12 Aug 2009

You don’t need to travel for hours to go tropical...

A short hop from the UAE, Oman’s tropical little gem, Salalah is perfect for a weekend getaway. Offering respite from the bustle of city life, things move at a more laid back, relaxed pace here – and the beach, with its thundering surf, is never more than a few moments away. Glitz and glamour takes a back seat on this vacay as this is Chill Out City, all the way.

Its location on the Indian Ocean makes Salalah very different to the rest of the region – this is as tropical as you can get without crossing the water to India – with coconut palms lining the streets, banana and sugar cane plantations creating thick leafy barriers and an ambiance that echoes ‘tropical paradise’.

If you get bored of lounging on the beaches, there’s plenty to explore in the surrounding desert. Gently (and some not so gentle!) rolling hills hide a plethora of places to discover, with natural springs suddenly appearing between craggy cliffs in a lush oasis of green – and the water’s so clear that you can see straight to the bottom and watch the fish darting about as you paddle at the water’s edge. Keep an eye out for the local wildlife – rock hyraxes, which look like giant guinea pigs, are often to be found around the cliffs, along with an incredible variety of bird life.

Hiring a tour guide is a great idea if you don’t want to miss a thing, as despite being sign-posted, there are just so many places to see, that you might not discover them all without some local assistance.

The Crowne Plaza Salalah is the ideal landing spot for post-adventure relaxation. Multiple swimming pools, a private beach and an excellent masseuse are all ready and waiting to help you unwind, while dinner in the Dolphin Beach restaurant – right on the seafront – is a fab place to dine as the waves crash onto the sandy beach below.

While you’re there...

History with a view
Hire a car and drive out to Khor Rori, an archaeological site located just outside of Salalah, that dates back to the third century. The site guides will talk you through the history, and the incredible views overlooking the bay and surrounding cliffs make this a worthy photo-op stop.

All that glitters
Oman is known for its silver, and the jewellery prices are incredibly reasonable. Head into the souk and get haggling to nab yourself a bargain (or 10!), and stock up on some gorgeous pieces. Alternatively, you can purchase some locally-concocted creams that are made from all-natural ingredients – they smell delish and make perfect presents.

Explore the deep

Outside of the Khareef season, Salalah is one of the world’s most popular diving spots. With plenty of dive centres to help you get kitted out, you can head out to play with the marine wildlife (turtles and dolphins aplenty) and explore the deep blue sea.