Enjoy the drive to Oman for a stay at the lovely Zighy Bay...
Heading north from Dibba, the first stretch of beach you see is easily accessible and has always been popular with campers. It’s sufficiently off the beaten track to feel like a proper wilderness experience, but actually only five minutes from town in case you run out of firewood or water. The ‘getting away from it’ vibe has been spoiled slightly by the presence of the Golden Tulip at one end of the beach, but this basic hotel is a good alternative if you forgot to bring a tent, get spooked by spiders in the night, or want a proper breakfast in the morning.
Camping further up the coast involves a bit more planning. Seasoned outdoorsy types have tended to opt for these more rugged and remote bays for the seclusion they offer. While these locations are literally just round the corner from the Golden Tulip, they can’t be reached by road, and getting there involves a short boat trip. You’ll find local fishermen along the beach or at the local port who will motor you round for a small fee, but make sure you stress that payment is dependent on them picking you up again.
The best camping option is Myam Beach, the first bay you’ll encounter when you head round the peninsula. A short stretch of white sand surrounded by mountains on one side and sparkling blue water on the other, it’s an absolute treat if you manage to bag the whole space to yourself – though be prepared for fellow campers in high season.
Further north lays Zighy Bay. Once solely occupied by a remote Omani fishing village, the bay now hosts an Evason Hideaway & Six Senses Spa hotel and spa. Unfortunately, this means that camping is now off limits. The resort’s beach is cordoned off, and so waifs and strays with tents can no longer just pitch up. Rough sleepers aren’t particularly welcome in front of the villagers’ houses either. But most visitors come for the hotel’s high-end luxury and seclusion. Constructed out of local materials to resemble a local village, Six Senses is the best example yet of how Oman is learning to fashion resorts that blend in, rather than dominate their surroundings.
This doesn’t mean they’ve skimped on the opulence, though they have made it appear quaintly rustic and underdeveloped. This starts with the journey, which is either made by boat from Dibba, or by 4x4 across graded paths through the mountains. Of course, they could make it easier and tarmac the road, but that would spoil the fun of the precarious hairpin descent. The final option is more precarious still, and involves a distinctly un-rustic arrival by paraglider (see box). Fortunately, you’re luggage travels by road.
Accommodation takes the form of individual chalets, fashioned out of the local stone, with wooden beams, barasti roofs and outdoor showers. Again, they’ve gone for a minimal feel – simple browns and oranges, but with all the luxuries of a top-end break (iPod docking station, Bose sound system, espresso machine and on-call butler). If you can, go for a beachfront room. Your balcony doors open out onto a private infinity pool, and the barasti gates beyond that open out directly onto the beach. It is as close as you can get to pastoral perfection.
Of course there is only so long you can float in a pool, lie on a beach and order fruit cocktails (about six months should do). So, there is also a fantastic spa in case you need further de-stressing; the two restaurants serve healthy and wholesome food; and you can zip down to the village on the complimentary bicycles – though be discreet, as it’s still questionable how much villagers appreciate snooping tourists. Dhow cruises and fishing trips are also available, and at the time of writing, a new multihull sailing charter firm (www.indianoceansailing.com; 0097150 658 4769) was due to launch, offering trips further into the beautifully scenic Musandam.
Flitting from the top of The quickest way to get from the top of the mountain down to Zighy Bay is by air. The scariest bit, inevitably, is at the start. But the paragliding instructors are very experienced and together you wll be strapped into a giant harness and once a gust of wind comes, you run for the edge. Then comes the Wile E Coyote moment when your pins are still pedalling but there’s no more mountain beneath them. The descent – which last for a minute or two – is wonderfully serene as you glide in a zig-zag motion over the rocks and village rooftops towards the beach below.