered Green Turtles and some 20,000 females lay eggs here every year. The area is officially protected, but escorted tours are available.
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.
If you’re looking for a holiday in accommodation reserved exclusively for adults, Al Husn at Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is just that, yet has a range of facilities available to access through the wider resort that features two other hotels.
To respect prayer times, alcohol is only served between the hours of 12 noon and midnight (Saturday to Thursday). On Fridays, alcohol is served from 2pm until midnight. Guests can order alcohol through room service at any time.
Also known as algae blooms, occurs in Oman, when the movement of the sea currents causes the phytoplankton to multiply rapidly, resulting in a streak of brownish red colour in the sea. As the level of plankton increases in the water, the amount of oxygen decreases sometimes causing unpleasant smells, there may be some days when it is not suitable to swim in the sea. Water excursions are not affected.
The best time to visit Oman is from October to March when nights are cool. During summer Oman can become extremely hot and it is not a pleasant temperature for sightseeing or exploring, and the south coast can experience cloud and rain. Generally, Oman is sunny year-round and rain is minimal apart from in the Jebel Akhdar Mountains and the Dhofar Hills. Coastal areas are generally warm and humid throughout the year, with slightly lower temperatures than inland. Pack light clothing for the daytime and something warm to put around you in the evenings that can be cool. When out and about exploring it is important to keep hydrated, so do keep water with you.
Selecting a suite with a private pool is the perfect way to keep cool as and when you wish and at Six Senses Zighy Bay all Villas, Villa Suites, Private Retreats and Private Reserves have their own infinity-edge pool. Or, you can always retreat to your hotel’s spas for some pampering, should it all get a little too much!
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Oman.
Oman Air direct from London Heathrow.
Via Abu Dhabi with British Airways from London Heathrow and Etihad Airways from London Heathrow and Manchester.
Via Dubai with Emirates from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow.
Via Doha with Qatar Airways from London Heathrow and Manchester.
From London Heathrow to Muscat: 7 hours, 15 minutes. London Heathrow to Dubai and Abu Dhabi: 7 hours.
London Heathrow to Doha: 6 hours, 45 minutes.
Onward connecting flight from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Muscat: 1 hour.
From Doha to Muscat: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Visas are required for entry into Oman. You should apply for an e-visa before you travel. Applications can be made online through the Royal Oman Police portal (https://evisa.rop.gov.om/). If you’re travelling as a tourist, you can apply for an unsponsored visa. For all other visas, please follow the guidance on the portal. A 30-Day visa costs OMR 20 (approximately GBP 40). NB: Visitors travelling to Six Senses Zighy Bay by road (from Dubai) will now require a border pass. By providing Six Senses Zighy Bay with your passport details (Name, Passport Number and Nationality) three days in advance of your arrival date (and with the assistance of a Six Senses Public Relations Officer at the check point), we anticipate clients of Elegant Resorts will enjoy a smooth transition from one emirate to another. For further information, please visit the website of the Oman Embassy in London or visit www.gov.uk.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.