In search of a weekend adventure, Felicity Glover ventures down to Muriya Jebel Sifah for some water fun.
A weekend away to enjoy the great outdoors – specifically, that classic combination of sun, sea and sand – sounded promising.
Having been confined to Muscat over the recent school holidays because I had work commitments, my daughter, Cia, 13, was excited to try something new at Muriya Jebel Sifah, particularly the water park that she’d heard so much about.
Jumping on board the water taxi at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, which would be taking us to our destination, was just the beginning of our adventure.
While we had driven this route many times before, we’d never done it by boat, and even Cia would agree that the spectacular coastline was breathtaking as we flashed past the picturesque fishing villages of Al Bustan, Qantab and Yiti, and white, sandy beaches and majestic mountains.
After about 45 minutes, the water taxi began to slow down and we entered the calm waters of the small marina at Jebel Sifah. Cia’s eyes widened as she spotted the bright green, yellow and blue floating water park, which promised hours of fun.
Jumping onto dry land, we checked in and headed off to our holiday apartment to get changed, have a quick lunch and then plan our afternoon activities.
There were quite a few choices for the water activities, from the water park to banana rides, dolphin-watching tours, kayaking, jet skiing, pedal boats and snorkelling, to name but a few. For something a little gentler, there’s also lazing by the pool or swimming a few laps.
But that was a little too tame for Cia, so top of her activity list was the water park (of course), followed by kayaking and jet skiing (which was later cancelled because of the rough sea).
The Sifah Water Park is operated by Marassi Al Jissah, the aquatic leisure company. The staff running the park are experienced and very safety-conscious – even we had to wear lifejackets despite being strong swimmers. We were also told that under no circumstances were we to swim under the structure if we fell in the water.
We jumped into the water and swam/floated the short distance to the start of the water park. Thinking this was going to be a breeze, we were mistaken as we struggled to haul ourselves onto the mat that would mark the start of this aqua adventure. It didn’t help that the lifejackets were so bulky, but we had to follow the rules.
Thinking we had to wait for one of the instructors to take us around the large course, we watched a group of young children tackle the slippery obstacles, from running across hurdles, to swinging on monkey bars, desperately trying to keep their balance on the “wiggle bridge” and jumping over ramps and other hurdles.
The instructor with this group of children called out and told us to start alone. Not quite knowing what to do, we slowly stood up. First, it’s hard to keep your balance – while the water park is made of tough PVC, it’s not like being on board a boat.
And it’s very slippery – the wetter you are, the harder it is to keep your grip. We survived the first obstacle without falling overboard but knew that it was going to get harder and it was only a matter of time before one of us (or both!) would end up in the water.
Next up were the monkey bars, a favourite schoolyard activity of mine from years ago. In the intervening years, I’d forgotten just how much arm strength they required and was discovering muscles I’d forgotten about. I was going to be sore and sorry the next day!
So far, we’d managed to avoid a dunking. But that didn’t last long, thanks to the swing and the wiggle bridge, which tested us both. I was the first to fall in, while Cia was close behind when she tackled the wiggle bridge – six thin, round, very wobbly discs that you have to quickly run across. Cia decided that the best course of action was to crawl across them but they were just too unstable and she hit the water as she tried to slide over to the second one. I ran across and made it halfway before losing my balance.
We didn’t make it to the trampoline in the centre but headed to the “action tower”, which looked like a cross between a rock-climbing wall and a slide on the other side. Cia started first but lost her confidence when she looked down and saw how high she’d climbed. She headed back down, but started sliding and ended up with a small burn rash on her thigh. I took the plunge and headed up the tower. Success at last!
We finally finished the course and decided that it was so much harder than it looked – especially climbing back on to the frame after you’d fallen into the water.
As we headed off to get our kayaks with aching arms, the thought of spending the rest of the afternoon by the pool was suddenly appealing. But where’s the fun in that?