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Scuba diving in wilderness waters of Oman

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muscatScuba Diving in Oman:
1700 km of Omani coastline is stretching along the Oman Gulf and Arabian Sea. The coastal waters of Oman are untouched paradise for scuba divers, as they are not affected by human civilization yet. It is very unlikely to meet divers from other boats; most likely your boat will be the only one in this place. I was able to find coordinates of 13 scuba diving centers which are operating in this country. If you plan to visit Oman better write them down, just in case.

Diving centers in Muscat:
• DIVECO – 602-101
• Oman Dive Centre – 950-261, 799-600, www.diveoman.com.om
• Moonlight dive centre – 931-7700, www.moonlightdive.com
• Sera divers – 611-314
• Ras al-Hamra Sub Aqua Club – 677-577
• Capital Area Yacht Centre (CAYS) – 737-712, 737-070, 560-345
• Sunny Day Tours Watersports – 700-712
• Muscat divers – 736-402
• Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel (Recreational Department) – 600-500
• Bluzone Watersports (Marina Bandar al-Rowdha) – 737-293

Diving centers in Barka:
• Al Sawadi Beach Resort – 895-545

Diving centers in Musandam:
• Khasab Dive Centre – 830-464

Diving centers in Salalah:
• Samharam Divers – 948-1265, 235-333

It is impossible to independently conduct a dive in the waters of Oman without prior registration in the Oman Diving Federation or in the local dive centers.

Scuba diving in omanThe best time for diving is in May, but best season is considered to be from October to May , during this time water is very clear and on islands visibility can reach as high as 25-30 meters. In the July-September the water warm up and visibility drops a lot due to rapid reproduction of plankton. In winter strong winds exist which make diving possible only in sheltered bays.

Some interesting places dives

Damaniyat Islands are located about 90 km to north of Muscat. Damaniyat Islands are chain of nine islands, which are the national bird sanctuary. From a dive center DIVECO, which is located at the hotel Al Sawadi Beach Resort, speedboat will take you to the place of immersion in 30-40 minutes.

damaniyat islands

Note: since the beginning of May to the end of October diving around the Islands Damaniyat is limited. Permit is being issued by Directorate General of Nature Reserves – 602-285, fax 602-283. But if you’ll pre-arrange this problem with your diving center prior arrival, they will take care about all the problems with the resolution.

Landing on the island is prohibited, and the boat will never come close to shore. But between dives you can get where by swimming. On island you may walk on the sand, but as soon as you’ll try to climb the rock or go deeper into the island, you will be immediately stopped because of shouting of your boat personal: “Please, no enter!”

During our dives in the islands visibility under the water was about 15 meters and water temperature was 25 degrees. Untouched coral gardens, flocks of fish which do not afraid you at all – these are characteristic of diving in Damaniyat islands.

During one dive at these islands you can see such a diversity of fish , which you’ll not be able to see in the Red Sea during whole week. Butterfly fishes, radiant samara, zebra-samara, clowns, groupers in large numbers inhabit the reefs. Honeycomb, list, yellowfin , moray eels sitting under every second stone, and huge whiskers of lobsters protrude from all the crevices of the rocks. During one dive I saw three types of rays, octopus, giant cuttlefish and a rare poisonous fish which name I can’t remember :) .

At the time of swimming along the coral walls occasionally you’ll be distracted by flocks of batfishes and South Tropical mackerel. It is unusual spectacle, when the flock of mackerel swims along the reef, with widely opened mouths for filtering plankton. I would rate Diving at Damaniyat as Outstanding!

oman_diving_03

Bandar Jissah
Large number of dive sites in 3-10 minutes from the dive center of Oman Dive Centre. This is one of the best dive centers in Oman. It is very conveniently located about 10 km from the center of Muscat and 10 minutes from the most fashionable country hotel – Al Bustan Palace Hotel. On the beach near the dive center located six double reed bungalows in the Arab style, they can be comfortably accommodated as they are, despite the simplicity, and they are equipped with air conditioners, refrigerators and ceiling fans. At evening barbecue on the beach awaits you with sound waves under the lights of stars.

The cost per person in bungalow with double accommodation is 20 OMR (Oman Riyals) in low season (June to September) and 25 riyals in peak season (from October to May). The price includes only breakfast. There is a good restaurant in territory of dive center and full board will cost you additional 12 Omani riyals.
The price for 12 dives in the presence of the equipment is 90 riyals. This price includes the container, cargo, boat, guide services, mineral water, coffee and biscuits on board. If you’re going to conduct a night dive you’ll have to pay another 3 rials, for the cylinder with Nitrox 32 and 36 – to 3 rials and Nitrox on demand will cost you 5 riyals.

Oman Dive Center also organizes trips to the islands Damaniyat, at least 6 people should agree. The cost of such travel is 9 riyals per person. Diving close to the dive center will be interesting for fans of video and photography, as there are a lot of scenes for macro photography. In this dive center on the wall, we saw a photo of a whale shark with a thankful signature of its author, the Hans-Hassa, famous Austrian underwater photographer who was pioneer in underwater studies about sharks.

The possibility of meeting a “giant animal” in the waters of Oman is one of the highest in the world. It inhabits 13 species of whales and dolphins. Dolphins can be seen everywhere. In year 1996 near the coast of Muscat at the Gulf Rod rare blue whale (the numbers in the world has 5 thousand individuals) had been noticed. The last time blue whale was seen in 1800 off the coast of Al-mouth and Dofara

octopus in Oman turtle in waters of Oman whale_oman

Visa permit

If you’ll come to Oman by air, a visa can be purchased at the international airport in Muscat for 6.5 Omani riyals. If you are crossing the border by car, take care to obtain visa prior. For 25 dollars and in the presence of photographs and passport and after completing the questionnaire you will receive an entry visa.

To describe whole beauty of scuba diving adventures ( and not only ) in Oman is not possible to do in simple blog post. I did not tell you about the interesting history of the country, with wars, naval battles, pirates, and great rulers and chiefs. There was no opportunity to show the beauty of its exotic nature and wildlife. Better to come to Oman and see this wonderful country with your own eyes.

Tip: Plan your trip in advance. There are not many hotels in Oman, but number of people who want to visit this country rising every day. So book your hotel prior

Comments

  • Neil Murphy said:

    Indeed Oman is a rare jewel to be found and experienced. However, a dive trip to Oman could never be completed without a trip up into Oman`s Musandam area. The Musandam is an enclave of Oman separated by the UAE. It is on the northern tip of the Arabian peninsula that juts out into the Straits of Hormuz. Described amongst people who have dived as the Norway of Arabia with its fjords and described underwater as the “the last frontier of diving.” Over 900 species inhabit these waters and makes the biodiversity of the Red Sea look like a small aquarium in comparison.

    Live aboard dhow cruises are the most popular method of exploring this incredibly rich ecosystem. Up in the Musandam, people use their fish guides to find what they did not see instead of the other way around. Whale sharks, dolphins, bull, hammerhead, grey reef, blacktip and zebra sharks, sea horse, cuttlefish, schools of barracuda, yellow fin tuna and barracuda proliferate in these waters amongst all the usual tropical and temperate species encountered elsewhere.

    The talk amongst those in the know is that it will become the next Red Sea. For those of us that have had the privilege of experiencing this unique wilderness, it is almost a catch 22 for us as we would never begrudge another fellow underwater enthusiast from experiencing this treasure trove and at the same time we would love to keep as our special and unique secret.

    There are quite a few operators in the Dibba, Oman area that specialize in dhow and dive trips, my personal recommendation would be a company called Sheesa Beach Travel and Tourism, their fleet of 6 dhows and 3 fast, efficient speedboats are immaculate and the staff from the dhows and dive centre are world class professionals. They also have a traditional date plantation camp that one can camp in with really comfortable tented accomodation, a magic fire pit for gossiping around to end off a truly memorable diving experience.

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