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Muscat Campsite Free camping at public beach in Oman
Saturday, 18 October 2008
For those who need a cheap place to stay near Muscat for a short period of time and do like camping out in the open, the public beach area of Bandar Jissah (Jassah) –  known as Al Jissah (Jassah) beach most likely is the place to be. With a large open area behind the beach between the ruins of an old village and a few facilities to cater day trippers it’s not a bad place to stay. However it’s a good idea to come prepared, specially for those without their own transportation.  

Free Campsite Muscat - Oman – Al Jissah Beach

Al Jissah beach is located (N23 33’ 04.2” E58 38’ 22.3”) near the Oman Dive Center near Muscat. Following the signs to Al Bustan, it takes 2 steep climbs and 2 steep descents to get to the first exit to the left, then take the first right. This is the access road to public beach known as Al  Jissah (Jassah) or sometimes Quantab beach. (name of the town nearby) The road to the public beach is not sign posted but known well by the locals.
Free Muscat Campsite - Al Jissah Beach
Free Muscat Campsite - Al Jissah Beach

Access to this beach is either by Taxi, Rental car or for the though by Bicycle. When you arrive from the airport with your bicycle, this road is a good aperitif for the steepness you encounter in the rest of Oman. The nearest supermarket is either in Quantab Village or on the road (Wadi Kabir) just before the exit to Al Bustan on the right side.  For those without transportation, it’s possible to call a Taxi from the tea houses.

Oman Diving Center – Near Free Campsite Muscat

To save your budget, it’s possible to stay at the Oman Dive Center during the day for a shower and some snorkeling (a few OMR / person) and move to the public beach to spend the night for free. Pitching your tent at the Oman Dive Center is also possible however they (might) charge for it.

Muscat Carrefour – Camping gear

To stay at Jissah Beach Campsite for a few days bring your own food, drinks / water can be bought in the tea houses. A good place to shop for gear and food is Carrefour (N23 36’ 14.6 E58 14’ 53.6”) – at the city limit of Muscat along the main highway (About 45 Km drive from the beach). Carrefour has camping gear for quite reasonable prices. There’s an internet café at the open parking lot of Carrefour with WIFI for a fee or a coffee. (April 2008)

Public Campsite in Muscat - Oman

Most important, Al Jissah beach is popular hang-out in Muscat during weekends which is Thursday’s and Friday’s. Thursday night is the start of the weekend so expect music, dance and parties close to the beach. Many local young men have the irresistible urge to show off their cars in all ways possible. So when you appreciate quiet nights don’t pitch your camp here in the weekends, but rather find a far more quiet spot in the large area behind the beach. There are lots of secluded spaces there, away from the beach strip – and most important out of sight.

Al Jissah Free Campsite Muscat
Al Jissah Free Campsite Muscat

Outside the weekends it’s pretty quiet here, with only a few fishermen and locals, usually groups of men only, who come to chill out after work.  The Oman Police checks this area quite frequently – night and day, and will probably notice any foreigners camping out here. They usually come to shake hands and wish you a pleasant stay.

Facilities at Free Campsite in Muscat - Oman

Al Jissah beach has a few facilities, there are 2 tea houses and a public toilet with a roof water tank. The tanks are usually empty after the weekend, and it’s maybe better to forget about the toilets all together. A water truck from the Oman municipality comes a few times a week to fill the water tanks of the tea houses, the house of the guardian and the public toilets. Unfortunately, in October 2008, the last water taps in the public toilet have vanished, so no rinse water available anymore. The guardian might be willing to fill up a tank of rinse water though or you just might get lucky and encounter the water truck.

Internet at Free Campsite in Muscat - Oman

The public beach area is within the reach of Oman Mobile and Nawras – both cell / mobile networks. Recently Nawras has launched an affordable deal for unlimited Internet Access for their subscribers – worth checking out. (October 2008) Prepaid scratch cards can be bought at the tea houses at the beach. For those without a car, there is electricity at the public beach to charge a mobile phone.

Activities at free Campsite in Muscat - Oman

According to the Muscat municipality there are a few foot paths around Al Jissah (Jassah) beach. A map at the leisure area shows the location of the paths, the map is located on a signpost where at a road exit to the right going to the other side of the Oman Dive Center. This road is the short cut to the Oman Dive Center.

Fishermen rent their boats for a tour to the cliffs in the bay area of Bandar Jissah. It’s a tour of approximately 1 hour. In the weekends this is quite popular among locals.

History of Bandar al Jissah (Jissa, Jassa, Jassah)

Little seems to be known about Bandar Jissah. A look with Google Earth (N23 33’ 04.2” E58 38’ 22.3”) reveals foundations of many houses. The Persian Gulf Pilot book (1920) of the United States Hydrographic Office writes about a large village of 500. A date grove, a water well 1/2 mile inwards of good quality and poultry and eggs are for sale for supplies according to the Pilot Book. Question remains why the village is reduced to rubble while other villages in the area are still very much alive? The area is well wiorth a walk anyways.

Temperatures at free Campsite in Muscat - Oman

Day-time temperatures are bearable between October and April with a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius at the hottest part of the day. Shade is a bare necessity in this region, even in winter times! Night time temperature can drop to 26 down to between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius in the coolest months.  

In all Al Jissah beach – specially outside the weekends – is a nice place for those on a budget to start or end a trip from Muscat. Come prepared to avoid driving up and down to get supplies.

Update 4 november 2008 - Developments at Yiti & Al Sifah beach

Beaches further down the road, Yiti beach and Al Sifah beach are currently under development. Most of the beach is a construction site for future luxury tourism. The most southern end of Al Sifah beach is probably still quiet though. The public beach at Bandar Jissah is so far untouched by developments. Beaches are also unlocked by better, less steep roads which most likely will be completed in 2009/2010.
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