- Why Musandam
- Getting There
- Best Time to Visit
- Things to do in Musandam
- UAE to Musandam
Why Visit Musandam?
Musandam is a part of Oman that is not attached to Oman. It is an enclave within the UAE that Oman controls.Reason being is that when the lands where divided between Oman and the UAE, each tribe had to determine where it stands and what privileges it will attain. At a point in time Oman was divided into Muscat, Oman (south of Muscat) and Zanzibar. As the country unites to form the Sultanate of Oman in its entirety, Musandam is declared to be a part of it.
Situated at the at the Arabian Penninsula, you would actually have to leave Oman and enter the UAE as you drive for some time before entering Oman again! It is only then that you find yourself back at was once a strategically important crossing to posses ownership, the Strait of Hormuz.
Once you reach the shores of Musandam you will be in awe of all limestone formation on top the bluest of waters you have ever seen. The waters give life to precious marine life such dolphins and bright colored fish. It comes as to no surprise why it would be called as ‘The Norway of The Middle East.’
Top 3 Reasons to Visit Musandam:
- Musandam’s marine life offers you a chance to see a different Oman underwater.
- Striking mountain formations overlooking the blue pristine waters of Musandam
- Peaceful, yet eventful, getaway from your getaway trip!
Muscat to Musandam
You can make your way to Musandam in three way; either by air, land or water.
There is no option better than the other as each has its advantages. I will outline all three option of travelling from Muscat to Musandam for you to make an informed decision.
Air – 1.05 hrs
You can fly from from Muscat International Airport to Khasab (KHS) in 1 hours and 5 minutes twice per day. The only airline provider currently making the trip is Oman Air. The time it takes to get there makes it the most convenient way of getting to Musandam.
Cost: Around $165 round trip/person on Oman Air’s website. Recommended booking on Wego.com or Agoda.com for around $30 off.
Tip: Wego & Agoda are the most popular booking platforms specializing on the Middle East market. They offer the best flight deals for Oman.
Car – 6.5 hrs or 500km
Driving from Muscat would be tedious but nonetheless fun. You would be able to take on all the view alongside Oman’s coastline. In addition you would be able to experience the joys of driving in between the mountains of Oman where highway now pass through. A car won’t be needed once you reach Musandam but if you are up for the drive, do it.
Cost: Around $50/day for a midsize vehicle including insurance & $40 for gas each way.
Ferry – 2.5 hrs
The ferry runs twice a week and is the only way to reach by Musandam by water. There is only one company organizing this transport. Good new is that if you have a car you are allowed to bring it on board with you. The desired route is from Shinas to Khasab.
Cost: Round trip starts at $90 for adults & $45 for children.
Musandam Packing List
Since travelling to Musandam means that you left Oman, we need to make sure that you have everything checked out before going on this trip. Here’s a Musandam 101 Check-list of everything you need for your Musandam trip:
- Passport – Leaving & reentering the country.
- Cash- It cost around $9/person in exit fees from UAE.
- Power Adapter – If you are visiting from abroad, chances are you need this.
- Power bank – Finding outlets to charge your phone is not easy in Musandam.
- Swim attire – Splish!
- Waterproof case – Majority of the activities in Musandam are wet.
- Photochromatic lenses
- Hats or head cover
- jackets (in the winter season)
Weather – Best time to visit
As with most destinations in Oman, except Salalah, . there is no preset best time to visit. June to August are the hottest months of the year so the water sports fit right in. During Oman’s cold months of October- February, temperatures soar around the early 20’s making for an ideal outdoor weather. If you are looking into snorkeling, surfing or scuba diving, I would recommend checking the water temperature to get a better idea of what would be suitable for you.
I recommend making individual tours across Oman as you get the best value for your money while you make the most out of your experience. In some instances, I would recommend taking tour guides for Dune Bashing (as it requires an expertise) or for a Dolphon Watching Tour in Muscat because it is obviously hard to know where the dolphins are.
Musandam is one of those places where I would drive up there, leave my car, and pay for services offered by someone other than me. Not only is it part of the relaxation vibe of the city, but also because the nature of the tours are hard to replicate. Most of the tour operator in Musandam have been there since I was growing up because their services are essentially dispensable. Here is a list of the Top 4 Activities I recommend in Musandam.
- Musandam Fjords: Snorkeling & dolphin watching
- Khasab Fort
- Paragliding/Micro lighting
Dhow Tour Through The Musandam Fjords
Schedule a traditional Dhow boat tour to see the beautiful fjord of Musandam. Similar to Norway’s fjord, Oman’s fjords are smaller yet they will still have you stare at their marvel.
You can schedule a dhow boat (traditional Omani boat) and sail by the fjord from Khasab port. The boat are comfortable and designed with traditional Oman pillows on site. One might confuse them to be Arabic but the design and the way of sitting on them resembles the core of Omani hospitality tradition.
Along your boat cruise you will be able to watch the dolphin or whales from the comfort your seat. Keep in mind that dolphin watching is not guaranteed by there is a 95% chance you would spot them!
The recommended tours below would have you stop by Telegraph island where you would be able to sunbathe, relax , swim and snorkel! I recommend indulging in Omani desert called “halwa” if offered duringthe buffet.
Musandam Dhow Cruise (recommended):
In this tour you get to board a traditional Dhow boat and go on a cruise alongside the Musandam fjords.This tour includes 2 snorkeling/swimming stops, Arabic lunch, visit to Telegraph Island and dolphin watching. Hotel pick up & visa assistance is provided.
Cost: $193/person. Visa fees,towels and snorkeling equipment included.
Musandam Dhow Cruise in Italian, French & German:
This tour includes sailing through Musandam fjords and past the local fishing villages. Stop at Telegraph Island to snorkel/eat/swim/relax.
Cost: $220/person for English, French & Italian. Add an additional $300 for a German guide. Tour not available Tuesday/Thursday.
Musandam Dhow Cruise including Zeke village:
This tour includes sailing through Musandm fjords, snorkel in the Gulf of Oman, Haffa beach & village and stopping at secluded village of Zeke. If your main priority is simply sightseeing, then I recommend this tour.
Cost: $104/person. Available only on Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday.
Note: All tours listed provide a traditional lunch. At least 2 people are required to book a tour.
Did you know that Oman was once settled by the Portuguese? yup, there was an attempt to colonize Oman but the Omanis fought back and retained their independence. However, as the Portuguese went to exile they left behind amazing forts from the 17th century.
Khasab Fort is one of the forts left behind by the Portuguese. The fort was built a top of remnants of another castle left behind from times far behind. Khasab in an Omani territory that was formally colonized by the Portuguese up until the year 1624.
The fort features a museum of ancient Omani artifacts. For a historic trip visit the Old Souq of Khasab afterwards.
Time: 1.5 hours each way from Musandam hotels.
Paragliding over Zighy Bay
Internationally known as one of the best paragliding locations in the world, this activity is a must when visiting Musandam! You start your tour at the top of the Zighy Mountain 960 feet above sea level and soar down over the Hajar Mountains and Arabian Gulf as you descend towards the Six Senses Zighy Bay Hotel! Upon landing a butler will greet you with an ice cold drink of your choice.
Micro-lighting takes places around 1,640 feet above sea level with an expert pilot. Optimal time for paragliding is during the morning to early afternoon hours.
Paragliding is exclusive to Six Senses Zighy Bay residents.
Musandam, like the rest of Oman, blesses you with camping wherever you feel convenient. You can choose to camp either on the beach or by the mountains. A tour guide is not necessary, although available, because all what you need is your tent, travel gear and food!
A 4×4 vehicle is required only if you decide to camp on the mountains. Mountain goats will sure be ready to greet you as they eat through your food during the night so make sure you have everything tightly sealed!
Best Musandam Tours from Dubai
If you are looking to visit Musandam from Dubai you can easily find tours to take you.
The most popular tour for UAE residents picks you up from your hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, Sharjah or Fujairah. The tour takes you around the Fjords in Musandam.
You will have plenty of time for snorkeling, swimming and tanning. An oriental lunch is also included in this tour.
A visa not needed and your original passport is enough.
Restaurants in Musandam
The food scene in Oman is constantly changing. Many cuisines are making their way to the forefronts of everyday life. Burgers, chicken wings and even tacos! The change towards western food could be attributed to the local’s desire at bringing their lives abroad back home with them; as is the case with all Omani cuisine. Be it Mandazi (an east African bread) or Mendi (a Yemeni dish), Oman makes it a dish of its own.
The restaurants promoted at Camel Oasis aim at giving travelers a holistic understanding of Omani culture through food. Meaning, we will never recommend a restaurant we do not stand by or one that we believe adds nothing to one’s experience. consequently, it should be known that if no restaurants are of interest to us we will withhold from providing recommendations all together. The difference between this site and any other blog is that authors have seen it all growing up in Oman and know best. Furthermore, most recommendations are vegetarian friendly as Omani cuisine finds it sweet spot with all. As such, here are our recommendations on restaurants in Musandam.
- Sense On The Edge (highly recommended): Not much to be said except that it should have some Michelin stars to stay the least. Located at Six Senses Zighy Bay, this is the restaurant to go to when looking for a night time treat-your-self kind of event. The staff are well trained (one was trained by Ramsey himself) and the service is impeccable. A 5 course dish with wine pairing might just be the highlight of your trip to Oman.
- Yemen Village Restaurant: This does not compare to the first recommendation. We are talking $12 to feast while you sit on the floor kind of dinner. However, I believe this restaurant is a must to complement to your experience. A common gathering among Omanis is to get together in one of the Yemeni restaurants and order Mendi with Shuwa(meat slowly cooked underground). It is one of the important cuisines of Omani culture that you won’t find served in higher end restaurants. Tip: Make sure to order the lentil soup for starters.
Musandam Oman Hotels
Oman boasts a high standard when it comes to hotel reservation at lower price than what you would expect in Europe. An average 3 star hotel is the equivalent of a 4 star hotel in Italy. To top this off most hotels you would encounter outside of Muscat are a result of new devolpment due to rising demand in tourism. Give that the supply is made in anticipation to tourism levels yet to be reached means that you can get a luxury hotel stay at low prices.
With that being said it is known that the hotel industry in Oman is geared towards high end travel. Not many hostels exist and even the cheapest of accommodation doesn’t fall below $60 a night. At this point if you have been researching hotels in Musandam you proabably came acorss a handful of option. Simultaneously other blogs perhaps would recommend Atana Resort or Atana Hotel to stay in.
What makes this blog different is that we are specialized on Oman travel. Unlike other blogs written by other tourist 2-3 years ago the recommendations written here are made by an Omani citizen . This comes with the advantage of knowing what recent investment investments are made in the hospitality industry in comparison to what has been out there, and mostly reviewed, in the past years. Our recommendations are up to date to match the best value for your Oman given all the options known, as opposed to recommendation based on limited scope of knowledge on the area. Henceforth, this is a list of the recommended hotels in Musandam.
Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah ($100/nt) is one of the newer hotels to find home in Musandam. It is family friendly hotel that’s suitable for kids and lovers alike. The hotel has a 500m private beach on premise with rooms directly facing the ocean. Location is prime and I would definitely recommend this hotel especially for couple travelling through Oman. Oh, and did I mention the pool bar?
Hilton Ras Al Khaimah ($90/nt) As a previous member of the Hilton Honor Rewards during my college days I have positive bias towards the chain. However that bias stand to reason. The Hilton Ras Al Khaimah is a clean, up to date and luxurios hotel on par with other hotels in the chain.
Its amenities include a marvelous pool area and has 10 restaurants and bars on site. Alongside the Arabic Spa, the hotel can help you arrange activities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, scuba diving and fishing. The hotel meets international standards as a Hilton hotel but lacks on the localization aspect. It isn’t made to complement your Omani cultural experience. The Arabic Spa is nice, but it is not much of an Omani thing to begin with. Book only if the Radisson fills up on your dates.
Camel Oasis Luxury Pick
If you are visiting Oman you probably have a budget on the higher end for travel. As such if I was to recommend all what money can afford, for an impeccable experience, then Six Senses Zighy Bay would be our pick. This is not only one of the best hotel in Musandam but also one of the best in Oman. Muscat locals on the affluent side are familiar with it and its unheard of price at a time when tourism investments were coming to full force by the government. Few years later with more high end hotels opening up around Oman, Six Senses justifies its price and it status a luxury destination in Oman.
Six Senses Zighy Bay was once awarded the title of ‘World’s Leading New Resort’ by World Travel Awards. This hotel is like NOTHING you have ever seen before. A romantic getaway on a private beach among the enclaves of Musandam’s might mountains. Walk around in comfort anywhere on property as there shall be more things than you need to fulfill you every need. heck, if you choose not to drive there you have the option of paragliding or speed-boating your way to a one of a kind holiday.
Fun Fact: When the hotel first opened rumors spread around Muscat that the Qatari crown prince was the first to book it to his own leisure. Whether its true or not, it shows how much of a big deal this hotel is.
The hotel of choice for this recommendation would affirmatively be the Six Senses Zighy Bay. Granted this hotels tends to be booked months in advance. I recommend booking