There is lots more to explore if you’re considering an extended stay. Starkly beautiful Musandam, the northern-most region of Oman, is segregated from the rest the country by the east coast of the UAE (like passing through Canada to reach Alaska). Six Senses Zighy Bay lies along the coast of the Musandam Peninsula and is therefore more easily accessed via Dubai rather than Muscat.
It’s no surprise that this is where Six Senses has chosen to locate its stunning family-friendly hideaway. Zighy Bay is a secluded spot between the crystal-clear Gulf of Oman and the Hajar Mountains, an area often referred to as the Norway of the Middle East due to its fjord-like landscape.
Renowned for its marine environment, the coast offers excellent diving and snorkelling. As well as colourful fish and coral, the Gulf of Oman is home to green turtles, humpback dolphins, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks – a snorkeller’s paradise that’s guaranteed to make children squeal with delight.
The 79 pool villas at Zighy Bay are a blend of the traditional Omani village style, combined with luxury, modern amenities. They offer families a spacious environment with rustic-chic decor. It is the Gulf’s first eco boutique hotel, and blends well with its surroundings. The staff are proud of their environmental management and hope to contribute to the sustainable development of the local community – a good template for things to come and a concept that children of all ages embrace with open arms.
Much of Oman’s heritage and culture are attached to the sea. You can catch fish just minutes from the mainland, but you can also cast your line for a giant grouper, tuna or trevally from the ocean floor 200m below. The government runs a ‘common-sense’ designated fishing season to ensure that stocks are not depleted. Free divers harvest abalone (a mussel-type shellfish, worth £10/kg) only in November. At Six Senses, a catch-and- release system is in place for all fish.
Elaborate forts, castles and watch towers punctuate the landscape. Step inside and imagine life in a desert oasis. Follow ancient trade routes and watch tadpoles swim along the beautifully engineered aflaj surface canals that have watered Oman’s crops for millennia, threading their way through villages and along precipitous cliff faces.
From Zighy Bay, head for Fujairah, pausing at Bidiyah to admire the oldest mosque in the UAE. Then move on to the Friday Market in Masafi, and on into the canyons, uphill along winding roads, to reach an altitude of 1,100m to visit ancient stone houses. Cycling Khab Al Shamsi Wadi Khab Al Shamsi near Zighy Bay offers the keen mountain biker some of the best technical trails in the region. The Ras Al Jebel passes many ancient stone settlements and dramatic cliffs as it steadily climbs higher.