Our Eid holidays are often spent in Oman. In fact, for the last few years most of our Eid breaks have been spent travelling and surfing in this beautiful neighbouring country. It’s that time of year again where we prepare to pack up and gear up for five days of surfing bliss, cool temperatures and sharing it with a crew of very stoked individuals joining us for our popular Aloha Arabia Surfaris.
This Eid was nothing different. We spent the week preparing for the trip – finalising accommodation, food shopping, packing surfboards and equipment, scheduling, phone calls, sending emails, transport logistics and all the necessary plans to get 24 very excited people from the United Arab Emirates and other neighbouring GCC countries to join us in a small town on the Southeast coast of Oman. With most of our group travelling to Oman for the first time, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding their first Surfari and the journey of preparation begins. We knew this trip would be epic.
Travelling from Dubai to Muscat and further south to our final destination called Asyllah, we were greeted by the annual Khareef (monsoon) winds which cool down Oman’s southern region every summer – one of the main reasons why we love escaping the UAE and its soaring summer temperatures. But it’s not only the cool temperatures that we crave for during the summer, but also the Indian Ocean swells that hit the southeast coast. “Proper waves!” as some of our guests often scream as they first lay eyes on the rugged coastline that we surf. For those of us in the UAE who are content with the usual one to two-foot swells that hit our shores, Oman’s coastline gets battered by waves generally in the two to five-foot range, often with some sets coming through that would make the Middle East surfing community proud.
The drive is long but worth it, and is broken up into two journeys and two bus rides, made easier by good music, good laughs, some light snacks and solid power napping! Once everyone has checked into the hotel with a quick breakfast down the hatch, it’s off to surf and enjoy some of the Indian Ocean swells that Joe’s Point is so famous for. By the time the sun sets, it’s a social dinner on most nights which ends relatively early for those wanting to hit the morning “Dawn Patrol” session with Carl at 5:30 a.m. which sees those keen surfers grab an early morning coffee and surf as the sun rises over the Omani coastline.
Thrown into the mix of these trips is plenty of time to surf, hang out, meet new people, sleep, read, eat, switch off and enjoy some down time. One of the main attractions we really enjoy hosting is our traditional South African BBQ, otherwise known to our group as a ‘braai’. Carl gets going on the fire with traditional South African foods such as boerewors, chops, sweet potato and onions in the coals, tins of sweet corn cooking in the fire, toasties, more meat and of course marshmallows on a stick. This is normally on our second night of Surfari so by now all our guests are in full swing of meeting each other and friendships are formed – it’s awesome to watch and be a part of.
We like to mix it up too – surfing different spots along the coastline adds some variety to the trip, and we like to show our group a bit of Oman. So, the trailer is packed up and fully stocked for the day – shade, chairs, food, drinks and surfboards – towed by the Surf Bus which is jam-packed with people grinning from ear to ear. GoPros and mobile phones are in hand, capturing the raw beauty of small villages, children playing in the streets, a windswept ocean crammed with sets of never-ending waves, as we travel 45 minutes north or south of Asyllah, in search of the perfect wave listening to chilled out tunes to get us on the way.
One of the highlights from the trip was discovering a perfect right hander in a beautiful bay about an hour from Asyllah. Fortunately this newly discovered spot was protected by the howling winds that were hitting Joe’s Point making it tough for some of our beginners to surf due to onshore large waves and strong currents. Our new little slice of heaven, known only to some of the local Oman surfers, was the perfect place for us to set up our base for two days whilst being accommodated by a friendly old fisherman who was all too willing to share his shaded hut with us. Our group has two solid days of surfing this spot, it was magical. Clear waters, off shore wind conditions and no current made it ideal for us to spend time in the water. We surfed, lazed around over the midday heat with a few diehards surfing the lunchtime session, then got back on our game after lunch and surfed a perfect wave for the afternoon. Trips back in the Surf Bus after sessions like these were filled with a blissful sense of tired tranquillity, some quiet chitchat from the back row and more chilled tunes to get us back to the hotel.
Carl and I live for this. Some people approach summer in the Emirates with discontent and gloom – for us both we know it’s the start of the Oman Surfari season. It’s a new season upon us of meeting awesome people, escaping the heat, exploring an amazingly beautiful country, surfing every day and just enjoying those moments that take your breath away. And once we’re all back in the Emirates – safe and surfed out – we have time to catch our breath and realise that we are truly blessed. And as the pictures start coming through in the days that follow, we take a moment to reflect on all the awesome people we meet and get to hang out with on these trips — and realise that each one of them is part of this spirit of Aloha that we’re striving to share and spread across the Middle East.
For more information on dates, rates and what it’s all about please visit www.alohaarabia.com.
Words by: Mari de Villiers
Photos by: Alejo Bebedor and Michael Vosloo