Have you heard of Oman yet? You may have seen it featured in Conde Nast over the last year. It’s finally getting some much deserved attention. Oman is a rugged country with stunning coastline located East of the United Arab Emirates, although it has little in common with its neighbor. It’s a must visit when you’re in the Middle East. Below is a great list of adventures to partake in when you’re visiting the Musandam Peninsula in Oman. Scroll down to read 7 Awesome Things to Do in Musandam.
Is Oman Safe?
If you’re worried about safety given all the alarming news coming out of the Middle East, don’t be. Oman is very much a bubble when it comes to the situations occurring in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. I’ve had girlfriends from Europe and the USA travel solo there many a time. It is on my Top 10 travel destinations not only because of its natural beauty but because of its humble and helpful people.
Places to Visit in Oman
Known for its slow pace of life, traditional souks, friendly locals and aqua marine waters, Oman has a number of cities and points of interest worth visiting. The capital of Muscat, enclave of Musandam, the Al Hajar Mountain Range, Nizwa, Jebel Shams mountain and port city of Salalah are just a few. One of my favorite places is the enclave of Musandam. We’ve been living in Dubai for the last 9 years and return to Musandam at least a few times a year. Read Where To Go In Oman for advice on other cities to visit in the country.
Just a two to three hour drive from Dubai, Musandam offers year round warm weather, pristine beaches and mountainous backdrops for those looking to escape big city life. The main areas to visit in Musandam are Khasab and Dibba. Here is a list of things to do in Musandam, Oman.
Here are 7 Awesome Things to Do in Musandam
Sailing through the Fjords on a Traditional Dhow Boat
Not as tall as the fjords in Norway, Oman’s fjords are just as spectacular though. You’ll witness incredible sheers of cliff thrashing into crisp, blue waters on a large wooden dhow boat fitted with comfortable Arabian style cushions and carpets. There are several operators and options to choose from. They leave the Khasab Harbour for half day, full day and overnight packages with yummy spreads of authentic local cuisine for a very reasonable price. Your trip will usually include time to snorkel in the clear waters. It’s even possible to fit this in as a day trip from Dubai, transportation is provided from your hotel. But I recommend staying at least a few days, as there’s so much to do. This tops the list at Awesome Things to Do in Musandam, Oman.
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A stop for swim and snorkel off the dhow in waters just as blue and clear as any tropical destination you can think of. The guides told us to look out for banana fish, now I don't know if that's the real name or because they let tourists throw little pieces of banana in the water to feed them. It didn't sound like such a good idea to me ? ? – – – – – – #oman #musandam #igersoman #travelblog #traveletting #femaletravelbloggers #womenwhotravel #girlswhotravel #swimming #snorkel #blue #fjords #deepbluesea #dreamscape #oceanscape #seascape #worldtraveler #planetearth #passionpassport #sheisnotlost #dametraveler #weekend #instatravel #desertlife #tropical
Swimming, Cliff Jumping or Canyoning in a Wadi
Musandam is blessed with natural splendors due to tectonic shifts and dramatic geological movements from way back in the day. Wadis, similar to valleys and/or gorges, are deep and immense. Think mini Grand Canyon. They offer swimmers and hikers an awesome opportunity to experience a picturesque afternoon and one of Oman’s greatest past times, cliff jumping from a wadi. For the more adventurous, canyoning in the wadis is also popular. No experience is necessary for a swim and general visit however. You can choose to go with a tour operator or go yourself. The most popular wadis are Wadi Shab and Wadi Rawdah and the Rawdah Bowl.
Dolphin spotting is part of the Traditional Dhow boat experience listed above. The friendly spinners make a couple of appearances on your trip and will even follow along with the boat. However, for more personal encounters, many opt to do this as a separate excursion where you’ll go further out off the coastline.
Whales visit Oman but at irregular intervals. The tourism infrastructure for this is in its infancy but a couple of operators do take visitors out to see them. Several whale species are frequently spotted in Omani waters.
Take Note Divers: Musandam has several sites, just ask your captain (not me, the one of your vessel 🙂
Camping in the Mountains
No tour operator or permits needed but you will need a tent, some overnight gear and a 4×4 to make it up the gravel road mountain. The scenery is unreal and untouched. A 4×4 isn’t required if you decide to camp on the beach. Musandam is blessed with more than a few optimal camping sites. You’re sure to hear mountain goats looking for food outside of your tent in the night or early morning. Below is a pic of a self guided camping weekend with friends (one couple had a child) in the mountains between Jabal al Harim and Jabal Bil Ays.
A tour operator will usually have you at the camping area on a beach by 5 p.m. where tents are waiting for you. Sleeping bags, chairs, tables, electricity, wood for a camp fire, fresh water for bathing and music are provided as well as barbeque dinner and breakfast. They return you to the harbor in Khasab by 11:00 a.m. the next day although timings can be adjusted according to your needs. Again, a tour operator is not necessary though. Many opt to choose their own camp sites on different beaches in the area but the best spots are accessible only by kayak or boat. The beach next to the Atana Hotel in Khasab is popular and accessible by car. Another one of my favorite things to do in Musandam.
Time to immerse yourself in Omani culture and history. Take a visit to the Khasab Fort. Khasab is a small but busy settlement near the northern tip of Musandam. Built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, it houses a small museum. You’ll see the harbor out in front, once the center of bustling trade with Iran.
Drive On The Khasab Coastal Road to Bukha
The 17 mile coastal road from Khasab to Bukha in Musandam is a thrilling and winding ride with sea to one side and blasted mountain on the other. You can see the layers of sediment from various periods in history in the rock. Reach the village of Al Harf where you’ll have a view to Iran over the Strait of Hormouz.
Paraglide or Microlight over Zighy Bay
In case you hadn’t noticed yet, the views over Musandam are undoubtedly visual wonders. Musandam is a internationally known paragliding and parasailing destination. I found the view over Zighy Bay particularly breathtaking. Paragliding starts from the top of Zighy Mountain. The tandem paraglider will take you around the edge of the mountain and into the bay from a height of about 1,000 feet above the ground. Totally exhilarating.
Where to Stay in Musandam:
5 Star/Luxury – Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
Six Senses Zighy Bay is one of the most fabulous resort experiences I’ve encountered in my 43 countries of travel. The resort is a luxurious accommodation with freestanding, rustic villas on the beach complete with private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The eco-conscience themed hotel blends seamlessly into the native landscape yet provides more amenities than you’ll ever need. Walk around in your robe and barefoot anywhere you want. The beach at Six Senses Zighy Bay is incredible and so is the spa and service. Read the full review Six Senses Zighy Bay
Mid Range: Atana Hotel, Khasab
A reasonably priced 4 star hotel located in Khasab and situated right on the water. Centrally located for all the sites and a great place to have a few drinks while taking in the beautiful scenery. There is another hotel by the name of Atana Musandam, so you may get results for both when doing an online search. Both are reasonably good hotels but distance is the differentiating factor.
Budget: The Khasab Hotel or Diwan Al Amir (under $100)
I haven’t stayed here personally but was told that it is a great option for the price. Do keep in mind that many budget or lower priced hotels are Sharia compliant, meaning they don’t serve alcohol.
Hope you enjoyed Things to Do in Musandam, please feel free to leave comments or questions below.
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