Shinas is a coastal town that is quite close to Dubai, meaning it is farther away from the capital of Muscat. It is a small town and has a collection of traditional buildings, including a fort built many years ago. The port of Shinas is quite busy and has some traditional dhows that are still in operation and mostly used for fishing. Rumour has it that a lot of the fresh seafood in Dubai comes from this town!
Home to the famed luxurious Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort & Spa, Musandam is located in the northern part of Oman and juts out into the Strait of Hormuz, a strait in between Iran and the Gulf of Oman. Musandam is a beautiful coastal town where people can go dolphin- and whale-watching, snorkelling, kayaking, camping and take dhow trips to see and experience traditional Omani villages nestled comfortably around the surrounding rugged mountains.
Said to be the birthplace of the legendary, mythical Sinbad, Sohar served as a prominent port town in ancient times. Today, Sohar plays an important role in maritime trade with the recent establishment of the Sohar port and free zone, making the town very busy. There is a great museum to check out when in town, as well as the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, a beautiful piece of Islamic architecture. There is also the old market area, which is bustling and stocked with fresh produce, as well as a large fish market that is fun to visit in the morning.
The name Al Suwayq comes from the Arabic term for ‘market’, and the market in this town is a must-see. Al Suwayq also has many forts and ancient sites to see. The main fort’s gates open towards the sea, and there is an old mosque there, built during the reign of ruler Ahmed Bin Said around the 1700s. This city features a mysterious history, some of which has not yet been recorded properly.
This coastal town became famous for hosting the World’s Sailing Championship in 2015 and the 2nd Asian Beach Games. An epic location for water sports and beach downtime, there is the great sea-facing Millennium Resort, complete with a large spa and dining options.
Barka is known for its famed Omani Halwa Factory, where visitors can go for a tour and tasting. It is also emerging as a tourist hot spot. There are two main resorts there – Al Sawadi and Al Nahda – where you can relax on the beach and play some water sports. Furthermore, there is also a number of ancient sites to see, most popular being the Bait Na’aman Fort, built around the 17th century.
Located near the capital city, Muscat, Seeb is a coastal fishing town and home to one of the international airports, Seeb International Airport. A cute area to check out, it is mainly residential. However, there is also the Naseem Garden – a park in between Seeb and Barka – complete with an aquarium, waterfall and lake, as well as Japanese and Arabic gardens and a maze.
Quriyat, a small fishing village approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) away from the capital, also has a historic fort and was one of the towns that the Portuguese occupied for a while, circa 1500. There are many great beaches on the way from Muscat to Quriyat, and the must-see destination here is the great dam, called Wadi Dayqah; the view is legendary – one of the most beautiful sites you could visit.
Qalhat is an ancient city that was prosperous many, many years ago; however, nothing remains of the mysterious city today. It was an important stop for the Indian Ocean trade network and apparently the second city of the Kingdom of Ormus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site falling under the cultural category, as it’s home to the Mausoleum of Lady Maryam, aka Bibi Maryam, which is one of the only buildings that has stood the test of time, built in the 13th century by Bahauddin Ayez to honour his wife. There is also the port of Qalhat, once a popular trade area.
Love turtles? Ras Al Hadd is basically a land of turtles, and all a visitor can really do is go on a day or night turtle tour; however, it is a change from the usual routine of life. The area also has pristine beaches, turtles, and dhows, along with some water sports, plus the sunsets are gorgeous. There are some resorts and guesthouses in town for those who are into turtles, of course.
Sur is a historic port town and a developed focal point for trade with East Africa since the 6th century. By the 16th century, it was under Portuguese rule for a brief time. The town has a reputation for its incredible ship-building skills and was – and still is – an important city for sailors. And who does not love sailors? There are a couple of sites to see, both cultural and natural, such as the Sur Maritime Museum, the Ras Al Jinz Scientific and Visitor Centre and Wadi Shab.
Oman’s largest island with a population of up to 10,000 people, Masirah Island is reachable by ferry and has an Oman air base, a fish factory and a couple of small towns as well as a couple of new hotels. However, the best way to experience Masirah is by camping on the beach, which is pristine with turquoise water, plus there is turtle watching.