After watching the sunrise from the departure gate in Muscat, we board the plane to Salalah which takes off 90 minutes late. We are picked up by Saleh, one of the hotel shuttle drivers and taken to the Juweira beach beach resort is 13 km east of Salalah. The landscape is very dry. The local monsoon, the Kareef is long gone and we even drive along a stretch of dried-out mangrove where the sun-burned roots of the trees stand in a desolate sandy plain.
The resort is a big complex: the Rotana along the beach, and the Juweira organized around a marina, with three swimming pools, spas, gyms, restaurants and landscaped gardens fringed with coconut trees. We are happy to be at the quiet Juweira as the crowd seems to have elected the Rotana as their favourite spot.
Our room with a view over the marina and the Arabian ocean is very pretty, well-appointed and we enjoy a balcony. After settling, it’s time for lunch. We sample a mix of Indian and Arabian cuisine at the restaurant buffet before heading for a much needed nap to recover from our very early start.
Refreshed we drag a somewhat grumpy Ryo out under a sweltering sun to discover the grounds. We spot a few birds before reaching the beach where Ryo cheers up instantly and jumps into the waves. Next stop: the pool just below our room. It’s lovely and quiet and surrounded by comfortable lounge seats.
But first we have to buy swimming trunks for Skye, who completely forgot to pack his! Luckily we find just what we need at the hotel boutique.
We take a dip with Ryo while Skye does a bit of work in the room. He joins us just in time for a nice apéro beer by the pool.
We then change for the evening, and an early dinner at the local seafood restaurant. The setting is idyllic, the landscaped garden is lit, there is soft music playing in the background and we can still hear the waves. It’s warm with a nice breeze and aside from two Swiss girls we are the only guests. Two young couples of Omanis in traditional dress tentatively sat at the restaurant but left after seeing the menu. Apparently they were not tempted by seafood. Well they missed a very nice meal. We enjoy excellent mezze, a fish chowder followed by a feast of calamari, lobster, prawns, fish and Arab desserts. Our friendly Indian waiter is from Kerala and he makes sure we have a bit extra of everything to share. Again we eat too much but really have a fantastic time.
After this one day to relax without a busy itinerary, we are back in business tomorrow! We are off to the Rub al Khali (aka The Empty Quarter), the biggest sand desert on earth, an expanse of dunes as big as France. Our guide will pick us at 10:30 so plenty of time for breakfast, unlike this morning. No blog post tomorrow: there is no internet in the desert, no phone coverage… just sand, sand, sand, as far as the eye can see!