Shaquel al Balushi heads off on a long journey to the windswept beach in Al Ashkharah, where he finds cooling waters and rough conditions.
I hadn’t been to Al Ashkharah since 2012, when a severe storm swept through the villages there and caused severe flooding. I was curious to see if it had recovered and also to visit the nearby beach.
Imran, my friend, was finally able to join me on this journey after quite a few weeks of not being able to make it. I am very glad he came along as the drive was much longer than I remembered.
We set off at our usual time of 4am and took Route 17 from Amerat towards Quryat, then headed to Ras Al Had, where we turned right to Al Ashkharah.
We were hoping to make it by sunrise but it was not until after 8am – just over four hours of driving – that we arrived. Admittedly, we did get slightly lost and stopped to ask for directions but the usual recommendation is that it takes about three-and-a-half hours.
When we arrived, the villagers were up and about and getting on with their day while I could see that many roads had been rebuilt from the 2012 storm. The village itself was just the same – and it appeared that it had recovered well from the flooding.
The beach is stunning – very flat and windswept. And because of this, you can see a very long way. It’s also a popular spot for kite surfers from around the GCC. They tend to come here at the height of summer, when the windy conditions are perfect to practise their extreme sport.
While I was disappointed to miss the sunrise, there was still a lot to photograph; from the intricate patterns in the sand to small dunes that gently undulate their way across the landscape. It was dotted with green, grassy bushes and we spotted quite a few prints in the sand from the wildlife, including those of stray dogs. We spotted a herd of goats in the distance chewing on the juicy leaves of bushes.
This beach is a camping hub but unfortunately there was quite a bit of rubbish that had been dumped by irresponsible campers. I am always unhappy when I see this – our country is beautiful and to disrespect the environment in this manner is shameful.
At least the water was clean, and shimmered in a resplendent shade of sapphire blue. The sun sparkled on the waves as each set rolled in to shore. While not quite big enough for surfing, it was a little rough for us to swim and snorkel.
There were scattered clouds in the sky and this was reflected in the shadows on the sand and on the water. It’s a desolate, windswept area with no protection from the wind. But it’s great for people who love the thrill of kite surfing although there were none on the day we visited.
The sand was more of a lighter colour – almost white – rather than the usual yellow or golden sands that you see at other beaches around the Sultanate.
We stayed at the beach for a few hours, exploring and walking along the seashore towards a village mosque and a small hotel. We didn’t go swimming as it was too rough for us but we dipped our toes in the water and discovered it was quite cold. I’ve heard that the water is always cold here and it’s not the best location for snorkelling.
It was a great morning and afterwards we enjoyed a late breakfast and then headed off onto our next destination, feeling refreshed and energised from our beach walk.
[styled_box title=”HOW TO GET THERE?” color=”black”]From Muscat take Route 17 and drive towards Quryat. There are two routes you can take but we went via Ras Al Hadd. It’s a long journey so make sure you rest along the way and have a friend on hand to keep you company and to share the driving.
GPS coordinates: N21°43’57.5” E59°29’01.4” [/styled_box]