Oman (Sultanate of Oman)

Languages: Arabic

Currencies: OMR · Omani rial (ر.ع.)

Capitol: Muscat

Continents: Asia

Borders: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

More useful information

Area: 309,500km2

Population: 5,106,622

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +968

Timezones: UTC+04:00

Last updated on July 14, 2023

Wadi Shab is one of the most beautiful canyons and spots to visit in the whole Oman. Omani canyons dinstinct beauty is undescribable, these are exceptional destinations for those who are seeking unique adventures and scenery. The only way to explore the place is taking a deep canyoning hike, leading to an incredible crystal water pools surrounded by sandy rocks and palm oases. Best trails in Omani canions are kept only for the most persistent trekkers.

Hiking Wadi Shab.

Wadi Shab is a place for a fabulous swimming adventures with number of cliff jumping spots on the way. However – there are simple safety rules you should follow while hiking Wadi Shab. There is also one thing that makes hiking Wadi Shab different to any other canyoning in Oman, its hidden treasure – THE SECRET CAVE!

The cave with a waterfall at the end of the canyon is absolutely magnificent place! However, to get to the secret cave you will need to get through the whole canyon, bring a waterproof bag and be a good swimmer on the top of it all.

Do you need a 4WD car to get to Wadi Shab?

A lot of sources say you need 4×4 (4WD) car to get to Wadi Shab. That is not correct – there a convenient car parking near the main road, accesible by any car. Car parking is free. Once you reach this car parking you will have to take a 2 minutes boat ride to the canyon. There are regular boat operators and you don’t need to buy any ticket in advance.  There is no other way to reach the canyon other than by a boat. See my advise on hitchhiking and alternative transportation options for Oman.

Transport in Oman.

Renting a car in Oman is quite expensive. Me and my friend Lya were backapcking Oman and I can tell – this may not be easy but certainly was one of the best adventurous traveling I’ve ever done in my life. Amazing memories, fantastic coutry, wonderful people.

Local transport is accessible but it’s not very popular. Tourism is mostly based on organized tours. Plenty of travel agencies and all hotels offer huge diversity of attractive tour options. The itineraries are well organized and it is also the most conveneint and hassle free way of traveling in Oman, however not the cheapest..

How to get to Wadi Shab.

It is definitely closer to get to Wadi Shab from Sur than from Muscat. The easiest way is to buy an organized tour but it is also doable alone without a tour or a guide.

These are alternative transportation options in Oman (other than renting a car):

  • Hitchhiking in Oman is possible! Just like in any other country you can hitchhike, although this is not too popular way of traveling in Oman. You might find it difficult but eventually you will get a lift 😉
  • If it happens that nobody will give you a lift, you can always take a shared taxi – it’s a normal taxi but usually takes maximum number of passengers. Don’t be surprised if during the trip some passengers will be getting out and others getting in number of times. This was so exciting to watch this ride! … and it’s such a great way of traveling! There’s one rule – agree on the price before you get in. I usually spent 3 Rial for 100-150 km. But for any Wadi it can be a little more expensive as the driver might need a 4WD car and it’s not a cheap drive.
  • Private tours from Sur to Wadi Shab or Wadi Tiwi cost 45-50 Rial (for a car/not per person). So if you find other passengers you can share the price and then the trip gets quite cheap. A guide is paid extra on the top of the car.

Deep canyoning in Wadi Shab.

‘Wadi’ is an Arabic word for Valley. Omani Wadis (Canyons) are one of the most adventurous natural tourist attractions. Most of the canyons are easily accesible for trekkers. The first stage of hiking Wadi Shab leads through a pleasant but rocky path filled with an amazing turquoise pools. Walking further you will find proper swimming area, but mind the water levels and be aware some sections may be deep. You’ll see many people enjoying water activities or sunbathing at the rocks. The whole walk up to the cave walk may take up to an hour. 

How to get to the secret cave?

Hidden treasure of Wadi Shab is the famous secret cave located at the very end of the canyon. You don’t need to hire a guide to get there but you need to know it may be challenging getting to the cave and the secret waterfall. The famous cave is located at the end of the canion. At the last stage you would need to swim and depending on a water level you may not have any chance to stop or rest if the tide is high. Just before the cave you will need to swim through a very narrow passage between the rocks to get inside the cave. The cave is literally the most magical place on earth! 😉

If you have a companion you absolutely need to try to get there! I was alone and it was very challenging for me, even though I feel comfortable swimming. I heard that sometimes the tide can be so high that it’s impossible to get inside the cave. During summertime the tide is very low, so it is probably better timing for this cave adventure. It was winter time for me and swimming through the narrow section was a bit scary but still doable. At first I wasn’t sure if it’s the right decision but eventually managed to get through. There were few other people swimming in the cave but they left before I got inside, leaving this paradise only for myslef. Inside the cave water is deep and the walls are steep. There is a rope – so get ready for cliff jumping if you are brave enough. 

What to take when hiking Wadi Shab:

  • Hiking shoes is a must – the canyon is not suitable for flipflops. This is a rocky path and you need proper shoes.
  • I would absolutely recommend SWIMMING SHOES for one simple reason – the underwater rocks are very slippery, I can’t imagine me there without my swimming shoes
  • Swimsuit, sun lotion, sun glasses – temperatures within the canion can be extreme
  • Go Pro – you won’t be able to take your phone to the secret cave as you need to swim in particular sections (or sometimes even dive depending on water levels)
  • Waterproof bag or a waterproof camera – if you are there alone, you will need a waterproof bag, as you won’t be able to leave your stuff behind you
  • WATER! During hot months the temperature in the canyon easily reaches 40 degrees. Evergy snacks and some lunch is good too.

Secret cave and the waterfall!

There’s a waterfall inside the cave with some ropes hanging from the top. It’s a great opportunity for cliff jumping – but make sure you and your friends are safe, there have been fatal accidents before (in the canyon and in the cave). I’m sure it’s a great experience but I was there alone and without a companion it seemed dangerous.

You should never attemp any wadi in a rainy season/weather conditions, the tides are a huge risk in canyons. Also do not approach the cave if the water level are high, some sources advise you can dive through the narrow passing but it is actually not allowed by the authorities. 

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!
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