Winter in the Sultanate is a special season, with blissfully cool weather making weekend road trips and beachfront picnics all the more enticing. So, pack your hamper and join us as Swati Basu Das rounds up some of our favourite spots.
Oman’s cold months are the best times of year to follow the allure of nature on a good excursion to the great outdoors. Case in point? The enveloping blanket of the fresh, cool breeze under the bright blue sky for starters. But it’s here in Oman where the sea stretches beyond the blue, and emerald pools lie waiting to be discovered tucked within the winding ravines and wadis, and the freezing heights of the rugged Al Hajjar mountains offer up a chilly view.
While those ultimate adventurers make a beeline for all spots wild and untouched, we’re here to tell you that there are some truly great outdoor enclaves close enough to the capital that make a weekend picnic excursion easily accessible – not to mention with captivating, panoramic views!
These natural backdrops of Oman showcase a plethora of unique hidden corners where the serenity of the landscape easily engulfs the senses. The only thing that could make it better is to pack a picnic lunch and dine alfresco while you’re out and about and at it!
Offering up a breather from city life, would-be day-trippers are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing the perfect pocket of nature to soak up the winter sun. Here are a few of favourite winter weekend picnic spots within easy distance from Muscat that we hope you’ll love as much as we do!
A two-hour drive from Muscat, the crashing waves and turquoise waters lash gently against the famous Pebble Beach near Wadi Shab. Hidden along the Muscat-Sur coastal road, it’s a spot that’s especially popular among beach-lovers and picnickers alike. It’s also a paradise for campers wanting to bask in the tide, and a treasure-trove for beachcombers keen to collect the smooth pebbles and seashells that do its shores. This rock-strewn coastline is one of the best spots in the Sultanate for a day-long seaside escape and a fresh dip in the sea – keep an eye out as well for the abundant marine life that thrives in the shallows.
Coordinates: N22° 50’ 40” E59° 14’ 32”
An all-time favourite among Muscat day-trippers, Yiti Beach is perfect for day-long leisure activities on the beach, and overnight camping. Just a 30-minute drive from Muttrah through meandering mountain passes, the beaches distinctive rock formations will be your guide through this tiny fishing hamlet. The orange hue of the sunset sky as it merges with the line of the sand is as Insta-worthy as it gets – and it’s a fantastic spot to enjoy the winter sunshine and take a swim in the great blue yonder of the Arabian Sea, then, stretch your day long into evening with some overnight camping on the beach.
Coordinates: N23° 31′ 36″ E58° 39′ 54″
The scenic drive along the winding road overlooking the khors and marshy groves of Bandar Al Khiran – the capital’s most popular fishing and snorkeling spot – will eventually lead you to an idyllic lookoff at the top of the mountain. Known as ‘the tabletop’, it’s a stunning plateau offering up breathtaking natural panoramas. With slices of small, hidden ‘mini-beaches’ guarded by high limestone hills on all sides, you can pick any one to go snorkeling in the crystal-clear water.
Coordinates: 23.5174° N, 58.7486° E
You’d be forgiven in thinking this mountain village nestled deep in the heart of Al Hamra was straight out of a fairytale… A traditional Arabic village, its greenery makes it picture-perfect – and well worth the three-hour drive from Muscat. Though, it’s important to note that reaching Balad Sayt requires a 4×4 vehicle. The village sits adjacent to the popular trekking routes of the area’s famous Snake Gorge so thrill-seekers can don their hiking boots for a rugged afternoon out – and for those who prefer their thrills closer to civilization can relish in the lush history of Balad Sayt’s village charms.
Coordinates: 23.1904° N, 57.3878° E
Hiding within the confines of the eastern Al Hajjar may just be one of the Sultanate’s most ravishing wadis. Two hours outside Muscat, Wadi Al Arbeieen is where we go to sync up with the rhythm of nature. Fourteen emerald pools dot the landscape of this paradise wadi – making it the most pristine spot for a picnic. You can also go wadi-bashing (safety first, of course!), swimming, and trekking in equal measure here in a green oasis whose aura positively captivates.
Coordinates: 23.4110 N, 57.6670 E