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 Straights 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. The dive centre's 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.
Extra Divers runs a small and friendly dive centre at the Atana Khasab, offering SSI and PADI courses. It is located a short drive from the small town of Khasab, where the Extra Divers Villa is located.
All of the 25 dive sites are within around 60 minutes of Khasab port and are accessed by a fast 'wet' boats and a slightly larger fibreglass boat with a small dry area and toliet. The port is a short transfer from the dive centre.
Due to the local geography of the area, drift dives are a strong feature of the area, some of them very challenging, and this location is therefore generally recommended for the more experienced diver, although less experienced divers may be catered for.
The centre has a good rinse area and kit storage. There is also a small dive shop, coffee/tea corner and a workshop for small repairs. In front of the dive centre a sun sheltered terrace is the perfect place to chill-out after diving.
The centre operates a two tank dive each morning and divers typically finish diving in the early afternoon. Night dives can be organised locally and the centre may offer special trips to shore dive sites, local diver numbers dependant.
Dive Pack Prices
|6 dives (3 days)||£160|
|10 Dives (5 days)||£260|
|20 Dives (10 days)||£491|
Includes: 2 morning boat dives or shore by 4x4, air tanks, weights & guide.
|SSI Open Water Diver||£283|
|SSI Advanced Open Water||£198|
Please enquire - additional course prices on request.
Extras in Resort
- Locally charged Marine Tax: 3 OMR per day
- Scuba Review: 50 OMR
- Certification fee: 25 OMR
- Equipment rental per day incl. computer: 16 OMR
- Regulator: 4 OMR
- BCD: 4 OMR
- Wetsuit: 4 OMR
- Snorkel, Fins & Mask: 3 OMR
- Computer: 4 OMR
- Dive torch: 4 OMR
All charges per day. (£1 = 0.55 OMR approx.)
- 12l aluminium cylinders with DIN & INT fittings
- A couple of 10l tanks are available
- Nitrox is not currently available
- 15l tanks not currently available
Non Diving Activities Available to Book Locally:
- Mountain safaris 4x4
- Dhow cruise with dolphin watching
Please note the dive centre is NOT able to accept credit cards. 3 cash machines are available in Khasab.
The Sultanate of Oman is the gateway to the Arabian Gulf and was for thousands of years the focus of the frankincense trade route. An ancient nation of maritime traders Oman’s empire at one point extended down the East African mainland as far as Zanzibar. Strategically situated between India and Europe, the influence of Oman’s historical trading partners has left its mark on the population, which is both tolerant and cosmopolitan. Arabic is the official language, although English is widely spoken in some areas.
The Musandam peninsula is completely separated from the main body of Oman by a stretch of land belonging to the United Arab Emirates. Musandam has developed distinct language dialects and cultural mores. A huge pale limestone massif with steep strata crossed cliffs descending into the sea, the Musandam peninsula has remained isolated from the rest of Arabia and is still very remote. The area is sparsely populated by the Shihuh tribe, who for centuries have been carving a precarious existence from the seas. Some villages can only be accessed by boat. The capital of Musandam, Khasab, has a population of around 16,000 inhabitants.
Temperatures remain high throughout the year. The coastal areas have a hot and humid season from May to September (average 32-40°C). The humidity during the hottest months can affect air visibility. From October to April air temperatures are pleasant during the day and cool at night. The annual rainfall in most parts of Oman rarely exceeds 125mm and generally the weather is good.
From November to April average water temperatures vary between 22-26°C, with some thermoclines. Over the summer month’s temperatures can rise above 30°C.
In the summer months, Regaldive recommend divers use a 3mm full wetsuit and a 5mm full wetsuit in the winter months. The full suit is recommended due to the small stinging hydroids prevalent in the Indian and Arabian ocean. Although unlikely to cause any damage, it just makes the dives more comfortable should there be anything in the water.
A unique feature of Oman’s diving are the number of endemic corals that have learnt to survive in temperatures above their normal temperature range.
Currents and Visibility
Strong currents affect the majority of dive sites accessible out of Musandam. Regaldive recommend that divers should be PADI Advanced or the equivalent with around 30 logged dives to enjoy the full range of dive sites available when booking a recreational dive pack. There are some sheltered sites more suitable for inexperienced divers.
Visibility is in a range between 10 to 20 metres. Reduced visibility is caused by plankton blooms, which attract greater numbers of fish and marine mammals. Sightings of Mantas and other pelagic plankton feeders more frequent than the Red Sea.
Oman is +4 hours ahead of GMT.
The Omani Rial £1 = 0.6 Rials
United Arab Emirates Dirhams £1 = 5 AED
Sterling and US Dollars are also widely acepted. We recommend taking some money in cash. ATMs are available in Dubai airport and in Khasab town. Major cards are accepted at all hotels.
Travellers cheques can be cashed in Oman, but banks and exchange offices do tend to charge a high exchange rate.
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to travellers for personal recognition of the services offered. If you do not have local notes in small denominations, use foreign USD notes.
Other activities include desert safaris, exotic bird watching and rock climbing.
Stopovers in Dubai available either outbound or on the return with a small selction of hotels and apartments.
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).
Flights with Emirates via Dubai from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle (conditions may apply on certain regional departures) - Supplement will apply.
Flight Duration: Approx. 7 - 8.5 hours
Departure tax: N/A
Muscat to Khasab on Sundays and Wednesdays - ETD 15.00 hrs – ETA 20.00 Hrs
Khasab to Muscat on Tuesdays and Fridays - ETD 15.00 hrs – ETA 20.00 Hrs
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 visa, which can be obtained on arrival.
- Stays of 1 to 10 days: OMR 5 (est. USD $13)
- Stays of 10 days to 1 month: OMR 20 (est. USD $52)
Travelling into Dubai, for Musandam: On arrival in Dubai, UAE, British passport holders will be issued with a tourist visa free of charge.
Clients departing from Al Dibba may not need an Omani visa. However, regulations change so this may be a requirement.
There is also a exit fee of 25 Emirati Dirham.
Travelling into Muscat or Salalah: British passport holders may purchase an Oman tourist visa on arrival.
Twin centres between Musandam, Muscat & Salalah: Route dependant if you are travelling by land, sea or air.
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.
MV Saman Explorer
"Just back from an excellent trip on the Saman Explorer around the Hallaniyat islands. This is a well appointed liveaboard (NB Complimentary 15L cylinders if desired). The staff and food were excellent. Andy Travis, the enthusiastic dive guide, established a safe and relaxed approach to the diving. This is a remote area with limited support if anything goes wrong but the diving is not very deep. Many of the sites hadn't been dived before and thus was a real adventure - sometimes real gems, others unlikely to be repeated. As the brochure notes, the vis is not comparable to many diving destinations but there is an incredible abundance of life to look at. We missed out on the whales but saw many mantas and a leopard shark. It was great to land on and explore some of the islands.
If you have the time, consider taking the Mountain, Desert and Beaches extension. Oman is a fascinating country and this is a quick way to get a flavour of this amazing country.
Graham Illing - UK | 09 November 2012
MV Saman Explorer
Great time on Saman Explorer
"A really easy week of liveaboard. Apart from the City of Winchester wreck at 28m, a shallow week of laid back diving suitable for both relative beginners, and for those looking for a change from the Red Sea. No humpback whales on my trip unfortunately, but an awesome dive with a pod of dolphins! Plenty of Rays, and even Leopard Sharks. Lots of interesting life about. A refreshing change of scenery to Egypt. Great stuff!
Bryce Ford - UK | 16 May 2013
MV Saman Explorer
Musandam - full of surprises
"We took a trip on Saman Explorer during the first week in September. Having dived in many of the world's hotspots, we were not expecting much, given the lack of publicity of this area, but were very pleasantly surprised indeed! Firstly, the journey is relatively painless, a direct flight to Dubai and a road transfer thereafter saving both time and money on multiple flights, the transfers were efficient and comfortable.
Secondly, we have no complaints about the boat at all. The catering is fairly basic but perfectly edible. If you are a coffee and English tea connoisseur, take some supplies with you!
The topside scenery in this area is nothing short of spectacular. Raw, barren and awe-inspiring. The underwater scenery is magnificent, incredibly beautiful and colourful soft coral covering acres of walls and mounts, with hard coral gardens in the shallows.
There are plenty of fish and a fair amount of macro. Highlights for us were whalesharks on two dives, torpedo and other rays, mobula and eagle rays, huge Spanish dancers at large during the day, other nudi's both very large and very small, 40cm pipefish and an abundance of trunkfish, McCosker's wrasse males displaying. Every dive seemed to produce something of interest to even the most experienced of divers.
A few of the dives were a little lively current-wise, some divers aborted a couple after ten mins. because they couldn't cope, so perhaps don't go here with under 100 dives or some good experience in current. But most dives were fairly calm and relaxed.
All in all a great trip, will do the same next year if the boat goes up there again."
Jane Knobel - Cyprus | 18 September 2014
MV Saman Explorer
Diving from Saman Explorer
"Had some good diving, the boat was good, there were only nine divers on a boat built for 22. The crew were excellent and the was food. I will keep Regal in mind for other trips.
The first dive was a test in Mirbat (1&1/2 hour drive from Salalah) where we picked up the boat. The visibility was only 10-15m and not a great deal of life so we were a little apprehensive, but after we travelled to the islands overnight (200km steam) the diving there was far better with vis of 30m+ and lots of fish.
The bottom tends to be rocky with sand interspersed between these outcrops, the coral was good in the shallow gardens and the fish were plentiful, loads of smaller fish shoals sweet lips etc. Other sightings included: big Morays (some free swimming in the day), bigger Parrot Fish and Trigger Fish, large Stingrays, Green Turtle, Lemon Shark, big Groupers (a number of varieties) plus Squid and Cuttlefish at night. Plus, two wrecks pretty flattened but teeming with fish!
Compared to say the Maldives the coral is not quite as good but very presentable because of the slightly reduced visibility, in comparison smaller fish the same but has other medium sized comparable fish that are larger (Parrot Fish, Trigger Fish, Lion Fish) than the Maldives showing there are more mature fish (maybe fishing hasn't had as much impact on them) but it doesn't have the big fish such as Manta, Shark, Whale Shark. The turtles here were larger and usually in cave. Would suggest a torch is useful to appreciate the full colour and investigate the crevices in the rocks..."
P. Howarth - UK | 14 April 2015
- Area: 212, 500 sq. km
- Population: 2.9 million
- Language: Arabic, English, Farsi, Baluchi, Urdu
- Time: GMT + 4
- Electricity: 220 / 240v, 50Hz, British style 3 pin plug