There are a lot of wonderful spots to explore in Oman but we will definitely try to visit all (or at least, most) of them. Oman has been blessed with a wonderful landscape with breathtaking beauty of nature. One of the things that Oman can showcase are their wadis. Wadi is an Arabic term that means valley but it actually refers to a permanent river. There are several wadis scattered all over Oman but we decided to visit the most accessible one, Wadi Bani Khalid.
Wadi Bani Khalid is found in the North Sharqiya region in Oman. It is approximately 3 hours drive from Muscat, 1 hour drive from Ibra and 30 mins drive from Bidiyah. It has large blue-green waterpools, small waterfalls and large perfectly sculpted boulders scattered across the wadi.
I visit the waterpools of Wadi Bani Khalid twice, once with my friend/coworker and another time with my family. Entering the area, you have a good 5 minutes walk from the car park until you reach the 1st large waterpool. It was a sight to behold, definitely a picturesque oasis.
They have constructed bridges, seating areas and a looking gazebo-looking tower structure. It is good to know there are toilets available for public to use. There is also a restaurant nearby overlooking the waterpools. They offer coffee (1 omr), softdrinks (400 baisa), sweets, popcorn and ice cream. They also have buffet lunches available and often bus load of tourists would avail this buffet lunch. However, in my 2 visits, we opted to bring our own foods with us. We bought only bought cold drinks in the restaurant. You should also bring picnic mats to place on the ground to lay the foods you brought. Some even would bring their small grills to cook their meats & fish.
There are lots of people especially during the weekends (Friday & Saturday). There are people setting up there picnic mats & grills around the area. Little kids are wading on the shallow waters, squealing with delight. Teenage boys would jump from an edge of a high rock or this wheel with a rope they have placed in near the bridge. There are lifeguards around the place too. They also have some free floating device with a rope attached to use in some areas of the wadi. You could also sit in the edge of the waterpool getting a fish massage from the pool of fishes that is loving removing your hard calluses from your soles and it is free! Haha!
We wanted to walk further on the course of the wadi because often the 1st pool would be crowded with people, around a good 10 minutes rocky walk. After conquering a difficult, steep hike and slippery rocks, you will get to find smaller waterpools and a waterfall. It is more peaceful, quiet and less crowded in that area. However you have to wear a decent pair of shoes ideal to walk in the area. There are no guided paths available so you have to figure out how to hike around the area. It was challenging for us holding small children and carrying our foods & stuff, wearing our not-so reliable rubber slippers walking the path. We would recommend buying your cold drinks in the restaurant (if you didn’t bring any) before climbing that area because it is not worth it to go back and forth those boulders. If you walk 10 minutes further on from the smaller pools, you can reach Muqal Cave. It is great to swim there in the Muqal Cave too, cold water and away from the blazing sun if you are avoiding the sun. Just make sure to bring a torch light.
Once we reached the place we chose, we lay our picnic mat on the ground. We chose a less rocky area to placed our spread of food and our swimming stuff. They have big black plastic garbage bags around the place attached to rocks to throw our trash. I also saw an old baba in my 2 visits, cleaning up the place, picking up trash walking effortless in the rocks up and down. I also saw an emergency kit hanged in one of the tree.
During my visit there with my family, there were lots of tourists that came and soon the area we chose are filled with friendly foreigners swimming the waters and trekking the rocks. The friendly local teenage boys would show off by flipping and jumping from the high rocks and urging the visitors to follow them. There is a dress code for the visitors. There is a signboard at the entrance of the place for the preferred dress code. Visitors must dress modestly considering this is a Muslim country. Women should avoid wearing bikini and any revealing outfits. They should wear outfits covering the chest, shoulders and thighs, though it didn’t stop tourists from wearing their bright-colored bikinis and sunbathing under the warm Oman sun. Men should avoid wearing skimpy brief. They can, however, swim with short without a top.
The kids love swimming in the wadi. They don’t want to get out of the water. They even asked when they will come back again. The water was clear especially in the smaller pools and it felt very relaxing just enjoying the cool waters.
Check out the video my husband made of our trip to Wadi Bani Khalid Waterpools.
We visited last October so the weather was good, it was not super-duper hot but not too cold either. But watch out for pesky bees sometimes. We were told that soon there will be hotel constructed on top of the rocky boulders. We saw that they started building the foundation of the hotel already.
Wadi Bani Khalid is a must-visit if you are in Oman. Getting to Wadi, it is best to hire a driver to take you there than renting a car, unless you are up for the adventure, not worried of the possibility of getting lost & don’t mind long drives. Or you can opt joining tour buses that take you to several places around Oman and one of places will definitely stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. The lifeguards at the wadi usher out the people by 5:30pm for safety reasons because there are no lights in most parts of the wadi. Though I was told some still camp out in the area. Most often people take a day trip to Wadi Bani Khalid coming from Wahiba Sands in Bidiyah then usually after 3-4 hrs or less in Wadi they would head off to Sur. Some insider tip: you can have a nice meal of grilled chicken, kuboos & hummus and honey & cheese pizza pie at a Turkish restaurant near the big Al Bawarq supermart along the lane of the Wadi Bani Khalid hospital if you are heading to the waterpools or you are coming famish from swimming in Wadi & wanted to eat before heading to the next destination.
Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the many beautiful wadis in the Sultanate of Oman. I can’t to explore more wadis during my time here in Oman.