The Oman coastline is beautiful. The sheer sandstone cliffs with tortured strata make for awe inspiring scenery.
I have to say the Oman dive vacations start was not great. The mini-bus driver who came to fetch us didn’t know the way to the airport to collect the remainder of the group who had flown in to Dubai from France, so we spent a frustrating hour or so trying to give directions to he and his co-driver – which was a bit much considering we had only been in Dubai a couple of times previously and hardly knew our way around! The frustrating part was the fact that they wouldn't listen and we had to watch the off-ramp for the airport go past at least three times before they listened to us and took it!
Once we had collected our fellow scuba divers, we were on our way at one a.m., this was really only a little later than we had expected. Things settled down and we took about three hours to drive from Dubai to the little coastal town of Al Dibba in Oman.
The border post consisted of two or three policemen who had a cursory glance at our passports and waved us through.
The harbour at Al Dibba smelled ripe to say the least, so when we eventually got on board the Red Dhow and headed off to sea, it was a bit of a relief! I suppose with the trying start to the journey, then arriving in the early hours of the morning, the
adventure diving scuba vacation part of all this was wearing a bit thin!
The Red Dhow is a modern boat with the same profile as the traditional Arabic boat, but that’s about where the traditional bit stops, the boat is fairly modern, quite basic but comfortable and plenty of room to relax on the decks and upper deck area.
The dive location we were going to be scuba diving around is called the Musandam Peninsula.
The desolate loneliness of the landscape was something to see and more than made up for the irritations we experienced in the early part of the trip – the crew themselves were great and also did a good job of looking after us. They were very pleasant as well as unobtrusive. Once we had got on our way out to sea, the
scuba vacation started and we began to relax.
The food on the liveaboard was very good and there was plenty of it so putting on weight was something to worry about when I got home, I certainly didn’t give it a minute's thought while we were there. The beer was probably a factor as well………..
We were all quite surprised at how cool the air was, and the first dive was even more of a shock – barely 20º Celcius, luckily I had done a little research on the internet prior to setting off from home and had brought a 5mm wetsuit with hoodie and a skin so was fairly ‘toasty’.
I ended up being persuaded to pass my hoodie to one of my friends as he hadn’t been as clever as me, and had brought a 3mm wetsuit so was whining continually about how cold he was! He doesn’t realise how much he owes me….
Oman is a different environment to dive in compared to other scuba dive vacation locations I have been to and it is hard to put my finger on why exactly. The sea life wasn’t quite as prolific as the red sea nor was the water the same clarity or ‘blue forever’.
There was a lot of sea life and a lot of plankton, we came across quite a lot of ‘red tide’ as the crew called it – I have never seen a red tide before so can’t say whether it was actually red tide or not.
We avoided diving where the red tide was in evidence although we dived without any problems within twenty or so metres from it and the issue seemed to be visibility rather than health concerns.
The one aspect of the diving was the presence of a lot of jelly fish, both the usual ‘globular’ type as well as long string ones which tended to get wrapped on your wrist or ankle. Now again - I had been lucky and seen mention of this on a site I looked at before we went, where they said do not go diving in Oman without booties and think about taking gloves.
This leads me to believe the Jellyfish are a feature of Oman scuba diving so be warned.
It is also true that while I was stung, there was no harm other than a small amount of sting which became itchy and faded fairly rapidly. My wife was pretty much the same although she did get a few welts like serious mosquito bites.
There were others on board who had more sensitive skin and hard a harder time of it. Vinegar seemed to alleviate the problem.
Whilst all this is a consideration it was by no means something to worry about or to put you off. Just be prepared for it.
We were there in March which is not in the ‘high’ scuba vacation season so possibly why we didn’t see a lot of larger species – one leopard shark which didn’t particularly hang around for us to take pictures. He went below 30m fairly rapidly…..
There were Seahorses at one dive site so that was a real bonus for us – we were told ‘this place has seahorses’, and they took us to see them so it was pretty much as promised! If I recall they were at about 27m depth so not too much dive time to be had if you stay down there.
The northern parts of Oman are a little wilder and more challenging from a diving perspective than further south around Muscat. I loved the barrenness of the scenery around the dive sites we visited. As I said earlier the barren loneliness only added to the diving vacations therapeutic element - did I mention the beer helping?
We didn’t see any other divers the seven days we were there which only made things better and better.
All in all Oman is a great place to dive, I will definitely go back and would recommend it to others looking for a different place to take a scuba diving vacation.
Oman itself has other well known attractions on land those so inclined.
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Just a couple more pictures......