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Located on the peninsula of the Arabian Sea, Oman is much more than a dry desert country. It offers warm waters, stunning macro life and a mecca for an entire spectrum of divers.

Diving in Oman

Quick facts

With vast deserts and rich history, the Sultanate of Oman is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Until the 1970s, the country was almost completely closed to outside visitors but since it opened its doors, the scuba diving world is richer because of it. Oman’s coastline is relatively untouched and there is great diving near the capital of Muscat. You can also head to Oman's northernmost region of Musandam, which juts into the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. This rugged, remote land has nutrient rich waters that support a massive amount of diversity and abundance of marine life. Far to the south, the area around Salalah has a pristine coastline with seemingly endless bays and beaches. Here kelp forests appear during the summer, made possible by cool upwelling during the monsoon, and then slowly die back in late September. This makes it uniquely possible to dive in kelp and on coral reefs at the same sites for a short time. The best diving here is from October through May when the seas calm and the water warms up. Perhaps it's time to take a scuba diving holiday to Oman before the secret gets out.

Recommended training

The PADI Drift Diver and PADI Boat Diver courses will help you enjoy diving the many offshore islands. The PADI Cavern Diver course is also a good choice for the sites with caverns, tunnels and swim-throughs. The AWARE – Fish Identification course will help you appreciate the diversity of fish species.

When to go

Through October to February, the ideal months for both diving and land excursions, the water temperatures reach 83F (28C). The winter months are an ideal time to visit Oman due to the improved visibility and more varied marine life. The average visibility on dives hovers around the 50ft (15m) mark, however with favourable upwelling and currents the visibility can exceed 85 ft (25m). Although the visibility does not seem vast to some, the reason for the visibility is nutrient blooms that attract shoals of fish.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Daymaniyat Islands, Muscat – This string of small, rocky islands north of Muscat are encircled by coral reefs and are a nature reserve and an important turtle nesting site. You’ll be surrounded by abundant fish and glide over lush coral reefs down to 30 metres/100 feet. It’s not uncommon to see turtles, of course, but also rays and reef sharks. Bander Khayran, Muscat – Several dive sites are located within a series of coves and bays southeast of Muscat. The diving is predominantly on relatively shallow coral reefs, but the area also features a few drop-offs and one of the best wreck dives in Oman - the Al Munnassir. The Oman government sunk this 84-metre/276-foot vessel as an artificial reef and she now lies upright on the bottom in about 30 metres/100 feet of water. Giant morays, large schools of snapper and goatfish as well as turtles and rays all now call the vessel home. Fahal Island, Muscat – This small limestone island offers excellent diving with swim-throughs and reefs down to 40 metres/130feet. It's also known by another name – Shark Island – due to frequent sightings of sharks on the adjacent sand banks. The Caves, Musandam – Normally accessed from the United Arab Emirates, at this site you’ll find that the ocean has eroded a series of chambers and tunnels into the surrounding limestone rock, which provide hiding spots for spiny lobster, cleaner shrimp and other creatures from the turtles cruising by. The sandy bottom of the caves is the perfect daytime resting place for rays and sharks. Be sure to bring a dive light. Lima Rock, Musandam – The two dives sites at Lima Rock are normally accessed from the United Arab Emirates. Here, you’ll find coral encrusted walls to depths of 20 metres/66 feet along with caves and crevices created by erosion of the limestone substrate. Schools of jack and tuna prowl the open waters adjacent to the rock and you may spot whale sharks in the cooler months. Mirbat, Salalah – Many of Salalah’s dive sites are reached safari-style by four wheel drive vehicle, but there are also boat trips available. You’ll tuck into a small bay to access the coral covered rock outcrops populated with morays, sharks, octopus, snapper, turtles and occasionally, dolphins. Sites will look very different when kelp is growing versus when it’s completely gone.

What to see

Although Oman does not offer vast pelagic life or ripping current, you can often encounter huge schools of fish and colourful and healthy reefs. Due to the Sultans progressive green policies, the fish life is improving annually.

On particular dive locations around Oman you have the opportunity to encounter whitetip reef sharks, green and hawksbill turtles and even spinner and bottlenose dolphins.

The reefs off the Omani coast can contend with the reefs of Egypt, with beds of vibrant table and bush coral. Although the visibility is not as clean as the Red Sea, the sheer amount of mackerel fish that school in the thousands is stunning.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Located on the peninsula of the Arabian Sea, Oman is much more than a dry desert country. Warm waters, stunning macro life and a mecca for an entire spectrum of divers, that is the way Omani diving can be described.


The landscape of Oman is is as beautiful above the waves as it is underneath. Vast deserts, wadis, valleys and mountains hold a regal beauty.

Muscat is the capital of Oman, located on the east coast, once famed as one of the most powerful trading countries in the world, with a strong influence in the Indian Ocean.

The majority of Omani people practice Islam with the spoken language being Arabic, yet with a strong British influence English is spoken widely and well throughout Muscat in particular.

Like many countries in the Middle East, Oman is a monarchy, ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. Due to the Sultans forbidding of religious fanaticism, Oman is a stable country with no evident sign of Islamic extremism; the local Omani people are humble and hospitable, with no animosity to foreigners.

Other attractions

Oman is perfect for a multi-activity holiday due to the close proximity of the dive sites to Oman’s other must see destinations. Day trips that cannot be missed include Wadi Al Shab, 86 miles (140km) from Muscat on the Qurayat – Sur Coastal Road. Here fresh water collects in tranquil turquoise pools lined with palm trees and vast canyons on either side. To immerse yourself into the real culture of Oman, visit the Muttrah Souk, located in the heart of Muscat, this is where you feel the bustling energy, a place where street stores are overflowing with frankincense and jewellery, and around every corner you will smell a new and fragrant Omani spice. This is truly the heart of the city. For those who love nature there is one sight in particular that is special. Ras al Jinz, located on the Sharqiya coast, where hundreds of green turtles haul themselves up the beach to lay their eggs on the beach. Oman is more than just diving; it holds so many treasures that can be benefited by all.

Getting there

Muscat can be reached directly by virtually all main international airports, however there are cheaper options when you fly via Dubai.

Once in Muscat, Oman Air flies regularly to Salalah the only other airport in the country. Buses are a safe and cheap option for those who do not hire a car or have transport organised for them. Buses travel regularly between Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, Sur and Mizwa.

By far the easiest and best way to see Oman is to hire a car, where you can cruise across the country through vast mountains, wadis, ancient villages and glistening seascapes.

UTC+04:00

Time zone

OMR

Currency

+968

Calling code

240 V

Electric volt

C, 

G

Plug type

MCT

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.