Wadi Shab in Oman: Swim in a Turquoise Wadi

Wadi Shab is one of the highlights of your journey through Oman. Nestled within a gorge of orange rocks, you’ll discover an oasis with palm trees, turquoise pools, and a hidden cave featuring a stunning waterfall. Wadi Shab is the perfect spot to seek refreshment and appreciate the beauty it has to offer, whether in the morning or afternoon. To ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable visit to Wadi Shab, here are some tips to keep in mind.

What Does the Hike Through Wadi Shab Look Like?

From the parking lot, you first need to take a small boat to cross the river because that’s where the hike through the canyon begins. These boats operate between 08:00 and 17:00, and the short ride of less than one minute costs 1 Omani rial, approximately $2.60 (2.30 euros). However, there is no additional entrance fee for Wadi Shab.

After the boat ride, it’s about a 40-minute walk to reach the first pool where swimming is allowed. The pools you come across earlier in the hike are off-limits for swimming. The initial part of the trail may seem a bit messy with some unfinished constructions and pipes lying on the ground. Fortunately, these sights quickly give way to the most impressive views of Wadi Shab’s canyon and the turquoise pools with banana trees. The hike is not difficult, and there’s no climbing involved, but it’s still advisable to wear closed-toe shoes for comfort and protection.

Swimming to the Hidden Cave and Waterfall

Once you arrive at the pools where swimming is allowed, you can first walk along the sides to view the pools from above. In total, there are three pools, each about 98.4 feet wide, that you must swim through to reach the hidden cave. In between, there are shallow areas where you can take a break. Behind the third pool, you’ll find a very narrow passage leading to the hidden cave and waterfall. This is the most beautiful spot in all of Wadi Shab!

Keep in mind that the water here is deep, so you won’t be able to touch the bottom or find places to hold onto the walls. While inside the cave, you’ll need to keep swimming. Make sure you are a confident swimmer and head back in time if you can’t find a spot to rest. The journey from the first pool to the cave and back will take approximately 45 to 60 minutes if you take your time and take some breaks.

What Do You Need to Bring to Wadi Shab?

Water shoes: The shallow areas consist of slippery rocks and paths with pebbles. Water shoes make it much easier and less painful to navigate.

Dry bag: There are no lockers or changing rooms, so you’ll need to leave all your belongings behind when you enter the water. If you have a camera, phone, or wallet with you, it’s a good idea to bring a dry bag so you can keep them with you while swimming. This is also very handy for other trips involving boat rides or beach days.

Swimwear: For women, it’s appropriate to dress modestly, although you’ll also see many women wearing bikinis. It depends on whether there are locals around or not. In our case, there were no locals, so bikinis were fine. However, we also brought cover-ups and modest clothing just in case.

Snacks and drinks: The visit to Wadi Shab can easily take 4 to 5 hours, so bring enough food and drinks with you. There are no places to buy anything once you start the hike.

Money: You’ll need 1 Omani rial, approximately $2.60 per person for the boat ride.

Towel: In the winter, the water can be quite cold, so it’s nice to have a towel to dry off afterward. Plus, there are plenty of spots to relax in the sun.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Wadi Shab?

Oman is essentially one vast desert, and that’s why the winter months between November and March are the best time to visit Oman, including Wadi Shab. Additionally, it’s wise to visit Wadi Shab in the morning so that you have plenty of time to stay as long as you want and because it will be less crowded. Try to avoid the weekend (Friday & Saturday) as it can be much busier during those days.

What is A Good Basecamp for Exploring Wadi Shab?

Wadi Shab is located exactly in the middle between the capital city, Muscat, and Ras Al Jinz, where you can spot turtles. It takes about a 2-hour drive from both places to reach Wadi Shab. You can plan a day trip from Ras Al Jinz to Muscat, or vice versa, and visit Wadi Shab on the way. In that case, you’ll need to depart early in the morning. If you prefer a more leisurely pace and want to stay close to Wadi Shab, you can choose to stay at the Wadi Shab Resort. This is the only hotel located near Wadi Shab.