Adventurous Luxury Getaway in Oman
There are plenty of off-the-beaten-path adventures to be had in the Middle East, from hiking the W4 Jebel Shams path to visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Here are some of my go-to experiences when in Oman!
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Where to stay in Oman
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Mountain retreat with lavish suites, stunning mountain views and a luxury spa and hammam.
Alila Jabal Akhdar
A sensational destination resort for hiking, stargazing and cultural adventures in Oman’s remote Jabal Akhdar Mountains.
The Chedi Muscat – a GHM hotel
A design trailblazer on the Gulf of Oman, home to Muscat’s largest spa, enormous pools and a distinctive, minimalist style in the oversized rooms.
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Things to do in Oman
Explore Jebel Shams
Easily accessible from the city of Nizwa, the famous balcony hike is popular, but we recommend embarking on the W4 Jebel Shams hike (for those who are a bit more active).
Although you can easily hire a guide to take you on either of these hikes, they are easy to venture out on your own! Parking is at the Jebel Shams resort and requires a four-wheel drive to access the steep mountain pass.
The trail is well marked with both green dots and red, white and yellow-painted flags, making it extremely difficult to get lost. In total, you will cover 1,000m of elevation gain. The summit is nearly 29,527 ft. above sea level, making the weather in the mountains significantly more tolerable than on the humid coast. The terrain itself is mostly rocky but steady and not very demanding. For those that want to do the full W4 hike, note the last two miles along the plateau don’t really add a ton to the view, so you can save some valuable time turning around at the first summit.
Separately, if you have extra time in Nizwa you can explore the Nizwa fort, the oldest in Oman, just outside of town. The fort hosts performances with live Omani music, dancing and singing in the courtyard during the weekend (Sat to Thu, 8 am to 4pm and Fri, 8am to 11am only).
Rock climbing in Jabal Akhdar
(Note: You’ll need a 4x4 to enter this area. I say this not because of the road conditions, but because it is a steep climb through multiple switchbacks and there is a police checkpoint at the base that was only allowing 4x4 vehicles up the road).
Both hotels have daily climbing excursions along their private via ferratas. Beginners are welcome, and if you have some experience and ambition, we’d suggest booking this at the Alila, which is a bit longer, with a few challenging exposed sections and an option to take a completely vertical “Extreme Route.”
Hike & explore the lost village
Most hikes in the area head down into the canyon and then ascend higher on the way out. If you choose only one hike, we'd recommend the Lost Village which is a 5-minute drive from Alila. The trail is well maintained and includes a few scrambling sections. This hike will treat you to an unbelievable trio of secluded pools if you venture a bit farther than the abandoned village, allowing you to cool off before turning around and making your way back.
Visit the largest mosque in Muscat
In the capital city of Muscat, visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and be sure to arrive early as tourist visiting hours are only in the mornings until 11am. It houses the largest chandelier in the world spanning 13 ft. holding around six hundred thousand Swarovski crystals and weighs an impressive 18,739 pounds! **strict dress code is enforced.
Experience the true Arabian culture
If you have more than a few days in the capital city, plan a visit to the old quarter in Old Muscat City, Muscat's 500-year-old city along the coast. Visit Mutrah Souk, one of the oldest Arabian markets in the world.
Relax by the beachside
The Chedi Muscat is for anyone who wants somewhere serene and it definitely deserves its spot as a leading hotel in the world. The property was impeccable, with hundreds of palm trees throughout, including a private beach and stand-alone villas and we really didn’t see many children at all. Amongst its property, you would never guess you are in the middle of a city.
Kempinski is a newly built hotel located alongside an impressively landscaped marina with yachts, private townhomes and villas. There is a complimentary happy hour at 6 pm that served guests cocktails, sparkling wine and canapés and a performance by a live musician. There’s an infinity pool, a private beach with water activities and a few different dining options.
If you have the luxury of time we highly recommend checking out one of the following properties down the coast along the Gulf of Oman.
Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat
Jumeriah Muscat Bay
St Regis Al Mouj Muscat Resort (coming soon!)
Explore the Bimmah Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole is just one and a half hours from Muscat and 55-minutes from the town of Sur — it's a natural pool amongst limestone where you can swim in crystal blue water. The sinkhole ranges in depth from only a few feet to over 300 feet in the deepest parts and if you are a thrill-seeker, you can also embark on its cliff jump!
Wadi Shab — Wadi translates to "canyon" and Oman is home to dozens that are filled with mesmerizing crystal blue water. The most popular is certainly Wadi Shab, which requires a short boat ride for one Omani Rial (~ $2.80 USD) and an easy 45-minute hike to reach its base.
Paraglide into a luxury resort
This hotel is an attraction in itself and worth the drive from its neighboring country UAE.
Best described as a luxurious Robinson Crusoe-style resort with stone and wooden structures along interweaving sand-laden alleys connecting the villas. Six Senses Zighy Bay's unique surroundings allow you to be in the mountains, but also at the beach and it's also the only resort that can arrange a paraglide arrival!
Each villa is almost 900sq ft, come with your own pool and outdoor lounge area as well as a general experience manager. There are also some larger villas with multiple bedrooms that look pretty amazing for any family or friends traveling together. There are two resort pools, two separate beach areas with loungers, free water activities and tons of excursions you can book. In essence, it’s the ultimate, off-the-beaten-path barefoot paradise!
Do not miss a showboat cruise bookable through the hotel and dinner at the resort's fine dining restaurant, Senes on the edge.
Places to eat & drink in Oman
The best restaurants in Oman happen to be inside the best hotels, which makes your commute home from dinner that much easier.
Bella Vista: Cliffside dining, contemporary Mediterranean cuisine at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Al Qalaa: Middle eastern dining in a Fort at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Dining by Design: Tailor-made private dining experiences at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Zale: A sophisticated shorefront hotspot that turns into a lounge late at night at the Kempinski Mușcat.
The Beach Restaurant: Fine dining on the beach at the Chedi Muscat.
The Pavilion: Fresh seafood and excellent outdoor dining views at the Ritz Carlton.
Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar: A sophisticated rooftop restaurant, lounge and pool bar, overlooking the coastline of Shatti Al Qurum at the W Muscat.
Sense on the Edge: 5-course tasting menu served 293 meters above the sea at the Six Senses Zighy Bay.
Day trips in Oman
Stopping by Dubai / Abu Dhabi
Visit the Burj Khalifa, the highest tower in the world, and stroll around Palm Island, a modern wonder of the world in Dubai.
Kayak around the architecturally stunning Louvre Art Gallery and watch the sunset over the majestic Sultan Grand Mosque in the city center of Abu Dhabi.
If you're up for an adventure, add dune bashing through the desert, easily accessible from Oman, Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Spend the night with magic camps - luxury tented camps in the desert of Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Need to Know
It’s important to know that Zighy Bay is not directly connected with mainland Oman and most people transit from Dubai (about a 2-hour drive).
Oman (and specifically Muscat) is easily reached via hour-long flights from Doha, Dubai or Abu Dhabi. You can also access it by driving from the UAE, and we had the best experience with the company daytrip which organized our transfers in lux oversized SUVs.
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