Given that the term ‘sinkhole’ is so often associated with portals to the centre of the earth suddenly opening up and swallowing buses whole, you might find our endorsement of this unique Omani attraction quite an odd choice. But contrary to the scarier side of the planet’s crust deciding to take an impromptu holiday, this obscure little spot – located at the feet of the lunar-like Hajar Mountains – makes for quite the tranquil getaway when travelling between towns.
Known under many different pseudonyms (Bimmah Sinkhole, Bait al Afreet, Hawiyat Najm) the story surrounding this crater’s creation remains somewhat up for debate. Of course, the scientific version isn’t half as much fun as the one that has passed into local folklore. In the latter, the chasm was born, not from anything so dismal as water dissolving rock, but from the sudden and forceful impact of an ancient meteor smashing against the surface and revealing the otherworldly turquoise waters beneath. So keen were people to buy in to this more imaginative version of events that the name of the surrounding area itself translates into English as ‘Falling Star Park’.
Somewhat difficult to discover thanks to its off road location on a long stretch of coastal highway that curves its way around the Gulf of Oman, the sinkhole makes quite a startling find even for those in the know. Visible only when almost on top of it, the void descends a whopping 20 metres down and spans an even more gargantuan 40 metres across. Unsurprisingly, there’s adequate room for a fair few families to sit, splash and swim about in the cooling saline lagoon, and bathers may even be joined by small fish that come to harmlessly nibble at any dangling toes.
Though strictly off limits to all but the most experienced and fearless of underwater explorers, the sinkhole also has secrets below its surface in the form of a deep cave system that connects it to the ocean, 600 metres away. As so few have dared venture into the mysterious tunnels, very little is known about what lies beneath, though reports of blind bizarre creatures and crystal clear depths have emerged in recent years. Perhaps, given its cosmic leanings, it could even be the doorway to an alien world. The truth is out there…