You will hear the murmur of the waves, but you will never hear them crash the same way when the beach is littered with rocks and stones. The water ebb and flow erasing whatever foot or animal prints were left in the sand every day, and throughout the day, the water is always perfect for swimming.
Opposite the sea is the vast dunes, where at some parts they appear majestic nearly ice-like in their appearance in the eye-blinding noon light. When the wind picks up, the sand shifts creating the whitest smoke. if you are caught standing in its midst, it felt like a fog-machine has been turned on hiding you in the smoke’s haze.
On the weekend, it’s hard to hear any noise here. Khaluf’s Sugar Dunes has begun to gain a reputation as one of the best beaches in Oman, and while it must be hard to believe in the beginning, your mind can easily be changed when you stare at this beautiful place.
Sugar Dunes is not a destination for the faint of heart, however. It is not for luxury campers. Not now, at least.
When avid Omani explorer Ahmed al Jabri sold me the idea, it felt like the five-hour drive is too much. Why would anyone drive five or six hours for a beach or camping when there are nearer beaches to enjoy?
But his photos were intriguing. How is it possible that dunes can be sugar-white? With so much space to enjoy and a vast sea to fish, what is it like for the coastal villagers to survive here? What were their challenges, and would they trade to be in the city than live in this far-off place? These were the questions in my head when I decided to join the trip.
Taking the new tunnel going to Sinaw, we pass through Mahout in the dead of night. In pitch darkness, it was hard to figure out where we were going, but upon reaching the small village of Khaluf, we begin to see dozens of houses quite sturdily built and made to last the challenges of the nearby ocean.
But the village is still around 30 minutes drive to the dunes. To avoid getting into an accident, we camped at the beach area near the town, the strong wind proving to be a challenge for our tents.
The morning after revealed a long stretch of sandy beach with sea birds so confident they only fly away if you get close enough. To enjoy the Sugar Dunes, one must be willing to drive a little farther into its heart where the dunes formation has been
carved out by the harsh environment and strong winds that continuously hammer it.
In the rough road leading to the heart of the dunes, there were lots of naturally carved bonsai trees — a welcome interruption to a peaceful and quiet destination. After a bumpy ride, the walls of sand started to rise in the horizon. In the early morning of March, it was a beauty to behold.
Breathtaking? It surely was. And with the soft light of the early morning, it is quite an Instagrammable place.
Silent nights and beautiful views
In the vastness of the Sugar Dunes, it is noticeable that some constructions were ongoing. Whether they were just big houses by wealthy families or grand hotels fitting for that location, we were not able to confirm as even the workers had departed back to the city for the weekend.
By late afternoon, we spotted the local fishermen combing the ocean fighting every so often with the birds hovering over them for their catch of the day.
While pristine and the water very inviting, some portions were not spared from plastic trash. An afternoon walk and sightseeing allowed us to spot a few turtles, plenty of edible shells, fishes jumping out of the water and a few fox prints in some corners.
Evenings are just as pleasant as the morning. With only the twinkling of the lampposts on the far horizon and a crackling bonfire giving us light for the night, the night sky speaks volume here providing us with a clear, uninterrupted view of the cloudless, yet star-filled heavens.
For those who love camping, two nights in the Sugar Dunes are time well spent. By observation and quick chats with some locals, I discovered that many of them would not trade what they have for city life. The ocean provides plenty of gifts for them, and that has allowed them to live a quiet, charming life raising their families.
The small village where they live provides for their needs. Every other morning, the stores receive deliveries of fresh produce and grocery items, and with that, people here are quite content. Was it worth driving so far just for camping and a good view? It definitely was.
I used to think that I’ve seen the beach beaches having travelled from Salalah to al Sharqiyah, to Suhar and even Buraimi. My top five now include the beaches of Sugar Dunes. And I will let it speak for itself. The photos here are just half of its true beauty.
There are no facilities in Sugar Dunes. The closest toilet is in the village, and that’s quite a long drive. Expect that the wind can be a challenge at some point while you are camping so make sure to check the weather and the wind conditions if you want to camp.
Thankfully, the village has a petrol station, so there’s a place for you to get gas. There are a few food shops and small grocery stores, but again this is in the village.
When you drive all the way to the dunes, make sure that you have all your provisions including and most especially water.
As to the best spots to camp? We will leave that to you. We are sure you’d find one that will suit your need.
Photos by Jana Hobson