Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Muscat, the capital city of Oman, in contrast to the high-rise, luxurious and the Sham neighbor Dubai, is a pure Arabian gem. Its essence of Arabia strives with culture, beauty, and history. The relatively unfamiliar country for travel is by far one of the unique and spectacular lands in the middle-east.
The drive to cover a distance of 430 km (Approx 4:30 min) from Dubai to Muscat seemed adventurous and realistic. Since my friend and I were resident visa holder of the UAE, entering Oman by road wasn’t a hassle. However, my blunder was that I hadn’t researched enough on the requirement of documents at the border crossing points. Unaware of the three crossing points, we headed to the station that seemed closer and logical. Unfortunately, as expats, we weren’t allowed to enter through that border as we lacked to carry an accurate vehicle document. Suddenly, our exciting road trip was at risk until we were directed towards the Hatta Oman border to continue with our adjourned journey.
What should have ideally been a 5-hour journey to get to Muscat took us 8 hours and not sure if it were the company or the more exceptional roads, somehow wasn’t as exasperating as one would imagine. The next morning, waking up in Muscat followed by a restful slumber awarded us with enough energy to discover the cities exquisite architecture and to explore the city’s far-out village that is surrounded by volcanic mountains and captivating coastline.
Tucked away in a small bay in the northeast of Oman, amidst the marvel of the extreme landscape, Qantab, a village in Muscat, is favorite amongst the locals for its untouched beaches and the quiet melancholy of the town. Distinguished by its peacefulness and charm, Qantab is home to a traditional fishing community, who live in harmony with some foreign residents. I thought of it as an unusual mix. Visitors have the opportunity to see and get to know local life as people here are warm and willing to strike a conversation. The houses of the village border directly onto the beach alongside the large boats contributing to a pleasant atmosphere.
As the sun sets Qantab beach pulses with life, children running around, locals sipping tea and chatting up while the fishermen go about their handiwork. It’s most beautiful at sunset. As the beach lacks extravagance, it is excellent for travelers who want to enjoy a little time to themselves and explore the area by foot. Explorers can scramble up the rocks at the edge of the bay and even jump off. But, with caution as there are no lifeguards and you can do it at your risk. If you are anything like me, who can’t swim to save your life, opt for a boat tour and the clear sight will bestow you with fabulous photography opportunities.
Being surrounded by mighty boulders, blue sky and not a soul around was a blessing and a bit intimidating. The drive by the dramatic landscape, sinuous road, and very little traffic, to get to the top of the cliff at Qantab made for a sensational spin. The commute is hemmed in by steep rocky hills and flanked by a broad strand that faces out to the Gulf of Oman. This sight was undoubtedly right up my alley.
With easy access to colorful coral and marine life, it comes as no surprise that the perfect coastline hosts some of the finest hotels and resorts in the Muscat area. In particular, The Shangri-La has a stunning location set on a private bay framed by golden sands, turquoise waters and the red rock of the mountains behind. It is located at one end of the long sweeping beach that links the hotel and guests are free to wander around.
A dear Omani friend suggested that Qantab is an ideal place for overnight barbecue as one can observe the starry night sky and if lucky, one is graced by the sight of a shooting star, a view at night so rare. Qantab, home to the natural wonder, with developing years has seen the start of significant tourism development and residential projects. These changes may not have been universally welcomed, with many wishing to preserve the area’s natural beauty. This naturally beautiful frame deserves more attention and amenity.
In the face of modernity, Oman’s sleepy fishing towns, spectacular geology, and Pristine water remain at the heart of the Omani Spirit. As such, the rugged beauty gave us a real chance to experience the Arab kingdom without the distorting lens of excessive wealth and modernization.
Travel Related Information:
Border check post
1. Hatta Oman Border
2. UAE/Oman Border
3. Mezyad Border Post
Visa: Required for Indians unless holding a valid visa of either USA, UK, Australia, Schengen or Japan.
Visa cost: 20 Omani Riyals (Approx Rs 3700)
Currency: Oman Riyal
Find the official link of Oman below,
Shilpa Srinivas - @flohwithme