Mirbat & Salalah
Discover the extensive reefs of southern Oman and the Hallaniyat Islands! Departing from Mirbat’s small harbour, the itinerary will be exploratory in nature, for divers comfortable in a relatively remote location. The experienced Egyptian crew, in tandem with Oman based dive guides already familiar with many of Mirbat and Salalah’s exciting dive sites, join you in discovering the enormous wealth of sites on offer.
Sitting in the waters straddling the north Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the Hallaniyat Islands comprise five islands lying in an east to west string in the south-eastern waters of Oman’s Dhofar district; Al Hasikiyah, As Sawdah, Al Hallaniyah, Shinays & Al Qibiliyah. (The islands may also be referred to as the Khuriya Muriya Islands.)
The largest island is Al Hallaniyah at 56 km², the others being relatively small, but this remote string of islands offers a wealth of dive sites to be discovered. The geography is typical of the rugged desert like peaks typical to Oman, with its highest point at approximately 465 meters.
City of Winchester wreck
Sitting in 28 - 30 metres of water, this historic 150m long vessel holds the spurious title of the first British ship to be sunk in an act of war by Germany in WWI. Read this interesting article penned by Steve Dover in April 1999 and published in Diver magazine
Rumours also abound of other wrecks from the famous fleets of Vasco da Gama. Are you ready to make your first discovery?
Please note: the City of Winchester wreck is subject to temporary closure.
Humpbacks, if you are lucky!
Reliable, relatively frequent reports of humpback sightings are known, along with some of their smaller cetacean friends; the dolphin. A good chance of manta rays, large grouper and superb coral on relatively shallow reefs will enthral divers.
Please note that water visibility can be changeable in this area of the ocean, averaging around 20 metres. Divers should each travel with their own surface signalling devices and observe conservative dive profiles due to the location of the itinerary.
The Daymaniyat Islands
The Daymaniyat Islands helped place Oman on the world dive map. This string of offshore islands north of Muscat has been placed under the protection of UNESCO and provides divers with pristine coral gardens, walls, leopard sharks and abundant fish life. The best diving conditions are found in the area from April to October due to the wind direction and better clarity in the water, plus, June to September are the best months to have the chance to encounter whale sharks. Water temperature varies due to the thermoclines by drops and rises of +/- 8 centigrade from surface to depth.
The Fahal Islands towards the north boasts an incredible variety of coral species. There are two small wrecks, which draw a large amount of marine life, including the occasional black tip reef shark, various rays and turtles.
Bandar Khairan is an area of outstanding beauty, boasting rocky outcrops, deserted beaches and small islands such as Ras Abu Dawud that are only accessible by boat. The underwater scenery is similarly dramatic with picturesque walls and reefs festooned with healthy finger and fan corals in purples and green, teeming with marine life. The shallow, sheltered dives of Bandar Jussa, which are great to dive in all conditions, afford lovely, simple night diving experiences. Bhandar Khairan is an area where turtles breed so turtles can be seen on nearly every dive.
Al Munassir Wreck
In 2003 the Al Munassir, a 3000 tonne vessel, was sunk at Bandar Khairan and is beginning to develop into a beautiful artificial reef dive. Although relatively new, this wreck is already smothered in corals and home to plenty of marine life. Easily accessible, the Al Munassir lies at 26m with her top at just 8m.
The Musandam peninsula is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. Geographically, the area is characterised by large sawtooth mountains, which fall dramatically into the sea.
The coastline itself is carved into countless fjords, bays and islands. The stunning scenery above the surface is reflected underwater by impressive drop offs and an incredible diversity of healthy corals and strong currents.
Reefs and Diving
The waters surrounding Musandam and the Strait of Hormuz provide very fine coral reef diving. Plankton rich waters attract over 900 species of fish, ranging from cleaner wrasse through to whale sharks. There are over 25 established dive sites within 60 minutes boat ride, subject to local conditions. As the region is remote and commercial fishing is not permitted, the volume of marine life is very noticeable and leaves a lasting impression on divers.
The dive sites themselves range in character from walls to extensive coral gardens. The diving here is almost exclusively drift diving. The combination of plankton and strong local currents attract a great range of pelagic species, which includes both manta and eagle rays, along with whale sharks. Boats are often accompanied by dolphins, which like the calm waters of Musandam’s fjords. Numerous shark species can also be encountered, as well as most species of turtle.
The trade off for the high concentrations of larger marine life is underwater visibility, which typically lies in a range from 12 and 20 metres.
The dive sites of Musandam deliver world class adventurous drift diving to experienced divers. Although the area is remote, access is via a non-stop seven hour flight into Dubai from a variety of British airports.
Into Muscat & Salalah: Flights with Oman Air direct into Muscat from London Heathrow. Connecting flights to Salalah from Muscat.
Into Dubai: Flights with Emirates into Dubai non-stop from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle (conditions may apply on certain regional departures).
Flight Duration: Approx. 7 - 8.5 hours
Departure tax: N/A
PASSPORTS & VISAS
Please always check your own entry requirements regardless of your nationality. Your passport should always have at least 6 months validity on date of return travel. Always check for last minute changes in entry requirements. Nationalities other than British citizens should check with their own consular office.
All UK nationals require a tourist visa. This must be obtained before departure. You must arrive in the country within a month of purchase of the visa, or it is invalid.
To obtain the visa, please:-
- Visit https://evisa.rop.gov.om/
- From the 'Services' section, select 'Apply for Unsponsored Visa'
- Follow the application process
- The cost for a 30 day visa is OMR 20
British travellers entering Musandam, via Dubai (U.A.E.) airport:
All UK nationals require a visa for the U.A.E. This is granted free of charge on entry to the U.A.E. When you cross the border from U.A.E. to Musandam at the Tibat border you are required to pay a departure tax of 35 A.E.D. (Arab Emirate Dirhams) or equivalent in another currency.
When you enter Musandam (Oman), UK nationals must have a visa before departure. Please see above, for the application process.
Vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure. For the most up to date advice please consult your travel clinic or GP. Further information regarding vaccinations for travel to this country can be found at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and from your local healthcare provider. There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Oman, but we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio.