Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Who would think that just 3 hours drive from Dubai lies this incredible oasis?
When we were living in Dubai, there wasn`t too much to do outside. So, unless we had few consecutive days off to head somewhere,our options were quite limited.
Until we found this place: Oman`s Musandam Peninsula!
The Musandam Peninsula or Mudandam Governorate is a governorate of Oman, located just into the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entry into the Persian Gulf, from the Arabian Peninsula. The Governorate is an exclave, separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates.
The peninsula is only accesible by land only from UAE via Ras Al Khaimah.
In contrast to the crowded Dubai, this place looks like an oasis in the middle of rocky mountains. The rugged coastline resembles the glacier-carved coasts of polar regions, but in this case, the coast was shaped by the movement of Earth’s crust.
As I was mentioning, the place is accessible by car only from UAE and the trip from Dubai to your final destination - Khasab is about a 3 hours drive. Once you exit UAE via Al Jeer border crossing point, the road is entirely on the coastline and the scenery looks pretty amazing.
Bear in mind, mostly during weekends ( which are Friday and Saturday in Muslim countries ), you may encounter some queues at the border crossing.
Once in Khasab, we headed straight to the port and aimed to find a fisherman willing to take us around the fjords. Usually the locals are pretty keen on making some extra money, so as long as you reach there in the morning, there shouldn`t be any issues in finding one.
We went there three or four times and never had any issue.
Khasab itself is a little port-town and is the local capital of the Musandam peninsula and has frequently been dubbed the "Norway of Arabia" because of its extensive fjord-like craggy inlets and the desolate Al Hajar mountains.
Khasab is a small city when compared to nearby cities of the United Arab Emirates. It has many residents who mostly live in mainland Oman and come to Khasab for vacations. There is a huge population of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis just like mainland Oman who work in restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, tour operators and many other places
The boat trip
The price for a boat was roughly 400-500 dhs ( about 100 e ) in 2014 -2015. This might have slightly increased throughout the years.
This price includes a full dhow boat, water juices and some fruits. I don`t recall to have had any food so you might want to buy some from the local supermarket in Khasab.
The duration of the trip is from morning, or midday if you arrive late, until the sun sets, which is around 6-7 p.m all year round in Middle East. If you want a shorter or longer trip, you can always negotiate with the boat man.
The place is quite famous for spotting dolphins, snorkeling, swimming and occasionally you could spot cormorants and some other local birds.
When to go
As you would probably imagine,in Middle East, the air temperatures are quite high throughout the year. However, the water temperature is not.
Therefore, if you take swimming into consideration ( and you should ), the best time to go is in between April to November.
If you`re going just for the boat ride, then you can go all year round.
In summary, we recommend planning a full day for this trip, ideally starting at 6 am.
The drive is about 6-7 hours return depending on the traffic as well.
Plan some extra time at the border, especially on the return sector.
Always take your passport with you and make sure you have an international insurance plus an agreement from your rental company, if the car is rented.
Bring some food and your snorkeling equipment with you.
You may take a look at our pictures for some travel inspiration. ☺