Finally the question that all of you have been asking….How is the diving in Musandam?
To be totally honest, I didn’t come here only for the diving. The primary reasons I made my way to this little corner of the world were wanderlust, wanting to be somewhere different than Southeast Asia and because the deal with my current employer sounded (and turned out to be!) pretty sweet. The dive industry is, after all, not really known for paying high or even decent wages, so when the opportunity presents itself, you grab it.
Well, the part about it being different is true. Compared to the tropical waters of Malaysia & Indonesia where I was diving before it is quite different. (Am I stating the obvious?) and since these countries offer some of the best diving in the world, it wouldn’t be entirely fair to compare them with Oman.
That being said, the diving here is pretty damn good!
At the moment the water is colder than what I’m used to (water temperatures of 22°C at the moment), but divers that dive regularly in Europe laugh at me and my 5mm wetsuit with hood, gloves and booties while sweating it out in their 3mm, so I guess it’s a personal thing. These kind of temperatures are only seasonal and the temperature is slowly creeping up already untill it will reach to around 30°C in the summermonths when it’s almost too hot in boardshorts and rashguard.
Visibility is not as great as, for example, the Red Sea. We’ve had viz as low as 4m during algae blooms, but also as good as 15+m with nice blue waters. I’d say the average is around 12m which isn’t too bad. Honestly, I don’t really mind because even in ‘bad’ viz conditions there are still plenty of critters and fish to look at, it’s just a bit more spooky when suddenly a school of trevallies come up out of nowhere! And keeping in mind that viz on the other side of the peninsula (around Dubai) can be truly terrible, we can’t complain.
Most divesites are slopes or walls so straightforward to navigate. Due to the geography of the Musandam, with deep fjords, steep mountains and situated at the Strait of Hormuz, there can be some current on the sites, but there are sites further inside the bays that are more sheltered from the current and waves so there’s always something for divers of all levels.
Is great! First of all, all the divesites are covered in soft corals. A LOT of softcorals, so they’re all very colorfull and pretty. Dark purple, blue, pink, bright yellow, orange….it’s all there. There’s a nice mix of colorful reef fish and schooling fish such as fusiliers, trevallies, snappers, rainbow runners etc. There are some bigger fish around as well. Big Pickhandle Barracudas and Kingfish are both pretty common. We regularly find big Cowtail- & Marbled stingrays in the sand and for those who are lucky you might even spot a Torpedo Ray, Eagle ray, Devil rays, one or two ‘resident’ Mola Molas, Leopard Shark and even Whale Shark. Unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky yet to see one of Mola Molas or sharks, but the rays are not uncommon. One of the highlights was an Eagle Ray crossing directly in front of me as I swam out of a swimthrough!
It’s full of Lionfish here, and other ‘stingers’ like Scorpionfish can be seen on every divesite as well, so are different species of Moray Eels. Especially the Honeycomb Morays get massive out here!
I’m very happy with the nudibranch we find here as well. There is not a huge variety, but for those with good nudi-eyes there are lots of them hanging out on the rocks or between the soft corals. Some of them are big and very colorful and I haven’t seen them before. Obviously, that makes me really excited. So do the Cuttlefish (I looooooooooooooooooooooooove Cuttlefish!). There are beautiful Spiny Lobsters hanging out in crevices and holes too!
And then there are turtles, turtles everywhere! Seriously, I have never seen so many turtles, not even in Malaysia or Indonesia. Sometimes we see 6 turtles on one dive. They’re mostly small Green- or Loggerhead turtles that like to nibble on all the softcorals.
There are a dozen or so dive sites in the Lima Rock/Lima Bay area where we dive frequently. Lima is a tiny coastal village north of Dibba (where I’m located) and only accessible by boat. To get to these sites it takes around 45-60 minutes by speedboat. Occassionally we take the speedboat farther up North, all the way to the Strait of Hormuz, where the reefs are even more unspoiled but the diving is more challenging due to depth & currents.
One of my favorite dives so far is Ras Marovi. Marovi is like a very well-tended coral garden full of soft corals. Especially in the shallows (4-8m) it’s like paradise, with turtles eating the corals and reef fish darting over the reef. In the sand around 10-15m we regularly see either Cowtail or Pointed-nose stingrays.
Another favorite dive is Wonderwall where everybody else keeps seeing Mola Mola except for me, so I’ll keep my hopes up. But even without Mola Mola it’s a beautiful divesite with a wall covered in purple whip corals and some big boulders that form swimthroughs. There are a couple of resident Pickhandle Barracudas and schools of Rainbow Runners like to hang out in the current on the corner.
Perhaps the most challenging dive in the Lima Bay area is Lima Rock East. Lima Rock is a small rocky island with the east side directly facing the Gulf of Oman, but those who don’t mind the strong currents can be rewarded with big pelagics such as Devil Rays or even -if you’re lucky- a Whaleshark. Octopus Rock is another more challenging dive, starting with a small pinnacle leading to a submerged reef where you can find a resident Seahorse, big rays foraging in the sand and lots of colorful reef fish.
Want to know more about diving in the Musandam? Ask me!