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Liveaboard Diving in Oman
Oman is a largely undiscovered diving paradise. Warm waters, pristine dive sites and a multitude of marine life make this a remarkable liveaboard dive holiday.
Liveaboards in Oman are a relatively new concept, the country only opened up to tourists at all in recent years. Thanks to this long period of isolation, the waters around the coast of the rugged middle eastern nation are virtually untouched. The region enjoys spectacular scenery with a long coastline and dramatic cliffs. The best diving in Oman is found in the more remote islands and peninsulas at Musandam and the Daymaniyat Islands and Hallaniyat Islands. These areas offer a wide variety of dives with long shallow reefs, perfect for naturalists and beginners.
For more advanced divers there are wreck sites, intriguing kelp forests and some steeper dropoffs with bigger marine life. Whatever your level you are bound to enjoy the balmy waters, at around 24-30 C, this is definitely wetsuit territory. It is worth noting however, that the deep ocean upwellings that make the islands’ stunning kelp forests possible, can bring slightly colder waters in places. These islands are also home to some of Oman’s most secluded sand beaches, a big draw for nesting sea turtles.
Despite being quite a newfound destination for liveaboards, dive cruises in Oman are available to several different destinations. Itineraries usually range from a week to ten days long, taking divers out to the more remote islands where the best diving in Oman can be found. Due to the remoteness of the islands, liveaboard trips in Oman will visit one of the areas on a short trip or two on the longer voyages. You can choose between the Daymaniyat and Hallaniyat Islands or take a longer trip and visit both. These two groups of islands are known for their nesting sea turtle population, dolphin pods and even resident humpback whales. Alternatively, you can visit the Musandam Peninsula on a week-long trip to search for whalesharks which are frequently found in this area. Most of the boats making these trips are high-end motorboats and divers will find mostly luxury liveaboards in Oman. In addition to upto five dives a day there will also be land excursions available, an opportunity to visit local towns and sample some traditional food.
Dive Sites & Areas of Oman
When diving in Oman the Daymaniyat Islands are often at the top of a diver’s list. This tiny archipelago to the north of Muscat was the first ever marine reserve in Oman. Deep ocean upwellings of nutrients draw in huge shoals of fish and consequently leopard and whale sharks. The islands are also famous for their coral reefs, so spectacular, that the concerned Omani government closes the park for part of the year to protect them. Also to the north, the Musandam Peninsula has its own lively coral reefs with many types of critters, turtles and rays. The biggest attraction here though, is the presence of passing whalesharks cruising in shallower waters.
In contrast, the Hallaniyat Islands are far more isolated, these islands are south of Muscat with only small fishing villages dotted around the archipelago. This area is home to mantas, dolphin pods and lucky groups might spot humpback and sperm whales. Keen wreck divers will find several wrecks around the islands with plenty of beautiful fish life and critters. This is a great area for underwater photography and is suitable for divers with a little more experience.
When To Go
Dive cruises in Oman are year-round and the best time to dive in Oman depends on your personal interests and taste. In the winter-time, the water is a little cooler, around 24 C, but so is the air temperature making it perfect for land based excursions. Plankton blooms and nutrient rich waters mean this is a great time for marine life too especially as this is the whaleshark season in Oman. In the summer, the weather and water are warmer though and in May and June Green and Hawksbill sea turtles are nesting on the island beaches. Water temperature at this time hovers between 28 C and 30 C. If you want to go diving in the Daymaniyat Islands, remember that because the area is a marine reserve, they are actually closed from May to October. This is designed to give the marine life time to recover and replenish for next year.
Tips For Travellers
Oman enjoys a warm tropical desert climate year round, although the summers can be very hot with an average of 30 C. It is advisable to stay hydrated especially when diving and to wear sunscreen in the daytime. The local language is Arabic but most Omanis speak very good English as well.The currency is the Omani Rial and it is worth noting that while currency exchanges are prevalent throughout Oman’s cities not all ATM machines will accept cards from foreign countries. Diving is new but fairly popular in Oman so you will find a few dive shops in the big cities if you do forget anything. Out in the islands on the other hand, there will be little opportunity to replace anything so take extras of anything you can’t dive without.
How To Get There & Ports Of Departure
Almost all flights into Oman arrive and depart from Muscat International Airport. Visas are issued to most nationalities upon arrival and cost twenty Omani Rial, payable in cash. It is worth noting that foreign travellers are allowed to carry a maximum of two litres of alcohol with them when they are travelling to and from Oman. Oman liveaboards heading to the Daymaniyat Islands depart from Muscat marinas and the Hallaniyat Islands from Salalah Beach Marina. Salalah has its own international airport although many flights require a changeover in Muscat. If you are heading on a diving liveaboard to Musandam Peninsula then a connecting flight to Khasab Port from Muscat Airport is your best option.
Dive cruises in Oman could be considered on the luxurious side, although going earlier in the year out of the high-season can be more cost effective. Most diving liveaboards in Oman are almost if not entirely all-inclusive which means you don’t have to think about costs when you are on-board. On land, it is worth considering that any alcoholic beverages will be high priced in hotels and restaurants. There is also a fee for the use of the port and national park which must be paid in cash in Oman. This costs around 150-200 USD for a seven or ten-night cruise. This money goes towards the protection of the national marine park area and it’s communities.
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