A refreshing swim in the emerald waters of Wadi Bani Khalid
Located 200 km from Muscat and just 50 km from Bidiya – Wahiba Sands dunes (where desert campgrounds are located), it’s one of the most picturesque and accessible wadis of the whole Oman.
We visited the Wadi Bani Khalid after a night in the desert spending there relaxing half-day and swimming in its crystal water pools. (Do you want to know about other Omani pools? Check our articles about Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole). The canyon is impressive, with its steep walls and abundant water that form natural pools with a fantastic and smooth green-emerald colours water perfect for a swim.
Once you reached the parking lot, just walking for 10 minutes, you’ll get to the main pools. Surrounded by palm trees, these quite huge pools will amaze you with their incredible emerald-colours water. This area has been developed with a restaurant, a small linking bridge, seating areas, so it’s the most crowded above all during the weekend when locals come here to spend a relaxing day in the middle of nature.
If you decide to stop here and have a swim, remember to respect the local culture by wearing appropriate clothes (there are also different signs reminding you how to dress). Women should wear a t-shirt and shorts avoiding bikinis; men should wear a t-shirt and shorts. Talking with some local guides, I had been told you don’t need to dress in that way if you continue your tour along the wadi visiting the upper pools.
If you want to thoroughly enjoy the Wadi, instead of crossing the small bridge that leads to the restaurant, you should go on along the rocky path that penetrates between the narrow gorges. Step by step the stream becomes very narrow and form breathtaking natural pools with amazing colours that contrast with the impressive rock walls and from where you can dive off (even the pools are quite deep, check always their depth!). At the end of the path, passing by some tiny waterfalls, you’ll also find the Muqal cave (just 20 min walk from the restaurant).
Need to Know about Wadi Bani Khalid
1) When to go
The best season to visit Oman is November to March to avoid the intense heat of the summer. At the end of January, the temperature was around 27 degree. Try to visit the wadi during the week because on the weekend (Friday–Saturday) is always busy and packed since a lot of local families get there for relaxing and having a picnic.
You’ll find the wadi simply texting on google map ”Wadi Bani Khalid parking area” (GPS 22.615791, 59.093883). The Wadi is 50 km from Wahiba Sands – Bidiya (1.15-hour drive), 130 km from Sur (2-hour drive), 240 km from Muscat (3-hour drive). The road is all tarred, and only the last 15 km are uphill curves. Anyways follow the brown road signs to ” Wadi Bani Khalid”.
3) Where to sleep and eat
We explored the Wadi after a night in Wahiba Sands Dunes at the Desert Wonders camp. Leaving the Wadi, we headed to Ras al Hadd. Another option, in case you decide to stay closer (just 35 km), on the road 23 next to the small town of Romail, you’ll find the Oriental Nights Rest House (it is next to the junction that leads to the wadi, right after a petrol station).
The restaurant overlooking the main pools offers coffee, soft drinks and a lunch buffet (4 OMR). The other option is to buy food in a supermarket before getting there and having a relaxing picnic under a palm tree facing the emerald water pools.