Wadi Shab in Oman is a beautiful, turquoise river that flows through a huge canyon. It is one of Oman’s most popular attractions. The Wadi features a number of natural pools, which you can reach by hiking. At the end of the last natural pool you will find a cave, in which a waterfall flows into. Therefore, you should definitely not skip this hotspot. In this article you will find everything you need to know about visiting Wadi Shab!
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How to get to Wadi Shab?
Wadi Shab is about a 1.5-hour drive from Muscat and about a 45-minute drive from Sur. The wadi is easy to visit from both places. We ourselves visited Wadi Shab on the route from Muscat to Sur, the next destination of our roundtrip.
Because there is hardly any public transportation in Oman, it is best to reach the wadi by car. Do you have a rental car? Then it’s very easy to get there by yourself! Wadi Shab is listed on Google Maps and the roads to it are very good. Don’t have a rental car? Then you can opt for a cab or an organized day trip.
Parking near Wadi Shab
Near the wadi you will find a parking lot under a large bridge, where you can park for free. There are some cheeky goats running around, so be careful with food and don’t leave your car doors open too long!
Take the boat to the starting point of the hike
The river Wadi Shab, runs between the parking lot and the starting point of the hike. Therefore, you first need to make the crossing by a small boat. This boat ride takes only a few minutes and costs 1 OMR per person. Please note that this must be paid in cash.
The boats operate between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Are you late in the afternoon? Then ask when the last boat returns so you can get back to your car.
Hike to the natural pools
The hike to the natural pools takes about 1.5 hours. The paths consist mainly of rocks, but are reasonably passable. Here and there you have to climb a bit over some larger rocks, but in general it is doable. Make sure you wear good shoes though, because some parts are very slippery.
The environment of the first part of the hike is partly inhabited and you will pass some fields where men are working. However, you soon walk into the beautiful canyon along the river, which is super turquoise in color. Note: You can not swim here, this can only be done in the natural pools at the end of the hike.
Towards the end of the hike you have to climb over some larger rocks here and there. Along the trail you will also find a man-made waterfall, perfect for cooling off a bit. Follow the irrigation channels and you will eventually end up at the first swimming area.
Swimming in Wadi Shab
It is advised to swim only in the natural pools and not in the river along the hike. The first natural pool you will reach after about 1.5 hours of walking and is indicated by a large, black sign. You can choose to put down your gear here and swim through here to the second and third natural pools and the cave. Do you have a waterproof bag? Then you can also take your things with you.
The first pool is the shallowest. The water is lovely in temperature, which makes it a perfect pool for relaxing and swimming with small children. The second and third pools are a lot deeper, allowing real daredevils to jump into the water from the rocks!
Through narrow streams and currents you walk and swim from pool to pool. Water shoes are no luxury, because there are many small pebbles on the bottom and because the rocks are very slippery.
Tip: If you want to bring camera gear, make sure you have a waterproof bag. In some parts of the water it is very deep and you cannot stand.
The cave and the waterfall
At the end of the third natural pool you will find a cave where a waterfall flows into. Very cool to see! To enter the cave, you need to swim through a narrow corridor. This may seem a bit scary, because the corridor is quite narrow. Your head only just fits in between. Fortunately, this only applies to the part above water. Underwater you have enough space to move around and enter the cave.
Keep in mind that there is nowhere to sit in the cave, so you have to be a pretty good swimmer. However, there are some sections you can hold on to so you can rest a bit from time to time.
Note: we have heard that sometimes the water is so high that it is not wise to enter the cave. So consider carefully in advance whether you can enter the cave or not.
When swimming in public areas, such as Wadi Shab, it is wise for women to cover their shoulders and wear something up to the knee. Since Wadi Shab attracts mostly tourists, these rules are handled a little more loosely here. You could wear a bathing suit and a pair of shorts. If you want to follow the rules, you can wear a surf shirt over your bathing suit.
Packing list Wadi Shab
Be prepared and make sure you have the following with you during your visit to Wadi Shab:
- Cash money
Good shoes for the hike
Quick drying towel
Waterproof bag (dry bag)
Optional: a photo camera or Go Pro