If great views and crystal-clear water are your idea of an idyllic escape, Oman’s Pebble Beach is the place to go, find Shaquel al Balushi and Shamsa al Mahrooqi
About 150km south of Muscat, a sweep of aquamarine water combined with a vast tract of pebble beach suddenly came into my view. With sea, sand and mountains, it’s a place that really typifies Oman.
It was not my first time here. Years ago, when driving back from Sur, I found the place by accident, much to the amusement of my travel companions. We spent a pleasant few hours there and then forgot all about it.
Last weekend however, I dug deep into the memory bank and headed back to this gem of a spot that had so delighted me back then.
This time, I was accompanied by Shamsa al Mahrooqi, Y’s intern, who was keen to take some photographs. We left Amerat at around 8am and reached the pebble beach close to Wadi Shab almost three hours later, having stopped a few times to ask for directions. It seemed that no-one actually knew exactly where it was.
Make sure you’re alert and on the lookout, as when you pass the Wadi Shab resort, there is an exit that you must take. It’s almost a U-turn and before you head to the resort, there is a right turn signposted “Shab”, which you should take.
At the beach, we saw a vast array of smooth pebbles in almost all the shapes, sizes and colours you could imagine. One little piece coral reminded me of the The Scream, the famous piece of modern art painted by Edvard Munch, and we brought it back to the office as a souvenir.
There are myriad opportunities for photographs, but a large rock carved into layers caught my eye in particular. This tells you that the water does rise considerably at times, probably when it rains.
There was no one on the beach at that point, I’m guessing because of the heat, but the crystal clear waters would be ideal for swimming and snorkelling in and it was also a lot cleaner and quieter than the beaches closer to the capital. We also noticed a lot of fish but there were no fishermen around, again possibly due to the heat. It would make sense to visit the beach during the cooler months because then it would be idyllic. You can even lie on the pebbles, as I did. I’ve heard it’s good for relieving back pain.
Considering the heat, I decided to take a dip to cool off while Shamsa went off to click a few shutters. There was certainly plenty to keep her busy.
When she got back, Shamsa told me about some very dark pebbles she saw. We returned to the spot to take a closer look at them and concluded that they were probably used to cook food. They looked as if they had been used for “madhbi” or stone cooking, in which slices of meat are roasted on hot stones with burning coal underneath, a style traditionally used in the Ash Sharqiyah region.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there for more than two hours because of the intense heat. While I recommend that people visit this beach in the cooler season, divers, snorkellers and other strong swimmers could definitely still enjoy it during the summer as well, as a dip in the turquoise waters is a great way to cool off while exploring the riches this area offers.
From Muscat, follow Route 17 all the way down, as if you were visiting Wadi Shab. Exit soon after the Wadi Shab Resort and follow the road signs for “Shab”. The beach should be easily visible.
GPS location of Pebble Beach: N22° 50’ 40” E59° 14’ 32”