Salalah, the capital and largest city of Oman’s Southern governorate Dhofar, is known for its jaw-dropping greenery and oasis in the monsoon season – referred to as Khareef. While you might want to avoid monsoons on other vacations, you should ideally target it when planning a trip to Salalah. Lush greenery, the aromas of Frankincense trees in absolute bloom, and the glorious waterfalls will simply awaken your soul while surrounded by the refreshing fog at high mountain peaks.
Every year, the Salalah Tourism Khareef Festival starts by mid-July and ends sometime around late August; organized by the Dhofar municipality, the festival is renowned for its cultural reflection of music, theater, and handcrafted art as well as plenty of family activities.
Salalah is quite the touristic gem for everyone who has been there before, and easily becomes one of those destinations people vow to come back to every year during the Khareef season. And this year, 2019, the Ministry of Transport worked on the roads to make your road trip there even safer, with new ones opened and additional routes developed, driving to Salalah is now more convenient.
Because there are a lot of day trips and activities to enjoy while you’re in Dhofar, we have put together a list of things for you to do in Salalah.
Enjoy the view from atop at the Balloon Carnival
Taking place as the very first of its kind in Oman and the Middle East; more than 15 air balloons will be flying over the lush greenery of Dhofar governorate with stunning views of its encompassing mountains and waterfalls gliding in the midst of the Khareef fog.
During the Balloon Carnival, the whole family will be entertained by laser and hologram shows, four-wheel racetracks for the youth, children amusement zones with many games to engage their imaginations and motor skills, live theater performances, outdoor cinema, and a shopping mall.
Be one with nature at Wadi Darbat and Waterfalls – this is an easy 30-minute car ride from Hawana Salalah and does not require a 4×4. You can walk around and watch the animals roaming freely in the wild, have a little picnic surrounded by breathtaking greenery, or go on a boat tour. If you have a 4×4 option, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss visiting the Darbat waterfalls, which are only a 10-minute drive from the Wadi.
Swim in the natural pool at Jebel Ittin and Ayn Gharziz – one of the other most-favorited spots in Salalah that is also about a 30-minute drive from Hawana Salalah. Going there is like stepping into an insanely almost unreal verdant oasis where you can swim in a natural pool surrounded by picturesque greenery. We recommend that you take some snacks to enjoy a picnic while the nature takes over your senses.
Any car can take you there but if you would like to go deeper in the mountains for more exploration, a 4×4 would be ideal.
Sink your toes in the sand of Mughsail Beach and Blowholes – take any car (a 4×4 is not necessary) and drive for just one hour from Hawana Salalah, and surrender your soul to the quintessence of the limitless white sandy beaches of Mughsail. You can take your own camping gear or choose one of the huts available for barbecues or just time to relax. The views from the cliffs are just magical.
While you’re there, be sure to visit the blowholes to witness the greatness of sea water shooting 30 meters into the air as sea waves break in the caves underneath.
Hike and picnic at Wadi and Ain Sahalnoot – A scenic 25-minute drive from Hawana Salalah takes you to one of Dhofar’s mostly loved hiking and picnic spots. The drive there is a bit narrow and winding so be cautious with those turns. Once there, you’ll find yourself quite relaxed at the scene of the beautiful water oasis at the base of the glorious mountain.
Get your Zen back at Fazaya Beach – a five kilometer stretch of white sand and pristine crystal blue waters with a glorious mountainous backdrop. You might need a sturdy car to get there, especially to cover the last few kilometers of a rougher terrain.
(check with the hotel in advance if the beach would be closed due to high waves)
Shop for local crafts at the Haffa Souq
Omanis are known for their love and respect for their culture, and with the government supporting its country’s art, there is a lot to admire when you set out to buy some souvenirs or even treats for yourself and household. Those handmade pieces have stories to tell and a history of craftsmanship passed down from one generation to the other, and the best place to lay hands on some of those pieces is at the Haffa Souq.
Get lost in history at Al Balid Archeological Site
This is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is very close to Haffa Souq, so you can easily do both stops on the same day. It is an open-air historical venue that was once an ancient city in Salalah and now documents a lot about the history of Oman.
Get to know the ancestors’ way of life at Taqah Castle
Built in the 19th century, Taqah Castle’s stunning architecture, plantations, and historical documentation of the old Omani way of life make this venue a must-see landmark. The castle used to be a private residence for the tribal leader, Sheikh Ali bin Taman Al Ma’shani – grandfather of the mother of Sultan Qaboos.
It is located in the heart of Taqah city, east of Salalah.
Witness history and the harbor view at Mirbat Castle
Once the capital of the region, Mirbat is historically known for horse breeding and exporting, and the castle is famous for its crucial defensive and administrative role during the battle between the British and Yemeni communist supporters. After its restoration in 1991, the castle was open to the public in 1996. A magnificent building atop a cliff overlooking the harbor, the castle is a must-visit.
Enjoy your accommodation
Choosing Hawana Salalah as your base will not only provide the ideal accommodation but will certainly keep you and your family busy in-between chosen day trips and activities. While you’re at Hawana Salalah, you will be enjoying quite a festive and eventful time with the Fiesta Program put together by our team for the Khareef season. They have lots of live music on the marina, puppet shows for your kids to enjoy, fun water activities for the whole family, and plenty of Paramotoring for those of you looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush.
Book ahead – special offers during Khareef
With so many tourists coming to Salalah during the monsoon season, we strongly recommend that you book your hotel well ahead of your trip; that way, you can have your pick of the lot.
Book directly on the hotel’s website and enjoy exclusive discounted rates and special packages