A day-long trip to the coastal city of Sur, located just a two-hour drive from Muscat, can be the most fulfilling way of coming face to face with some fascinating spots en route which give a feel of Oman’s breathtaking natural beauty.
The 200km stretch from Muscat to Sur provides an opportunity not just to explore intriguing ancient sites, but also to unwind, trek, and swim in popular wadis as well as explore the traditional lifestyle of people in fishing villages along the way. While the destination – Sur – has its own unique draws, the journey itself is much more than just a journey as one would end up with many interesting stops on the way.
The best way to visit Sur is to plan an overnight stay at Sur. So, one could begin the journey from Muscat early (around 6 am) and have many interesting stops at intervals, before winding up at Sur for a late evening visit to the Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve. After the visit to the reserve, one could stay overnight at any hotel in Sur city and return the next day.
Here are some of the interesting halts:
The fishing village of Quriyat is a good halt to visit the town’s souk as well as the seaside to get glimpses of traditional Omani dhows which the region is famous for since days of yore. Quriyat also has an old fort.
Around 38km from Quriyat, on the Muscat – Sur road, the Bimmah Sinkhole is a popular stop for most visitors. This natural limestone crater has a cool pool of turquoise blue water all year round and many people love to take a quick dip amid their trip.
One of the most popular wadis in Oman, Wadi Shab is located close to the town of Fins. In fact, Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi are a picnickers’ paradise and is quite crowded on weekends and holidays. Wadi Tiwi is located a few kilometres south of Wadi Shab. Both wadis are popular for their pools of water as well as for the plunging canyons alongside.
If archaeological sites are of interest to you, then your next stop should be the village of Qalhat. Located around 20km from Wadi Tiwi, Qalhat was Oman’s first capital city and it’s port was hugely important in connecting Oman with the rest of the world. They say, a 14th century earthquake and subsequent occupation by the Portuguese has left this place in ruins. It is also home to the 13th century Bibi Maryam’s Tomb which is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Upon leaving Wadi Shab, a next stop could be Fins beach which is located quite close to the wadi. The immaculate stretch of sand and crystal clear waters are the main attraction here and, fortunately, you will not see too many revellers, so as maintaining a tranquil atmosphere.
Ayjah, Sur’s historical old town, is popular for its lighthouse and Al Ayjah Fort. There are other monuments like the 300 year old Sunaysilah Fort and Bilad Sur Castle which are also of tourist interest. Also, the Khor al Batah, a suspension bridge in Ayjah that connects two major suburbs of Sur on opposite ends of an estuary, helps in significantly cutting down travel time between the two. It is quite a sight at night to capture on lens.
Ras al Jinz
Once in Sur, reserve the evening for the reserve. Around 40km south along the coast lies the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve which has a hotel, a museum and the turtle sanctuary. A visit to this reserve to watch nesting turtles late at night is the perfect way to end your trip to Sur.
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