What to do in Sur, Oman
Sur is a coastal town of Oman that is located 200 kilometers from the nation's capital, Muscat. The beach town is quiet and offers historical, cultural and natural attractions, and is part of the itinerary of many travelers visiting Oman, as a strategic stop for anyone who wants to take a road trip across the country - a connection between Muscat and the Wahiba Sands desert. Discover in this post what to do in Sur, from the way out of the Omani capital until the arrival at the desert of the country.
Leaving Muscat, the first attraction of the day will be the Bimmah Sinkhole, one of the most incredible natural pools you will see. The location is about 90 minutes from the capital, Muscat, and when arriving there you will see a lake at the bottom of a hole, with colors that go from blue to green, depending on the sun light. Geologists say this well, which is about 40 meters wide and 20 meters deep, was created when a limestone cave collapsed, but many locals disagree, claiming that a piece of the moon fell from the sky and made the giant hole. The view from above is spectacular, but the clear and magnificent water can be particularly inviting when the sun hits during the day. There you can go into the water and if you give in to temptation and dip your fingers in the lake, you may have a foot massage given by the little fish that are there.
The opening hours of Bimmah Sinkhole are at 8 am, but we got there at 7:30 am and got in without any problems (yes, we left Muscat at 6 am). Be sure to wear bathing suits (they also have a bathroom you can use to change) and if you have them, use water shoes.
After leaving Bimmah Sinkhole, it’s time to drive for approximately 20 minutes to the Wadi Shab - one of the many wadis of Oman. Wadi is an Arabic term referring to a dry riverbed that contains water at certain times of the year, usually when there is heavy rainfall, forming pools in which to swim.
Upon arriving at the Wadi Shab parking lot, you will need to take a boat ride for 1 OMR per person (the amount already includes the return trip) to cross a short stretch of river and then you start a super quiet trail of about 45 minutes through one breathtaking valley, where you will see rocks of different sizes and lots of vegetation, until you reach the point where you can swim. Make the most of your time and be sure to check out the entire canyon to admire the complete scenery. When swimming in the natural pool, be sure to see the waterfall and the cave, that can only be accessed through swimming in the water.
I walked the trail in flip-flops and found it ok, but a lot of people were in sneakers (which I do not recommend as you may need to wet your feet in the water). I think the best shoe to use is either a flip-flops or hiking sandals, which will allow you to get your feet wet.
Upon leaving the Wadi Shab it is time to head for Sur, but if you wish, take time to stop at Fins Beach, which is very close to the wadi. The beach has crystal blue water and small cliffs on both sides. Considering its size, the beach was completely empty with our only company a solitary donkey and few families having barbecues.
When arriving in Sur, depending on the time, you can do many things, but if you want to choose only one, head over to the Lighthouse of Sur. It is a great option to have a view of the city and the beach, and understand a little of the geography of city. The building is admirable, with neutral colors that highlight the turquoise dome on its ceiling. Although the lighthouse itself is closed (you cannot climb it), you can spend time walking around and enjoying the view, especially during the sunset.
Just like in Muscat, the Corniche (or waterfront) of Sur is great for a walk. On the beach you will see children playing football and some fishing boats.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
Most people stay in Sur because the town is close to the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve (more or less 40 minutes away). You can go there for a night stroll, which begins after sunset, or a morning stroll, which starts early, to see the great holes in the sand in which the turtles reside. You can see them all year round, but the high season runs from July to October. Unfortunately, we did not get to go.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Once you’ve finished all you want to do in Sur, continue your road trip through Oman heading for the Wahiba Sands desert, but making a strategic stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. It is wider than the Wadi Shab and is more easily accessible - it is about 30 minutes from Sur and it is possible to get there by car, with no need for boat and trail.
Wadi Bani Khalid is a stunning oasis in the desert, with crystal clear waters surrounded by palm trees and steep mountains. The place is extensive and the pools are huge, so swimming in them is extremely refreshing. And the good thing is that if hunger strikes, they have a restaurant there, as well as a bathroom, in case you want to change your clothes after swimming.
Where to eat in Sur
As we spent only one night in Sur, we ate at the Zaki restaurant which offered many of the delicious dishes found in Oman, especially the grilled fish.
Tips to enjoy the best of Sur
Women will probably feel more comfortable wearing more conservative swimwear - change your bikini for a one-piece. Even so, I put on a diving shirt at Wadi Bani Khalid, as there were many local families nearby.
Avoid visiting the above points on Fridays and Saturdays, as this is the Arab weekend many places end up getting crowded.
Read all Oman posts.