We opened the curtains and saw clear skies (not surprisingly) in the morning, and it seemed it was hot again. So, as yesterday we missed fish souq, we started our day with that. The fish market smelled as it was supposed to. Every morning from 4 am, you can buy the daily catch, ranging from fish, squid, and crabs. We were there not so early and saw the Souq fishermen unloading their boats, sorting the fish, and taking them across the parking lot. This was very interesting.
After checking out of the Naseem hotel (they accepted only cash as a payment), we were heading towards Yiti Beach, about 25 km from Muscat. We had read the comments that the LP directions were not correct. We also had the other book, Oman Off-road Explorer, which had a route to Yiti beach, and we decided to follow those directions. Although we followed the directions carefully, we still ended up at the same roundabout three times. The reason was the same in both directions-after the Hamriya roundabout, they suggested turning to the road, which is one way going the other way. We asked the locals for help.
Our main map was in the Lonely Planet Arabian Peninsula guidebook, and we had missed a good map several times. I cannot even answer why we did not buy one. Maybe it was because we felt very safe asking for help from accommodating locals. One guy even asked us to follow his car; he showed us the right turning place.
The route took us to the mountains; the whole 40-minute-drive was very scenic. We stopped to buy water and ice cream in the village shop, and after that, we were there. Yiti Beach is a beautiful, deserted sandy beach flanked by two rocky cliffs. We did not see any services on the beach itself; we were only visitors. Later, one couple also came for a picnic lunch.
After our first tanning in Oman, we drove forward. Our destination for the day was Sur, a beach town 220km south of Muscat. We followed the Oman Off-Road Explorer book. The book was a great help during the whole trip to Oman.
We picked the road by the sea to Sur. It was said in the route description that a 4WD car is needed for that coast route. And yes, even in the beginning, the road was hilly and rocky. At one point, we saw that road construction was going on. And next, we realized we were in the middle of road construction—the road was not yet finished. But with our Toyota Prado, we crossed a few hundred meters to reach the road. After that, it was much easier—most of the streets were already paved, and driving there with no traffic at 120 km/hour was easy.
On the route, we saw mountains and villages, goats and camels. We stopped in the coastal town of Qurayyat for a quick lunch. Tasty sandwiches and soft drinks for four people cost the coffee shop only 2 OMR (4 EUR).
As Off-road Explorer suggested, we also stopped at Sinkhole (Dibab Lake Park). We were unprepared for the picnic, but bathroom facilities and several picnic tables were available. Despite the facilities, the place looks entirely disused. The sinkhole is excellent, but I would not come here only because of that. But if the sun is in the proper position, it could give good photo opportunities. There is also the possibility of swimming if you step down to the hole, although the water is quite salty.
After passing through many cute villages, we finally reached Sur. The 220 km drive, with a lunch break and a stop at the sinkhole, took us about four hours. We selected Sur Beach Hotel from the Lonely Planet hotel selection. The receptionist was very polite to us. He showed us the rooms without asking and said he would give us a discount. It seemed that it was not the season at the end of March, so we paid for a double room at 25 OMR (50 EUR), and he told us that the list price would be 35 OMR (at the stand, it even said 42 OMR). The rooms were nice, with a balcony and a sea view.
After swimming in the pool and showering, we had only one problem to solve – where to have dinner. We didn’t want it in an air-conditioned hotel restaurant; we wanted something authentic. The receptionist suggested we go to Zaki restaurant. And we value this suggestion highly. The food was excellent (mutton tikka, kebab, rice, and noodles), the fresh juices were delicious, and it cost only 10 OMR for four people. The place seemed popular with locals—the tables were full, and many cars just drove by to pick up the food. We loved it there, sitting, sipping a mango or kiwi shake at the Zaki, and being part of the local life.
The trip continues to The Wadi Bani Khalid.