A sunset sailing on a traditional boat is one of the most peaceful ways to end a day’s exploration in Oman and get a freak out for the scale of the place
Does anything beat the romance of setting cruise on a clear day, with only the occasional bird in the sky above and calm, turquoise waters below? Sounds romantic enough, but add the golden light of the setting sun, the break of dusk in a hot desert climate, and the allure of a traditional wooden sailing boat that heeds back to an earlier era, and the romance factor goes into overdrive.
The boats are a legacy of Oman’s days as a simple, nautical nation
Head down to the harbor at sunset to join an organized dhow cruise with other passengers, or bargain for a price to charter your own private boat and enjoy exclusive use of the dhow; most captains will haggle, particularly for small groups.
If you’re feeling cranky, lookout, too, for the dhows that add a barbecue dinner to their sunset sail away. Expect plenty of classic Middle Eastern fare – hummus, a selection of mezze, grilled meats, and pistachio rice pudding for dessert – served with that ever-present sense of Omani hospitality.
At least in part, that’s due to the fact that these traditional dhow boats are so braided into the country’s heritage that the locals are excited to share their history with visitors. The boats are a legacy of Oman’s days as a simple, seafaring nation, when fishermen and pearl divers plied their trade along the coast in these small wooden dhow cruise – long before the riches of oil and gas were discovered, transforming the riches of the entire region.
These days are evident as soon as you get out on the water to admire the bunch of ultra-modern skyscrapers – among them high-rise hotels, apartment blocks, office buildings, and convention centers – that now line the banks of Muscat.
They’re an impressive sight, particularly bathed in the golden light of the sunset in Oman , but wait until after dark and the whole skyline comes alive with dancing lights. Some of the boats even get in on the act, bathing guests in winking lights and making for a colorful spectacle all across the West Bay.
It’s certainly the best way to spend an evening unwinding after a busy day of shopping and sightseeing in the heart of the Muscat city. But if you can’t fit it into an evening – or you’re too busy making the most of Oman’s fine-dining restaurants and cultural activities – there are afternoon cruises that sail over to nearby Muscat for swimming, sun tanning, snorkeling, dolphin watching, fishing and more. Just be sure to choose a dhow with air-conditioning (they might be traditional, but some are more traditional dhows than others) and shade, as the sun will be much higher in the middle of the day.
Either way, a dhow cruise is one Oman activity you’ll want to find time for.