After a cancelled trip to the Daymaniyat islands, Shaquel al Balushi took to the seas with some new friends in a secluded beach, Ras Abu Daud in Quriyat.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, as the Scottish proverb goes, and I know the feeling this week.
I had everything mapped out for my Destination. We were heading by boat to an area around the Daymaniyat Islands, 18km off the Muscat coast and 40 minutes by sea. With stunning beaches, rocky cliffs and varied marine life, I had packed a Go-Pro in anticipation of getting some underwater shots.
Then it all changed. Our transport, a yacht being repaired by a friend, was not going to be ready on time, and our plans fell apart.
My Destination buddy, Imran, was back with me this time and we spent a day ruminating on where to go that offered a similar diversity for my camera lens.
We finally settled on a place called Ras Abu Daud, near Quiriyat, a haunt of some of my gang of friends who had always urged me to visit. One sticking point: we needed a boat.
A friend suggested calling his friend, Araf, who worked at the Al Bustan Palace hotel and owned a family boat. Perhaps he could help? Araf was more than happy to oblige, giving us access to a small boat with an outboard motor. He even offered to come with us.
And so it was that Imran and I found ourselves in a traditional wooden blue-and-white Omani fishing boat heading out into the water from the port, with three strangers: Araf and two of his cousins.
It was a beautiful day for exploring, cooler and with a thin blanket of cloud covering the sky. Not such a good day for photography, however, as cloud makes everything flat and kills shadows.
Still, I was excited as we skimmed across the waves.
We passed a brick watchtower, on a rocky outcrop guarding the entrance to the port, with an Omani flag perched on top, fluttering in the breeze before hitting open water.
Our first stop took just 15 minutes to get to. It was a beautiful, secluded beach with fine sand speckled with peebles and clear blue water, like a picture-perfect postcard scene.
I was annoyed, however, to spot bits of rubbish on the sand, a blue plastic bag and food wrappers, all of which had been left by previous visitors. Why can’t people realise such beauty needs to be preserved and respected?
I snapped away and turned around to see that Imran had gone ‘walkabout’, something he likes to do. I could see that he had clambered up and was striding across the cliffs towards the end. I followed him up and captured some panoramic views looking down the coastline towards other small coves and inlets, making colourful inroads into the dark, brown rocks.
Back at the shore, I found some crabs sunbathing on the sand. They’re funny creatures, pretending to be dead, but when we gently pushed them, they scuttled off at speed.
I also found the remains of a dead, rotten tree trunk on the shore, the roots going deep into the sand. It looked like a piece of marine art, a tangled ode to the sea.
I looked up and noticed an eagle circling above us; the same bird that had followed our boat as we travelled from the port. Araf told me that the water around here is also teeming with life, including squid and lobsters. I also saw a turtle.
Imran eventually returned from his solo travels and we jumped back into the boat for the next stop. Our ‘captain’ tried to land on another incredible-looking beach with the bluest of water and white sand but the waves were too strong. I did manage to photograph a ramshackle, wooden hut that had been constructed on the beach, a makeshift shelter.
Another beach we passed had much darker, harder sand with interesting layers of rock in the cliffs.
Overall, Ras Abu Daud is the full package; you can go on a day trip, snorkelling, sunbathing and swimming, crab hunting, or simply chilling on the shore. It’s also great for camping overnight.
Any of the local fishermen will be happy to take you to one of the beaches and pick you up before sunset for RO15-RO20. You’ll find the fishermen on the shore by the port.
We were exhausted when we got back to shore but agreed our new friends’ invitation to go to a farm with them. When someone has showed hospitality, it is polite to accept. At the farm, we found a freshwater pool, bubbling away like a cold hot tub to cool down our aching muscles while we ate halwa and other sweet Arabic delicacies.
As the sun began to set, it felt like the perfect end to a perfect day.
Sometimes, it’s better when your day doesn’t go to plan.
How to get there?
From Muscat, take Route 17 until you see the sign for Quriyat. Turn off and make your way to the port area. The local fishermen can be found on the coastline stretching right along. Haggle a price but expect to pay around RO15-RO2O for a boat ride to one of the beaches. Remember to take the boatman’s phone number, so you can contact him at any time.
GPS location of the port:
N23°19’01.2” , E58°54’55.7”