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Wadi Shab, Oman: Everything You Need To Know

Wadi Shab is one of the most incredible places in Oman, and a must-see in any Oman itinerary. This desert oasis is characterised by a clear emerald river and steep rocky cliffs on both sides, a truly unique landscape!

It was one of my favourite places we visited in Oman, which is why I wanted to share with you everything you need to know to plan your trip to Wadi Shab!

In this guide I’ve included information like how to get there, what to expect, what to bring and more.

Freshwater pools you can swim in the Wadi Shab

Freshwater pools you can swim in the Wadi Shab

About Wadi Shab

Personally, I liked Wadi Shab better than Wadi Bani Khalid, even if it’s not as famous (or maybe because of that?)

The hike from the parking area to the first pool where you can swim will take you a good 45 minutes, which makes it much more of an adventure!

The start of the trail is on muddy ground surrounded by palm trees, but as you go along the canyon sides close in on you and the ground becomes rockier.

You’ll find yourself having to climb over some of the bigger boulders or wade through little streams to keep going. It’s wilder than Wadi Bani Khalid, and there are no restaurants or facilities once you get there.

There is a toilet at the parking area but once you set off on your hike, you’re into the wild! So many sure to bring enough water and food with you to last for as long as you wish to stay out there.

Rocky landscapes in the Wadi Shab

Rocky landscapes in Wadi Shab

Hiking in the Wadi Shab

Hiking in Wadi Shab

How to get to Wadi Shab

If you’re driving to Wadi Shab by yourself you should search for “Wadi Shab Parking” on Google Maps. Wadi Shab is around a 1.5-hour drive from Muscat and 45-minute drive from Sur.

From the parking area you will have to take a short boat trip to get to the start of the hiking trail. The journey there and back with the boat costs 1 rial.

You pay when you arrive and then when you return from your hike they will come pick you up. It’s quite easy to get there yourself, but if you don’t want to drive you can also visit Wadi Shab on an organised tour.

Exploring the Wadi Shab, Oman

Where to stay to explore Wadi Shab

There isn’t much around Wadi Shab, so I would recommend staying in Sur. Sur is the closest big city, where we also stayed before visiting Wadi Shab.

We stayed at Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel, which had big and clean rooms, and was conveniently located to supermarkets, restaurant and an epic viewpoint over the Sur harbour.

Click here to book your stay at Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel!

One of the rivers in Wadi Shab

One of the rivers in Wadi Shab

Our experience at Wadi Shab

I spent a week in Oman in May 2019 during Ramadan, and just after some heavy rainfall in the area, so my experience at Wadi Shab was a little different from what you might usually expect.

We saw very few other people throughout our whole trip, and at Wadi Shab especially we only saw two other groups of tourists the whole time we were there.

During Ramadan there are less locals out during the day, but also less tourists as many people don’t travel to Muslim countries during Ramadan.

That meant that we could swim in the water in swimsuits, which you shouldn’t really do if there are locals around. To respect the local culture you should dress modestly, which means swimming in t-shirts and long shorts.

About to start our adventure in Wadi Shab!

About to start our adventure in Wadi Shab!

The initial part of the Wadi Shab trail, when there are still lots of palm trees!

The initial part of the Wadi Shab trail, when there are still lots of palm trees!

The initial part of the Wadi Shab trail, when there are still lots of palm trees!

The initial part of the Wadi Shab trail, when there are still lots of palm trees!

The river was very swollen when we were there so we ended up having to walk the beginning of the trail through muddy paths, and at times, ankle deep water.

We hiked for a good 45 minutes to one hour, scrambling over rocks and wading through streams before reaching the main pool.

Don’t be discouraged by this, it was an incredibly fun adventure! Once we reached the main pool we set up camp close to the canyon cliffs, so that we could have a bit of shade and shelter from the sun.

We left our stuff there, jumped into the water and swam our way up the wadi! The current can be really strong at times so if you’re not a confident swimmer please be careful.

The depth of the wadi also changes really quickly, going from knee deep to all of a sudden you not being able to touch the bottom anymore.

Hiking in the Wadi Shab in Oman

Hiking in the Wadi Shab in Oman

The further you go the more beautiful it gets, with the smooth and steep cliffs surrounding you as you swim.

After swimming for about 10-15 minutes you will reach a spot with a rope that you can climb up, which will lead you to a cave with a small waterfall where you can dive.

The river was too swollen when we were there but apparently there is also a passage under the rocks that you can swim under to reach the same spot.

Tiny waterfalls and streams in Wadi Shab

Tiny waterfalls and streams in Wadi Shab

We spent 4-5 hours in total at Wadi Shab, including the hiking time and time there relaxing. While I could have spent longer exploring the wadi I felt like it was a good about of time.

You can easily visit Wadi Shab alone, but there are also organised tours if you prefer to have someone guide you.

We were a big group so never felt unsafe or like we might get lost, but if you’re travelling solo it might be a good idea to do an organised tour.

Click here to book your Wadi Shab tour!

The emerald pools and golden rocks of Wadi Shab in Oman

The emerald pools of Wadi Shab

What to bring with you to Wadi Shab

Since it’s a little less touristy and there’s more hiking involved than with Wadi Bani Khalid, you have to be a bit more prepared, as you won’t be able to simply walk back if you forget something.

Some essentials I recommend taking with you include:

Water shoes or comfortable trainers you don’t mind getting wet: You will have to hike through mud, through water and scramble over rocks to get to the main pool of Wadi Shab.

You can’t do it in flip-flops as it would be pretty dangerous, but you might also not want to do it with you every day shoes and get them wet. Durable water shoes would be the ideal footwear for this hike.

Snacks & water: Bring plenty of water and food with you! Oman gets really hot, and you will be thirsty after hiking for 45 minutes under the sun! You don’t want to have to cut your time at Wadi Shab short because you get hungry or thirsty.

Hiking along Wadi Shab

Hiking along Wadi Shab

Sunscreen: The Oman heat can be pretty intense; you don’t want to risk getting sunburnt! Make sure to pack sunscreen and stay safe from the strong sun rays.

Fast drying towel: If you’re planning on swimming around in the wadi (which you should because it’s loads of fun!) you’ll want to bring one of these with you.

I love them because they’re light, take up little space in your backpack and dry super quick.

Hiking along Wadi Shab

Hiking along Wadi Shab

GoPro camera: There are parts of the wadi that you can only reach by swimming, if you want to capture every moment of it you will need an underwater camera!

Waterproof bag: I wish I had a waterproof bag with me when I visited Wadi Shab, as I wouldn’t have had to worry as much about my belongings when we were wading through deep water.

It will ensure your stuff stays dry, and you could even take it with you if you go swimming and don’t want to leave your stuff on the rocks.

The rocky beauty of Wadi Shab in Oman

The rocky beauty of Wadi Shab

Final thoughts on visiting Wadi Shab in Oman

Wadi Shab is one of the coolest places we visited in Oman, and I highly recommend it to all outdoors lovers. It was just what we needed after spending a night in the cute town of Misfat Al Abriyeen.

Wadi Shab felt like a proper adventure; hiking and scrambling over rocks, wading through streams, and finally reaching emerald pools that we could swim in. 

It’s not as challenging as the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk, and the opportunity to properly swim in cool water is a great addition! I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own visit to Wadi Shab.

Before travelling there I found there wasn’t much information online that answered my questions, so I put together this guide to do just that! If you have any questions just let me know in the comments below!

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Collage of photos from Wadi Shab with text overlay saying "Ultimate guide to Wadi Shab, Oman"