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Traumhafter Strand in Salalah, Bild: byvalet / shutterstock

Salalah in the Sultanate of Oman: Between coral reefs and incense

Holidays in Oman? In Salalah? Anyone who plays with this idea is certainly still one of the exotics among the common Western tourists. And this despite the fact that Oman, and especially the city of Salalah in the southwest of the Sultanate, has Caribbean-like beaches, excellent diving spots, natural wonders between palm trees and breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites to offer. If you want to travel to Salalah, you can fly directly to the former capital of Oman, which has a population of about 375,000. In addition to a passport, a visa is required for entry, which can also be applied for online.

Salalah – The best time to travel for sea, beach and diving

Salalah is great for a beach holiday. If you are planning one, you can escape the German dirty winter here, because the best time to travel is between the months of November and March. Although temperatures are summery all year round, ranging from 25 to 40 degrees, the southern part of the Sultanate, where Salalah is located, can be hit by heavy rainfall from June to September. Then it is rainy season in this part of the country and beach holidays can fall through completely under certain circumstances.

The most beautiful beaches and diving areas

Salalah is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Many hotels here have their own sections of beach, each of which is only a few steps away from the hotel. All these beaches are equipped with an excellent infrastructure, ranging from sunbed rentals to bars, restaurants, toilets and playgrounds, as well as sports facilities of all kinds. Guests can play volleyball, take a surfing or sailing course or go snorkelling. One of the most popular beaches in the city area is Al Haffa Beach. The almost white sandy beach, surrounded by tall palm trees in front of turquoise blue water, looks like something out of a picture book. The nearby beaches are usually relatively busy, as locals also relax here.

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If you like it quieter, choose the bays of Fazayah, which are about 80 kilometers west of Salalah and can be easily reached by rental car. Here you can swim intimately between bizarrely designed rock formations or in front of a high cliff. Diving enthusiasts are spoilt for choice in and around Salalah, as it is teeming with breathtakingly beautiful coral reefs. There are diving schools on every corner that organize dives and give courses. Particularly beautiful dive sites are Eagle Bay and Shaab Ashra Reef. Both are located 70 kilometers from Salalah, near the city of Mirbat. In addition to a colourful underwater world of fish and plants, you can also explore enchanted-looking fish wrecks here.

Welcome to Salalah, the city of the frankincense trade

If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture in addition to relaxation and sporting activity on the beach, you can dedicate yourself to the incense trade. Salalah stands in a centuries-old tradition in this regard and is still considered the global center of the frankincense trade today. At the Al-Husn Souk, you can look over the shoulders of the incense burners. The ancient frankincense port of Al-Baleed on the eastern edge of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not a functioning port, but an archaeological excavation site that can be visited. Right next door, the Museum of the Frankincense Land beckons, which not only provides information about the trading history of the valuable commodity, but also provides a small overview of the history of Oman. You should also not miss a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. Although it is not antique, it dates from the 21st century, but it looks powerful and is richly decorated and designed. Finally, you can take a look at the Sultan’s Palace, which can be visited from the outside.

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Off to birdwatching and dolphin safari

AYN KHOR, Oman
AYN KHOR, Image: Santhosh kumar sundaresan / shutterstock

And Salalah is also a true paradise for bird lovers. Guided birdwatching tours are offered everywhere, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with cormorants, colourful flamingos, collared parakeets and Bonelli eagles. However, the bird species mentioned are only a few examples of birds that can be admired around the city, which is located on the flight path of many European species in and out of their winter quarters.

Then it’s on to the cute sea creatures that cavort around Salalah. The starting point is the port of Salalah, from where dolphin safaris with excursion boats depart. The organizers know exactly where dolphins or humpback and blue whales like to stay and guide their guests directly there.

Wadi Darbat, the desert oasis

Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Salalah
Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Salalah, Image: Patrik Dietrich / shutterstock

An excellent excursion destination into nature is Wadi Darbat. The village of the same name is located just under 60 kilometers from Salalah and is best reached by rental car. There are various hiking trails on site, which lead through a barren desert landscape or a lush green oasis. Depending on whether the excursion is made during the rainy or dry season. The landscape around Wadi Dabat is always beautiful. In addition, cave paintings can be visited and desert tours on dromedaries can be undertaken. The highlight of the desert oasis are several waterfalls that appear out of nowhere in the middle of the desert.

The coastal city of Mirbat

Another popular destination is the city of Mirbat, 75 kilometers from Salalah. Mirbat is a mixture of a traditional fishing village and a modern trading place. In the harbour you can see the typical dhow boats, old fishing boats. There you can still watch the fishermen doing handicrafts-oriented work. You can watch how they pull the fish out of the nets and sort them and then mend the nets and hang them up to dry.