Oman for Water

Couples, families or solo travellers wishing to dive, snorkel, swim, sail or spend a day on the soft sand with a picnic and a bucket and spade will be spoilt for choice, with swaying coconut trees, hidden coves, inky lagoons and colourful beach huts aplenty. 
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Oman’s spectacular coastline extends 1,700kms, adding yet another string to the bow of visitors looking to go beyond the desert or the city (or repeat visitors who have been there, done that).

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What lies beneath

Oman’s coastline remains relatively – and rather unusually – untouched with some fantastic dive spots around Muscat, near the Musandam Peninsular, along Salalah’s coast and on the Demaniyat Islands, of which there are nine, each is protected by UNESCO world heritage status.

The best time to see the manta rays, turtles, colourful coral and marine life native to Oman is during May and October, when the seas are calm and the water warm. Four different species of turtles nest here, with sightings of loggerheads, greens, hawksbills and olive ridleys possible on each dive, as well as 900 different species of fish, coral in full technicolour and – if fortunate – the elusive whale shark.

The rare opportunity to dive through forests of seaweed presents itself during the warmer months; as cooler weather arrives, the kelp is eroded and eaten, leaving the coral to dominate once again.

Top tip: Several companies offer courses for visitors to qualify for their PADI during their stay, such as the Mola Mola Diving Center in Muscat.

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Island Life

It’s well worth the five-hour drive from Muscat to visit Barr Al-Hikman in the Al-Wusta Region, an area of rocky limestone, salt plains, tidal mudflats, coral reefs and coastline that attracts sea turtles, whales, dolphins, flamingos, mountain gazelles, bats and 140 different species of birds. It’s a popular spot for wildlife photographers and documentary filmmakers wishing to capture rare sightings.

To get the most out of a visit – and to avoid getting lost in an area this vast and desolate – always book a tour with a trusted company like Hud Hud Travels.

Gone with the wind

Daytime temperatures hover at around 29 degrees, keeping the water warm, while winds of 20-35 knots are ideal for kitesurfing, surfing, wake boarding and stand up paddleboarding. Watersport Oman offers Kifesurf Camps for visitors wishing to try the sport whilst staying in luxury Bedouin tents (think double beds and plush carpets). Three meals a day are served in a separate restaurant and bar.

Sailing, whether on a luxury catamaran or a small sailboat, is a popular sport especially from October to April, when the weather is warm and dry. The marinas in Muscat offer sailing rental services as well as yacht charters. The Island of Masirah is one of the most popular sailing and yachting destinations with empty beaches and prime snorkel spots. For more rugged scenery, the Musandam Peninsula, located in northern Oman has hidden bays and fjords to explore.

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Cruise control

A far cry from the all-singing-all-dancing vessels we associate with modern-day cruising, Omani versions take place on traditional dhows, handcrafted wooden sail boats once used to carry heavy items such as fruit, fresh water or merchandise. Adorned with luxurious carpets and colourful cushions, these beautiful vessels have one or two masts that, when rigged, pick up the breeze and glide across the water, past fishing villages and through coastal fjords where dolphins can be spotted.

With no accommodation onboard, a dhow cruise can last anything from two hours to a full day with lunch, a snorkelling excursion (equipment will be provided) or refreshing swims in tranquil coves. Visitors short on time can book a two-hour sunset cruise to watch the sun sink into the water.

Top tip: Star of the Sea Oman runs a sunset cruise along Muscat’s coastline, passing HM’s Palace, fishing towns and Riyam Park before returning to Marina Bander Rowdha.

Become an Oman Ambassador

To learn more about Oman, take the online training course Oman Ambassadors at omanambassadors.com