They say a picture paints a thousand words, even if you are an award-winning author and travel writer. Here, be inspired by Mike Unwin’s photos which capture the essence of a family trip to Oman when he travelled with us on a self-drive holiday in February, accompanied by his wife, Kathy and daughter, Flo aged 16.

“Oman was a joy for self-drive,” says Mike. “Excellent roads meant that even the wildest landscapes were easily accessible, and at each stop we found a warm welcome and all the help and supplies we might need. The variety of fun, hands-on activities were perfect for our outdoor-loving teenage daughter – and, being behind the wheel, we could divert from the itinerary and do our own family thing whenever we wanted.”

We hope you enjoy his photo blog as much as we did.

1. Muscat – Sultan Qaboos Mosque

Mike Unwin's photo of a young women sitting at Sultan Qaboos

Be awestruck by the size and beauty of Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos mosque – photo by Mike Unwin

Its prayer hall boasts the world’s second largest carpet and is illuminated by the world’s second largest chandelier, so vast is the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Oman’s capital, Muscat. It’s a hugely impressive building in every sense, where your entire family will be wowed by not just its scale, but it’s beautifully intricate stone carvings, décor and peaceful atmosphere.

2. Jebal Shams – Oman’s Grand Canyon

Mother and daughter at Jebal Shams, Oman, photo by Mike Unwin

Into the Abyss, looking out over Jebal Shams – photo by Mike Unwin

It’s a three-hour drive from Muscat along mountain roads to reach it but as Arabia’s answer to ‘The Grand Canyon’, a visit to Jebal Shams is an absolute must. Looking out, you’ll be awestruck by the vast canyon stretching for miles through a dramatic if barren landscape. Depending on the age and ability of your children, the Balcony Walk through the canyon which leads to a deserted village gives you another perspective on this natural wonder whilst being a fun family activity too.

3. Oasis village of Misfah

Mike Unwin's photo of the living mud village oasis at Misfah

The living mud village oasis at Misfah – photo by Mike Unwin

Perched high in Oman’s Jebel Shams mountains is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the country. An authentic, ‘living’ Omani mud village built into the mountainside. It’s a historic village where inhabitants have tended their crops for hundreds of years, crops which are irrigated by a stream from a natural spring in the mountainside. It’s this network of irrigation channels which means that crops, gardens, date and banana palm groves flourish, making Misfah a fascinating place to explore.

4. Wadi Bani Khalid

Wadi - Oman - photo by Mike Unwin

Explore Wadi Bani Khalid and cool down in emerald pools – photo by Mike Unwin

Almost equidistant between Muscat and Sur, en route from the mountains to the coast, lies the desert oasis of Wadi Bani Khalid. Whilst ‘wadi’ usually refers to a dry river bed, like many wadi’s (‘valleys’ in Arabic) in Oman, the emerald waters flow through the valley year-round, collecting in deep pools, making it a great place to swim, cool off and walk though.

5. The dunes of Wahiba

Teenager walking in dunes in Oman with blue sky

Explore the vast sea of ever-shifting sands at Wahiba – photo by Kathy Gemmell

Like the more famous Sahara Desert, the Wahiba Sands are a huge sand ‘sea’, a vast area of immense sand-dunes that reach more than 100m high and are constantly shifting with the winds. It’s a great place to explore, and also the place where you’ll spend the night in a desert camp, sitting around a campfire swapping stories before sleeping under the stars.

6. Turtles at Raz al Jinz

Mike Unwin - photo of a turtle heading for the sea in Oman at dusk

An endangered green turtle returning to the sea after laying eggs – photo by Mike Unwin

On the eastern most point of the Arabian Peninsula you’ll find the Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve, a place renowned for its efforts in conserving the endangered green turtle and which hosts the most important nesting concentration in the Indian Ocean. During the evening / night you will be able to watch as these huge creatures come ashore and lay their eggs in holes that they dig in the beach. The best time to see turtles hatching is between May and September.

7. Dhows at Sur

Mike Unwin's photo of dhow building at Sur

Explore the shipyards in Sur which still build traditional dhows – photo by Mike Unwin

A port city on Oman’s eastern tip, Sur is most famous for its many shipyards that still make traditional Omani sailing boats called ‘dhows’. It’s an attractive seaside town which also boasts a corniche, two forts, souqs and excellent beaches nearby.

8. Luxury wild camping on the beach

Wild camping on the beach in Oman - photo by Mike Unwin

Wild camping in comfort – photo by Mike Unwin

Wild camping isn’t just legal in Oman but one of the best ways to experience the country. On our trips, we’ll provide all the necessary equipment and will cook up a storm on the BBQ so all that’s left for you to do is sit back and relax, perhaps going for a swim beforehand to work up an appetite.

Feeling inspired?

Take a look at our Oman with kids blog for our Top 10 suggestions on what to see and do there, or visit our Oman destination page. For the best advice on Oman holidays do ring us for a chat or email via our online form – our MD Liddy Pleasants says the country was one of her all time favourite places she’s visited, praise indeed!

We are always interested to hear about your travels so do email us with your own feedback and experiences of visiting Oman at [email protected].