Highlights of Oman
On this two-week itinerary, experience the best diving in Oman. Dive with a blizzard of marine life and healthy corals around the Daymaniyat Islands, swim with friendly dolphins in Salalah and explore the Musandam Peninsula's sheer-sided fjords, without another diver in sight.
Itinerary at a glance:
- Dive the Daymaniyat Islands, home to Oman's best diving, a vast amount of marine life and healthy reefs.
- Explore the vibrant souqs of Muscat, picking up traditional Arabian keepsakes
- Swim with playful dolphins straight from the shores of a secret beach in Salalah
- Up the adrenaline in the Musandam Peninsula, hiking, biking and even climbing the surrounding mountains. Underwater, dive the dramatic fjords with a soup of marine life
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When To Travel
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Day 1: International Flight
Toast your holiday in the airport this evening before departing London on an overnight direct flight to Muscat. The flight takes around seven-and-a-half hours.
Day 2: Arrive in Oman
Your international flight lands in Muscat in the early morning. You will be met by your driver and privately transferred to your hotel. The airport is located a short distance from the city centre and depending on which hotel you decide to stay in, the journey should take no longer than 50 minutes.
Once you've checked into your room, head down to the beach for a refreshing dip and a snooze before enjoying a first lunch. Spend the rest on the day taking advantage of the hotel facilities, whether indulging in a spa treatment or enjoying watersports off the beach.
In late afternoon, take a dhow (traditional Omani sailing boat) cruise to watch the sunset over the city and surrounding mountainscape before dining on delicious Arabian fare back at the hotel.
Day 3: Muscat
After a relaxed breakfast, head into Muscat for a proper immersion into Oman's vibrant culture with your private guide.
Oman's capital city offers a fascinating insight into past and present. Stroll around the city and discover a wealth of architectural wonders, from museums and mosques to palaces and ancient forts. Head down to the marina for a fresh seafood lunch before returning to the mazy souqs to get delightfully lost haggling for Arabian treasures.
In the evening, we can arrange for a night at the impressive Royal Opera House, eating at the exquisite Al Angham restaurant before - prepare to be wowed by Omani cuisine at its best.
- Rise and shine early to avoid the heat to hike the Muttrah Trek (or C38 Trail). The leisurely trail is around three miles in length and offers great panoramas of the sea and Mina Sultan Qaboos mosque.
Day 4: Daymaniyats Day
This morning it's time to explore the waters surrounding Oman. After breakfast set sail towards to the Daymaniyat Islands, home to some of Oman's best diving.
Located about an hour's boat ride from Muscat, the Daymaniyat Islands marine nature reserve consists of nine uninhabited rocky islands surrounded by marine rich coral reefs. Whilst above water the islands support a huge variety of migratory birds, what's underwater is the main draw. The waters boast abundant hard and soft corals, swim throughs and caves. A vast amount of marine life ensures no dive is the same, with regular sightings of stingrays, moral eels, barracuda, leopard sharks and turtles.
Head back to the resort in time for sundowners by the pool before having a relaxed supper under the stars in an al fresco restaurant at your hotel.
Day 5: Muscat
This morning, set out on a dolphin watching tour and see playful dolphins jumping and playing alongside your boat's wake as you zoom across the ocean.
Once you have two feet back on dry land, head to the marina for a fresh seafood lunch. In the afternoon, alternate between sunbathing on your hotel's beach or lounging by the pool. Decisions, decisions.
Have sundowners on the beach then either dine at the hotel or we can make a reservation at one of Muscat's other restaurants, just pick one from our detailed Dossier.
- Spend another day diving the Daymaniyat Islands - there are over 20 dive sites surrounding the islands so there will certainly have been stones left unturned.
Day 6: Salalah
This morning it's time to continue your Omani journey. After a leisurely breakfast you will be privately transferred to the airport in plenty of time for your flight south to Salah. The flight takes just under two hours.
Once you have cleared customs, you will be met in arrivals and privately transferred to the Anantara Al Baleed. The journey should take around 20 minutes.
Nestled between the ocean and a lagoon, the Anantara Al Baleed is a slice of paradise that feels truly off the beaten track. Spend the rest of the day exploring the local area. If you're feeling active, the resort is located on the doorstep of Al Baleed Archaeological Park, a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the ancient ruins of al-Baleed.
In the evening, dine on an Asian-inspired supper at the lagoon-side Mekong restaurant.
Day 7: Salalah
This morning you can explore the impressive dive sites that extend along the coastline from Salalah to Mirbat.
Diving here provides a great contrast to the Daymaniyat Islands. You'd be forgiven for thinking you're diving in the Indian Ocean proper rather than the Arabian Sea as the water is a lot bluer thanks to the relative lack of plankton. Marine life ranges from vibrant nudibranch to octopus, tuna, trevally and sharks. If you visit in May, you can dive among small kelp forests that flourish from cool upwelling during the monsoon season.
After a surface interval spent picnicking on a local lunch on a deserted swath of beach, head back in to explore a different dive site - many dive sites are still being uncovered, meaning there's a lot to be discovered.
For a taste of southern European cuisine, head to the Mediterranean beach bar and restaurant for dinner, or to keep it local, indulge at Sakalan - otherwise known as 'The Land of Frankincense'.
- Take an overnight trip inland to the lost city of Ubar, where you'll feast on a traditional Omani barbeque dinner with a shisha pipe before camping overnight, all the while learning about the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site, the last remnants of an ancient city that disappeared into the desert.
Day 8: Salalah
Rise and shine for a trip into the mountains.
Departing with local safari guides, you'll scale the towering Dhofar mountain range until you reach Jabal Shams (or Sun Mountain), which at 6,900ft above sea level offers breath-taking panoramas over Salalah. Stay for a local picnic lunch, keeping your eyes peeled for the elusive Arabian leopard before returning down to sea level.
Either relax and refresh on the beach or head into Salalah Old Town to explore the old Haffah souq, where you can wander among the stalls and haggle for frankincense to take home. Head back to the hotel in time to catch the sundown ceremony, sipping sundowners while watching a traditional long drum ceremony. After dinner, head down to the Mediterranean bar to enjoy cocktails on the beach.
Day 9: Salalah
Today you'll visit a secret cove that's home to a friendly resident pod of dolphins.
Departing the hotel, you'll be driven by 4x4 to the secret beach to snorkel and play with dolphins straight from the shore. We won't mention where it is, you'll have to see for yourself.
In the afternoon, you can take a tour of the Taqah Fort, learning about the areas rich trading history before watching sunset from a special viewpoint before heading back to the hotel for a relaxed supper.
Day 10: Musandam Peninsula
After breakfast it's time to depart for the next leg of your adventure. You will be privately transferred to the airport in plenty of time for your flight to Dubai, which takes around two hours.
Once you have been through customs, you will be met by your driver and privately transferred to Six Senses Zighy Bay. The journey will take around two hours, and you will need your passport handy as you cross the border back into the Omani exclave of Musandam.
You can arrive into Six Senses Zighy Bay by 4x4, but we highly recommend paragliding down to the hotel beach from the towering mountain range behind the hotel for one of the world's great statement hotel arrivals. Once you've checked in, settle in to your surroundings, whether cooling off in the sea or relaxing with a spa treatment. In the afternoon, cruise the glass-still waters of Haffa Bay, enjoying canapes as you watch sunset over the dramatic fjords of the Musandam Peninsula.
Day 11: Musandam Peninsula
Today it's time to hit the seas again as you dive the deep fjords of the Musandam Peninsula.
Whilst the visibility isn't crystal clear, that's due to the plankton-rich waters which in turn attract an incredible amount of marine life from tiny macro critters right up to the occasional whale shark as well as creating extremely healthy coral reefs. After a surface interval spent nibbling on fresh fruit with added mountain views, dip back into the water to explore another corner of this fascinating underwater world.
After freshening up back at your villa, meander over to Zighy Bar for cocktails whilst overlooking the Wadi pool. For a taste of Arabia, head to the Spice Market and sample centuries old recipes, including delicious hot mezze boards and fresh fish concoctions.
Day 12: Musandam Peninsula
If you're an active adventurer, hit the mountains that soar behind the hotel on a rock climbing escapade.
You'll be taught the ins and outs of rock climbing, from different techniques to safety precautions, before climbing and belaying across the surrounding mountains. If you'd rather keep two feet on the ground, the Smuggler's Bay Hike takes you through the mountains offering stunning views over the coast.
Soothe out any aches and pains in the superb spa before heading back up the mountain for another memorable supper experience. Located 950ft above sea level, fine dining restaurant Sense On The Edge offers tantalising dishes accompanied with fine wines and even finer views.
- Spend the day underwater diving the different and extremely varied sites along the coast
Day 13: Musandam Peninsula
If you're still keen to hit the water, this morning head out on a snorkelling excursion to spot marine critters in the shallows.
Landlubbers can embark on a tour of the village of Sabatyn. Located 3,950ft above sea level, the village contains ancient houses and petroglyphs and is the spot for spectacular scenic views over Wadi Al Bih.
Spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel, whether reclined by the pool or wandering along the beach, before heading to Shua Shack in the evening for authentic Arabian cuisine (including super-succulent slow-cooked leg of lamb) in a Bedouin tent on the beach.
Day 14: Home Time
Sadly, it's the end of your Arabian adventure. After a leisurely breakfast you will be privately transported back the two hours to Dubai International Airport for your flight home. The flight takes eight hours, so you'll arrive back in London in the early evening.
Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.