OMAN – From Sur to Muscat: forts, ancient cities and beautiful nature

Oman - Sur
Oman - Sur

Exactly halfway our Oman road trip we drove from the Ras al Jinz turtle reserve towards Muscat. The main city in between is Sur which is a small, vibrant yet traditional village. If your time allows an additional night in Sur it’s easily filled with activities. We made 6 stops on the way to Muscat. It’s a long day but well worth it except the fact that I would have loved to spend a bit more time relaxing in Sur. Let me share with you what we did during our sixth day of our Oman road trip.

Ras al Hadd fort and fishing village

We had just a few hours’ sleep after watching the turtles in Raz al Jinz before we started our drive to Muscat. The first stop was at Ras al-Hadd. A small town located on the most north-eastern tip of Oman. As in most cities or towns in Oman it has a fort (located at N 22.525837; E 59.791153). The strategic place of Ras al-Hadd required a good fort and it’s worth a visit. It’s beautiful restored. It’s not huge but it’s a fine example of a small-sized fort in Oman. It won’t take more as half an hour to see it. Before we arrived in Sur we drove a few kilometers off-road on the right side of the road (at coordinates 22°29’15.3″N 59°42’51.9″E). There you will find an inlet of the ocean and you can see the local life of fishermen. It’s interesting to see how the local people live there.

Oman - Sur
Oman – Sur

City of Sur

We continued our journey to Sur. Sur is a small coastal town famous for its dhow workshops. Dhows are small fishing ships you see everywhere on the water in Sur. We parked our car near the lighthouse which is well worth a visit (location N 22.568931; E 59.540464). The area around the lighthouse is the old town with narrow streets. Here you can step in the footsteps of the dhow builders. If you have time you might want to stay overnight in Sur and just relax and experience this traditional town. We did not have that much time so we continued to the cornice for a short stroll along the beach and to have a small snack. Sur has, like the other towns, castles and forts. The Sinaysilah Castle (N22.579927; E59.503765) is the nicest to visit. It’s pretty large with various items on display. It’s very difficult for me to skip something so I just had to go to the Castle Billad Sur (N22.554094; E59.489303) too. I dragged my family there and we spend a few minutes there, before they would get angry on me we left. To be honest, it’s more of the same and a quick look is enough. We continued our journey towards Muscat.

Oman - Sur
Oman – Sur

Ancient city of Qalhat

Just 20 kilometers north of Sur we arrived to the ancient city of Qalhat (N 22.694526; E59.372538). It’s the old capital of Oman. The remains are small but it’s the important role this place played in history that makes it worth a visit. It was an important sea port already before 1500 BC. It took over 3 centuries before it got destroyed early 16th century when it was under the control of the Hormuz. This archeological site has one big remain and that’s the mausoleum of Bibi Maryam. There are a few tombs, some remains of walls but for the rest it’s mainly up to your imagination. The site is marked as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, so I just had to stop by. There is no official entrance, but the gates were open so we looked around a bit. We left quickly as we didn’t know if we were supposed to enter or not.

Oman - Sur to Muscat

Bimmah Sinkhole

Between Bimmah and Dibab you will find the Hawiyat Najm Park. The Bimmah Sinkhole or Dibab Sinkhole is located there (N 23.033611; E 59.069868). Sinkholes are formed by the collapse of the surface area forming a hole. The ground below gets eroded by chemical processes, water erosion or other natural processes. When there is not enough support left the surface will collapse. The Bimmah Sinkhole is located about 500 meters from the sea-shore and is about 40 by 20 meters big. Its waters are of beautiful turquoise color. You can have a swim here and have the fish suck on your feet or skin. It’s said this is healthy for your skin. If you are up to it you can even jump from the edge into the water. Do this at your own risk as this is not allowed and dangerous. Be warned!

Oman - Sur to Muscat
Oman – Sur to Muscat

Wadi Daykah Dam

We left the Bimmah Sinkhole behind us while driving north towards Wadi Dayqah and its dam (location: N 23.186287; E 58.965498). A Wadi is an important natural phenomenon in Oman. If there is a Wadi there is water. The water creates a beautiful lush green environment with lots of shade. The Wadi Dayqah is a gorge cut out of the Eastern Hajar Mountains. During one of the next days we would drive the most famous wadi up the Hajar Mountains. When it rains, which is rare in Oman, these wadi’s get flooded. In 2009 the dam was constructed. The result is a beautiful artificial lake in the middle of the desert. It generates electricity, provides drinking water and water for agricultural purposes downstream the wadi. There is a beautiful park around the lake where you can relax and have a pick nick. If the Omani have a day off it will be busy there. When we finished our snacks and drinks we continued to our last fort of the day in Quriyat.

Oman - Sur to Muscat
Oman – Sur to Muscat

Quriyat Fort and off-road to Muscat

The Quriyat fort was the last item on my list to see together with a small watch tower just offshore. I say my list as the others wanted to go to Muscat but as I was driving it was my call. Quriyat is a coastal town like Sur. The fort (located at N 23.265196; E 58.916002) is like other forts in Oman, I saw this too so I was not planning to stay there to long. It was already late afternoon so it was closed. More as an outside view I did not have but I don’t regret that I could not go inside. Our visit to Quriyat was not more as 30 minutes but it would delay our drive to Muscat by an hour.

Oman - Sur to Muscat
Oman – Sur to Muscat

We would spend the night and the next nights in Muscat in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. This would include New Year eve. In Quriyat town the navigator said that we had to drive a bit back and then get on the highway. The maps also showed a more direct road so I though let’s take that one and get my family to the hotel more quickly. Wrong! It was a gravel road through a wadi delaying our journey to Muscat by an hour. It was probably 7 or even 8PM when we arrived to our hotel. A long day full of new impressions. Would I plan again like this? Yes, probably. That’s just me.

The next day we would spend in Muscat, but we would have more adventures after that. Read all about my 10 days Oman road trip itinerary.

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Did you visit Sur too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery from Sur to Muscat

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

GPS Track from Sur to Muscat

During my trips I make GPS tracks (sometimes they do not show, click download to open in Google maps). Feel free to download them and see how we moved around and see the time frames at the various places. Hope these maps are of help for you when planning your trips.

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