In a region that’s often thought of as flashy and expensive, Oman is a country where you can still experience authentic Arabian culture.
I jumped at the chance to visit when my friend and her friends spontaneously organised an overnight stay on a traditional dhow boat while I was visiting them in Dubai. It was my first time in the Middle East, and I’d just got back from travelling Asia, so I was keen for a totally new experience. I had no idea what to expect, and it ended up being one of my best travelling experiences so far.
We hired a car and set off on a 6-hour road trip across the border, lengthy yes, but with a group of girls in one car it was the perfect excuse to sing our hearts out to power ballads, stuff our faces with snacks and take the obligatory road trip selfies. Needless to say, it went quick.
We arrived at the border and got our visas easily, then continued the drive into Khasab – it was like driving into a different world. The sandy mountains dropping into the oceans and vast plains of desert made us literally gawp out the windows (and stop a gazillion times for photo opps).
When we got there, we met a local guy called Mohammed who was the one taking us out on his Dhow boat. He didn’t speak much English, so he had a translator, and they were both incredibly friendly. In fact, every local we met was unbelievably smiley and welcoming. It’s well-known that people in Oman are some of the nicest people in the world.
When we finally anchored the boat, it was pitch black and we spent the evening tucking into local BBQ food, drinking wine and staring up at the starry night sky – completely unpolluted and so peaceful.
When I woke up, I just stood there totally mesmerised by where the boat had pulled up. Jagged mountains that were set against vivid blue ocean – I’d never seen anything like it. Mohammed took us straight to a bay where we went snorkeling before sailing alongside dolphins – if there was ever a time that the description ‘magical’ is justified, this was it.
Next stop Telegraph Island, the outpost that apparently drove men insane back in the day – easy to see how as it’s literally a tiny island in the middle of a bay. The bend in front of the bay is named ’round the bend’ due to driving soldiers mad. It was eery but interesting, and the scenery was once again – out of this world. The rest of the time was spent sailing from cove to cove, jumping in the sea and having a swim. The cherry on top came at lunch time when Mohammed went diving for fresh clams and served up on the boat deck with a squeeze of lemon. Unbelievable.
Probably one of the best experiences I’ve had on all my travels, this is travelling as it should be – authentic, simple, awe-inspiring and with endless hours of sunshine.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into Oman, as we just experienced a small part of it, have a look at this Highlights of Oman tour. Or for more middle-eastern inspiration, head to our travel guide.