If ever you wondered where movie makers got the idea of the oasis, it is possible to imagine that they visited Huacachina in Peru, which fits the description perfectly with its large shimmering pool, palm trees and dunes of sand surrounding it. Ica, the main town, is just over the next dune, so you are never far from civilization, but it just appears idyllic.
As they always are, the sand dunes are deceptively small. What looks like a 5 minute wander to take a picture of the sunset turns into a huff-and-puff hour long ordeal where you look over at the sand-boarders and wish you had one, except that it would go up. The sand is soft and this only makes walking on it even harder. For every 5 steps up, it feels like you take 3 steps back.
Although there is a permanent population (of 115 or so), the main appeal is for tourists and other visitors. Most of the buildings are hotels or restaurants, and as they have dug wells, it has had a negative impact on the lagoon itself -- meaning that the Peruvian government actually pumps water in.
Nestled in a pretty grove where the rest of the world cannot be seen from within, the dunes only have no footprints (or dune-buggy lines) if you manage to get up early enough. The view from the top (several hundred meters high) is superb, and the dunes appear to go on forever into the distance, although this is only a smaller part of a larger (earth) desert.