Sur in Oman is one of the oldest port cities in the area, and its very location on the corner projecting furthest to the east in the Arabian Sea does give some insight into how it managed to make a name for itself as one of the most important of port cities for centuries. It got its reputation for being a major shipbuilding city back in the day-it is still that now, although commerce and industry has diversified since then-and as a major port for trade with East Africa. As other ports and canals have been opened up over the ages, though, it has fallen slightly in terms of marine trade import, although livelihood here is still largely tied to the waters.
If there is one good thing about Sur becoming less of a commercial and port hub than before, it would be in its preservation of structures and culture. The city is also very friendly to visitors, being less crowded than some of the busier cities of Oman nowadays. This makes walking around the city and visiting its tourist sites quite pleasurable. Compare a walk along the waterfront of Sur to a walk along th waterfront of Muscat, for instance: the latter is more likely to be full of activity and hubbub, whereas the former is more likely to be conducted in romantic serenity, the person doing the walk treated to the lonely and enigmatic beauty of the Arabian Sea that can only be appreciated in the relative stillness of the night. Due to its easterly location, the ports of Sur witness one of the most splendid sunrises in this part of the world as well, and witness it before most of the Arabian ports too.
There are sites of historic value here as well as the standard castles and forts for which the country on the whole is known. By way of castles you have the castles of Bilad Sur, Fanar Ras Al Meel, As Sinaysilah, Ras Al Hadd (near the turtle sanctuary of Ras Al Jinz), and Al Ayjah. And there is also a Maritime Museum in the Al-Aruba Club HQ of the city, built in the late 1980’s and full of various paraphernalia and artefacts from the Omani sea-vessels that have been coming here for centuries. It opens pretty late: around 16:00hrs, so you may want to check first if it is going to be open to visitors before going.
The most popular sites in Sur are probably the nearby Wahiba Sands-one of the most gorgeous of deserts in the area-and, even more popular still, the Turtle Sanctuary of Ras Al Jinz. Ras Al Jinz is actually good value for any tourist: it has stretches of clean and uncrowded beach beside hosting the regular egg-laying season for turtles, which visitors pay to witness at night, aided by guides from the sanctuary. This is good value for the money, most definitely, as there are few things more magical than actually seeing the turtles come in and the tiny turtles come out of their shells to take to the tides.