The 3 most beautiful wadis in Oman you definitely need to visit

In this post, you find all the information about 3 wadis in Oman you definitely have to visit: how to get there, where to park and what to take with you.

The term wadi is pretty common in the Middle East. It refers to a valley or channel that in most times remains dry except during the rainy season. There are however wadis that are filled with water the entire year. The wadis in Oman with their oasis-like atmosphere are stunning places to have a swim or to admire the exceptional landscape that Oman has to offer.

Exploring a wadi is an adventure on its own and is filled with surprises behind every corner. Each bend reveals a new sight, from hidden pools to cascading waterfalls. Find out which wadis in Oman are a must to include in your travel itinerary for Oman! In this blog post, we will provide you with in-depth information on how to visit these wadis in Oman. So stay with us as we share our favorite wadis in Oman!

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mieke wadi damm overview first pool

First of all, keep in mind that visiting a wadi demands respect for its unpredictable nature. Flash floods can occur suddenly, transforming the dry paths into rushing water. Always keep an eye on the predicted weather and don’t visit wadis when rain is expected.

How to get to the wadis in Oman?

To get to the wadis in Oman, having you own car is one of the best options. Renting a car will allow you to discover the most beautiful spots in Oman at your own pace. Whether you choose a 2WD or 4WD is up to you. The wadis we’ll talk about in this blogpost are all perfectly doable with a 2WD.

camping spot wadi damm car tent

We recommend to rent a car in Oman through Discovercars.com with free cancellation and insurance included. Discovercars.com is a world leader in comparing prices and offering great deals.

 icon rental car Rent a car in Oman HERE

If you don’t fancy driving in Oman, there are several day tours from Muscat to different wadis in Oman. We include the best tours from Muscat to a specific wadi below.

What to wear in the wadis in Oman?

Oman is a Muslim country, so we advise to dress modestly. For both man and woman, we advise to swim with shorts below the knees and a t-shirt that covers the upper arms. Note that some wadis in Oman are more touristy than others. In the more touristic wadis, women in bikinis and men in bare torso are more common. However, if you want to respect the local customs, we advise to stick to shorts and t-shirt. A surf t-shirt and surf short can be an excellent solution for this.

We also advise to wear decent shoes that can withstand water. As you sometimes have to hike to the start of the wadi and the wadis have a lot of pebbles, decent shoes will make the experience much more comfortable. We had our TEVA sandals with us. Not only can they withstand the water, they also gave our feet the much needed support during the hike.

wadi shab oman between first and second pool

Other things to bring with you

Well, not too much! Because you’ll have to cross the water several times, we recommend packing very light when visiting wadis in Oman. Here’s a list of things to bring with you:

  • A waterproof dry bag – This is perfect to put in your belongings and prevent them from getting wet.
  • A Gopro or a waterproof phone case – This is definitely a must-have when visiting Oman! Oman is famous for its wadis and also for snorkeling at the Daymaniyat Islands. So make sure you are able to capture some memories! All our footage in the wadis in Oman were shot with our Gopro.
  • A quick-dry towel – This will allow you to dry off (and change clothes) after your visit to the wadis.
  • A water bottle – Temperatures are warm in Oman. Make sure to stay hydrated by taking plenty of water with you.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • A life jacket can come in handy if you want to find the hidden waterfall in Wadi Shab.

Our three favorite wadis in Oman

Wadi Bani Khalid in Oman

Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the more easy to visit wadis in Oman and is best visited before or after a visit to the Wahiba Sands. It is a wadi that is frequented by local people so it can get busy at certain times. If you can, try to avoid Fridays or Saturdays (i.e. the weekend in Oman).

It takes about 3 hours to reach the wadi if you come from Muscat. If you’re coming from Sur, it will take about 2 hours. If you give these coordinates to Google Maps, it will take you to the parking lot from where you can start your visit. Parking here is free, as is the entrance to the wadi.  

icon book ticket Book a day tour from Muscat to Wadi Bani Khalid

If you don’t have a rental car, no worries. There are several day tours from Muscat to Wadi Bani Khalid. These day tours include a visit to the Wahiba Sands and swimming in Wadi Bani Khalid.

From the parking lot, it is only a very short walk before you reach the first pool of the wadi. This pool is surrounded by palm trees and cute little bridges. There is also a restaurant and you can use the bathroom here as well. There are also tents where you pay a small amount to change clothes.

From here, you can hike up into the wadi. On your way, you will find different pools where you can take a swim while you can take in the beauty of the wadi. In the wadi live tiny fish that like to nibble your toes. A foot massage is included in your visit. Before or after your swim, you can also visit Muqal cave. We didn’t visit the cave but we heard you can enter the cave under the guidance of some young Omani that show you the way.

All the pools in Wadi Bani Khalid are surrounded by flat rocks, that are perfect to have a picnic. We recommend to spend a couple of hours in Wadi Bani Khalid.

floating mieke wadi bani khalid oman

Where to stay when visiting Wadi Bani Khalid?

Most of the time, a visit to Wadi Bani Khalid is combined with a night in the Wahiba Sands, as the Wadi is situated in between Sur and the Wahiba Sands.

Sur Grand Hotel – SUR

This hotel, situated in Sur, has beautiful rooms with views over the beach. It’s the perfect location to watch the sunset in Sur and leave in the morning for a refreshing dip in the Wadi Bani Khalid.

See prices and availability on BOOKING.COM

booking where to stay Sur Oman grand hotel room
booking where to stay Sur grand hotel outside
Starry Domes Resort – WAHIBA SANDS

Starry Domes Desert Camp is the place where we spent a night in the Wahiba Sands. This intimate camp has several domes with a patio that overlook the endless sand dunes. The camp is the perfect place to discover the orange-red sand dunes of the Wahiba Sands. 

See prices and availability on BOOKING.COM

wahiba sands starry domes booking where to stay
wahiba sands starry domes booking view

Wadi Shab in Oman

Wadi Shab is definitely the most touristy wadi in Oman. But for a good reason, because the wadi itself and the hike to the wadi are spectacular!

icon book ticket Book a day tour from Muscat to Wadi Shab

If you don’t have a rental car, no worries. There are several day tours from Muscat to Wadi Shab.

There is plenty of parking space where you can park your car. The main parking lot is underneath the bridge. Paste these coordinates in Google Maps and it will take you there. It takes about 1.5 hours to Wadi Shab when you come from Muscat and 40 minutes when coming from Sur.

We visited the wadi 2 times during our time in Oman. The first time, we arrived late in the afternoon. At that time, it was less busy but we felt a bit rushed because we didn’t want to miss the last boat on our return. The second time, we arrived early in the morning. We noticed more and more people were arriving around 10 am. So we would suggest to visit the wadi either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

drawing wadi shab oman parking lot

At the end of the main parking lot, there is a small restaurant. Here you can even use a shower for a small fee (this can come in handy when you are camping in Oman). We didn’t visit the restaurant, but if you are short on water or snacks, this might come in handy. Toilets are free to use next to the women’s prayer (on the opposite site of the parking lot). These are the only toilets in the area, so make use of them before entering the wadi. If the main parking lot at Wadi Shab is full, there is another parking lot if you continue driving in the direction of Sur (just 150 meters further away).

Before you can enter the wadi, you need to cross a relatively wide and deep river. There are boats that will take you to the side. A boat trip costs 1 OMR (2.59 USD / 2.37 EUR) per person and you can only pay cash. Here you can also rent waterproof dry bags and life vests in case you would need this.

Don’t expect too much from the boat trip. It takes less than 3 minutes before you arrive at the other side. Boats run frequently between 8 am and 5 pm. If you arrive later in the afternoon, it’s a good idea to inform at what time the last boat leaves. This will prevent you from getting stranded at Wadi Shab.

boat wadi shab oman entrance

When you arrive at the other side of the river, the hike to the wadi starts. It will take about 40-45 minutes before you reach the first pool of Wadi Shab. But time will go fast as the hike is spectacular! It is a moderate hike, you sometimes have to climb some boulders. But don’t worry, if you take your time, the hike is doable for every type of traveler. We do recommend to wear sturdy shoes that allow you to hike comfortable but are also waterproof.

wadi shab hike canyon
hike landscape wadi shab mieke

The hike starts relatively ease as you hike through a flat valley. Next, you will see the first deeply blue pools of Wadi Shab. Don’t be mistaken, these are pools were you are not allowed to swim. But you are definitely allowed to take photos. This place is stunning as you have a look from above into the narrow gorge.

wadi shab oman pools along hike mieke

From here, you will walk along the side of the canyon. Be careful, as the rocks are eroded and can be slippery. After walking along the side of the canyon, you have to hike uphill. From here, the path can become a bit tricky to follow, as there are different hiking trails you can follow. Luckily, all the trails will bring you to the first pool of Wadi Shab. Our recommendation is to look for the arrows painted on the rocks. These show you the easiest way to get to the first pool.

Once you arrive at the first pool, the swimming part of your visit starts. At the left and right of the first pool are big rocks where you can leave any belongings that aren’t waterproof. Note that these will be left unattended, so we would recommend to leave your valuables in the car before you enter the wadi. As soon as you enter the first pool, you’ll notice that the water in Wadi Shab is really warm. If feels like entering a warm bath, especially when the outside temperature is somewhat chillier.

wadi shab oman canyon swimming mieke
matthias swimming first pool wadi shab oman

The first pool was definitely our favorite pool of the wadi and is the perfect background for your photos. This pool is also the most busy pool. At some parts of the pool you’re able to stand, at other parts of this pool you need to swim as the water is relatively deep.

To get from the first pool to the second pool, you have to cross a small creek. The second pool is deep and you will have to swim again. It also involves some boulder climbing before you get to the final pool of Wadi Shab. Be careful on the boulders, they are wet and slippery and we saw many people fell when trying to get up or down.

wadi shab pool canyon oman
dry bag wadi shab oman mieke

Pool 3 at wadi Shab is the deepest. This pool will take you to a hidden waterfall. Note that to reach this waterfall, you need to be a strong swimmer. If you are in doubt, either put on a swimming vest or decide to stop here. There are no lifeguards at the wadi, so please use common sense! Pool 3 is the longest pool and you have to swim around the corner before you reach the waterfall. We did discover that right before the entrance of the cave with the hidden waterfall, there is part on the right where the water is more shallow and where you can have a rest before entering the cave.

entrance to hidden waterfall in wadi shab in oman
entrance cave wadi shab hidden waterfall
mieke inside cave at wadi shab next to waterfall

If you swim to the end of pool 3, there is a small gap in the rocks. It’s just big enough for your head to fit through. This is the entrance to the cave with a hidden waterfall. Again, use your common sense and don’t try to enter the cave if you are not confident. The water inside the cave is more wild and you really have to withstand the energy of the waterfall. There aren’t many places to hang on in the cave and the water is too deep to stand. From here you take the same way back.

Where to stay when visiting Wadi Shab?

To visit Wadi Shab, it’s best to start from Muscat or Sur.

Sur Grand Hotel – SUR

In Sur, we recommend to stay at the Sur Grand Hotel (see above).

Mysk Al Mouj hotel – MUSCAT

If you are coming fom Muscat, we suggest to stay at the Mysk Al Mouj hotel, a stunning hotel, located in one of the most trendy neighborhoods of Muscat.

Check availability on BOOKING.COM

Mysk Al Mouj Hotel Booking Muscat where to stay room
Mysk Al Mouj Hotel Muscat where to stay pool

Wadi Damm in Oman

Wadi Damm is definitely one of our favorite wadis in Oman. Wadi Bani Khalid and Wadi Shab definitely receive more tourists. Wadi Damm is still more undiscovered .

icon read on Read more: The 20 best things to do in Oman

To reach the entrance of Wadi Damm, Google sends you up in the mountains, but that is not the correct location (and it requires a 4WD). Instead, give in these coordinates to reach the correct starting point. It is a 2.45 hour drive from Muscat. You can park your car at the given location (under the tree) or you can continue driving to the right, into the dry river bed. Even with a 2WD it was possible to drive on the dry river bed, but make sure to stop at the right moment. From a certain point, the road gets a bit tricky and a 4WD is necessary.

dry river bed wadi damm oman

When you parked your car, it is time to start exploring the wadi. The first part of the hike takes you through a wide valley, with some palm trees along the side. Make sure to keep an eye on the rocks. At a certain moment, you have different rocks that have ancient petroglyphs on them. Amazing to realize how old these drawing must be!

wadi damm oman petroglyphs matthias
close up petroglyphs oman wadi damm

Continue walking until you reach a dam and take the steps. From here on, it is important to stay at the right of the canyon. At a certain moment, you will reach a pool where it looks like the canyon stops. Here you have to cross to the left and continue via the overhanging rock/ cave up to a rock with a rope on it. From here it gets a bit tricky, because you have to climb up the boulder, through a narrow section. From here it’s best to stick to the right and at a certain moment you will reach the different pools including a waterfall.

boulder with rope at wadi damm in oman

Just a quick warning regarding swimming in the pools, the rocks that surround the pools in Wadi Damm are extremely slippery and therefore, it might be difficult to get out of the water again. Before entering the pool, please be confident you will be able to climb out of the water again.

wadi damm oman overlooking first pool matthias mieke
Wadi Damm matthias mieke selfie oman
waterfall wadi damm oman
featured image wadis in oman wadi damm pool mieke swimming

Where to stay when visiting Wadi Damm?

Bahla Hotel Apartments

Bahla is a good place to spend the night before or after a visit to Wadi Damm. We enjoyed our stay at Bahla Hotel Apartments. The rooms have a private bathroom and the hotel has a good price-quality ratio.

Check availability on BOOKING.COM

bahla hotel apartments where to stay wadi damm oman

We hope this blog post gave you inspiration on what wadis in Oman you definitely need to visit. If you have any questions or suggestions, do drop us a message!

icon read on Read more: Find out the best travel ititinerary for Oman here

Happy travels!

Matthias and Mieke

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