Oman is only a hop, skip and a jump from the UAE and offers a family-friendly holiday destination just waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re enjoying some delicious dates while exploring a busy souq, watching dolphins swim in glittering waters or spending a night in the desert under the stars, Oman is bursting with adventure and new experiences.
Nestled between the sandy shores of the Gulf of Oman and the soaring heights of the Hajar Mountains, the Omani capital is waiting to welcome you with a good taster of the culture and excitement of the country. The buildings are beautifully architectural, with lovely traditional elements like the iconic arabesque windows.
If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take advantage of the many sandy beaches and escape into the waters to sail, dive and snorkel.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is built from cool white marble and catches the sun magnificently off its towering minarets. The mosque was completed in 2001 and is richly decorated with finely detailed mosaics and a vibrant handwoven prayer carpet.
The nearby fish souq is where you’ll find fisherman selling the catch of the day, and you can watch as residents haggle over baskets of octopus or piles of tiny silver sardines. You’ll also find other souqs offering a spellbinding display of traditional goods, spices, pottery and embroidered clothing.
If you’d like to get a little insight into Oman’s history, you can visit the small but informative Bait Adam Museum, where children can try on traditional clothing and headdresses, and you can view recreations of the mud houses that were once seen across the region.
Getting up close with turtles
The turtle reserve at Ras Al Jinz, just three hours southeast of Muscat is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the four species of sea turtles that nest on Oman’s beaches.
July and August is the best time to see the turtles, and a stay here helps to raise funds to support the reserve and allows you a chance to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get a chance to see the turtles laying their eggs, or a flock of hatchlings making their way into the ocean for their first swim.
Take an overnight dhow trip in Musandam
From Musandam you can take an overnight boat trip to explore the majesty of the fjords. From the beautiful, traditional wooden dhow, you’ll venture into sparklingly clear waters where you’ll have the chance to snorkel, swim or watch passing dolphins from the boat. Delicious, traditional food will be served on the dhow and later you’ll settle down on a bed of carpets to watch the stars and be rocked to sleep by the gentle waves.
Spend a night in the desert
The desert is such an integral part of Omani culture and history, so spending a night there is a great way to gain an understanding of the country and its people.
Venture into the never-ending hazy horizon and take a ride on a camel. Camels have long been an essential part of life in the desert, and a ride on these swaying creatures can give you an insight into life on the sand.
At night you can watch the sun set over the dunes, watching the sand and sky change colour before eventually falling dark. Sit around the fire and watch the sparks dance into the sky, where the stars create a glittering blanket above you.
Oman’s Grand Canyon
The Omani Grandy Canyon is a vast, dry riverbed carved from the raw stone of the towering Jebel Shams, the highest peak in the country. Here, the cliffs tower around you in rippled layers of colours. You can watch as goats pick their way along the cliffs in relative peace, as this beautiful natural wonder isn’t flooded with tourists and remains quiet and relaxed.
Run around the ramparts of a fortress
Oman is home to many fortresses and most of them have been, or are in the process of being, restored. The UNESCO listed Bahla fort is great for kids, who will love to burn off energy running around the ramparts and learning about the history of the fortress. They can also explore the little crevices that were originally used for pouring boiling date oil onto the enemies below!
Cool off in a wadi
All across Oman you’ll find stunning wadis – deep valleys carved from mountain rock, some of which are filled with water, tempting you to take a dip. There are so many to choose from, whether you’d prefer a group tour or you’d rather head to a secluded wilderness pool, there are options for every family, and this makes for a truly unique experience that your children will remember for years to come.