Many people may relate Middle East as desert, dry, hot and conservative. In certain extent, it’s true! 🙂 However, after reading this entry, you might be surprised that the fact I traveled to the Middle East, not just riding camels and driving through the hot desert, but also to visit the majestic fjords and dive into the beautiful blue ocean to swim with the dolphins. haha 🙂
Khasab – is a city situated in the North West of Oman. A capital city of the Musandam Penisula on the coast of Hormuz, fall in between Iran and United Arab Emirates. Khasab was left isolated from the rest of the region for many years and it was only open for tourism visits since the development of road from United Arab Emirates!
To get to Khasab, you either have to rent your own car after you crossed the United Arab Emirates-Oman border or you can hire a chauffeur service. Alternatively, you can book a day tour from United Arab Emirates, but it will be a very long tiring drive.
The Omani people (Oman citizens) are very friendly people. That being said, people and things cannot be taken for granted! Don’t forget you are in the Middle East, so you should always bear in mind to respect the way and traditions of the Omani people. They are very proud of their rapid economic progress from their great seafaring industries.
Musandam Penisula is an amazing place with unique Middle East landscape and the serenity creates a perfect destination to explore.
Coastal Highway of Arabian Gulf
Getting to the fjords took me a long drive from the Omani border. During the journey, it was gorgeous mountainous landscape, curvy-windy coastal road and absolutely barren & bleak, created an absolutely stunning scenic treat! Even it was a long drive, I was rewarded by the spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf from the coastal highway. Warning: If you are prone to motion sickness, do beware and prepare yourself well.
Arriving at the Khasab port, there were a lot of companies or Dhow boat operators selling you dolphins or fjords tours. Many of them were big built boats decorated in the style of a Dhow, rather than the actual fishing Dhow boats. It was a toss between authenticity or luxurious experience. haha The Dhow boat I was on was more of a luxurious medium sized boat with a capacity of approximately 20 passengers.
At the Khasab port, the fishermen were busy sorting out the fishes. While waiting for other passengers to join me on the Dhow, I chilled by the side with nice great carpet and Arabic cushions, watching the Omanis do their the trading and negotiations. It was kinda interesting experience, because I never get to see such “behind the scene” business dealings before. Well, probably I couldn’t believe that I was really in the Middle East! haha
Meeting My New Friends on the Dhow Boat
Arthur and Corinne were on their romantic holiday trip, we started off joking about the migratory birds. They thought I’m from Australia and we became friends after that! Arthur is currently residing in Sydney because of Corrine (the power of love) and he is an engineer and Corinne is a sweet lady working for Emirates. 🙂 We shared a lot of stories about working and traveling.
Stacey and Melissa once again proven Germans are really friendly and nice! haha We started chatting about traveling and Stacey is currently residing and working in United Arab Emirates. She shared many great tips about working in the Middle East! So, who knows one day? LOL neah, not really! haha
Seagull & Migratory Birds
The Dhow experience was another adventure for me! It started cruising in the open water area where I saw heaps of seagulls and migratory birds flying in a V formation! It was spectacular, like giving me a personal welcome performance! I do know for a fact that the birds leverages on the V formation, to greatly boosts the efficiency and range of flying birds, particularly over long migratory routes. The first part, was already a BIG WOW for me, anticipating for the next surprises… 🙂
Fjords & Telegraph Island
Once you entered the fjords, the Dhow boat will cruise at a slower speed. You will get to enjoy the beautiful scenery with bleak rugged mountains and rocks formation which evidenced the centuries of erosion, hence revealed the very old age of the land!
Telegraph Island is a tiny, rocky island in the Musandam Penisula, Oman. This is the place where spectacular fjords is often called the Norway of the Middle East. Perhaps, I have been to the Fjords in Norway, I find it hard to compare between the 2 completely unique place. They are totally different in my opinion. The Norwegian’s fjords come with more greens (trees) and whites (snow)! Whereas, the Telegraph Island is more of Brownish Yellow fjords. Both are spectacular in their own ways and earned an equal footing for being listed on the UNESCO Heritage Sites. Stay tuned to find out more from my blog post for Norway! 🙂
Omani Village at Khasab Fjords
Deep inside the Fjords, I discovered there were actually some Omani villagers which only made accessible by water transport! Life in these villages should be really peaceful and calm. Especially staying away from all the politics, conflicts and problems arising around the region and world. Another interesting insights, I heard from my guide is that the fjord is actually the nearest point to Iran and the place where a lot of Iranian smugglers will unload their “goods” to be sold locally. Each successful boat trips to Oman can usually double their profits. hmmm… At that time, I wish I could visit Iran! haha
Another interesting geographical fact about this place is, the fjord is surrounded by high mountains with notable geology in the rock strata which dip downwards under immense pressures caused by Arabian tectonic plate forced underneath the Eurasian plate. Cruising here, means you will be seeing many unique formation of the landscape which cannot be found in anywhere else in the world!
Chillax & Suntanning
I strongly suggest you snooze on the Dhow boat with the Arabic style cushion to get some relaxation and enjoyment from the serenity of the fjords, before you kick start some diving and snorkeling action in the cold Arabian Gulf waters! haha
Black Tea, Apple Tea & Beverages
On the Dhow boat, there were fruits, snacks, hot beverages such as tea i.e. Black Tea, Apple Tea and etc… and cold beverages with beer, soft drinks, bottled water and alcohol etc… Plenty of choices and I believed the Dhow crew will never want you to be starved or go thirsty! 🙂
Awesomely Delicious Lunch Buffet
The Dhow cruise came with a nice buffet lunch included. It was served by the helpful and courteous crews. I was really worried initially whether there will be any vegetarian options for me. Well, I am in a Dhow cruise, it’s not going to be easy for them to pull it off with a nice vegetarian meal in the middle of the Arabian Gulf! HOWEVER, I was totally wrong! I had one of the BEST pasta and prata with tomatoe curry EVER on that Dhow cruise in Oman! The food was simply GREAT! It was even better than some exquisite restaurant I’ve been before. haha Awesomely Yummy! 🙂
The Omani Dolphins
Heaps and heaps of dolphins in the Arabian Gulf. haha Jealous of me? There is a trick actually and I’m going to share it with ya. To begin with, there were more occasions to see the dolphins in the open sea area than the fjords. As I was wearing my favourite whistle necklace, I tried whistling in the middle of the sea “thinking that the sound may attract the dolphins”. It did! haha Miraculously, the dolphins were really sort of attracted to the whistles. Therefore, the crew and my new mates on board requested me to keep blowing my whistle repeatedly to attract the dolphins! I was literally whistle blowing throughout… (reminds me of Flo Rida – Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby. Let me know. Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it… haha) till we had enough interactions and photos with the dolphins! Yes, I know! We were really fortunate! 🙂
It was really a nice experience to see the so many dolphins playing so freely and peacefully in the beautiful Arabian Sea.
Snorkeling & Swimming
Besides swimming or looking at the dolphins, you can simply dive into the clear beautiful waters which was decorated with an abundance of coloured fishes. Don’t worry about towels! The Dhow boat carried more than enough warm and dry towels for everyone. You will surely have a nice clean towel after your snorkeling or swim. Anyway, do caution yourself especially with the corals. Do not trample onto the corals or attempt to climb over the rocks, there were cases of people jumping out and got deep cuts in their feet or legs.
The coastline is stunning, views were spectacular and sea were so beautifully painted with green! Had such a great time snorkeling with the coloured fishes. The Dhow crew provided me with the snorkeling equipment and there were clean waters for showers after snorkeling and swimming.
Note: I don’t recall seeing any life-jackets. In my opinion, it may not be safe for children or adults who can’t swim.
Jump Shots & Diving In With Style
How can I miss such a great opportunity to get some good diving shots? It was a mission for me to accomplish some heroic dive photos. Definitely was fun to be secluded away from people and dive into the fresh cold green waters (wasn’t warm water at all). Bear in mind, I’m pretty sure my only companion in the Arabian Gulf was the dolphins, coloured fishes, some stingray and maybe the baby sharks??? haha A whole new experience for me chilling, relaxing and swimming at the Arabian Gulf. You won’t feel any pressure, stress, politics or conflicts going around in the world! Not forgetting I was in the middle of the Middle East, less than an hour away from Iran! 🙂
To conclude, Oman is a peaceful country that provides you a safe and a different taste of the Middle East. Before I end the post, I will include a packing list for your day-pack to Khasab – Dolphins Dhow Cruise.
Things to bring:
- Passport (If you are crossing over from United Arab Emirates)
- Exchange Omani currency (you won’t need a lot if you just visit Khasab)
- Pen (to write passport/visa/immigration documents + diaries)
- Oman car insurance (if you are driving)
- Driving license (same as above)
- Waterproof camera + batteries + memory card (No way you can miss this out!)
- Sweater or wind breaker (can be cold with strong sea breezes)
- Phone (not for usage but for emergency)
- Sunblock lotions (for skin sensitive type)
- Moisturise cream
What to wear:
- Singlets or Tee shirts
- Board shorts (for swimming)
- Sun glasses
- Scandals/Slippers (for the rest of the world)
- Thongs (for Aussies haha)
Fresh dry warm towels, drinks and snacks/food are provided.
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float; to gain all while you give; to roam the roads of lands remote; to travel is to live.” ― Hans Christian Andersen