Sur is a coastal town of Oman located 200 kilometers from Muscat, the country’s capital. 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 as a connection between Muscat and the Wahiba Sands desert. Discover in this post the best things to do in Sur, Oman.
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What to do in Sur – Bimmah Sinkhole
Leaving Muscat on your way to Sur, 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 here you will see a lake at the bottom of a hole, with colors that go from blue to green, depending on the 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. Here 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 here.
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. Bimmah Sinkhole is one of the best places to visit in Oman.
What to do in Sur – Wadi Shab
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 waters of the Wadi. 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, don’t forget to see the waterfall and the cave which can only be accessed by 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). The best footwear to use is either a flip-flop or hiking sandals which will allow you to get your feet wet.
What to do in Sur – Fins Beach
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 a few families having barbecues.
What to do in Sur – Sur Lighthouse
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, one of the best places to see in Oman. It is a great option to have a view of the city and the beach, and understand a little about the geography of the 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.
What to do in Sur – Corniche
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.
What to do in Sur – 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 visit it 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.
What to do in Sur – Wadi Bani Khalid
Once you’ve finished all you want to do in Sur, continue your road trip through Oman by going to the Wahiba Sands desert, but making a strategic stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. This wadi is wider than 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 a 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, Oman
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.
There are not a lot of hotel options in Sur, but I recommend Sur Plaza Hotel.
Avoid visiting the attractions in Sur, Oman, on Fridays and Saturdays, as many places end up getting crowded.
What to know for visiting Sur, Oman
Citizens of almost all nationalities, including the US and European Union, need a visa to enter Oman. It can be obtained online with a stay permit of 10 or 30 days, and the cost starts at 5 OMR.
When applying for an Oman visa, attaching a copy of the passport and a photo is necessary. After that, just wait to receive the email with the approval (mine took 24 hours), then print it to present to immigration on arrival.
Along with the visa, all travelers arriving in Oman are required to present a COVID-19 vaccine certificate stating that they have received two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine approved in Oman (Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford Astrazeneca, Covishield AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinovac, Moderna, and Sinopharm), or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. The last dose must have been received not less than fourteen (14) days ahead of the estimated arrival time.
Additionally, having international health insurance is one of the latest requirements for entering Oman. My recommended and used travel insurance resource is SquareMouth is a platform for searching for the best option amongst travel insurance companies. It allows travelers to instantly purchase a travel insurance policy from every major provider in the US and it also makes clear each policy’s COVID-related coverage.
Also, all Oman visitors on long international flights (that take 8 hours or more ) must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours before arrival. For shorter flights (with less than 8 hours), the PCR test can be taken within 72 hours before arrival.
Read the updated travel restrictions to Oman related to Covid-19.
The voltage in Oman is 240 V and the power plugs and sockets are the type G (the same as the UK).
The currency used in Oman is the Omani Rial (OMR). You can check the current exchange rate on Google.
While traveling, I use a free Charles Schwab Debit Card that provides unlimited worldwide ATM Fee Refunds, no foreign transaction fee, and the actual exchange rate.
Best time to visit Oman
The best time to visit Oman is from October to April when temperatures are milder. Be cautious when visiting the country from May to September, when the thermometers can easily reach 50 °C.
Regardless of the season, be prepared for low temperatures in the mountains of Jebel Akhdar and in the desert Wahiba Sands, where you will need to wear a sweater and/or a windbreaker jacket.
Best tours in Oman
Some of the best tours and things to do in Oman are:
- Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole Private Full-Day Tour: see two of the best natural attractions of the country on the same day and without worrying about driving to and from.
- Cruises to Daymaniyat & Snorkeling: one of the best experiences to have in the country – the Daymaniyat Islands are an idyllic getaway from Muscat and a must-do day trip.
- Full-Day Private Wahiba Sands Desert and Wadi Bani Khalid Tour: are you short on time to visit the country’s highlights? This tour allows you to explore two wonders – the ochre dunes of the Wahiba Sands desert and the raw, unspoiled nature of Wadi Bani Khalid.
Where to stay in Oman (the best hotels in the country)
I recommend booking your hotels on Booking.com to get the best rate and other perks such as genius discounts and free cancellation if your plans change.
Expedia is also a great place to find hotel deals and unique stays.
The best hotels to stay in Oman are:
BEST HOTELS IN MUSCAT
- Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel: a gorgeous 5-star hotel set on the Al Hajar mountains overlooking the Sea of Oman. It features 3 restaurants, including seafood and a Chinese one, and has its own private beach.
- Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa: this adults-only resort is a dreamy place to stay In Muscat. The décor reminiscent of Arabian palaces is seen in the rooms and the entire hotel. Also, Shangri-la has a private beach, and some rooms offer stunning sea views.
- The Chedi Muscat: one of the top hotels in Muscat, The Chedi is a luxury hotel with pristine pools (including an adults-only one) and all the perks you expect from a 5-star resort.
- Kempinski Hotel Muscat: a modern luxury 5-star hotel. The pools are perfect for cooling down during the summer months.
BEST HOTELS IN NIZWA
- Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel: the best hotel to stay in Nizwa, Golden Tulip offers comfortable accommodations and a heated outdoor pool.
- Intercity Hotel Nizwa: modern, comfortable hotel in Nizwa.
BEST HOTELS IN SUR
- Zaki Hotel Apartment: this hotel is an excellent place to stay in Sur – it features comfortable rooms and has a great seafood restaurant.
- Sur Plaza Hotel: though Sur doesn’t have a great variety of hotels, Sur Plaza is a good place if you just need a bed for the night.
BEST LUXURY HOTELS IN OMAN
- Alila Jabal Akhdar: a luxury hotel overlooking the mountains of Oman. It’s the perfect place to relax by the heated infinity pool while soaking in the views, have a spa treatment, or go for a hike. Alila is one of the best hotels in Oman for a honeymoon or other special occasions.
- Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort: being the highest 5-star resort in the Middle East, Anantara offers impressive views of the Omani mountains. The entire property is fantastic, but the gorgeous infinity pool wins as the most beautiful feature.
- Six Senses Zighy Bay: a luxury beachfront hotel surrounded by mountains. One of the most unique experiences is choosing to arrive on this secluded paradise either by speedboat, 4×4, or paraglider. The stunning villas of Six Senses have private pools and are designed like a traditional Omani village.
- Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara: an oceanfront hotel in the southern part of Oman. This oasis hotel is the first and only luxury pool villa resort in the area – a perfect place for an off-the-beaten-path itinerary through the country.
Transportation in Oman
Rental Cars: The best way to get around Oman is by car. Plan on renting a car as soon as you arrive in Muscat, so you can explore the country at your convenience. I use RentalCars for my car rental needs and it’s the company I recommend.
Ever since the pandemic, travel insurance has become almost essential for every type of travel and is currently one of the requirements for entering Oman.
My recommended travel insurance company is SquareMouth, a platform for searching for the best option amongst travel insurance companies. It allows travelers to instantly purchase a travel insurance policy from every major provider in the US, and it also makes clear each policy’s COVID-related coverage.
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