Today I’m here to tell you about one of the best trips I’ve taken since moving to Dubai. In a city full of skyscrapers and technology it’s hard to feel disconnected and at one with natural beauty but that’s exactly what this gem offers. Just a few hours north of Dubai this little gem is probably a place you’ve never heard of. Here’s why and how you should take a boat trip in Musandam, Oman.
Musandam is in the northern peninsular of Oman, it does not actually connect to the mainland of Oman but instead connects only to the UAE. It’s the most northern tip of this Middle Eastern part of the gulf and my does it have some amazing scenery.
Overnight Boat Trip in Musandam, Oman
We were lucky to have this trip arranged by a friend for us, he’d been many times before and knew a guy who owns three boats which he rents out for weekend trips. However, from previous research I have also found there are two companies online that you can book with Dhow Cruise and Musandam Sea Adventure. All the dhow cruises leave from the same place in Khasab and take a similar route around the fjords so expect much the same from most companies.
For our weekend we got pretty lucky, normally these trips are run on dhow boats with one or two levels covered in pillows and cushions and this is where you chill, eat and sleep. However, our boat was a huge upgrade on this. We had three levels; on the initial entry level there was an indoor and outdoor area both with seating, then above was a huge deck for sunbathing and more seating and finally on the lower level there were four cabin bedrooms all with bathrooms. It was not what any of us were expecting compared to the authentic boats but it was certainly a huge treat.
Our boat trip kicked off at lunch time on Friday after a morning drive from Dubai which took around 3.5 hours including the border crossing. The initial sail took us out of Khasab and into the fjords, there were rocky mountains coming out of the water in every direction we looked and within an hour we had our first sighting of dolphins. In the fjords there aren’t really any waves so the dolphins rely on the wake from the boat to teach their young how to surf waves, which was exactly what we found them doing.
After an hour or so of sailing we pitched up at our first spot, this would be where we’d snorkel and chill for the rest of Friday. All around us were huge rocky mountains coming out of the water, a few little villages were built around the foot of these huge silhouettes and the water was insanely clear. The reef trailed near to the rock edges so we could swim inland further to snorkel or just chill in the water on floaties and swim around.
We spent hours coming in and out of the water, playing games with friends, switching off from the real world and just generally chilling. After our first swim we came out of the water to find our first spread of food had been prepared. We were treated to salad, hummus, rice and fried chicken all of which tasted great and filled a hole that all of that swimming had made.
The rest of Friday was spent similar to this, even when the sun went down it was still hard to prize us from the inflatable doughnuts and unicorns. It became even harder when full darkness descended and we realized the water was full of bioluminescent plankton. This was impossible to see from aboard the boat especially with the lights on but once in the water and away from the main lights it was mesmerising. We kicked and splashed about for ages making the plankton glow beneath the water.
Our group were celebrating a birthday so the evening ended with lots of fun and games after yet another amazing meal on the boat. This time we were severed up the same but with fresh fish and chicken stew too which tasted amazing. After an evening of partying we retired to bed around midnight and had a pretty decent sleep.
The following morning we started the day with a jump in the ocean and a bit of a swim. It was the perfect wake up. I just wish I could start everyday with a swim in the ocean before anything else. We were then treated to an array of breakfast foods including bread, coffee, boiled eggs, Nutella, honey and cream cheese.
As we started to move off to the next spot we went in search of dolphins and found then within minutes of looking. They stayed around for a while playing in the wake of the boat, diving up and down in the water and teasing us by coming up close then ducking under the boat.
The second day saw us visit several spots in the fjords before heading back to Khasab at 3.30pm. Our first stop was Telegraph Island, from here the reef was super shallow and there were so many fish to see and admire. It was also around the edge of a low rock island which is possible to walk on, although a tough walk barefoot the views from the top were incredible.
It was at this point a small speed boat joined us and there was a chance for everyone to have a go at wake boarding. Musandam is perfect for all levels because it’s so flat the conditions are similar to that of a lake. We were provided with all of the gear but very few instructions so replied on the experienced around us to help. Despite not having a go myself getting to ride around on the speed boat at full speed with the wind whipping through my hair was a brilliant feeling.
There was one final stop at the top of the fjord and probably the busiest of all stops with at least half a dozen other boats joining us there. The landscape at this point seemed even more dramatic and the water even bluer but the current was pretty strong.
Returning to Khasab
Our final sail took us all the way back to Khasab for around 3.30pm where we docked up the boat said our thank you’s and goodbye’s before the drive back to the city. We didn’t want to return to reality and phone signal after feeling like we fully switched off for the weekend but our skin was certainly ready for a break from the sun. It was a brilliant weekend and one I am hoping to repeated again soon.
I’ve put below some of the important things to know before the trip but if you have any questions just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
The boat cost was 490 AED each.
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Things to know before you go
Apply for your visa online
To travel overland into Oman you will need to apply for a tourist visa. This can be done online easily via the evisa website but will cost a different price depending on whether you’re a tourist or a UAE resident. You’ll need a printed copy of the visa to hand over during the immigration process.
The visa cost for a UAE resident was 5 Omani Rial and this lasts for 10 days.
Orange Card Insurance
If you’re driving into Oman then you’ll need travel insurance to cover your trip. This can easily be arranged through your UAE car insurance company but will probably need to be picked up from the office. There are two types of cover on offer; temporary for a week or for the full year of your insurance policy.
If you have a rental car then you’ll also need to make sure you get insurance coverage for Oman and ensure you have the ‘orange card’.
Our insurance documents weren’t checked very throughly but at each entry/exit point but they did want to see our car registration card, so ensure this is up to date and kept with you at all times.
The border crossing is relatively easy although not very well sign posted. At each entry/exit point you will need to stop, get out of the car and then go through the immigration hall. Here you will present your passport, get stamped in/out and have your documents checked. Upon entry into both countries you will be required to open your car including the boot for an inspection, this wasn’t very thorough but done both times none the less so make sure you have followed the rules on what you can and can’t cross the border with.
What to Pack
Change of clothes,
Toothbrush and Toothpaste,
Snorkel and inflatable,
Jumper for the evening,
Cards or similar
The boat will typically provide meals and soft drinks as well as have spare snorkel equipment but it’s up to you to bring the rest or you’ll be stuck without as there are not shops on the boat!