We head back to February 2010 to discover the undisturbed beauty of Ras al Markaz beach
As part of our retrospective series, which takes a look at some of former Y photographer Jerzy Wierzbicki’s favourite trips around the Sultanate, we head to the picturesque beach at Ras al Markaz this week.
Located south of Duqm, the area has become important in the storage of oil in recent years, although, thankfully, this has not affected the inherent beauty of the beach’s deserted white sands. Here’s Jerzy’s take on it:
“You won’t find Ras al Markaz in many guidebooks, but it already holds a special place in the hearts of many adventure seekers here in the Sultanate.
“After the long drive from Muscat, there is little wonder why this place is so captivating for many in Oman, with its warm waters, remarkably clean white sand and stunning views. The term ‘coastal paradise’ is certainly a tag Ras al Markaz could claim as its own.
“The warm waters of the Arabian Sea periodically lap the sheer cliffs of Ras al Markaz and the sublime coastline proves to be a great spot for angling, swimming and snorkelling.
“The cliffs are the main marking point of this region, with the multilayer sedimentary rocks both aesthetically pleasing and geologically significant. A little further on, you will see evidence of the desert and the sea in conflict in the form of a vast sand dune that separates the road and the cliffs – another attraction for those who are interested in off-road driving.
“Nothing denotes the romantic seaside feel more than the small harbour, where you can purchase something for the BBQ from a fisherman’s fresh catch. Camping is also extremely pleasant with the 40-metre cliff casting a beautiful shadow over the beach area. Bringing a pair of binoculars is a good idea, too, as wildlife is in abundance during the winter, with flocks of birds searching for crabs on the flat sand.
“If you are lucky enough to visit during stormier weather, then you can watch huge waves crashing into the cliffs. It is also worth noting that the beach area is extremely difficult to travel on due to a scattering of mud flats, making a 4×4 pretty much essential.
“Flash floods can also prove to be a hazard and are extremely dangerous. All in all, it is best to prepare for all extremes when taking the 500-kilometre trip south to Ras al Markaz, but as an experienced adventurer will tell you, that is part of its attraction.”
Set the satnav for Duqm. From Muscat, take the expressway, followed by route 15, route 23, route 27 and route 32. Once you reach the Shell petrol station in Duqm, drive in the direction of Hayma. After 17km, head straight for Al Jazar. The turning for Ras al Markaz is 49km from the petrol station. You must take the dirt road for 14km, so a 4×4 is recommended, although the road down to the seafront is paved.
GPS location: 19°11’38”N 57°45’28”E