Ras Al Jinz

Ras Al Jinz (also spelt Junaiz or Junayz) is about 17km southeast of Ras Al Had. The Ras Al Jinz Scientific Centre was established here in 1996, complete with a hotel which opened in 2008. Guides will escort you to the nesting beach after dusk to watch the giant female turtles come ashore and lay their eggs.

The evening tour (OMR8 pp if you are not staying in the hotel) begins as a group from the lobby at about 21.00 (though arrive before 20.30 as the start time very much depends on the arrival of the turtles). There are several groups each evening and the reception desk, where you should report and confirm your booking, will advise you which group to join. Following a walk towards the beach (about a kilometre walk away) with the group, the guide visits the beach alone to find a suitable turtle and then, having found one, summons everyone over. Photography is not allowed during the evening visit.

Ras Al Jinz
© Andries Oudshoorn, Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively (or as well), you can go just before dawn (at about 04.45; arrive 30mins before) – also on a supervised visit – and with luck watch the eggs hatching. The hatchling turtles scurry to the sea like little clockwork toys, before the hungry gulls or crabs have a chance to eat them, though many hatchlings do not make it.

This early morning experience can often be more enjoyable than the evening one, as you can avoid the crowds, probably see the last straggling female return to the beach and, when your guide says you may, take photographs with the sun rising, quite majestically over the sea. Watching the vast animal haul her 200kg body out of the sea and crawl up the beach to dig an egg pit, where she will lay around 100 eggs, is extraordinary.

During peak holiday seasons, Christmas, Easter, Eid and Oman’s National Day and weekends, the numbers of people (unfortunately they appear to be in the hundreds) arriving to watch turtles can be overwhelming and detract from the experience. Booking well in advance to watch turtles is advised (ideally by email for proof of your booking) as places can be limited. You may be required to show some ID.

A research centre has been built here by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism and there is a small museum (open to non-residents for an additional charge of OMR2) upstairs within the hotel, designed to showcase both the turtles and the unique marine ecology of the eastern coast of the Ash Sharqiyyah region. The exhibits provide visitors with comprehensive insights into the ecosystems that sustain turtles, charting the complete life-cycle stages of the turtle from hatchling to nesting to migration. In addition, antiquities uncovered during ongoing excavation work in the area are preserved here. Visit the museum before you go turtle watching.

Getting to Ras Al Jinz

There is no public transport to Ras Al Jinz. By car, from the suspension bridge at Sur cross over to the east, at the roundabout take the signed second exit and at the next roundabout take the first exit right. The route eventually cuts through a section of low hills. After 32km you will arrive at a T-junction on the Ras Al Had–Asilah coast road (part of the Muscat–Salalah Coastal Road). Ras Al Jinz is reached by a left turn taken after 37km from the bridge and the hotel is some 43km total drive away.