You don’t always have to trek off into the mountains or desert for a great trip. Y’s photographer Shaquel al Balushi was reminded that beauty can often be found right under our noses on a recent visit to Qantab
At only 15km from the centre of Muscat, the quaint village of Qantab can be reached in about 25 minutes on a good day with little traffic. Directions are well signposted and as you approach, the road climbs a hill. As I reached the crest, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of the village spreading out beneath me and began my descent.
Set amid brown, craggy hills that taper down into the sea, the village itself is quite small, dotted with quaint houses that face out to the sea and give their occupants uninterrupted views of the water.
As I parked my car and made my way towards the beach – a mix of shingle and sand – one of the first things I noticed was a sign saying “No Camping”, hinting that the spot had once been popular with weekend revellers.
The small boats that were pulled up and dormant at one end of the beach suggested that the community relies on fishing as one of its sources of income. It was while I was capturing some images of these boats that I came across an amazing old anchor that had long been discarded by one of the fishermen and was heavily rusted. There were also several piles of ashes; evidence of campfires that people had no doubt sat around one evening. Whether they had obeyed the “No Camping” sign or not, I couldn’t tell.
Taking a walk to the rocky end of the shore, I met a small local boy playing in the shallow pools. I also managed to get some great shots of birds taking flight from the water and sand.
As I walked along the beach, a man approached me and offered me his boat to charter, telling me I could go wherever I fancied. I was unprepared for this, but with a little forward planning you could have a wonderful day. If you ask one of the local fishermen, they will happily be your water taxi for just a few rials and take you to some of Qantab’s hidden gems, the secluded coves only accessible by boat along the shoreline towards Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. This enables you to find your very own private beach that is perfect for a picnic and a dip in the sea.
Just remember to let the fisherman know what time you want to be picked up. They will know the tides well and will be able to advise on the best times to return (you don’t want to leave it too late).
The village of Qantab is a popular spot for visitors and residents to unwind after a busy week. During my relatively short time there, I met three female tourists who were enjoying a stroll along the sand, as well as a family playing on the beach.
On the other side of the mountain is Old Qantab beach. In this now dormant area you’ll find only the ruins of old houses, long abandoned, and a curling stretch of beach. This section is no longer accessible to the public due to the work that has started on the new Saraya Bandar Jissah resort, which will transform the area into a residential complex and spa, complete with a sports club and resort hotels, all overlooking the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
Part of the project includes the rejuvenation of the abandoned fishermen’s village located close to the beach. I shall watch the development of this part with a keen interest as it shall be fascinating to see how the area changes as the development progresses. When I was a small boy, I used to play on the beach here and, naturally, it holds a lot of memories for me. I hope the beach will once again be open to the public so that others may enjoy it as I once did.
How to get there:
Take An Nuzhah Street through Al Wadi Al Kabir in the direction of the Al Bustan Palace. Take the exit to Qantab road before you reach the hotel. Stay on this road for 4km and then take a left towards the village. The route to Qantab is well signposted.
GPS location of Qantab beach:
N23° 33’ 43” E58° 37’ 45