Dhofar's Coast < OMAN EXPLORER

Enchanting charms of Dhofar’s scenic coasts

OF all the coastal areas in Oman, the Governorate of Dhofar’s 800-km-long coastline stands out as an area of diverse and special environments. Good environmental quality is a prerequisite for the health and well-being of human beings, plants and animals and for sustainable development.

In order to meet the challenges of environment and development, Oman has worked out a comprehensive Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Governorate of Dhofar in consultation with World Conservation Union.

Aimed at preserving and, where necessary, restoring the natural richness, variety, and quality of the coastal environment, the plan is expected to be implemented more vigorously during the on-going Year of Environment.

Stretching from Wadi Haytam to Yemen, the Governorate of Dhofar’s coastal zone offers strikingly beautiful and diverse scenic views.

The cliffed, rocky and sandy shores, small rocky islets, and the Al Halaniyat Islands — the largest group of offshore islands in Oman — lend a new charm to the wild rugged beauty of Dhofar coastline.                                                                 Mughsayl’s famous blowholes
Long sweeps of pristine beaches add another dimension of beauty to much of Governorate of Dhofar’s coast.

Cliffed shores from Sawqirah to Sharbitthat offer a unique contact with nature. Because most of the cliffs are bordered by the seas deeper than six metres with scattered rocky reefs, tourists have a penchant for this area, according to Coastal Zone Management Plan of Governorate of Dhofar drafted by World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The coastal scenery of Governorate of Dhofar is unique and holds out a tremendous potential for nature tourism. Residents of Salalah, as well as visitors from Gulf states, who picnic along the coast or simply visit scenic areas to enjoy the view, greatly appreciate the coastal scenery.

Rocky reefs fringe most of the Governorate of Dhofar coast, and harbour coral communities. Abundant growth of corals in the sheltered mainland coves and around Al Halaniyat Islands provides a beautiful view with attractive and varied assemblages. Campers frequently snorkel and dive over the coral reefs in the Raaha area.

The Khawr environments of Governorate of Dhofar, supporting thousands of migrating seabirds, flamingoes and shorebirds, offer unforgettable sights, say tourists.
             Dhofar’s stunning natural beauty
                 gives it an enduring appeal

Mangroves in nine Khawr sites on the Salalah plain not only support a great range of animal species, from worms and crabs to fishes and birds, but also transform the more saline khawr environment into highly productive and green habitats.

Green turtles nest in varying numbers on some 135 beaches along the mainland coast from Wadi Haytam to west of Rakhyut, and the Al Halaniyat Islands. The tourists visit this area in April when turtles begin nesting in low numbers and continue through into December at some locations.

The peak nesting period of July-August attracts largest number of visitors. Loggerhead turtles nest in the greatest numbers and on 152 beaches, says the IUCN report. The Al Halaniyat Islands, especially valuable nesting grounds for loggerhead turtles, are a hub of tourists in May-June, the peak nesting period.

The Olive Ridley turtle and the Hawksbill turtle also nest in on the Al Halaniyat Islands.

Hunting of turtles and collection of their eggs is a major concern of the authorities. Proliferation in the use of gill nets may lead to an increase in the incidence of accidental capture of turtles, particularly of breeding females, say environmentalists.                  A stall laden with the bounty of Salalah’s fruit orchards
Among the environmental concerns in the Al Halaniyat Islands is the ever-present threat of major oil pollution, says the IUCN report.

Seabirds and shorebirds found along the entire coast showcase nature’s beauty. The Al Halaniyat Islands, where thousands of gulls, boobies and cormorants nest, are areas of exceptional importance to coastal birds.

Offshore waters provide rich feeding grounds for nesting seabirds and non-breeding visitors, including petrels from the Southern Hemisphere. While Governorate of Dhofar abounds in coastal and marine resources, some areas stand out as special environments with unique and enchanting charms of their own.

South Jazir Coast, a long beach backed by low dunes and wide coastal plain, with a large barrier lagoon, is one of the best examples in of its kind in Oman.

Harbouring the greatest number and variety of migrant seabirds and waders in winter months, South Jazir Coast is also known for vast tidal flats, algal beds, turtle feeding grounds and several khawr areas that offer feeding grounds for waterbirds.

Known for a collection of archaeological sites, and a khawr that offers an important seabird and wader feeding and roosting area, Sawqirah Area is among other charms of Dhofar.
      Cave overlooking Ayn Razat’s garden setting
The coastal cliffs south of Sawqirah have extensive guano-covered ledges representing important seabird roosts and possibly nesting sites, and the shallow rocky seabed is a southern extension of the Jazir turtle feeding grounds.

Ra’s Nuss, a scenic coast with sculptured granite outcrops, rocky reefs, turtle nesting and feeding grounds, and important spiny lobster and abalone resources, including a lobster breeding site, offers spectacular views.

An exquisite 30 kilometre long beach, known as Shuwaymiyah, is equally impressive. Backed by low dunes, scenic jabal, and spectacular fossiliferous canyons, with nesting turtles, great concentrations of roosting and feeding seabirds, varied wildlife, including wolf, hyaena, ibex, gazelle, hyrax, and archaeological sites, Shuwaymiah offers a high environmental quality.

Those looking for a close contact with nature like to visit Raaha. Known for scenic coves with beautiful beaches and the best developed and most varied coral reef communities of Dhofar, including corals found nowhere else in Oman, popular recreation sites, and a small seabird nesting islet, Raaha is a unique environmental asset of the region.

Khawr Rawri Area, a scenic wadi with permanent freshwater pools where waterfowl feed and nest, interesting wildlife including hyaena, porcupine, wildcat, wolf, a popular beach recreation area backed by a large khawr with an abundance and variety of birdlife and important archaeological sites is no less beautiful than Raaha.

Tourists having a penchant for scenic coasts, blowholes, and sandy beaches go straight to Mughsayl. It is also known for a khawr with waterfowl and waders, varied wildlife, including hyaena and leopard, some turtle nesting and feeding grounds, and archaeological sites.

To protect the natural richness and quality of Dhofar’s coastal environment, the residents, local visitors and tourists need to play a positive role by ensuring that their activities do not detract from the tourism and recreational potential of the area.

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