Y’s Alvin Thomas and his family find a stretch of sand that typifies the outdoor wonders Oman has to offer.
There comes a point in everyone’s life when one has to stop working and take time out to do something they love. And for me, last week’s trip to find the “perfect driving road in Oman” was nothing short of nirvana.
If you read last week’s Destination feature, you would know that I took a trip (with my brothers) to Yiti and the overlying areas of Al Khiran. The sights and roads, as I said, are truly magnificent. However, I know that Oman has a lot more to offer.
With that in mind, my aim was not only to escape from work and capture the sheer glamour and beauty of Oman through my lens but also answer a question I was asked (rather goofily) by a friend in Dubai: “What is the difference between the landscapes of Oman and the UAE?”.
I decide to go one step further and dedicate a whole Destination to answer her question.
It doesn’t take long for me to respond, though.
The drive from Muscat to Yiti is picturesque but the moment you pass the village of Al Khiran and proceed into the foothills of the mountains, you realise that Al Khiran is merely a prequel to the sheer magnificence ahead.
Its true beauty lies within the bowels of the mountains, and even the roads, which are steeper and sharper than the ones you would normally encounter, are enclosed safely between the peaks. The only time you gain a perspective on how high up you are is when you stare down at the landscape or when your ears start popping.
This road is currently under construction so we decide to take things at a moderate pace.
To reach Sifah, though, you must cross two villages, and a total distance of 20km. It doesn’t take us long: in just 45 minutes we reach the entrance to Jebel Sifah, which consists of luxury properties.
But, sadly there are no markings to lead us to the beach so we are forced use Google Maps instead. That doesn’t work either as most roads that have been plotted are now non-existent.
We simply follow our instincts and, with some help from a few of the residents at Jebel Sifah, we reach the beach.
And my gosh, what a view it is.
Suddenly, all our frustration at getting lost just fades away. The beaches of Khadda and Fins have a lot of appeal but the feeling of being in a community is what makes the beach at Sifah stand out.
We see numerous families spending time here, some teaching their young ones how to swim; others trying to catch some fish and the rest simply trying to get a head start on their pre-summer tan.
Apart from the sheer beauty of the place, the sea overflows with coral and fish, which is unsurprising as the coastal areas of Oman are known for their marine life. The waters are relatively clear, and you can see through to the coral.
Although we can’t have a dip as we haven’t brought our swimming gear we manage to get some sand between our toes, and let the water simply lap at our ankles on a barefoot stroll from one end of the beach to the other. It’s a refreshing respite from our long 70km journey.
The sandy beach is pristine, and there are numerous cleaners toiling to clear all manner of litter and detritus. And their assiduous efforts are clearly paying off as it is one of the cleanest beaches I have ever seen in the Sultanate.
We catch a few Omani families making sand castles, and one hospitable family offers us some Omani kahwah (coffee), which rather hits the spot after our journey.
A little while later, we make ourselves comfortable at one end of the beach, and realise that the sun is already setting. And we three (Allen, Jijin and me) are still bowled over by the location’s sheer beauty.
It really does resemble what you might see in an Impressionist painting. The sun is setting behind the mountains that stretch across the horizon, and an orange hue endows them with a light Claude Monet would find hard to resist. In the process, the panorama highlights the wondrous allure that attracts worldly travellers to Oman.
Good coffee, magnificent scenery and the sonorous splashing of waves in the background: can life get any better than this?
From Muscat, take the road to Al Bustan road and then the exit that leads to Qantab. From here on, continue through the length of Al Jissah Street. In about 10km, you will have to take the first exit from the roundabout to Al Khiran. Continue on the road until you come across the village of Al Khiran and then Sifah. Once at Sifah, proceed to the entrance of Jebel Sifah. The beach is clearly marked, and you can also ask for directions once within the gated community.