It’s been almost 2 years since we moved to the UAE and Oman has been on our mind for a while. So in mid Feb, when the little one had a school break, we traveled to Oman and had an amazing week long holiday. Since the little one is an early riser, our days would start early and we would wind down early. After the little one slept, the two of us would just spend the evening chilling in our room 🙂
We decided to fly to Oman rather than driving but after the trip thought we would drive there next time since the little one seemed comfortable.
We took a late flight into Muscat and picked up our rental car before heading to the hotel near the airport. A 4×4 is highly recommended if you are planning to drive around, especially to the Jebels (mountains) and in the desert.
Stay – Holiday Inn
Since we had a late night we decided to take it easy and after having breakfast, set out for a drive. We wanted to stock up on a few things so we headed to the City Centre mall and ended up spending most of our morning at Funtazmo kids play area. This play area was absolutely amazing! If you have kids and have some time to spare, this will be a fun treat for them.
We grabbed a quick lunch at the mall and headed to Bimmah sinkhole which is a water filled depression located just off the highway to Sur. There are stairs which go down to the pool. You could take a swim or like us, just sit on the rocks, dip your feet in and let the little fish nibble at your feet. 🙂
There is a nice playground on the walk from the parking to the sinkhole so we spent some time there before heading to Sur where we were planning to spend the night. The drive to Sur was beautiful! We took the scenic route along the sea.
On our way to the hotel we passed by Sunaysilah Fort. There is a light house in Sur which was recommended but we skipped it since the little one was quite tired. We had dinner at Zaki restaurant which was quite good.
Sur is quite a big town and has lots of shops and supermarkets in case you need to top up on things.
Stay – Zaki Hotel. It was nothing fancy but was quite decent and comfortable.
We had breakfast and left for Wadi Shab which was an hour and 20 minutes drive from our hotel. The parking at Wadi Shab gets full quickly so best to get there early. After parking you take a short boat ride to the other side.
The cost for the boat ride is 1 Omr, so carry some change. After the boat ride, get ready for the trek. On every blog I read, it said the trek is 40 – 45 minutes but I would say it is easily at least an hour. Another reason to start early (other than the parking) is to avoid the afternoon sun while trekking. There are numerous pools in Wadi Shab. After the trek you come to the main pool from where you can access the caves and water falls swimming through the pool. We thought it might be a bit difficult swimming to the caves with the little one so we stayed at the main pool which was a lot of fun too.
If you plan to swim to the caves and the waterfall I recommend reading up on it before you plan your trip so you are prepared and have everything you need.
We had to walk back in the afternoon sun but it wasn’t too hot.
Tip – Carry water resistant walking shoes and some snacks. Also I recommend carrying a nappy for a toddler (even if they no longer use one). We put one on our little one on the way back from the Wadi since we didn’t see a toilet anywhere!
After a lovely morning in Wadi Shab, we headed for our dessert camp pick up. We chose to drive our car through the desert and along with a couple of other travelers, followed our camp organiser’s car. The drive through the desert was really exciting!
On arrival we were served some delicious coffee and dates. The dates were served with tahini – tasted fantastic!
We spent some time at the camp site. This was the first time the three of us had stayed in a tent together and it was one of the best experiences of our trip.
Around sunset we went for a walk in the desert and watched the sunset over the dunes before heading back to the camp for a camp fire.
At the camp fire we were served some lovely tea (an herbal infusion) as we watched the food being cooked on the fire.
After dinner we went back to our tent. Once the little one was asleep, we sat outside the tent watching the night sky full of stars. The sky was so clear, we could even see the milky way!
Stay – Al Sarmadi camp. We came across quite a few desert camp options online and decided to go with this one. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the hospitality. The accommodation is excellent and so was the food. Our little one had a wonderful time and didn’t want to leave! I highly recommend this one.
We woke up early and watched the sunrise over the dunes in the chilly morning. After freshening up, we had a wonderful breakfast at the camp and headed back to the pick-up point to get our tires re-inflated after the desert drive. Then it was off to Wadi Bani Khalid, which was around an hour and 15 minutes away. There was enough parking available and after about a 5-10 minute walk, we reached the stunning oasis in the middle of the desert. This beautiful wadi has emerald green pools and is surrounded by date palms.
There are bridges built over the pools to cross over and if you are up for it, you can hike a little further where there are some more pools.
We went to the wadi on a Sunday and it was pretty busy so on Fridays and Saturdays, it must get very crowded. The wadi had a restaurant too which serves a lunch buffet as well. We didn’t eat anything at the restaurant so cannot comment on the food. We did however grab some coffee and sat on a rock under a tree with our feet dipped in the pool. It was lovely!
After a relaxed afternoon at the wadi we headed on to Nizwa. On the way we took a detour and went to the old town of Ibra. We reached Ibra in the afternoon and found the souk shops were closed so we went to the ruins and wandered around for a while. The little one enjoyed exploring the place with us. There were no other tourists here and it was wonderful to explore the ruins alone.
I had read there is a women’s market on Wednesdays that is worth visiting but our dates didn’t line up. Well, next time.
We reached our resort in Nizwa early evening and decided to have a relaxed evening at the resort. There was a play area so we spent some time there with the little one, before heading for the dinner buffet at the restaurant.
Stay – Golden Tulip
We were all up quite early so we had an early breakfast and reached the Nizwa souk around 9.00 in the morning. The souk bustles with shops selling everything from beautiful artifacts and decorative items to dates, spices and fruits and vegetables. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs!
We also picked up some delicious dates at the dates souk. There were so many varieties and you can taste them all.
Also don’t miss the Halwa – a traditional Omani dessert. We picked a box of it too. I could have spent all day at the souk – it was absolutely lovely!
We then went to the Nizwa fort which is adjacent to the souk. The little one ran around the courtyard, going up and down the stairs and had fun exploring the fort.
We watched some Omani women making fresh bread in the courtyard and bought one for the little one to snack on.
The fort is really nice and has some very good exhibits. We had a quick lunch and drove around the town for a bit. I really liked Nizwa – such a lovely town!
We were thinking of going to Jebel Akhdar but decided instead to go to our abode for the night and get some rest. Getting to the resort was an adventure in itself. The last stretch leading to the resort was a winding, mountainous path (4×4 recommended) and once we reached the top, we were blown away by the views!
The rest of the evening was spent in the resort enjoying the fabulous views. The sunset was absolutely breathtaking and after the little one slept, the two of us sat on the balcony looking at the stars in the chilly night – perfect!
Stay – The View
We had planned to go to Al Hoota caves but since the train taking visitors to the cave wasn’t running that day, we decided to give it a skip – maybe next time! So we drove straight to Jebel Shams. On the way we passed by terraced farms and an old deserted town called Birkat Al Mouz. The view was really nice – we stopped here for a while to enjoy the greenery and to take some pictures.
The drive to Jebel Shams was an hour and 45 minutes away from the resort. Here again a 4×4 is recommended to drive up to the summit, although we did see some people in sedans.
Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman and the canyon seen from the top is called the Grand Canyon of Oman. We parked near the viewing point and the little one immediately spotted some small shops with local women selling souvenirs so we got a little something for her.
There are some amazing hikes like the Balcony Walk which is a marked trail through the rim of the canyon. We enjoyed the views from the top with some goats for company, that were just wandering around us fearlessly!
The descent from the summit was just as fun as the drive up.
As per our plan, we visited Bahla fort on our way to Muscat. Bahla fort is a beautiful UNESCO – listed historic fortress which is worth stopping at. The fort itself went through massive restoration work but you can see the remnants of the old fort walls outside.
After an hour and half we reached Muscat – our destination for the next 2 days. Before heading to our hotel, we had an early dinner at one of the recommended places –Turkish House Restaurant known for serving fresh seafood.
The stay in Muscat was absolutely delightful and royal!
Stay – Al Bustan palace (Ritz Carlton)
We woke up in our gorgeous suite which I didn’t want to ever leave but we dragged ourselves down for breakfast and then went to the Marina for our pre-booked Dolphin watching tour. The boat cruise was super fun. They take you deep into the sea and just when you are wondering where the dolphins are, you suddenly start seeing dozens of them.
We were then taken to an island for snorkeling, which was lovely.
The whole experience took about 3.5 hour and we were back to the hotel in time for our complimentary afternoon tea which ended up being lunch.
We spent the rest of the day in the pool and lounging by the beach.
After yet another amazing breakfast by the pool, we drove to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which was absolutely beautiful. The grounds of the mosque are huge and it has a lovely garden.
The interiors of the mosque’s main prayer hall is stunning, with its gorgeous intricate rug, stunning chandelier and gorgeous roof details.
We spent a couple of hours in the mosque before heading back to the resort. We had opted for a late checkout since our flight was late night so we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying some water sport activities offered by the resort. Kakayaking was a lot of fun! The rest of the time we were in the kid’s pool. This was probably the highlight of the trip for the little one.
We checked out of the hotel around 4 pm and went to the Mutrah Souk. The souk was quite busy and we had difficulty finding parking, so we parked a bit further away and walked along the Corniche to the souk.
Mutrah Souk is a covered market and has a variety of shops. It is quite narrow but we didn’t have trouble wandering around with a stroller. We did however have to take turns going into individual shops as they weren’t very easy to access with a stroller.
For dinner we went to another recommended restaurant – Bait Al Luban – an Omani fine dining restaurant. The restaurant is upstairs and has an elevator. We were asked our preferred choice of seating and we opted to sit on the floor (on a mattress).
The food and service was really good and this was the perfect way to end our Oman holiday.
There were quite a few places we missed out during this trip and some places which we would definitely want to visit again. So while we are still in the UAE, another Oman trip is most likely to happen soon.
Useful tips for traveling with kids
- We carried lots of non-perishable snacks – bread sticks, cheerios etc. We stocked up on snacks every time we saw a supermarket.
- For their comfort, recommend carrying a few nappies for your kid even though they are toilet trained. We found it difficult to find a toilet at some places.
- Carry water
- Comfortable clothing and shoes. A jacket if you are traveling in Jan – Feb. It gets a bit chilly in the evening.
- Sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen for everyone.
- Car seat. We had a car throughout our trip and had carried our folding car seat with us.
- A few of your kid’s favourite toys to keep them busy and make them feel comfortable while traveling.
We planned our itinerary around the little one’s schedule and comfort. She had a great time and was in high spirits all throughout the trip 🙂