Sur is a city in Central Coastal Oman, best known for its dhow shipyards.
Sur was founded in the 6th century CE as a trading port and has a long history of ship building, continuing to the present day. In addition to being an interesting destination in its own right, it makes a good base for day trips to Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi, and Ras al-Jinz.
- Tim Severin, The Sindbad Voyage. In 1980 Severin and a crew of Omanis – including several from Sur – sailed in a traditional dhow from Muscat to Guangzhou, China, in an effort to recreate the legendary voyages of Sindbad. The dhow was built in Sur by Omani and Indian shipwrights using completely traditional materials and techniques, described at length by the author.
There is no airport in Sur. Although one was in the works several years ago, the project has since been abandoned due to the expected increased frequency of cyclones.
Sur is a 2.5-hour drive south of Muscat, off of Highway 17. A taxi from the Rusayl Roundabout will cost about RO 25 (shared RO 5). Microbuses cost RO 3 and travel inland via Highway 23, passing Ibra.
- 1 Mwasalat (ONTC) (near Sur Souq), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Runs daily buses to and from Muscat (4 hrs 15 min) along Highway 23 via Ibra.
There is no public transportation in Sur beside taxis, which charge 150 Bzs for any ride within Sur.
- 1 Dhow shipyard (near the suspension bridge to Al Ayjah). Sur is where authentic dhows are still built in the traditional fashion. NOTE: the locals don't call them "dhows" but rather safeena (ship) or suh-fin (ships). If you say "dhow," they'll be perplexed.
- 2 Fatih Al-Khair (Dhow Museum). If you are an enthusiast of hand-made wooden boats and ships, this is definitely worth a visit. Several old dhows are on display, the largest of which is the Fatih Al-Khair, built in Sur 150 years ago and now beautifully restored.
- 3 Sunaysilah Fort (Sinaysla Fort) (off of Hwy 23 near Roundabout 3). Sa-Th 8:30am-2:30pm. If the "natour" (guardian) isn't there, just walk up to the fort itself and he'll see you, come sell you a ticket and then sit in the entrance hall while you look around the displays. It is possible to climb all four towers which offer great views of the town. Don't expect much in the way of history or signs. 500 Bzs.
- 4 Bilad Sur Fort (Bilad Sur Castle) (off of Hwy 23 near Roundabout 1). Built 200 years ago, the fortress is closed for renovation.
- 5 Al Hamooda Fort (Al Ayjah Fort) (Al Ayjah). Su-Th 8:30am-2:30pm. 500 Bzs.
- 6 Al Ayjah Lighthouse (Al Ayjah). Built by the Portuguese and now fully restored, this building offers good views of Sur.
- 7 Al Ayjah Watchtowers (Al Ayjah).
- 8 Fish market (Fish souq). Daily in the morning. Visitors can watch fishermen unload and sell the catch of the day.
- 9 Corniche (boardwalk). A pleasant seaside promenade.
- 1 Souq. Visitors may find the souq disappointing, as it is filled with everyday Chinese-made goods and Indian-made khangars (daggers).
- Dhow models (in a shed at the shipyard). Erratic opening hours. Dhow models of various sizes, made by the shipwrights, are for sale.
Sur has several decent restaurants but no five-star menus.
- Bawadi Al Ayga (in the souq, near Nadi Sur Sports Club). Indian restaurant. A lot of the locals know it but everyone knows where Nadi Sur is so just take a taxi there. Prices are low. about RO 1-1.5 for a vegetarian dish with rice while anything with meat, depending on the type, runs from RO 1.3-1.8. They also have "Chinese" food. Friendly staff, largely English speaking from Kerala, very non-intrusive. Male and family sections available.
- 1 Zaki Restaurant, Hwy 23 (near the desalination plant), ☎ . Indian restaurant, with food about the same quality as Bawadi but slightly more expensive. They also have "Chinese" food. The ambiance is extremely noisy. Staff are friendly, and a couple of them speak English. Many Omanis come here with their families, there is a family section in the back of the restaurant.
- Spicy Village Restaurant (near the cinema and the souq), ☎ . Primarily Indian food, but also Chinese. Probably the best food in town, it's classy (for Sur). Prices are high for Sur – for a vegetarian dish, expect RO 2-3 while one with meat should be about RO 2.5-4. Staff are friendly and helpful, and non-intrusive.
- 2 Sur Beach Hotel Restaurant, Al Murtefeh (near the beach). Food is okay, not great and a touch more expensive than Spicy Village.
- 1 Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel, Al Ayjah, ☎ . Sur's newest hotel, with restaurant next door.
- 2 Sur Beach Hotel, 411 Sur, Sherkiya, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1pm, check-out: 1pm. RO 35+/night.
- 3 Sur Hotel, ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Basic, with free wi-fi and breakfast, within walking distance of the souq and bus stop. RO 24+/night.
- 4 Sur Plaza Hotel, Al Aise St, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Has wi-fi, pool, and onsite restaurant and bar. RO 25+/night.
- Wadi Tiwi. A series of villages and hamlets about a 40 minute taxi ride from Sur (RO 5-6 from the center of Sur). No restaurants, bring a lunch. There's a Thursday morning market where cheap Chinese made kitchen goods can be bought from Bengalis and Omanis. No restaurant, bring a lunch.
- Wadi Shab. Right next to Wadi Tiwi, a long wadi, much more spectacular geography than Tiwi and great for a day trip. Bring swimming wear and sandals because the rocks at the bottom of the water are painful on bare feet.
- Wadi Bani Khalid. Further from Sur than Tiwi and Shab, great spot, tons of tourists; no restaurants, bring a lunch.
- Old Castle Museum, Al Kamil Waal Wafi (40 min from Sur), ☎ , . 9AM-6PM daily. An old fort, renovated as a museum. Fourteen thousand artefacts and antiques date back to the 15th century. Accommodates groups (with lunch) on three days notice. Coffee and dates are included after the tour. RO 2 (tourist), RO 1 (local residents), .200 Bzs (under 18's)..