Six must-try adventures in Oman: from scuba diving with whale sharks to paragliding
Oman has long been a favourite with travellers, thanks to its incredible natural beauty and pristine coastlines. Easily reachable from the UAE, either via a short flight or a perfectly manageable drive, the sultanate also has plenty to offer those seeking some high-octane adventure travel.
1. Climb, abseil and zip line at Jebel Akhdar's activity wall
Head to Oman’s green mountain for some action-packed activities high above sea level. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is home to the Jabal Activity Wall, where you can try your hand at rock climbing, abseiling and zip lining, all under the watchful eye of a local Omani instructor.
If you're feeling brave, you can tackle the Middle East’s highest steel rope bridge — perched nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. Choose to climb with ropes or try the Via Ferrata that runs along the mountain edge and offers more than 20 metres of steep climbs and sheer drops, ideal for abseiling fans. Stop to take in the deep canyon views as you go, and if you're climbing with Suleiman the guide, get set to hear some amazing stories about how life in the mountain's remote villages has transformed over the years.
2. Dive with whale sharks at Daymaniyat Islands
Seeb Marina on the outskirts of Muscat is the place to go for a scuba diving trip to the protected Daymaniyat Islands, where you can swim with whale sharks. September is the time to visit if you want to be in with the best chance of spotting these gentle giants, which can grow up to 10 metres in length. Home to more than 22 known diving sites, the nine-island area is also perfect for snorkelling.
Pearl Dimaniyat Diving Centre runs daily trips to the waters around the nature reserve and owner Arif is a dab hand at knowing where to go for best spotting the whale sharks. And if it's off-season, don't worry — there's still plenty to see including turtles, black tips, eels, parrotfish, coral gardens and much more.
3. Go paragliding in Musandam
Barefoot luxury and swanky lodgings await at Six Senses Zighy Bay, a five-star resort located on Oman’s Musandam Peninsula. The eco-haven is also home to one of the sultanate's best adventures.
Get set to jump off the edge of a cliff and soar high above the mountains on a 15-minute arrival paragliding flight. Taking off from the top of Zighy mountain, the pilot will follow the wind flow and adventurers will be able to enjoy a unique bird's eye view of the Hajar Mountains and their surroundings. Look out for ancient villages, desert oases and bright blue waters before a gentle descent, as you come to land on the sands of Zighy beach.
4. Swim, jump and climb through Wadi Shab
For an epic adventure, head to Wadi Shab in Oman's Al Sharqiyah Region. One of the sultanate's most popular wadis, this place has something for everyone. With pure turquoise waters, towering palm trees and a waterfall inside a cave, it's a must-visit. Local touring company twenty3 extreme offers aquatic treks through the wadi every Sunday and Tuesday, and can also organise private tours any day of the week.
Starting bright and early with a safety briefing, the adventure begins with a boat ride to the start of the Wadi Shab trek. Here, an easy hike takes in the canyon's water pools, caves, waterfalls and tunnels. It also includes a lunch stop at a local restaurant where you can try traditional Omani fare and learn more about the village before heading to Bimmah Sinkhole to end the day with an epic swim in the bright blue water.
5. Watch wild dolphins in Salalah
Located on Oman’s southern coast, Salalah marches to a beat of its own. With tropical vibes, towering palm trees and the annual khareef season when the end of the monsoons sweep in from Africa, it’s got a distinctly tropical vibe. And that continues on the water where you can see spinner and round-head dolphins and Omani porpoises.
Salalah Adventure Tours operates from Taqah Port out on to the water, and is run by local Omani guides. Keep a keen eye out for the friendly and curious dolphins, which often come quite close to the boats. If you want a more hands-on adventure, you can stick on a snorkel and jump in the water. If you're super lucky, you may even see a whale.
6. Hike Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain
Oman’s largest mountain towers in at more than 3,000 metres above sea level and is a craggy playground just waiting to be explored. Part of the western Hajar Mountains, Jebel Shams offers epic hiking and trekking opportunities, all of which come with awesome views. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can summit the mountain in about seven or eight hours, then settle down for a night of camping under a star-filled canopy.
Hikers with less experience can try the Balcony Walk, which gives similar views but takes a little less time. Winding along the rim of Wadi Al Nakhr canyon, you'll enjoy amazing scenes over Wadi Ghul and trek all the way to the abandoned village of Sab Bani Khamis. Afterwards, enjoy an authentic home-made lunch by a local Omani family in a nearby village, served under the shade of palm fronds.