Despite having spent a measureable proportion of my life in Oman, I really haven’t been to Sur that many times, so when I made the trip a few months back, I made sure that I saw as much as I could while I was there.
I made a few phone calls before leaving Muscat and was lucky enough to have a friend arrange me my very own local guide through the photographic association in Sur, who turned out to be knowledgeable, helpful and welcoming.
The first place he wanted to show me was Sur’s lighthouse, named Al Ayjah, and it sure was beautiful. The three-storey lighthouse stands tall and proud, dominating the skyline of the bay, which means it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but I’d just never thought of going there for a shoot.
Being a keen photographer himself, as well as a native of the city, his insider knowledge really helped me to capture some great pictures.
The details of the lighthouse are striking when you get up close, with fort-like windows and the intricate carvings on the door that are typical of the traditional Omani style. My guide told me that you can actually enter the lighthouse and climb to the top for some dramatic shots looking out across the bay and the city itself, but unfortunately it was locked when we got there.
Slightly disappointed, but keen to make the most of my experience nonetheless, I took various shots around the structure and then, thanks to the relatively low water level, I was able to head down onto a rocky outcrop to get a different perspective on the lighthouse, looking up at it from the rocks.
While I was taking advantage of the low tide, I noticed a few other small details such as fully intact fish skeletons; the bones bleached white by the sun, as well as the razor-sharp limpets and cockles that clung to the surrounding walls and rocks.
Climbing back up, my guide saw me struggling with my bag and equipment and immediately offered to carry it for me. I’m fairly used to juggling everything on my Destination trips and so I said I’d be fine, but when he insisted I had to relent, having been taught better than to argue with an Arab when they insist on helping. It was a very kind gesture, although I still felt bad!
Close to the lighthouse is an area where fishermen keep their nets and boats. While their tools and transport were visible, floating lazily on the water or pushed up onto the sand, the fishermen themselves were nowhere to be seen. I guess they’d already been out to fish in the early hours of the morning, returning to sell their catch at the local fish market.
It was shortly after midday and the temperature was extremely hot. The heat made the shoot difficult, but on the plus side, it meant that we pretty much had the entire area to ourselves, as no one else was crazy enough to be out under the searing Omani sun at that time. The other bonus was that the height and brightness of the sun gave the sea and sky such a fantastic and vibrant blue colour; one that I’ve rarely seen without the use of editing software.
Although I had water with me, the heat was starting to make me feel slightly dehydrated and dizzy, which I took as a sign to get under some shade and take on some fluid and food before striking out with my guide and tackling our next location of the day.
The route to Sur is very simple. From Muscat, take road 17 all the way until it meets road 23. Take a left and head into Sur, travelling on the beach road with the sea on your left. The lighthouse will be visible, but to access it you need to cross the suspension bridge and head left.
GPS location: N22° 34’ 8” E59° 32’ 24”