29 Jan 2020

Muscat, Oman: A Hidden Gem of the Middle East

I’ve always had a spot in my heart for the Arabian Peninsula and actually lived in Dubai for almost 5 years. After I graduated from college I took 6 months traveling the world which ended in Dubai – at the time I wasn’t ready to go home so I called my parents and told them I was staying in Dubai. As you can imagine, my parents weren’t too thrilled with me moving that far from home but within a week I had a job, found 4 amazing roommates with a beachside apartment and a car (complete with it’s own fire extinguisher, but that’s another story).

I used to go back to Dubai 4 or 5 times a year but the last couple of years I haven’t been able to make it back so when I was offered the opportunity to go back and visit the Shangri-La hotels in Oman and Dubai I couldn’t say yes fast enough! I was super excited to bring David since he’d only ever been in Dubai for a day and never visited Oman.

Oman is a hidden gem of the Middle East. I’ve been to Oman a couple times while I lived in Dubai but never had the good fortune of visiting Muscat. While it shares a border with the UAE, the landscape couldn’t be more different. While Dubai, where I spent most of my time in the UAE, is mostly desert Muscat has lush greenery, beautiful mountains and cliffs that seemingly fall into the sea. 

Oman can be a great way to start the trip if you’re coming from the US since a few relaxing days is a great way to adjust to the 9-hour time change. Or Oman can be a great way to relax after a wild long-weekend in Dubai if you want to decompress and be spoiled before heading home. We chose to make it the beginning of our trip since our time in Dubai didn’t figure to be too wild since I was 6-months pregnant while visiting. 

Oman is really easy to get to – you can fly into Dubai and then it’s only about a 30 minute flight to Muscat, the capital of Oman. We were lucky enough to spend our baby moon at the Shangri-La Al Husn which is a stunning cliffside retreat. The hotel is absolutely beautiful. It has a picture-perfect Arabian courtyard, an infinity pool that looks out on the Gulf of Oman and some of the best food in all of Oman.

Note: Keep in mind the the Shangri-La Al Husn hotel isn’t kid friendly – but there are two other hotels on the property if you want to bring your family!

We spent most of our trip on the resort grounds and exploring the other two hotels Al Bandar and Al Waha which complete the resort. There are tons of activities to keep you entertained but if you want to venture ‘off campus’ you can go scuba diving, dolphin watching or hike through the hills and mountains of Oman. Whatever you do, remember to bring your camera with you since it’s hard to imagine there is a more picturesque country than Oman.

I’ll share a short itinerary here but definitely check out my printable itinerary for more detail and some of my favorite photos from the trip: 

Day 1: Arrive in Oman and relax poolside or head down to the beach for a casual bite. Make sure to go to afternoon Tea which was one of my favorite daily activities while staying at the Shangri-La Al Husn. 

Day 2: Explore all that Oman has to Offer. Go on a scenic hike, rent a dhow, go dolphin spotting or go scuba diving. Personally, I love hiring a dhow in Oman. Dhows are traditional boats that in the past were used for all kinds of different activities. If you want a different Omani experience, you can go on a Dhow cruise where you spend the days beach hopping and actually sleep on the Dhow at night!

Day 3: Take advantage of what Shangri-La Al Husn has to offer. Go kayaking, see the turtle sanctuary or just lounge by the pool and enjoy a cocktail or two. There are a number of evening flights that get you into Dubai in time for a late dinner!!

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